Thanksgiving has always been at the top of my list for my list for my favorite holiday and now it is just one week away. It’s the perfect time for family and friends to gather together and celebrate. Of course one of the most important things about Thanksgiving is the food and that’s what this weeks column is about: my favorite foods at Thanksgiving.

For many years I start my holiday by sleeping in. Not too long, I’m usually up by 9 or 10 and settle myself down in front of the television to watch the holiday parades. My leisurely breakfast is fresh-baked stollen and numerous cups of Berres Brothers fresh ground and brewed coffee. The flavor is usually candy cane, but I see where they have a new holiday flavor this year: Holiday Grogg flavored with Scottish brandy, pecan and cinnamon. I’ve always enjoyed the Berres Brothers Grogg so I plan on making the trip to Watertown to their factory, gift shop and restaurant to pick up this new flavored grogg plus my other holiday flavors in decaf coffee. My wife Molly used to always make the stollen from an old German recipe. Luckily, my daughter-in-law, Anne, has the recipe and she has baked the stollen for me the past couple of years.

When I was a kid we always went to Grandma and Grandpa Connor’s house on Commerce Street for Thanksgiving dinner. The dining room table would be loaded with food and Grandpa Conner would carve generous slices of turkey onto the platter at the head of the table.

After I was married we had Thanksgiving dinner with Molly’s folks at Beaver Dam. The Bushkopfs would always get a “turkey duck” from a farmer friend and it was alway delicious. The bird is more commonly known as Muscovy Duck. The bird is slightly smaller than a turkey and it looked and tasted a lot like turkey meat, but was much more moist. We used to get a turkey duck from the Beaver Dam farmer and later bought it from DeForest farmers. It became harder to find and more expensive, so we switched over to the traditional turkey. And that’s what I am looking forward to enjoying this coming Thanksgiving, along with dressing, mashed potatoes and lots of turkey gravy.

The place for my Thanksgiving feast has changed over the years. After my grandfather moved to a nursing home my folks bought the old Conner house, so we continued to have the dinner at the Commerce Street house. After Molly and I got married the holiday feast would change between our house, the Buschkopf house in Beaver Dam, and the Earl Emerson house on Commerce Street. We enjoyed the holiday a few times in our place at Beaver Dam Lake. For a number of years Molly would fix the entire meal in her DeForest kitchen. We would then pack it into boxes and take to my sister Jeanne’s downtown Madison apartment, where she lived with a full time live-in aide. In more recent years I have enjoyed the holiday at my sons’ houses in DeForest and New Berlin and at Jim’s in-laws, Ed and Shirley Thompson at Pine River. It doesn’t matter to me where I am, just so I can sit down with my family to enjoy this special meal.

I saw a piece on the television news that said many of folks do not like the taste of cranberry sauce. I prefer the whole berry cranberry sauce or the cranberry relish with orange bits but if the cranberry mold out of the can is offered, I’ll enjoy that as well.

Green bean casserole is not my favorite but I will add a spoonful or two onto my plate and finish it off.

I will eat regular sweet potatoes or yams but I really don’t like the sweet potatoes made up with marshmallows and extra sugar (too sweet).

I’m not one to eat extra bread or rolls with my meal but at Thanksgiving I usually have a roll to soop up the extra gravy.

Somehow I always save some room for a small piece of pie. Pumpkin with whipped cream is my favorite.

I know the Thanksgiving meal is not healthy eating but it tastes so good and it’s only once a year, right?

Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal this year.

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