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Thanksgiving Cooking

by Tim Yu
on 12 November 2007
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Whether you're a consummate home chef or more of the reheat-and-serve school of cooking, having an arsenal of tools makes the daunting task of cooking a Thanksgiving meal easier and maybe even more fun. We've gathered some of latest and some of the tried-and-true to help make your holiday a little smoother.

A place setting and dessert in-one, these chocolate favors add a decorative touch to the table. Available in both milk and dark chocolate varieties, they are all natural Belgian chocolates and made in Vermont. At approximately 2.5 inches tall, they aren't as big as the real thing but are sure to steal some of the attention. Individually wrapped, they come in a set of three milk and three dark chocolate turkeys. Available from Lake Champlain Chocolates for $21.

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The Preserve Kitchen line by Recycline makes design oriented kitchenware from 100% recycled plastics and paper. For their new line, designers Evo Design took their cues from nature for a series of products shaped like fruits and vegetables. Our favorite are the apple-inspired food storage containers, which feature a threaded lid to keep precious leftovers secure. Even dropped containers full of stuffing are safe from tops that pop off and plastic that cracks. Available exclusively at Whole Foods Market starting today, 12 November 2007 for $7 for a pack of two.

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Cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving feast staple, but we could do without the versions that are too sweet, too runny or the jelly kind that maintains the shape of the can. A new take on the jewel-colored sauce, the Amazon.

Don't risk dropping 10 pounds of protein and arguably the most important meal of the year. Rather, securely lift the bird out of the oven with this harness. Made of silicone, it won't affect the flavor or the cooking process. Especially useful for larger turkeys, simply place straps underneath the turkey before roasting for a no-fuss way to get the bird on to a platter that doesn't involve spearing it with a fork and letting out hours of basting. Available for $10 from A Cook's Companion in Brooklyn, NY or online from La Prima. via New York magazine

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Winner of a Red Dot Design Award this year, these Zyliss measuring cups are easy to use and stackable when not in use. A rounded inner surface makes it easier to prepare and whisk ingredients in the cup. Being able to prepare and dispense ingredients from the same vessel saves time on clean-up and minimizes loss of ingredients from transfers. Measuring scales are marked on both the inside and outside of the cup making it easy to read. The three different sizes—one, two and four cups—all have non-skid bottoms and are available for $20 from Gracious Home.

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Though not traditional, we think a fresh, crisp green salad adds a needed bit of light fare to a Thanksgiving meal. For artful salad making, leave it to the Swiss to make a sleek, high-performance salad spinner. We've long appreciated the efficiency of Zyliss spinners and this version kicks it up a notch with a stainless steel bowl. It also still has the built-in automatic cord retraction system, a stop button and the gentle automatically alternating spin action that made us fans in the first place. Available from PGS for €50.

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With a Wireless Digital Thermometer, you no longer need to stick your head in the oven to check the Turkey's temperature and can even hop in the shower before guests arrive. The wireless capabilities allow for monitoring the meal from nearly any other room in your home to help prevent the classically dry, overcooked bird. Insert the stainless steel probe in the thickest part of the turkey's thigh and cook till it hits 180 degrees. There's even a paging system to alert you when it reaches the right temperature. Get it for $50 at Crate and Barrel.

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The Oxo Fat Separator works double time to help slim down gravy. First, a heat-resistant plastic filter at the top separates fat and impurities. Fat that slipped through then rises to the top, so the pour spout dispenses the more lean liquid from the bottom of the cup. It's also got a stopper and non-slip grip for better handling. Starting at $11 for the smallest size at Sur la Table.

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Brining a Turkey is the method generally agreed upon by most cooks as the best way to add huge amounts of flavor and to keep the meat from drying out. We recommend making your own brine, but if pressed for time we've heard good things about the Fire and Flavor Perfect Turkey Brine. Using all natural ingredients, it's said to give the turkey more of an herb flavor and all you have to do is add water and a bit of sugar to the mix. Don't forget the brine bag. Both are available from Fire and Flavor for $8.

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Another weapon in the war against dried-out turkeys, an injection baster helps get the juices in the bird where it matters. The fact is, once a turkey starts cooking it doesn't take juices well topically. Better to inject it with the Cuisipro dual baster/injector, which features an interchangeable shower baster and injector head so you can do both. Available at Sur la Table for $10.

If you're prone to "blackening" the turkey or you O.D. on tryptophan and doze off with candles burning, you might have to use one of these Home Hero Fire Extinguishers. Much more chic-looking than the standard variety, this one's modern enough to display, making it more accessible in times of need. The ergonomic design also makes it easier to pull the can't-miss red safety pin for one-handed deployment of life-saving foam. Available at Home Depot for around $30 soon.

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