When my paternal grandmother (or as I called her, “Granna”) died a few years ago, there were only two things I wanted from her belongings. One was her old totally retro vintage awesome pie tin, circa 1970-something. Every Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas it held her chocolate custard pie topped with a thick layer of meringue. Being a person born with a very large sweet tooth, I would gaze lovingly and longingly at that pie tin throughout dinner, unable to contain my excitement for dessert. The other thing I wanted was her cookbook. It’s old and tattered and splattered, and was printed sometime in the 60’s, full of recipes for those weird gelatin desserts that were popular during that time period. But it also has hand written old recipes as well. Nowadays, no one seems to keep hand written recipes. We prop our iPhone while we bake, smearing the screen with our floured fingers as we cook.

winston-salem doulas

A well used handwritten recipe from my Granna Martha

Our family’s favorite side dish for Thanksgiving on Granna’s table was her sweet potato souffle. It was the best sweet potato sweet souffle!  (I really think it’s more of a sweet potato casserole, but she called it a souffle, so that’s what I will call it).  I continue to make it every Thanksgiving, and it’s the most popular side dish on the table.  I’ll be eating it again this year, (as long as I’m not at a birth with a client, which is what every doula says to family for every gathering!) and I thought I would share the recipe here for our readers.  We’d love to hear about your family’s Thanksgiving feast!  What recipe has been passed down that’s always a part of your dinner?

Granna Martha’s Sweet Potato Souffle (or casserole, whichever you’d prefer to call it)

  • 3 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix ingredients together and pour into a greased medium sized casserole dish

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 stick butter
  • 1 cup coconut

Mix and sprinkle on top of souffle.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes

I’m allergic to nuts, so we often make two batches, and omit the pecans in the topping, and it’s still delicious!


Just for the heck of it, here’s the recipe for one of those weird vintage gelatin salad things.  (If you really like these, you gotta leave a comment and let me know!)

vintage gelatin desserts

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!  We are so very thankful for our clients and their families, and the wonderful physicians, midwives, nurses and other birth professionals we are blessed to work with in the Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point areas of the Piedmont.

Happy eating!
Becky Hale CD(DONA) is a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator in Winston-Salem NC.