Traditions are deeply ingrained in the woodwork that makes up the holidays. From the lopsided angel perched precariously on the top of the Douglas Fir to the red and green paper chains circling the banister, these holiday traditions are oftentimes so integral to the holiday festivities that its hard to remember a December without them.
This is not the case with Glena Moore’s Stuffed Potatoes, whose origins can be traced to The Sixty-Five Club where Glena worked as chef in Porterville, California during the fifties and sixties. There, Glena unknowingly crafted recipes that would be on her family’s Christmas dinner menu for generations.
Years after retiring, Glena would stand in her small kitchen with her granddaughter Shawna, teaching her to cook like a proper Southern lady. Old Oklahoma traditions mixed with new Northern California practices as Glena taught Shawna the importance of a full home and a good recipe.
Now, a mother of three college-aged girls herself, Shawna pulls out Grandma Glena’s Stuffed Potato recipe every holiday season. Packed full of russet goodness and nostalgia, the dish is a reminder of happy times gone by and the promise of many more family adventures to come. Even though many Christmases have passed, the recipe stays the same-–a tribute to the woman who created it.
“Don’t mess with grandma’s recipe,” Shawna warned with a laugh. “It’s perfect.”
When she was a little girl, Shawna remembers scooping potatoes with her dad while Glena stood nearby watching. The tradition continues today with Glena’s great-granddaughter, Shawna’s youngest daughter, Jennifer.
Jennifer, Shawna’s youngest daughter, Glena’s great-granddaughter preparing food.
“Jennifer has taken it over,” confessed Shawna. “She has been doing the whole thing by herself for years. It’s her all-time favorite recipe.”
As Christmas nears, Shawna looks forward to having her family reunite for the holidays. “I miss the little people feet walking around on Christmas morning. That’s what I miss–when the girls would wake up at 3:30 Christmas morning yelling ‘It’s time! It’s time!’ I’m happy to have everyone coming home.”
Baked Stuffed Potatoes
Active prep time: 35 minutes
Total Time: approximately 2 hours
Serves: 12, or 24 sides
12 large russet potatoes, baked
1 cube of oleo (butter)
1 ½ cup of milk
6 to 8 oz. of American Cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 rounded tsp. of each: salt, pepper, & celery salt
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Wash potatoes and wrap with tin foil.
Bake until tender, about 45-60 minutes. A fork should pierce them with ease.
Transfer to cooling rack and remove tin foil.
Cut potatoes in half.
Using a spoon, scoop out potato, leaving ½ in. thick shell.
Transfer potato flesh to mixing bowl (Kitchen Aid) and max/mix potatoes until smooth.
Mix in cheese, butter, and then dry ingredients.
Spoon mixture back into shells, filling to the top of the potato.
Place on baking sheet and return potatoes to the oven, positioning rack in the center.
Continue cooking potatoes at 375 F. until potatoes are baked through and tops are brown, approximately 20 minutes.
In a hurry? Skip refilling the shells and place potato mixture in baking dish. Preheat oven to 375 F and bake until heated through and top is brown, approximately 20-30 minutes. The mashed mixture can be made a day in advance. After step 8, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Rachel Logan is a writing intern for Spectrum Magazine.