Thanksgiving Dinner On The ISS Will Make You Thankful You’re On Earth

I’ve just watched NASA’s latest video from the ISS. As America prepares for its last Thanksgiving before President Donald Trump takes the White House, some citizens may be wondering what exactly they should be thankful for. I humbly submit that, having seen the video below, they should be extremely thankful not to be on board the International Space Station come dinnertime.

First of all, as astronaut Shane Kimbrough explains, it’s a work day for them, so no time off. “We’re going to work all day and then have an evening big dinner, full of most of the things you’re going to have at your table,” Kimbrough explains, before revealing several sealed parcels, only identifiable by the sticker attached to each package. It’s all vacuum-packed, and isn’t too far removed from the kind of sterlised containers that get passed from ward to ward in hospital.

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Still, here’s what each package purports to contain. Turkey comes in a pouch – ”it’ll taste really good, just like you’re having at home,” Kimbrough says, with a voice that suggests more hope than genuine expectation. Identical-looking parcels follow, containing candied yams; cherry and blueberry cobbler; and sweet tea. Cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans and mushrooms all come dehydrated so will need a little water to make them (more) fit for human consumption.

If that all sounds a bit depressing, modern astronauts can take some comfort in one thing: this is a hell of a lot better than how it was in the early days of space exploration. The first astronauts didn’t have the ability to heat their food so were left with – in NASA’s own appetising words – “bite-sized cubes, freeze-dried powders and semiliquids stuffed in aluminium tubes”.

Things had gotten a little better by the time of the Gemini missions. Freeze-dried foods and – brace yourself – gelatin-coated cubes meant the likes of chicken, shrimp and vegetables were on the menu. The strict diet did mean that there was occasional insubordination. A congressional hearing ended up disciplining the crew of Gemini III for sneaking a corned beef sandwich on board (tiny fragments of food could cause severe problems for the onboard machinery – it’s not just sheer bloodymindedness).

While we’re now at a point where lettuce can be grown in space, we’re still a good few steps away from anything approaching a tasty meal in space. So while the ISS’s Thanksgiving fare may seem appealing to home-cooking-deprived astronauts, there’s really no better place to be than Earth this Thanksgiving.

5 Wines To Get You Through Thanksgiving Alive

Everyone knows alcohol helps pass the time spent with less-than-kindred kin during the holiday season. If bird is the word, that dried-out turkey might need some liquid support as much as you do. With mandatory imbibing in mind, we discuss different tactics involving wine to get over obstacles, emotional and physical, such as how to avoid unnecessary tableside political conversations and restroom getaway routes — all by way of holiday wine selections.

Partner in Wine: Cheap wine

Chances are you might not know your cousin’s husband’s brother-in-law who will be sitting at the 20-person-wide communal table this holiday, but chances are better that he doesn’t know you or your drink taste. Shop the discount section at large grocers — Kroger stores are notorious for marking down bottles that do not sell well, many of which might be insane deals if you look close enough. Or, instead of skimming the bottle shelf for dwellers even your stingy uncle knows is cheap, look one row up and select a teeth-staining, full-bodied Argentine Malbec for $7 instead.

Partner in Wine: High ABV bottles

No amount of wine can change the results of this election, but it can help to tune out the amount of nonsense you have to take an ear-full of from a relative that might not have the same POV as you. The aforementioned Malbec can do the trick if it’s coming from hot enough grape-growing regions but Zinfandel is a sure bet — anything from California’s wicked hot Lodi region will see alcohol by volume (ABV) percentages in the high 15s, 16s and even 17 percentiles. Just maybe avoid talking about the reason why that region is so hot in the first place…

Partner in Wine: Striking packaging

“Yes, Grandma, that is a naked woman on the label and no, she is not a friend of mine.” Stuck in an empty tête-à-tête with an in-law? Grab the nearest bottle and start discussing the abject expressionism of bottle art. Learn up on what you are pouring in your glass so you can rattle off a car-rehearsed canned speech on what makes your bottle worth filling vacant airspace with.

