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A wealth of Thanksgiving help at your elbow

I feel like I've spent most of my life gathering recipes and advice for the annual Thanksgiving meal.

When I was a kid, I'd get up at 4 in the morning with mom to watch how to prepare the bird and stuffing. (Why 4 am, I now wonder? Did birds take longer to cook then? Did she cook it at a lower temperature? I'll have to ask her next week.)

In college, I noticed that around this time of year butcher shops offered handy brochures on how to carve a turkey. I have a nice collection of these I've picked up over the years (the first one, from a Stop & Shop in Boston by Beacon Hill, is a prized possession).

My Thanksgiving knowledge and recipes are drawn from all sorts or sources: newspaper clippings, magazine articles, family recipes, printouts from various gourmet and foodie Web sites, and Alton Brown. Our pumpkin pie recipe, for example, comes from a 1946 cookbook.

Most of one shelf in our kitchen is dedicated to my Thanksgiving files.
But last year I read through Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner by Joe Kissell and realized I could have saved myself a lot of time and shelf space by just having this useful e-book at my elbow.

If you haven't dedicated your life to preparing the Thanksgiving meal (or even if you have), this book is a great aid.

I was reminded of the book's usefulness again this year as I started to use iWork's Numbers to put together our holiday menu and Jeff Carlson pointed out that I could have taken advantage of the recipe and shopping-list printouts that come with the Take Control e-book.

The book doesn't have the brussels sprouts recipe we are considering, but it has just about everything else you'd need to know if you want to plan and prepare your Thanksgiving meal this year.