Though holiday dinners are often centered around turkey, the side dishes that accompany them are also important. They are often personal and family traditions, and shared recipes.
These are several from my family and friends. Please note that, because people dictated some of these recipes to me, the measurements are sometimes not perfect, so feel free to adjust as needed.
Sweet Potato Russell
This is a recipe from my Grandma Rose. She was from Kansas and so beautiful that she was a runway model and in Vogue magazine in the 1920s. She was also a great cook. I still have the index card with this recipe, which she typed on her electric typewriter. It is good and decadent—perfect for a holiday. The original recipe calls for half a cup sugar, but I make mine with 1/4 cup.
3 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
2 eggs, well beaten
1/3 stick butter or margarine
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk or more as needed to soften potatoes
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup flour
1/3 stick butter or margarine, melted
Mix the filling ingredients and pour into a shallow baking pan, leaving at least half an inch at the top for the casserole to rise.
Combine the topping ingredients, place them on the sweet potato mixture, and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
Creamed Green Beans
My brother and sister in law, Paul and Retter Flood, welcomed us into their home after Hurricane Katrina, when we had to evacuate. Because they both are incredible cooks, I, of course, took the opportunity to flip through their cookbooks and found this recipe gem. You can substitute fresh green beans for frozen ones.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 and 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon mustard
Two 16-ounce cut frozen green beans (drained)
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir flour and salt into hot butter. Gradually stir in milk, wine and mustard, and let it thicken. Stir into the beans. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole pan. Top it with almonds and bake for 30 minutes.
This recipe is from my maternal grandmother, who we called Nana. I assume "lump butter" is one tablespoon, and that's what I use. Use any winter squash of your choice, but I'm pretty sure she used the humble, yet delicious, yellow squash.
Salt and pepper
2 slices bread
1/2 cup milk
1/2 pound cheese
Cook the squash and onion in salted water, and drain and mash the mixture until it is smooth. Add salt and pepper and lump of butter. In meantime, soak two slices of bread in half a cup of milk. Break up the bread and add beaten eggs and grated cheese.
Bake it at 350 degrees until the dish is brown on top.