He sat in the circle with his toes barely able to touch the floor. His turn to share about Thanksgiving was coming around way to slow. Soon all eyes were on him as the preschool teacher finally asked, “so what was your favorite food at Thanksgiving?” He sat up straight and proudly answered that his family got to eat dog food.

I never knew what reaction my brother received from his classmates as I am only relaying the story I have heard for over 41 years now. Polite guests laugh and pass their plates while my mother shares her story of having to assure the teacher that we were not actually eating food that was canned for canines.

What is dog food?

It is now the staple dish at our holiday table. It continues to be proudly centered right next to, and in some cases replaces the turkey. It is actually my most requested recipe from childhood friends whose memory of joining us for a holiday or formal meal included the infamous dog food.

You will not get a copy of this recipe without the story of how it made it’s debut that autumn of 1977, how it almost got our family a holiday DSHS visit and is still a family tradition to this day.

Feeder’s Digest – The new cookbook put out by our church as a fundraiser for the small two-classroom church school. I was 9 years old. Who organized, compiled and had this culinary memoir published? My mother of course.

On page 59 you will find it. It is under a different name though, Mock Turkey Loaf. This is a vegetarian cookbook, so you will see the word mock on several of the recipes.

On that Thanksgiving day, the dish was lovingly prepared and brought to the table still steaming. As my mom dished my dad’s plate he looked at my brother and said,

“well, it looks like we get to eat Alpo for Thanksgiving”.Click To Tweet

My dad loves to kid around and he was having fun teasing my mom. He is also a meat eater, so next to the beautifully browned turkey one would have to agree. To a 4-year-old this was a literal statement and we were going to be eating dog food.

Since that day page 59 has been well used and shared. I no longer need to read the instructions, but I still pull it out. The pages are browned with age and dripping ingredients. On the pages, I read the names of people from my past who shared a favorite dish, a seat at their table and a part of their traditions.

I look at the cover with new eyes today. A mother bird returns to the nest with food. My nest is empty now, but as I make out my grocery list for next weeks meal I will be bringing home those familiar ingredients. Dog Food will be served to my kids who are traveling home and the silly voice of my father will play in my head as I place the dish next to the turkey.

It looks like we will get to eat Alpo for Thanksgiving

Click for the recipe.

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