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Thanksgiving and Cook's Illustrated

I'm fairly excited about Thanksgiving Day tomorrow -- not just because it's my favorite holiday, but because for the first time, I'm doing all the cooking myself. In the past, I've often cooked the turkey, but never the side dishes. This year I'm doing it all.

I'm relying heavily on the people at Cook's Illustrated magazine. (They also put on the television show America's Test Kitchen.) My sister-in-law Karin (yes, for the observant, I have both an ex-wife and a sister-in-law named Karin), who is an outstanding chef, turned me onto Cook's Illustrated. If you're at all scientifically minded, it's definitely the way to go. The writers experiment extensively -- by controlling certain variables and varying others -- to find the best recipes for basic dishes. In the current issue, for example, they cook over 35 rib roasts to find the best recipe for roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, and they cook 50 batches to find the best recipe for sugar cookies.

The Cook's Illustrated people have published a number of books, including The Best Recipe. It's what I'm using to plan and cook Thanksgiving dinner. Note also that they operate a Thanksgiving cooking advice site, Turkey Help.

I'm flying solo tomorrow, with just The Best Recipe to help. I'll report back here on how it goes.

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