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Cooking turkey dinner, with a little help from an app

Thanksgiving is a time to spend wholesome moments with family and enjoy great food and drink. It's also a time to panic about getting that complex menu cooked on time or forgetting something crucial at the grocery store.

Thank goodness there are apps to help with all of this.

Thanksgiving: A Bon Appétit Manual is a beautiful and useful app. Its calm, clean graphics may make you feel calm yourself as you juggle gravy, dessert, drinks and more. It is full of both individual recipes and complete menus, each with straightforward text instructions and illustrated with great photos.

It will even build a menu time schedule for you, letting you know which dish to prepare at what time so that everything is ready when you need it. Guidelines include which utensils you'll need, and if you feel in need of a drink after all the stress of cooking, there's even a guide to cocktails.

I wish it had a way to auto-generate shopping lists for you based on your food choices. And while the menu system is pretty slick, it may involve a few too many taps to suit gravy-spattered fingers in the kitchen. It is free, though.

Simpler, but with the added option to build shopping lists, is Thanksgiving Menu Maker. It has a fairly basic interface but nevertheless offers useful cooking guidelines with about 75 recipes. Though it's more straightforward than Bon Appétit's app, it still has handy extras like hints and tips videos, plus ideas on what to do with the leftovers. It has annoying advertising for Fine Cooking magazine, but it's free.

The free app Thanksgiving Recipes and Jokes delivers recipe ideas in a lighthearted style, though the "jokes" seem few and far between. It also has a cute, if slightly strange, decoration and presentation gallery to give you ideas for your table. There's not much in the way of advanced scheduling to help you cook a whole meal, however.

One big task for Thanksgiving chefs is keeping track of which pan is on which burner at which heat level — and there are a couple of apps that can do this for you. On iOS I think the best is Kitchen Pad Timer. It costs $2 and includes a center burner option if you have five in your kitchen. Its interface is clear and usable.

A slightly kookier and more playful option is the Dirty Kitchen Timer, $2 on Android or $3 for iPads. It offers five timers, and it's more fun.

Cooking turkey dinner, with a little help from an app 11/22/13 [Last modified: Sunday, November 24, 2013 8:28pm]
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