Partner in Wine: Mulled wine

Sugar and spice and everything nice, you are way too busy in the kitchen seasoning your multi-step, slow-cooked mulled wine to converse with anyone you do not want to. Hovering over your mom’s crockpot, wooden ladle in hand with the hood fan blowing a sweet breeze into your face, you are also nearly hard of hearing in this position: an unappealing counterpart for a heart-to-heart-seeking relative. Although most recipes really only require 20 minutes of “active” work, this recipe instructs for a watchful eye over a spices-stuffed cheesecloth bag and a splash of brandy for the win.

Partner in Wine: Large format bottles

This social pardon requires commitment — from lingering around a large format container of purple drank to loitering around the restroom regardless of who went in there last. Large formats — aka box wine, a 1.5-liter bottle or bigger — will only hit your bladder as fast as you hit that bottle, but we all know what happens once you break the seal. Position yourself and your bottle/box close to the restroom for a quick and easy closure to an undesirable exchange.

5 Ways Being Thankful Can Improve Your Life

Some Thanksgiving traditions are best in small doses, like pie binges, chair naps and televised parade coverage. But thanks to a group of scientists at the University of California-Berkeley, the holiday’s namesake spirit of gratitude is quickly outgrowing its November context, fed by research that points to wide-ranging health benefits from a steady diet of thankfulness.

The Greater Good Science Center, based at UC-Berkeley, has been studying “the psychology, sociology and neuroscience of well-being” for 12 years, including a recent study on the science of gratitude. That project aims to explain how feeling thankful affects human health, eventually yielding evidence-based practices to be used in schools, workplaces and medical settings.

“Because so much of human life is about giving, receiving and repaying, gratitude is a pivotal concept for our social interactions,” UC-Davis psychologist and gratitude expert Robert Emmons writes on the GGSC website. “Despite the fact that it forms the foundation of social life in many other cultures, in America, we usually don’t give it much thought — with a notable exception of one day, Thanksgiving.”

Here’s a closer look at some potential benefits year-round gratitude can bring:

1. Less stress, better moods

Grateful people tend to be happier, according to research cited by the GGSC. A 2003 study used a questionnaire to test “dispositional gratitude,” linking it to several measures of subjective well-being and reporting that “grateful thinking improved mood.” A 2010 study tied gratitude to reduced anxiety and depression, stating it’s “strongly related to well-being, however defined, and this link may be unique and causal.” It also noted the potential for gratitude exercises in clinical psychology.

2. Less pain, more gain

Beyond helping us exorcise anxiety, gratitude might also help us exercise. It “encourages us to exercise more and take better care of our health,” the GGSC says, and research by Emmons and University of Miami psychologist Michael McCullough suggests it contributes to a wide range of physical health benefits, including a stronger immune system, reduced disease symptoms and lower blood pressure. It can even make people “less bothered by aches and pains,” the GGSC adds.

3. Better sleep

A good night’s sleep can make anyone thankful, but a 2009 study found the reverse is true, too. Grateful people get more hours of sleep per night, fall asleep more quickly and feel more refreshed upon waking. “This is the first study to show that a positive trait is related to good sleep quality above the effect of other personality traits,” the study’s authors wrote, adding it’s “also the first to show … gratitude is related to sleep and to explain why this occurs, suggesting future directions for research and novel clinical implications.” As the GGSC puts it, “to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep.”

4. Stronger relationships

Expressing gratitude to a relationship partner — whether a close friend, colleague or significant other — “enhances one’s perception of the relationship’s communal strength,” according to a 2010 study. Feeling thankful for a friend’s generosity or a spouse’s patience helps you appreciate the relationship’s mutual give-and-take, as long as gratitude doesn’t mutate into feelings of indebtedness. “Although indebtedness may maintain external signals of relationship engagement,” the authors of another study wrote in 2010, “gratitude had uniquely predictive power in relationship promotion, perhaps acting as a booster shot for the relationship.”

