Apple Pie Cookies

Seeing as how my ambitious 2012 Thanksgiving Cupcake Project took an entire weekend, I decided to scale back a bit for this year's dessert, choosing to go with Smitten Kitchen's Apple Pie Cookies instead.

For Your Enjoyment, Thanksgiving ed.

In 1953, someone at Swanson colossally miscalculated the level of the American appetite for Thanksgiving turkey, leaving the company with some 260 tons of frozen birds sitting in ten refrigerated railroad cars. Enter the father of invention, Swanson salesman Gerry Thomas, a visionary inspired by the trays of pre-prepared food served on airlines. Ordering 5,000 aluminum trays, concocting a straightforward meal of turkey with corn-bread dressing and gravy, peas and sweet potatoes (both topped with a pat of butter), and recruiting an assembly line of women with spatulas and ice-cream scoops, Thomas and Swanson launched the TV dinner at a price of 98 cents (those are Eisenhower-era cents, of course).

- Thanksgiving leftovers launched the TV dinner

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

- Proclamation of Thanksgiving, Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863

"Under my authority as vice president of the United States of America, I hereby grant this yam full and unconditional clemency," a smiling Biden declared as he gently patted "Spud," a Beauregard sweet potato grown in Louisiana and selected from millions of candidates yielded by this year’s harvest. 

- A classic Onion report on the annual Vice Presidential Yam Pardoning

Damn it, I’m a legitimate part of the meal, and it’s about time I was treated as such.

- The Cranberry Sauce Has Something to Say

I am not suggesting that you substitute the sweet potato for the turkey as the centerpiece on your Thanksgiving table, though you could do worse. I am merely saying that the sweet potato deserves more attention and even a bit of praise.

- All Hail the Sweet Potato

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house. We had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.

- Jon Stewart

For a time early in this century, the pardoned birds were sent to Disneyland. More often, they went to farms in Virginia for public display. This year the birds will travel to the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens for “Christmas at Mount Vernon."

A History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon

Every year deep-fryer fires are responsible for five deaths, 60 injuries, the destruction of 900 homes, and more than $15-million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. 

- Be careful out there

In 1924, R. H. Macy and Company introduced two institutions: the first Seventh Avenue addition to the existing Broadway store in Herald Square and the Macy's Christmas Parade. Yes, what we now know as Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade started out as a Christmas pageant. R. H. Macy and Company was a company full of immigrants, who were thankful for the opportunities that America and New York City gave them. They decided to give thanks and celebrate their good fortune with a tradition rooted in the festivals of their homelands: parades. Macy's employees incorporated their own traditions with what newspapers called an "Americanized modern slant." The press billed the event as "a surprise New York will never forget."

- A history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

In 1939, FDR decided to move Thanksgiving Day forward by a week. Rather than take place on its traditional date, the last Thursday of November, he decreed that the annual holiday would instead be celebrated a week earlier. The reason was economic. There were five Thursdays in November that year, which meant that Thanksgiving would fall on the 30th. That left just 20 shopping days till Christmas. By moving the holiday up a week to Nov. 23, the president hoped to give the economy a lift by allowing shoppers more time to make their purchases and—so his theory went—spend more money.

- That time FDR tried to move Thanksgiving

In 1857, James Lord Pierpont, an organist at a Unitarian church in Savannah, Georgia, published the music and lyrics to a song he had written, “The One Horse Open Sleigh.” The song was first performed during a Thanksgiving concert at the church.

- "Jingle Bells" was originally written for a Thanksgiving celebration

You might think that your post-turkey nap is caused by the bird itself, but this is actually just a myth.

- No, turkey doesn't make you sleepy. Overeating does

"If forced at gunpoint to pick just one I would opt for the Pinot Noir. It would work with both light and dark meat as well as with many of the accoutrements that go with the bird."

- Red or white?

[W]ith their giant size, stooped frame, and limited mobility, today's birds bear little resemblance to their early counterparts. So how did we end up with these modern megabirds? According to Suzanne McMillan, senior director of the farm animal welfare campaign of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it wasn't by accident.

- A thoroughly unappetizing glimpse into the inhumane modern turkey industry (See also: this)

Beginning in the early 1900s, more and more Americans were opening up to the novel idea that thanksgiving need not include turkey. What they could not—or would not—fathom was Thanksgiving sans celery.

- Celery and Olives Dominated Thanksgiving for Nearly 100 Years—Until They Didn't

Similar dishes are known as hashbrown casserole or cheesy potatoes in other parts of the country.

- ...Mormon funeral potatoes? What is your state Googling this Thanksgiving? (See also: this...and this)

The daredevil-ish recipe calls for a tiny warbler stuffed in a bunting, inserted in a lark, squeezed in a thrush, thrown in a quail, inserted in a lapwing, introduced to a plover, piled into a partridge, wormed into a woodcock, shoehorned into a teal, kicked into a guinea fowl, rammed inside a duck, shoved into a chicken, jammed up in a pheasant, wedged deep inside a goose, logged into a turkey. And just when you think a 16-bird roast is probably enough, it's not. This meat sphere is finally crammed up into a Great Bustard, an Old World turkey-turned-wrapping paper, for this most epic of poultry meals.

- Your turducken has nothing on Laurent Grimod de la Reynière's rôti sans pareil

In fact, so many people participated in masking and making merry back then that, according to a widely distributed item that appeared in the Los Angeles Times of Nov. 21, 1897, Thanksgiving was "the busiest time of the year for the manufacturers of and dealers in masks and false faces. The fantastical costume parades and the old custom of making and dressing up for amusement on Thanksgiving day keep up from year to year in many parts of the country, so that the quantity of false faces sold at this season is enormous."

