Guys, I’ve been sitting on this seafood casserole recipe for at least 10 years. No joke.
I know this because I got this recipe from my aunt before I was married. Annnnnd then promptly lost it. Then sheepishly asked for it again at some point. Then proceeded to not make it for another several YEARS. That is, until yesterday. Yes, yesterday was the day that I finally got my ducks in a row, gathered up a delicious array of seafood and proceeded to make one of my favorite childhood recipes.
I’m happy to report that the Mr. ate [scarfed] it up and that it was just as good as I remembered.
One of my favorite food bloggers, Lindsay from Pinch of Yum, once wrote about “food memories” here. I had to lol reading her post because I totally do have those myself. They aren’t terribly exciting recollections themselves but they do bring back such warm and fuzzy feelings and usually tie to certain people whom I’m fond of. The food memory I have associated with this seafood casserole goes something like this:
I’m gathered around my aunt’s kitchen island as we did for many holidays growing up. I can’t recall which one it was this time. Easter? Christmas? Thanksgiving? I do remember that my aunt had dug up this seafood casserole recipe used by her mom, my grandma, who had since passed away. At that point it had been about 10 years since she died and you could still feel the void of her presence at family gatherings. The void wasn’t exactly a bad feeling. Not having her there anymore felt sad for sure but it also created this space to appreciate all that she was. Does that make sense? It’s like the absence of her there made me miss and realize all too clearly the little things that she added to our family dynamic.
I remember right after she left this Earth, feeling a sense of responsibility for filling that void with things that she did. I laughed extra loudly at things I knew she’d think were funny too, I danced around and acted silly because she used to do that to lighten the mood. She made funny faces, gave away big smiles with her lipsticked mouth and pretty eyes, stomped her foot and muttered under her breath when she was mad. All those little things were her and some of her is in me and I felt and still feel, this maybe-weird but completely comfortable sense of duty to keep those things alive as best I could.
It’s now been almost 20 years since my grandma has been gone but I still remember her soft skin, her roast beef and buttered toast lunches and her stash of molasses cookies you could find sealed in a bright orange Tupperware container in the cabinet. It feels like I was just yesterday sitting on their big floral couch, watching jeopardy with her and grandpa while we ate whipped cream and Jell-o together.
So food memories are a real thing that I’m not sure if everyone has but I know I do and I cherish them. This recipe especially brings back all the feels with each warm and cozy bite.
Recreating some of my favorite foods I remember eating with my family is just one more little way I can carry on the joy my grandma brought to our family. And really, isn’t that what family traditions are all about?
Recipe notes: You can use fresh or canned seafood for this depending on what’s available to you. This casserole recipe is meant to made be for a special occasion since it can get a little expensive and it’s very rich in flavor as well. If you’re lucky enough to have leftlover crab, crawfish and/or lobster and you’re wondering what to do with it, this can also make a really easy weeknight dinner casserole. And finally, I wouldn’t be doing my Annapolitan roots justice if I didn’t offer up a link to every Marylander’s favorite seasoning, Old Bay. It serves as a great topping for this casserole as well as corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese, pork and well, just about anything else really!