Freaking Out About Your Turkey? Ask Alexa for Help


Every November and December, the experts at Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line field millions of calls from home cooks trying to avoid turkey-related kitchen disasters. They coach callers (and texters, emailers, Facebook messengers, and Instagrammers) on all aspects of turkey prep, from how to thaw a giant bird to what temperature the oven should be to what to do if disaster strikes and the only place to cook your turkey is in the microwave. This year, you don’t need to wait on hold or send frantic texts to Butterball. Just ask Alexa, who’s probably already in your kitchen with you.

For the first time, Butterball is rolling out an Amazon Alexa skill for Thanksgiving. Once you’ve enabled the Butterball skill, you can simply say “Alexa, ask Butterball …” to hear pre-recorded advice from Turkey Talk-Line pros through your smart speaker. You can ask Alexa common questions like “How do I know when my turkey’s done?” and “Where should I put the meat thermometer?”

Unless you have a truly out-there question, chances are the turkey pros at Butterball have heard it before. Alexa is well-equipped to field common inquiries that strike home cooks each year, like “What is the bag inside my turkey?” In fact, you’re probably better off turning to the Alexa skill than trying to call the live hotline, since you won’t have to wait for an expert to be available to get what is likely the same information. Alexa is always available. And when you're trying to get turkey on the table for that early-evening Thanksgiving meal, time is of the essence.

And remember, turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving—Butterball’s hotline is open all through December, too.

There are a few other Alexa skills designed to help you make the most out of your smart home device during the holiday season. Turkey Planner will help you calculate how long your turkey will take to cook based on its size. There are also numerous Thanksgiving Facts skills designed to serve up bites of holiday-related trivia.

For more kitchen help this holiday season, considering calling these other food hotlines, which can guide you through making everything from cranberry sauce to pie.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Fried Beer Exists—and We Have Texas to Thank (or Blame) for It

You can have your beer and eat it, too.
You can have your beer and eat it, too.
Kristy, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

For anyone who thinks beer can qualify as a meal, we have some non-scientific evidence to support your claim: it’s shaped like ravioli, it tastes like a soft pretzel, and it’s filled with warm, yeasty deliciousness.

It’s deep-fried beer.

The story behind this culinary triumph began more than 10 years ago at a bar in Texas, where Mark Zable and his wife were scanning another uninspired menu with the same few finger foods. Zable made an offhand comment about how the bar should offer fried beer, and the couple realized it wasn’t such a bad idea—especially for the state fair.

Zable, a corporate recruiter by day, was no stranger to fair fare. As he told NPR, his father had opened a Belgian waffle stand at Texas’s state fair in the 1960s, and Zable himself assumed control after about 30 years. He experimented with new items to enter into the Big Tex Choice Awards food competition—sweet jalapeño corn dog shrimp and chocolate-covered strawberry waffle balls were two of his innovations—but nothing had won him a prize … yet.

Though the concept of fried beer was wacky enough to show real promise, execution proved difficult. Dropping liquid into a deep-fryer is a good way to get splattered with boiling oil, and Zable spent more than two years trying to devise an edible vessel that could both contain the beer and protect the chef. Finally, his 4-year-old son inspired a new angle, and Zable landed on a flawless design. Though Zable’s been tight-lipped on the details of that recipe, the Toronto Star reports that it’s essentially soft pretzel dough pressed into a ravioli-like pocket, filled with Guinness, and plopped into the deep-fryer for 15 to 20 seconds.

“It tastes great,” Zable told NPR. “Tastes just like eating a pretzel with a beer.”

Actual deep-fried beer from the 2010 State Fair of Texas.David Berkowitz, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

At last, Zable’s ambitious creation was ready for its debut at Texas’s 2010 state fair. He faced some tough competition at the Big Tex Choice Awards—including fried frozen margaritas, fried lemonade, and fried club salad—but even the other edible beverages were no match for Zable’s savory fusion of beer and bread. He took home the award for “Most Creative,” while “Texas Fried Fritos Pie” clinched “Best Taste.” Together, they’re a match made in state fair heaven.

[h/t NPR]