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You probably don’t have time to read this because Thanksgiving is only two days away. If you aren’t cooking, odds are you have to travel, and you need the time to fret about potential traffic snarls and perhaps wonder if a copy of Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well would make a good hostess gift. The answer? No. Instead, make a space for the (marvelous) book on your shelf with a heartfelt promise to do the cooking next year, and go stand in line at the wine shop, like everyone else.

Then again, you may take comfort in procrastination, especially if a dive into the archives may prove helpful at the supermarket, in the kitchen, or at the table, when an innocent “Please pass the yams” can set off a contentious discussion about botanical provenance. And just remember that at Thanksgiving, like any other special occasion, we should all try to be happy with the classic standard invoked by James Beard: “It was a nice party. Nobody cried. Nobody threw up.”

1. For the past few years, a heritage turkey has been my Thanksgiving bird of choice, and I explain why in a recent column for TakePart. I never stuff my turkey—it looks more elegant that way, and anyway, I like my stuffing crisp on top, the way it gets when you bake it in a pan. This year, I’m inclined to deconstruct the stuffing altogether, and instead serve a revved-up rendition of crouton salad with kale.

2. Okay, about yams. I know I’ll go to my grave explaining that even though some sweet potato cultivars are (mis)labeled as yams, these are two completely different root vegetables, and unless you shop at an African, Caribbean, Philippine, or Latin market, you have probably never eaten a true yam. Curious, aren’t you? Click here and more will be revealed.

3. If you find making gravy the most fraught part of Thanksgiving cooking, relax and take a look at last year’s “Gravy Rules,” which may demystify the process. You’ll find a recipe for pan gravy (plus a gluten-free version) as well.

4.  Most people aren’t quite as obsessive as I am about new-crop pecans, but do yourself a favor and taste before using whatever you buy at a supermarket or big-box store. If the nuts are rancid, return them! Odds are they are last year’s crop. I order mine each year from Ellis Bros., in Vienna, Georgia, and you will find my favorite pecan pie recipe here. The secret ingredient is light Karo syrup (which isn’t the same as sweeter, more highly processed high-fructose corn syrup), but this year, I’m going to cut it with New York State sorghum.

5. I cannot imagine Thanksgiving without milk punch, one of the world’s great libations. You’ll find it in New Orleans, of course, and in Georgia and the Carolinas, where it dates back to Colonial days. I wrote about our Thanksgiving milk punch tradition two years ago, and in rereading that post, I realized to my chagrin that I neglected to give a recipe. There are innumerable variations, but below is a very simple, delicious one.

Milk Punch

Makes 4 drinks

1 cup bourbon or rum

¼ to ½ cup sugar (preferably superfine, which dissolves easier)

2 cups cold whole milk

A nip of pure vanilla extract

Freshly grated nutmeg

Combine the bourbon or rum and ¼ cup sugar in a pitcher and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Taste and stir in more sugar if desired. Fill four glasses with ice and divide punch among them. Top with the nutmeg, clink glasses, and say, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

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