I truly believe I would rather cook than eat! For Thanksgiving, it's a joy to prepare a meal that everyone—from my husband, Martin, right down to our great-grandchildren—is sure to enjoy.

I vary some of the side dishes each year because I love trying new recipes. But Stuffed Roast Turkey with gravy, Mallow-Topped Sweet Potatoes, Herbed Corn and Walnut-Date Pumpkin Pie are mainstays at our holiday gathering.

Martin and I were married 51 years ago. We were born and raised in neighboring communities and moved to the farm, where we still live, right after our honeymoon.

A few months after our wedding, we had 25 people over for our first Thanksgiving dinner. My sister helped me stuff and roast the turkey that year. But thereafter, I was on my own!

I prepare Stuffed Roast Turkey like my grandma used to, rubbing the skin with butter mixed with paprika. This gives it a rich color and keeps it moist.

Sage adds distinctive flavor to the old-fashioned bread stuffing. I toast day-old bread lightly in the broiler on both sides and cube it for this recipe.

It's a family tradition to serve the stuffing in a turkey-shaped covered bowl that I bought years ago. One year I forgot to get it out. "What happened to the turkey bowl?" our gang was quick to inquire.

Flavored with pan drippings, the gravy is so easy to stir up, but everyone loves it!

When I was young, we would go to my grandmother's for Thanksgiving since my mom was ill. I lost her at an early age and learned to cook by trial and error. I started helping with family meals when I was 8.

Mallow-Topped Sweet Potatoes is another recipe that includes a "secret ingredient" of fond memories for me. It was on the menu for Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma's each year. As the casserole bakes, the marshmallows puff and create a golden-brown topping.


Garden-Fresh Flavor

In Herbed Corn, frozen sweet corn from our garden tastes as fresh as the day we picked it. The recipe is the result of my experimenting with combinations of different herbs to dress up a vegetable my family has always enjoyed.

One of our daughters and our daughter-in-law have large herb gardens, and I have a small one. So I have plenty of taste-tempting varieties to try.

Some of the grandchildren—we have 15, plus four great-grandkids—call this dish "Grandpa and Grandma's Indiana Corn" and request it when they visit. Our other daughter lives in China with her family. They'll be coming home for a visit this fall and already have their order in for "Indiana Corn!"

One of our sons and a grandson farm with us—we raise corn and soybeans on 1,700 acres. The other son is the pastor at our church, where I do volunteer work.

I encourage our grandchildren to help out in the kitchen, to set the table and make things pretty for a meal. For the Thanksgiving table, I use fall decorations—including gourds and pumpkins from the garden along with wicker cornucopias. Some of our granddaughters are taking a great interest in cooking and have their own subscriptions to Taste of Home!

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, but mine puts a twist on the traditional. The festive filling of Walnut-Date Pumpkin Pie is a bit different and has earned the Hoffman family stamp of approval.

Since some of the family stay for the day, I always cook extra so we can have leftovers in the evening (if anyone is hungry!) and can make a no-fuss turkey casserole for the next day.

I never tire of trying out new recipes and different methods of cooking. Martin jokes that he hasn't had the same meal twice since we've been married!

Besides cooking for the family, I like to bake and take goodies to friends in need. We also invite guests to our home for theme dinners about once a month.


Worldwide Recipes

My collection of cookbooks is large. I enjoy reading and studying them—and my Taste of Home issues—like novels. When we travel, my souvenir is a cookbook. I've brought them home from Holland, where my grandmother came from, and from Germany and Austria.

Finding a cookbook in China while visiting our daughter was more of a task because no English versions were available. We finally came across one with step-by-step pictures I can follow.

I look forward to a busy, happy time in the kitchen this Thanksgiving. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. And if you decide to try one or more of my recipes for your celebration, I'd be delighted!