5. Resilience

Misfortune itself is rarely cause for thanks, but Emmons says a broader sense of gratitude — religious or not — comes from learning to take nothing for granted. “Our national holiday of gratitude, Thanksgiving, was born and grew out of hard times,” he writes for the GGSC. “The first Thanksgiving took place after nearly half the pilgrims died from a rough winter and year. It became a national holiday in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War and was moved to its current date in the 1930s following the Depression.” Even among war veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome, a 2006 study found that dispositional gratitude predicted things like daily self-esteem, “daily intrinsically motivating activity” and percentage of pleasant days “over and above” the severity of PTSD.

Have You Started Defrosting Your Turkey Yet? Don’t Wait Too Long

In a little more than 48 hours, many of us will be sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal that probably includes a turkey. Some of us will have to wait longer or just eat something else because the person responsible for said turkey didn’t take it out of the freezer until Thursday morning.

As we mentioned yesterday, there are really just three methods for thawing your turkey safely: In the refrigerator; in cold water (while still sealed up in plastic); or in the microwave. What about leaving it on the counter? Yes, the turkey will thaw that way, but the USDA warns that you’re just giving any bacteria present on the bird the opportunity to grow during the hours it spends at room temperature.

Microwaving does work, but it will likely result in uneven thawing with some parts of the bird already beginning to cook. And who has a microwave that can handle a 24-pound monster of a turkey?

So that really leaves ye olde fridge and the pot of cold water.

The fridge takes the most time — about 24 hours per 4-5 pounds — meaning you had better get that 10-pound bird out of the freezer and into the fridge now. And if you’ve got a turkey north of 15 pounds, it’s probably too late for the refrigerator defrost option.

In that case, you’ve still got the cold water option. This is much faster — about 30 minutes per pound — but requires (A) more work and (B) a vessel to contain the bird and the cold water. You’ll have to change the water out about every 30 minutes, though some people like to just keep the water pot in the sink with the tap running at a little more than a drip.

For Thanksgiving procrastinators, the cold-water method could be a life-saver, allowing you to thaw a 15-pound bird in under 8 hours — though of course you still need to cook it…

So maybe it’s a good idea to have a lot of appetizers at the ready to keep the family from tearing into each other while they wait for dinner.

A Complete Guide to Deep-Frying Your First Turkey

Thanksgiving is that special time of year where families come together to smile and eat a lot and grow increasingly more agitated with one another as the evening presses onward. At the end of that dark and mildly prejudiced tunnel, there’s one thing we can all look forward to: The turkey.

There are plenty of ways to cook a bird, but our favorite—by far—is a deep fryer bath. There truly is nothing like a well-fried bird. Crispy on the outside, succulent and juicy on the inside; it’s a life-changing experience. The problem is, it can be confusing and even a little intimidating trying to figure out everything you need to deep fry a turkey. That’s why we compiled the complete how-to guide for deep frying a turkey without lighting your house on fire.


The Right Bird

Remember those days as children, when Mom or Dad would come home with the massive Thanksgiving bird—a good 25-pounder for the table? Well, leave that behind if you’re intent on frying, because this is about quality, not quantity. Ideally, you’re looking for a bird between 10 to 16 pounds. Anything heavier and, even if you’ve properly thawed your bird, you’re going to burn out the skin before you get to the actual meat and everybody knows the skin is the best part. If that pains you a little too much, try picking up two birds. Since they take way less time to cook than a conventional oven, cooking two birds is actually feasible.

A Quality Oil Thermometer

It’s the smallest part of the puzzle, but it’s invaluable to the process. Temperature matters no matter how you’re cooking something and oil is far more volatile than an oven. A quality oil thermometer can mean the difference between the perfect Thanksgiving and a crispy fried mess.

At Least a 30-Quart Pot With Fry Basket/Turkey Brace

Choosing the right pot for deep frying can be a little difficult, because you don’t want something so big that it becomes cumbersome, or something so tiny that it creates a possible overflow safety hazard—when oil makes contact with an open flame, chaos can and often does ensue. For a 10- to 16-pound bird, at least 30 quarts will be necessary, and even better if you can find yourself a 40-quart one.

