Being a mother-in-law has been one of the hardest roles I’ve ever stepped into. There aren’t a lot of resources out there to draw from, other than observation. My own mother was a terrific mother-in-law. She loved on all our spouses and cared for them. Mama always went out of her way to make sure that her sons-in-laws and daughter-in-law knew how much she cared about them.
Christmas dinner was always a big deal at Mama’s. She made Prime Rib every year. Sometimes she would get even more daring and add lamb – my husband’s favorite – and once she added Duck, which we all agreed to never do again.
Nobody in the family can make cornbread dressing the way my mother did. I try but it is not the same. Last year, however, I did make the Rouladen that was one of Mama’s fancy dishes. I don’t know if she picked it up when she lived in Germany but I remember her saying that it was a favorite of my father. It was a hit with one of my sons-in-laws but not the other.
Both my sons-in-laws, however, insist on one dish being served every holiday. It’s a favorite among all the kids, but especially so among the men. I think they just like saying it.
But they also love eating it. Zack loves anything spicy and I’m generous with the Cajun seasonings which my girlfriend Shellie Tomlinson sends me from Lake Providence, Louisiana. I can’t make a dish too spicy for Zack. And Sullivan shares his daddy’s zeal for spicy. The boy is part Cajun, I think.
Stephan, who rarely makes it home for the holidays anymore, has learned to make the dish himself.
When I tell people that the most requested dish at my holiday table is succotash they often recoil. “You mean that lima bean dish?” they wail.
No. I don’t mean the lima bean variety.
I mean the corn and okra variety.
I’m sharing the recipe here. If you try it, let me know what you think.
What’s your family’s must-have holiday dish?
6 slices of pepper bacon
2 tablespoons of butter
1 yellow onion finely chopped
1 green bell pepper finely chopped
1 red pepper finely chopped
1 jalapeno finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
4 cups of corn kernels frozen or fresh
2 cups of sliced okra frozen
2 tomatoes chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 cup chicken broth
Cook bacon until crisp. Save the bacon grease in the pan. Pat dry the bacon. Crumble, and set aside.
Melt butter in leftover bacon fat over medium heat. Stir in onion, peppers, jalapeno, garlic. Cook until tender and onions are browning. Add in everything else, cooking over medium heat until the broth boils. Then reduce heat, partially cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove, add Cajun seasonings, salt and pepper and crumbled bacon.
Serve warm. So good with mashed potatoes.