Dream Dishes: Devon Rhodes’s Family Traditions, Cornucopias and Oysters

November 16, 2015

Family histories—so many times you don’t appreciate them until the person who knows the information is gone. And of course traditions you grow up with are hard to break, even little things…like how you keep your recipes.

My grandmothers on both sides as well as my mom all have wooden recipe boxes that sit on their counters, some index card sized, others bigger, with all tons of recipe cards inside. So of course I wanted one too. I didn’t want to buy just any old box—but I had a hard time finding one I liked.

Devon with Marge Sept 2015

Then when I was visiting my paternal grandmother in Rhode Island before I was married, she threw me a surprise bridal shower for my extended family there, since most of them wouldn’t be traveling to attend my wedding. And she gave me one of her recipe boxes that had survived the house fire that had destroyed her house in 1990. She had more than one, she told me, and wanted me to have this one because Red, my grandfather, had made it. It smelled a little smoky, but was in pretty good shape except for a crack on the lid from the heat from the fire or the water from the firefighters or some combination of the two.

Rhodes Family Recipe Box

In a side note— years later my dad came across a sheet of paper with a drawing of a cornucopia inside a book and made a frame for it. When I visited, I recognized that it was the cornucopia on top of the recipe box, that my grandfather had drawn (or more likely traced) to stencil on the top, then tucked into the book.

Anyway, when I got the box from Marge, she also had my relatives write out some recipes to put inside to start it off, and included some of her own, including one of my favorites—Scalloped Oysters.

Everyone’s family has those required dishes for the holidays—you know, the ones where leaving them out would probably cause the world to stop spinning—and ours is no different.

The original Scalloped Oysters recipe came from at least as far back as my paternal great-great-grandmother. The Rhodes side of the family has been in New England since the early 1600s (not a typo), and it’s a dish that makes me think of that part of the country. It was a side dish that my grandmother always made, and so Dad requested it be included in holiday meals when he married my mom. And of course, when I moved out on my own, I brought the tradition with me.

Many people put oysters in their stuffings, or have some sort of scalloped corn dish they make, but this recipe is nothing like either of those. I liken it most to grilled fresh-shucked oysters you get in seafood restaurants—same flavor, just all in one big dish rather than individually. Now I live in Oregon and have access to great oysters, which makes it even better.

Oysters do have a reputation, I know, and while I can’t verify the libido-increasing powers of this recipe, I can say that it’s the one that my guests request the most. ☺ Maybe give it a try this holiday season when pints of fresh oysters are easy to find in the meat section, and let me know what you think! And if you make it on Thanksgiving or Christmas, know that there are Rhodes households from Oregon to Nebraska to Rhode Island having the same dish.



Rhodes’ Scalloped Oysters

2 pints fresh shucked oysters (not canned—you can find them in the seafood section of the meat department)

4 Tbsp reserved liquid

2 Tbsp ½ and ½ or milk

½ c. fine bread crumbs

1 ½ c. cracker crumbs (I usually do half saltines and half Club crackers, but suit your taste—roll and pound in a plastic bag)

½ c. (1 stick) melted butter


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9×9 baking dish. Mix the crumbs together and stir in the melted butter. Pat a thin layer in the bottom of the baking dish. Add oysters in a single layer. Packed tight is fine. Salt and pepper then drizzle the combined liquids over the oysters. Top with the remaining crumbs Bake 30 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!


When I’m not lost in my imagination, you can find me in beautiful Oregon and at:

My Website: http://www.devonrhodes.com/
My Blog: http://devonrhodes.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/devon.rhodes
Twitter: https://twitter.com/devonrhodes

4 Responses to “Dream Dishes: Devon Rhodes’s Family Traditions, Cornucopias and Oysters”

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