Most half-decent fryer pots will come with them, but you’ll also require either a turkey brace or a fry basket to help get the bird into and out of the oil. Plan ahead, because you don’t want to be improvising a way to get a turkey out of scalding hot oil.

Oil—Lots of It

You’re going to need enough oil to submerge the bird about two inches under, so depending on the size, that could be quite a bit. How much, exactly, depends on the dimensions of your pot, the size of the bird, etc. As far as what oil to use is concerned, peanut is ideal (although consider the dietary restrictions of your guests), but you can use just about anything with a high smoking point—soybean, safflower, even cottonseed. Just stay away from canola oil here.

A Propane Burner

Every year, a video of someone totally fucking ruining their house pops up because they didn’t think an accident could happen. Spend the extra 50 bucks and get yourself a quality outdoor burner, and make sure you set it up in a place that gives you plenty of extra room for an “oopsie.” Driveways and backyards are ideal, just make sure it’s somewhere that won’t go up in flames.


The Night Before

Prepping to deep fry a turkey starts well before the day you want to fry. The night before, take your turkey, put it in the pot, and then fill the pot with water until the turkey is completely submerged. Take the turkey out of the pot, and note where the water level is. Take a marker and make note of the water line. That’s how much oil you’ll need for your pot.

NOTE: Seriously, DO NOT try to guestimate your way to proper oil level. Too much oil will boil out of the pot, onto the burner, and start a massive grease fire. Too Little oil means a partially cooked bird, and that’s almost as bad as a massive grease fire.


After you measure out the water, take the bird, dry it off completely, and season it the way you’d like. For deep frying, we recommend a good brine, a dry rub of your choice, or if you’re feeling like a master chef, an injection—garlic, butter, and kosher salt are our go-to’s. With a brine, just be careful to rinse and pat down everything until it’s dry. A brine’s mostly water, and if room temperature oil and water don’t mix, boiling oil isn’t going to be any better. After you’ve seasoned the bird and butchered the neck and giblets, allow it to marinade overnight.

Setting Up The Burner

When setting up the burner, make sure you’re doing so on a flat, even, sturdy surface, and that every prong of the burner’s base is flush to the ground. That probably sounds like some unnecessary common sense, but you’d be shocked at how dangerous deep frying a turkey can be, even if you’re not a total idiot. Before you do anything, test your lines, and make sure there are no leaks. If all checks out, ignite the flame.

Loading The Bird

The only thing left to do before frying is loading the turkey on the brace or fryer basket. Whichever method you choose, load the turkey shoulder-side-down and make sure your handle extends far enough outside of the pot so that you won’t risk burning yourself when grabbing it. Additionally, if it’s going to be sitting in a basket, make sure you give the skin touching the metal a good baste of whatever oil you’re going to be using to avoid sticking.


Ahh, the finale! Cooking doesn’t take a lot of effort, so much as it does care.

Begin by filling the pot with oil, all the way up to the line you’ve already marked. Turn on the burner and bring the oil to between 350 and 375 degree Fahrenheit. Once you have that going, grab your bird and lower it very slowly into the oil. Don’t be alarmed if it starts to splash, spatter, and boil around it—so long as you dried it well and removed the excess water from it after the water soak (or brine), you’ll be good.

If you want to be extra safe, you can also turn the burner off completely for this part. You won’t lose too much heat, and it removes all the “the accidentally overflowing oil just ignited and now I’m on fire” danger from the equation. Or, if you have a partner, you can simply have them keep an eye on the burner and, if things start to go south, cut the burner immediately. Whatever makes you most comfortable.

Once the bird is fully submerged in the oil, you’re going to want to keep the oil at a consistent 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit—this is perhaps the trickiest part, especially for first-time cookers.

