First and foremost — Let me wish each reader a very happy Thanksgiving. All of us who work to produce Sunburn are enormously grateful for your readership.
As many of you know, it has been a trying year for our family with Michelle’s health issues. I cannot fully express how thankful Michelle and I are for those of you in The Process who have helped, in ways small and large, deal with that situation.
Of course, Michelle and I are as ever grateful for:
Programming note — Sunburn will be off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to celebrate the holiday with our families. We’ll see you bright and early next Monday.
>>>Here are some other Thanksgiving items on my radar:
— COVID-19 safety isn’t just about physical health anymore: With vaccines now readily available, another COVID-19 Thanksgiving is in store, but the precautions look slightly different from last year. At that time, vaccines weren’t readily available, and the name of the game was isolation to protect against possible superspreader feasts. Now though, The New York Times posits it’s time to look at staying healthy in a new light, “focusing on the mental, emotional and social aspects of our health, too.” The piece, derived from conversations with various health experts, recommends gatherings with only a few reasonable precautions for those who are fully vaccinated and, preferably, boosted too. For the unvaccinated, though, the piece cautions risks are still prevalent, putting both the unvaccinated and those around them at increased risk. Read more here.
— Canned or fresh? How each state prefers their cranberry sauce: Floridians are four times more likely to buy canned cranberry sauce than to make their own from fresh cranberries, according to Instacart data compiled by Axios. The Sunshine State is one of about half in the nation to prefer canned sauce to fresh. Most of the Southeastern U.S. prefers canned, along with most of the Northeastern U.S., Arizona, Nevada and Alaska. Mississippi is the state with the most canned cranberry lovers — More than 22% used the canned Thanksgiving fixin. Nearly 71% of Iowans, conversely, prefer fresh-made cranberry sauce, and states where fresh is preferred to so more extensively than in states with a canned preference, with most surpassing 21% who make their own cranberry sauce or relish.
— Wet vs. dry brine, the great debate: Wet brining a turkey involves submerging the bird in a bath of water, salt and aromatics, such as bay leaves and garlic, and refrigerating for 4-6 hours. The result is a juicier, more tender meat. But drawbacks include a possible mess — without proper caution, the water can spill all over — and the added moisture is mostly just water, meaning the meat’s natural flavor can be dulled. A dry brine includes salting the outside of the turkey. The process draws the turkey’s natural juices to the surface, mixes with the salt, and then reabsorbs the juices back into the meat, thus brining it in its own juices. Dry brine fans argue the method allows for a juicier bird, without the flavor loss, and avoids the possible mess associated with wet brine. Still others argue neither are necessary, and a non-brined turkey allows the natural flavors to shine. But brining gives the amateur cook a buffer if they leave the turkey in the oven a touch too long. Read more about the pros and cons in this Washington Post explainer.
— Spice up your Thanksgiving spread: People call it turkey day for a reason — Thanksgiving menus tend to have a lot of repetition, from the main protein to staples like mashed potatoes and stuffing. But The New York Times notes there are ways to liven up the table for a crunchier, brighter, fresher spread. The piece includes five suggestions, including adding a sweet and sour profile, a bit of crunch with fresh veggies, getting herbaceous with a bright turkey salsa verde drizzle, adding spice with things like a cilantro-date chutney, and adding some crunch with a fried shallot topping. The additions can transform even the most ordinary Thanksgiving menu from blah to wow, and most can be offered as optional add-ons while still adding a burst of color and excitement to the table without bombarding the Thanksgiving purist with flavors they don’t think belong.
— Do your relish tray like a pro: If you’re like any number of Thanksgiving hosts running behind to meet that dinner deadline, a good relish tray can save the day, satiating hungry guests while you get those last-minute details into the main course (and make sure they’re hot). But why throw some veggies, crackers, cheese and olives onto a plate willy nilly when you can get some easy tips from five-star chefs, as compiled by The Wall Street Journal? Try combining both marinated and raw fermented elements, recommends Santa Monica chef Matthew Schaler. That can be as simple as a briny pickle. Amped up deviled eggs highlight upper Midwest chef Shaina Robbins Papach and husband Joe Papach’s Harvey House relish tray, including a trout roe topping. The duo also prepare a whipped ranch mousse in lieu of supermarket dressing. New York chef Nate Adler suggests mixing and matching, including turmeric-pickled cauliflower, pickled onions, fried cumin-pickled beets, and a smoked whitefish salad.
— Wine pair like a boss: We’re all a little rusty from last year’s lonely COVID-19 Thanksgiving, and let’s face it, sometimes family dynamics call for booze. So, make sure your adult beverage offerings play up the menu while still making sure wine choices are versatile. The New York Times has plenty of tips for choosing the best crowd-pleasers, as well as some pitfalls to avoid. Don’t, the piece notes, go for overly tannic wines. That means avoiding young reds that still need to age. Too many tannins aren’t overtly bad, but they can have a fatiguing effect. Also, avoid oaky flavor profiles. As popular as oaky wines are, they can clash with many Thanksgiving foods. Also, avoid high-alcohol wines (nothing gets your crazy uncle even more vocal at the dinner table than a solid buzz) and transgressive wines that might confuse non-connoisseur guests. Do choose lively wines, those with a lot of names — such as “fresh,” “lithe,” and “energetic” — to describe them.
— Swoon-worthy accidental Thanksgiving invite continues for sixth year: It started in 2016 when Mesa, Arizona grandma Wanda Dench sent a text to the wrong number with a Thanksgiving invite to her grandchild. But the actual recipient, then 17-year-old Jamal Hinton, playfully let her know she had the wrong number, and asked if he could still get a plate. She gladly obliged … and has done so every year since, sparking a viral friendship that gives everyone on the internet all the feels. Read more about this adorable relationship here.
— Google Maps tools to make holiday travel a breeze: Google has a series of new map features to help people stay safe, maximize time with family and find the perfect holiday brunch spot. The Area Busyness feature allows users to identify when a neighborhood or town is at its busiest, so those who hate crowds can avoid them, or vice versa. The function goes deeper, allowing users to plan by seeing which areas are at their busiest during certain times of the day. Another feature will enable users to navigate malls, airports and transit stations. The feature provides data on where stores are located to help get in some travel shopping. And depending on where you’re located, Google Maps now has a feature to track grocery orders, available at more than 2,000 stores in 30 states, including Kroger, Fry’s, Ralphs and Marianos. The feature, Pickup, allows users to wait on average less than five minutes for their groceries. Also now available is a restaurant finder that allows users to find dining space that fits their budget and view reviews from other users, including information about outside seating, delivery, curbside pickup and other features. Read more here.
— Turkey Day losers: The six teams playing on Thanksgiving (Bears, Lions, Raiders, Cowboys, Bills, Saints) went 0-6 on Sunday. Here’s the slate so you can start planning your escape from the dining room: 12:30 p.m. ET, Bears at Lions; 4:30 p.m.: Raiders at Cowboys; 8:20 p.m., Bills at Saints.
— THANKFUL —
Sunburn readers share what they’re thankful for: