Voting, renting a car, hosting your first Thanksgiving — all important milestones on a path toward adulthood. But that last one is fraught with responsibility. If you burn dinner on any other night, there is always pizza. If you ruin the turkey, well, it’s the only night of the year when the thought of pizza makes us sad.
But fear not, young chef. There is a lot of help in the form of apps, chatbots, and voice-activated assistants! From planning what to make to picking out the perfect pumpkin to — most importantly — finding the right wine, we offer you some help to help ensure everyone you invite this year will want to come back next Thanksgiving, too.
Bon appétit Thanksgiving
Maybe you remember your that your mom always made stuffing, and your cousin was famous for his candied yams, but what else should you put on your Thanksgiving table? The food fanatics at Bon appétit put together a few holiday meal guides, including classic, modern, southern, and new traditions. And if you want to mix a little modern — like the grape and apple pie — with the traditional (mmm, fluffy mashed potatoes), who is going to stop you?
iTunes Google Play
Once you have decided on your basic menu, you can go looking for interesting takes on your basic green bean casserole, if you want. Yummly takes results from all over the Internet, so this search will give you tons of results, but that is what the filter button is for. You can omit recipes with ingredients you hate; look by cuisine type; limit by prep time; and indicate whether you prefer something that is spicy, sweet, sour, and so on. If you find something that sets your heart a-skipping, you can add the ingredients to your Instacart, if you have an account. You will also get nutrition information, which might be useful, depending on how you feel about Thanksgiving pants.
iTunes google play Microsoft
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is not all about the turkey. For some people it is all about the Tofurkey. But side dishes deserve some spotlight, too. The problem for some newbie cooks is that produce they don’t pick up every day can seem alien. How does one tell a particular butternut squash is the right one for their soup recipe? Perfect Produce gives detailed buying and prep guides (heavier squash is better than light, apparently). Sure, you can Google whether you should remove a eggplant’s skin, but it is nice to have it all under one app.
iTunes google play
If you really, really don’t know what you’re doing, this app might help. SideChef’s creator, Kevin Yu, has described its target audience as the cooking-for-dummies crew. It has big pictures to go along with each step and videos and tips for certain things. Don’t know what “slice an orange” means? There’s a video to show you the technique. Seriously. But some of its other features are meant to appeal to all sorts of cooks, like the voice recognition and speech features. It will read the directions aloud, then you can tell it to advance to the next step without smearing giblet juice all over your phone. Its filters aren’t as elegant as Yummly’s, but it can walk you through a challenging recipe pretty thoroughly.
itunes google play
If the only time you serve wine is at Thanksgiving, then you might need a little help in this department. Even if you are pretty sure poultry pairs with white, Hello Vino can give you even more details — based on whether you’re smoking, roasting, or barbecuing your bird. For example, it recommends chardonnay (even tells you how to pronounce it) and gives some quick tasting notes — though “buttery flavors and vanilla” might not mean much to non-oenophiles. Then it breaks down its picks into “recommended,” “highly rated,” and “$10 and under.” It’s meant as more of a way to order wines, but it gives you a starting place.
The app is supported by ads, and its scanning feature — which lets you take a picture of a wine label to get details about it — costs money, unlike other free apps like Vivino and Delectable. Still, neither of those had as robust food-pairing suggestions. Don’t forget the perfect-with-pumpkin-pie pouilly-fuissé.
itunes google play
Food Network Messenger Chatbot
Calling the turkey talk-line is one way to handle your poultry problems this Thanksgiving, but the Food Network also has you covered with its Facebook Messenger chatbot. It can find you recipes from your favorite Food Network show or chef, and also give you hints on how to brine a turkey. This way, you can get all your info on the sly and your guests will never have to know how clueless you were.
For those who have both an Echo, Dot, or other Alexa-enabled device and a new General Electric oven, you can get your voice-activated assistant to do some of the work for you. With the Geneva skill enabled, you can ask Alexa to turn on your oven when it is turkey time. It might be a bit gimmicky, but your guests will probably be impressed.