- Halloween...or Thanksgiving

In short, if shopping on the other 364 days of the year is the behavioral economist's version of bringing a knife to a gunfight, going out on Black Friday is going to that same gunfight with a knife made out of Play-Doh. Between retail tricks and your own cognitive flaws, you have almost no chance of actually saving money or making rational decisions. (Plus, you might get trampled.)

-  Maybe you should just stay home on Black Friday

Gratitude is an antidote to life’s hardships and an magnifier of its blessings. We must practice it not just at Thanksgiving, or just when life is easy. We must practice it always.

- Remember, you don't need to wait for Thanksgiving to give thanks 

"F*** the diet."

- This guy

For Your Enjoyment #25

"The problem with that bear is it doesn't have a complete wardrobe," said councillor Ryszard Cichy. "It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children."

- Winnie the Pooh has reportedly been rejected as a possible mascot for a Polish playground for his dubious sexuality and inappropriate attire (image above)

Chasing love is not irresponsible, it’s honest. It’s admitting that there is no greater chase, nothing more important. Because if you’re not chasing love, what are you running after?

- "Staying Is Settling", a sweet (yet entirely overly idealistic) essay on why moving is necessary

Oakland is now in the midst of downward trend in violent crime, it continues to have the highest per-capita crime rate in the state — a rate five times the California average.

- Oh, Oakland

Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care.

- Looking to be offensive? Check out Binyavanga Wainaina's satirical essay, "How to Write About Africa"

The number of Fortune 500 companies willing pay for sex reassignment surgeries and other transgender-related healthcare has gone from zero in 2002 to 169 this year.

- Transgender healthcare is on the rise

My name is David, and I am the marine biologist who put a shrimp on a treadmill—a burden I will forever carry. To be clear, the treadmill did not cost millions of taxpayer dollars, the goal of the research was not to exercise shrimp, and the government did not pay me—or anyone else—to work out shrimp on treadmills.

How a $47 Shrimp Treadmill Became a $3-Million Political Plaything

At a news conference, the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, said that members of the grand jury deliberated for more than two days before finding that no probable cause existed to file charges against Officer Wilson.

- Ferguson

Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference.

- Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr., parents of Michael Brown, Jr.

How a ‘tiny hamster’ video gets made

In total, planning, scripting and prepping a tiny hamster video takes a crew of 10 people roughly a month. Shooting can take a full day: The Thanksgiving video took 12 hours, with a 30-minute lunch for its human participants. And from those hours and hours of filming, only a minute or so of footage actually gets used.

- The Washington Post examines the making of the Tiny Hamster videos

For Your Enjoyment #24

Emperor penguins are notoriously shy. When researchers approach, these penguins normally back away and their heart rate goes up. That's not what the scientists need when they want to check heart rate, health and other penguin parameters. So international scientists and filmmakers, led by Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg in France, created a remote control rover disguised as a chick to snuggle up to shy penguins in Adelie Land, Antarctica...

Roving penguin cams allow a glimpse into life on the ice (image above; h/t DM)

“It’s nice to finally have a simple, clean expanse of unspoiled nature where I can just pop in, enjoy looking at a couple of endangered condors, grab a quick breakfast and the day’s paper by a windswept escarpment, and then be on my way."

- The Onion reports on the newest National Park, designed to cater to business travelers 

[T]rying hard to be different often ends up in hipsters consistently taking the same decisions, in other words all looking alike. We resolve this apparent paradox studying a canonical model of statistical physics, enriched by incorporating the delays necessary for information to be communicated.

- Jonathan Touboul examines the conformity of everyone's favorite anti-conformists in this scientific journal-style publication

To stay relevant and increase demand for potatoes, it will be critical to understand Millennials and how potatoes fit into their lives—now and in the future.

- The United States Potato Board (USPB) is working to understand the role of potatoes in the lives of Millennials

Here’s an insanely revolutionary act: why not counter each ill thought that comes through your head with an acceptance—the acceptance that you’re not always going to agree with everything every woman does. Or an acceptance that some women will be tricky and some will be actual bitches, some of them will read Lean In and be the next Sheryl Sandberg, some women will call Beyoncé an anti-feminist, some will be walking contradictions, or some women will say that I’m a fake behind my back, or that I’m a liar, and that I don’t write well, or whatever—and just to accept that people are just people, women are just women, instead of reacting poorly and slamming them in whatever juvenile way that you see fit.

- Women, let's all love each other, respect and appreciate each other, and be there for one another, shall we? (h/t CM) 

[O]n its war path to a $30 billion valuation, Uber continues to battle itself with questionable comments and tactics that are in danger of harming the company’s reputation and becoming a liability.

- Uber might be kind of a creep and you should probably be creeped out by its creepiness 

That’s it. Enough already. Enough. Enough. Enough. Whether we want to or not, we have to deal with our feminist bullying problem.

- Feminist bullies are just that, bullies.

The CoolComforts Go To Disney World

My parents spent these past few days in Disney World, even kicking off their visit to Florida with their friends' Disney-themed Halloween party. This trip marked their seventh time in the park, the first being in 1981 together, followed by numerous family vacations since. Follow along with their entire week here, including their stay at our favorite Disney World resort, The Grand Floridian, and their visits to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.