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Preparations for Thanksgiving feast already are under way

POSTED: December 2, 2008 5:00 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Peggy Truelove checks an oven full of cakes at Truelove Celebrations. The North Hall bakery will prepare about 125 pre-ordered cakes for Thanksgiving. Truelove stopped taking orders for cakes in September.

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With Thanksgiving just a few days away, many people are starting the process of hunting and gathering all the necessary components for the yearly feast.

Some are choosing to start early on a homemade spread while others are placing orders at local restaurants and shops to secure a stress-free holiday.

Emily McConnell, a spokeswoman for 2 Dog Restaurant in Gainesville, said the restaurant receives orders for a variety of items around Thanksgiving.

"As a side dish for Thanksgiving they really love our roasted veggies," McConnell said.

McConnell said side dishes, which sell for $2 to $2.50 a person, are the most popular sellers.

"We do have a select few people that do actually order turkeys from us," McConnell said. "Generally they come back every single year for a turkey and (the chef’s) dressing. People do love to order his dressing as well."

Desserts also are popular.

"We get lots of requests for our peanut butter pies, chocolate cream pies, apple pies and our delightful pecan diamonds," McConnell said. "They are just delicious."

McConnell said she thinks people prefer ordering food because it’s convenient, and they can avoid the grocery store and the hassle of cooking for a large number of people.

"It’s just easier," McConnell said.

At Honey Baked Ham on Thompson Bridge Road, employees are experiencing one of the busiest weeks of the year.

Store Manager Juanita Jackson said she anticipates selling more than 1,000 turkeys and hams by Wednesday.

Jackson said her store begins preparing for the Thanksgiving rush in August.

And though the store prepares early, most customers don’t.

"We have a lot of people that procrastinate; they want to come like Wednesday," Jackson said.

Last year, Jackson said so many people came to the store that it caused a traffic jam on Thompson Bridge Road.

Another popular Thanksgiving destination is Truelove Celebrations on Cleveland Highway near Clermont.

Owner Peggy Truelove said she has been turning people away since September, because her Thanksgiving orders filled up so quickly.

"Everybody’s been placing their orders since January of last year," Truelove said of her cakes, which sell for between $15 and $25.

Because she has a small business and all cakes are made from scratch, Truelove said she can only make so many cakes at a time. However, she has 125 orders for Wednesday.

"It’s been good for me, I’ve been real blessed," Truelove said.

While some are placing orders for their favorite local confections, many others who plan to cook their Thanksgiving meals from scratch were out shopping for groceries Monday at J&J Foods.

Gloria Long said she makes a variety of desserts every year, including pumpkin pie and egg custard.

She said egg custard is an old family recipe.

"I got it from my grandma. She’s 91," Long said.

She said she doesn’t plan too far ahead for Thanksgiving, but she has shopping down to a science.

"I’ve been doing it a long time," Long said.

Valeria Mathis said she will be cooking for nine people this year.

"I have already shopped one time," she said Monday.

Mathis said she will cook everything at home, and her most popular dish is a sweet potato souffle.


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