Now, you’re going to see a lot of recommendations for how long you should leave your bird in for. Estimates seem to be all over the place, but as a rule of thumb, you want to cook the bird at 3.5 minutes per pound. You can also cook it at an even 3 minutes per pound and then an extra 5 minutes at the end. On a 15-pound bird, that’s a difference of 2.5 minutes in the fryer, which won’t make too much of a difference.

When the time is up, check the bird by gently pulling it a quarter of the way out of the pot. If it looks crispy and golden brown remove it entirely. If you want to be extra safe—and you should—use an actual meat thermometer. The breast meat should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dark meat should be at least 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

If all is good, you’re ready to eat! Throw that thing on the table and blow your family’s mind with its deliciousness. Happy Thanksgiving!

Which Stores Are Open On Thanksgiving & When Do They Open On Black Friday?

Thanksgiving is usually the big day on the calendar in November, but this year the holiday took a backseat to Election Day — so much so that many people say they delayed the start of their holiday shopping until after the votes had been counted. Now here we are, with only a few days to go before Thanksgiving (and, more importantly to some folks, Black Friday); you’ll need to know which stores are opening when in order to maximize your shopping efficiency.

Below is a list of more than three dozen of the nation’s most popular retailers, along with information on whether that store will be open or closed on Thanksgiving, and when you can expect it to open on Black Friday.

Note that some of these — especially the stores that are most frequently found inside of shopping malls — have hours that can vary greatly depending on location. Additionally, some of the data is based on information we’ve been able to cobble together from store websites or by calling around to multiple locations.

If we get more precise information about the retailers with vague holiday hours, or if we hear from additional retailers about their hours, this list will be updated right up until we call it quits for the long weekend on Wednesday afternoon.

Ann Taylor Closed 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., may vary
Apple Store Most Stores Closed 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., may vary
Banana Republic Some Locations Open Varies
Barnes and Noble Closed Extended hours, varies by location
Best Buy 5 p.m. – 1 a.m. Fri. 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
BJ’s Closed Opens 7 a.m.
Costco Closed 9 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
CVS Closing at 2 p.m.; 24-hour locations open Regular hours
Dollar General 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Regular hours
GameStop Closed Opens 5 a.m.
Gap Some Locations Open Varies
Home Depot Closed Opens 6 a.m.
IKEA Closed Regular hours
JCPenney 3 p.m. — Overnight Overnight – 5 p.m., may vary
Kmart 7 p.m. — Overnight Overnight – 10 p.m., may vary
Kohl’s 6 p.m. — Overnight 24 Hours
Lowe’s Closed Opens 6 a.m.
Macy’s 5 p.m. — 2 a.m. Fri. 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Some will be open overnight TH-FR)
Meijer 24 Hours 24 Hours
Menards Closed Opens 6 a.m.
Michaels 6 p.m. – Midnight 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Neiman Marcus Closed 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Nordstrom Closed Varies by location
Office Depot Closed Opens 6 a.m.
Old Navy 4 p.m. — Overnight 24 Hours
PetCo (& Unleashed) Closed Most open 7 a.m.
PetSmart Closed 7:00am – 9:00pm
Rite Aid Most Closed Opens 7 a.m.
Sam’s Club Closed Opens 7 a.m.
Sears Most Open 6 p.m. – Midnight 5 a.m. – 10 p.m., may vary
Staples Closed Opens 6 a.m.
Target 6 p.m. — Overnight 24 Hours (some stores close earlier)
TJMaxx Closed Opens 7 a.m.
Toys R Us 5 p.m. — Overnight Overnight – 11 p.m.
Ulta 6 p.m. – 2 a.m. 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Walgreens 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. 7 a.m. – midnight
Walmart 6 p.m. – Overnight 24 Hours

Your Thanksgiving Feast Will Cost Less This Year

After the average price of Thanksgiving dinner topped $50 for the first time ever in 2015, consumers are getting a break this year: the American Farm Bureau Federation says the average cost of a feast for 10 people will be $49.87, a $0.24 drop from a year ago.

