Mom’s Scalloped Potatoes & Her Thing About Butter

glorias scalloped potatoesLet’s see if I paid attention to how my mom, Gloria, made her scalloped potatoes. She was always peeling potatoes; there were seven of us. And she had no recipe box if I remember, just a mental arsenal of foods we would consume without debate. There were no extra items for any fussy eater. Either you ate or you didn’t.  And no dessert if you DIDN’T, so we ate.  Last time I asked her how she made these potatoes, she said she didn’t recall.  So, let me try…

Peel, slice, layer russet potatoes. A little salt and pepper. Then a Tupperware drinking cup of whole milk. Heaping tablespoon of flour, snap on the lid and shake. Pour over potatoes, bake. How long? Until we heard mom yell from several houses away: “GIRRRRLS??  DIN-NER!!”

NOTE: mom will point out that my photo (above) is not her scalloped potatoes. That is correct, since I didn’t have her recipe anyway, I made them my own way.  I didn’t peel the potatoes. Added a few dots of butter. Sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.  My mom cooked with margarine, not butter.  Oh, don’t get me wrong — she PURCHASED butter… But only grownups were allowed to eat it. Kids didn’t qualify. Mom grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, and only Real Butter for her. Dad is also Wisconsin, but I never thought he cared one way or the other about the butter.  Mom kept a Stick Of Real Butter on a china plate in the cupboard. Not refrigerated. That was The Awesomeness Of Real Butter – besides being Adults Only, it magically Never Turned Rancid. One day when I was around age 13, we kids secretly switched it with a stick of Imperial Margarine. And the earth shifted — Mom didn’t notice. BEST PRACTICAL JOKE EVER. She ate Imperial Margarine after that, I believe.

Circa 1955Gloria’s Scalloped Potatoes, Updated

  • 4 medium or 6 small russet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a shallow casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Wash and thinly slice the potatoes, layer in the dish.  Dot the top with butter.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour milk into a large jar with a lid. Add flour, cap and shake until blended.  Pour over potatoes.  Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and potatoes are fork-tender.  Makes 4 servings.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jigar December 16, 2015 at 6:08 pm

First of all, I wanted to tell you that tonhigt I made this garlic bread (for the millionth time) to go with tomato basil soup and as always, it was heavenly!! Oh and I’m laughing at my comment above. I can’t believe it’s been over 2 years we’ve ‘known’ each other!! I hope you guys had a fantastic Christmas! How’s that precious lil bun in the oven doing?? 🙂 Hopefully, good!! 🙂

2 Don Odiorne July 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Loved the story too. Many a friend’s house when visited had the butter out on the table along with the ketchup and none of us died. My Dad was from the North East, loved his lobster. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I ever got to taste the claws. He told all the kids they wouldn’t like it, strongest part of the lobster. Worst part, we all believed it…

3 Worth The Whisk December 11, 2010 at 8:57 am

Kelly, “back in the day” when Imperial Margarine was first introduced, it’s claim to fame was you couldn’t tell the difference between it and butter. It’s only that brand. And my mother’s Real Butter was salted, too.

4 Kelly December 11, 2010 at 8:39 am

That is the best childhood food story I have heard lately! I also adore that photo of your family. I agree, those frocks are awesome. I would love to go around dressed like your mom, even today. I’m just shocked that she didn’t notice the difference. I think I could, but maybe that’s just me. Butter and margarine just have a completely different mouthfeel to me, not to mention the flavor of one is so much richer and more interesting than the other.

5 elise December 9, 2010 at 11:29 pm

a) love the photo
b) its hilarious picturing aunt gloria in this story…i don’t think g-ma has ever expressed any strong feelings about butter vs. margarine, but now i wanna ask my mom about it

6 louise mellor December 8, 2010 at 11:06 am

patti, thanks for the trip down memory lane… mine~ my mom always made scalloped potatoes and they were GOOD… i think she put onion in hers and maybe corn. i love the story about the butter only for the adults, my family would leave me if i restricted their butter- we are all addicts and have a full crock sitting on the counter. love the picture, they look like cheesy goodness~
C’est Si Bon,

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