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It’s November and time to begin the  ritual of “getting ready for the holidays.” Here are some ideas from local experts to help you with this year’s planning

Food traditions quality and the basics

Move over turkey and ham; there’s a new holiday tradition in town, and it’s all about the aquatics. Who’s up for some fresh lobster flown in from Maine?

“That’s become the newest tradition at our house,” said Dr. Susan Clay-Hufford, who practices at Toledo Peds. “We have whole lobsters flown in from Maine. We boil up lobster instead of preparing turkey or ham. It’s wonderful, a great change of pace and my kids love it. I go online, place my order, and like clockwork, someones knocking at my door with live lobsters.”

Clay-Hufford had the fortunate circumstance of growing up next door to Betty Timko, Toledo traditions at Timko’s Soup’n Such including Betty’s Salad Dressing, the famous salad dressing recipe still sold in supermarkets across America.

“Betty was my neighbor when I was a child and she would share some of her recipes with our family,” Clay-Hufford said. “I still make tomato pudding.”

We’ll cleanse our palates between courses before we get to our main dish – the fresh lobsters with melted butter. You don’t normally connect seafood with family gatherings, but it’s a tradition at my house. I still make Betty’s crème cheese cookies. And you can always find Betty’s Salad Dressing, her original recipe, on our table at dinner time.”

Local favorites

For expert baker and culinary teacher Mary Blaisdell, food traditions mean getting back to a good old-fashioned mix of quality ingredients, time management and family.

“One of the biggest trends would be to buy local,” said Blaisdell, who at one time prepared food for thousands at Sylvania’s Centennial Terrace. Blaisdell also baked for Chandler’s Café in Sylvania, taught cooking classes at The Anderson’s and managed the culinary program at Williams-Sonoma.

“People are in search of local sources to find quality. Locally sourced food is hot right now. For instance, if I want raspberries, I pick my own at Hoen’s (Orchard) in Delta. I also go to Macqueen Orchards for apples.

Yackee Farms in Wauseon has free range chickens. When I use their eggs my holiday cookies taste better… period. The yolks are a more deep yellow, which means more flavor. The animal is only as good as what it’s fed. Fortunately, we have so much to choose from locally.

“People want homemade, but they often don’t have the time. They want to feel like they worked really hard to make a great dinner, but they need that jumpstart to get them going. Start with the quality local ingredients available here, and then toss in some time-saving secrets.”

“It really is about balancing the time and effort with family. You want quality, but by the time you buy all the ingredients and make it, you spent all day in the kitchen, and you miss that family time. I’ve made gravy for years, and I do it well, but I can’t, no matter how much time and effort I put in, out-do the gravy bases at Williams-Sonoma. You just add milk,” Blaisdell continued.

Dining is a main part of family tradition so think out of the box, shop and buy local or try your old standby favorites; after all just being together with family and friends is the reason for the season.

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