The Federation, an agricultural trade group, looked at prices for turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk — all in quantities capable of feeding 10 people with plenty of leftovers.

The star of the meal is about $0.30 cheaper per whole turkey (for a 16-pound bird) than it was in 2015, and should cost you about $22.74 this year.

Other foods that saw a decrease in price include pumpkin pie mix, milk, and a veggie tray of celery and carrots.

You may pay slightly more for things like a dozen brown-and-serve rolls ($2.46); two nine-inch pie shells, ($2.59); one pound of green peas ($1.58); 12 ounces of fresh cranberries ($2.39); a half-pint of whipping cream ($2.00); a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing ($2.67); and a three-pound bag of fresh sweet potatoes ($3.60).

“Consumers will pay less than $5 per person for a classic Thanksgiving dinner this year,” AFBF Director of Market Intelligence Dr. John Newton said. “We have seen farm prices for many foods — including turkeys — fall from the higher levels of recent years,” which translates into lower retail prices for many items in the runup to the holiday, he adds.

Fry That Bird Without the Injuries with the Big Easy Oil-Less Turkey Fryer

We’re well into a season full of football and good eating, Thanksgiving notwithstanding. And if you’re one of the many unfortunate souls who hasn’t had the pleasure of tasting a fried turkey then be sure to check out this oil-less fryer from Char-Broil.

Called the Big Easy, this fryer allows turkey fanatics to fry an entire bird without the dangers of using an oversized vat of boiling oil. No more fire risk, no more impossible oil stains on the deck. It’s all possible thanks to Char-Broil’s TRU-Infrare technology. It features a rotary ignition, powered by propane, and comes with a removable grease tray to make cleanup a cinch. Fry turkeys up to 16 pounds, or opt for roasted chickens or beef if that’s more your fancy on Turkey Day. The Big Easy comes with a one-year warranty and is available now for $90.

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Toys ‘R’ Us Will Once Again Open At 5 PM On Thanksgiving, Stay Open For 30 Hours Straight

Toys ‘R’ Us apparently subscribes to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” logic when it comes to shopping hours for Thanksgiving: the toy store is once again opening its doors at 5 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving, and will keep those doors open for 30 hours in a row.

Toys ‘R’ Us announced this year’s plan on Monday, noting that doors will be open through 11 p.m. local time on Friday, Nov. 25, because that’s what customers want, the chain says.

The early start time on Thanksgiving is apparently working well for Toys ‘R’ Us, since they’ve been doing it since 2013. As we’ve pointed out in the past, at least they aren’t moving the start time back any earlier?

“Our customers have voted at the doors year after year, and they continue to want the option to get an early start on their holiday shopping lists,” said Joe Venezia, Executive Vice President, Global Store Operations.

The chain is also offering free store pickup when they buy toys online, as well as free layaway, and free shipping for online purchases of $19 or more.

Butterball Help Line Now Lets Customers Text Their Thanksgiving Turkey Prep Questions

Three years after Butterball revolutionized its Turkey Talk help line by adding male operators for the first time, the company is once again revamping how it helps those cooking a turkey for the big holiday: not talking to them at all. Rather, they’ll be texting. 

Business Insider reports that for the first time in its 35-year history Butterball will allow answer-seeking cooks to spell out their questions via text messages.

With more than 100,000 questions coming in to the Turkey Talk line each year, the company decided it was best to open other modes of communication.

“We’re just evolving based on consumers’ needs,” Sue Smith, Butterball’s talk line co-director, tells Business Insider. “It’s the natural progression for the talk line.”

Cooks with questions ranging from how big of a bird they need, to how to thaw their turkey can text the Talk line at 1-800-Butterball 24/7 starting Nov. 17 and ending Nov. 24.

It’s unclear how the 50 operators will split their time between calls and text messages, or how long of a turnaround cooks can expect when receiving answers.

Text messages are just the latest advancement for Butterball. In addition to adding male operators to the Talk line in 2013, the company also now answers questions on Facebook and Twitter. It also posts how-to videos on YouTube.