The dish that makes an appearance at our holiday table is scalloped oysters.

What’s funny is that it comes from my dad’s side of the family – Midwest farm people, who live about as far from an ocean as you can get.

When my folks married – my mom is a Boston native – she learned to make it, although she’d never seen or heard of it before.

As kids, my siblings and I got to crush the crackers for it, a job we enjoyed even though we thought the dish was ghastly.

My dad would insist every year we try it and my brother, sister and I would take a bite, wrinkle our noses and pronounce it disgusting.

Joyful that he wouldn’t have to share, my dad would say, “Well, maybe next year.”

This played out for more than a decade, until I was in my late teens and, after the mandatory bite, I realized it was actually kind of good. I heaped a serving on my plate. My brother and sister soon followed suit.

Now Dad has to share. I’m pretty sure he rues the day he encouraged us to try it.

— CAROL COULTAS

RAY’S SCALLOPED OYSTERS

Full box of saltine crackers

2 cans of oysters (save the juice)

Butter

Salt and pepper

Milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a casserole dish.

Crush all the saltines in a plastic bag (a rolling pin works well; draft any available child for this task).

Drain the oysters, but save the juice.

Put a layer of the crushed crackers on the bottom of the casserole, followed by a layer of oysters. Dot with butter; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Continue layering, ending with a layer of crackers on top. Dot with butter.

Mix the reserved oyster juice with milk and pour over the casserole, then add just milk, until the liquid reaches 3/4 of the way up the casserole dish.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top browns.


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