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Get your ducks in a row for turkey day

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Take heart, first−time Thanksgiving chefs. Whether you’re cooking the big meal in an apartment−sized kitchen in Astoria or a suburban−sized cucina in Bayside, all it takes is a little organization to put a memorable holiday dinner on the table.

As veteran holiday cooks will tell you, the trickiest part is synchronizing the cooking so that all the food is ready at the same time. Here’s where organization is your friend. Start three weeks ahead of Thanksgiving Day – which means now – with three pieces of paper (or your Blackberry) to plan a menu, a shopping list and a schedule.

First, write down a complete and detailed menu. This means everything, from soup to salad to turkey and stuffing to dessert – and don’t forget the beverages and condiments. Pull out cookbooks for recipes or go online to sites such as http:⁄⁄allrecipes.com or www.epicurious.com for inspiration.

Traditionally for 10 to 12 people, cooks will want turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, one to three side dishes or salads, sweet and⁄or mashed potatoes, dessert and rolls. However, beyond the basic turkey, every family has its own traditions, so pick recipes to please your family and friends.

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