News of the Week: Black Friday, Cyber Sunday, and National French Toast Day

Black Friday and Cyber … Sunday??

Online shopper
(Hurst Photo/Shutterstock)

Hopefully you’re reading this in the comfort of your home and not on your smartphone, in line at the mall because there’s a really great deal on a toaster today.

It’s Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when people line up for hours before the mall opens, and then proceed to run over each other to get to something great before someone else gets to it. It’s an annual tradition. It’s such a tradition that more and more stores are now opening on Thanksgiving , for people who just can’t stand being with their families for another hour. But I am happy to see that some stores decided, “You know what? Thanksgiving is for visits with family and friends and eating pecan pie and not going to the mall.”

Besides, it’s 2015, and you can get deals online every day of the year, and you don’t have to worry about anyone punching you to click on a sale first (well, I don’t know who you live with, but I assume they won’t do that). And for online shopping we have Cyber Monday, three days after Black Friday when online sales go through the roof.

Wait, did I say Cyber Monday? Silly me, I meant Cyber Sunday!

RIP, Jim Perry

Remember when game shows ruled the networks? Most of them were replaced by talk shows where people yell at each other, nine hours of Today, and soap operas (and even the number of soap operas has dropped dramatically, another sad development). Now we just have a couple of game shows on in the daytime, CBS’s Let’s Make a Deal and The Price Is Right. One of the best hosts was the likable and funny Jim Perry. He hosted several game shows over the years and is probably best known for Card Sharks and Sale of the Century. Perry passed away from cancer at his home in Oregon at the age of 82.

On a related note, there’s a new game show network that’s not The Game Show Network. It’s called Buzzr. I found it by accident the other night while surfing the upper channel numbers of my cable system. They show a lot of older game shows, from black-and-white classics like What’s My Line? and I’ve Got a Secret to shows from the ’70s and ’80s like Double Dare (hosted by Alex Trebek) and the aforementioned Sale of the Century.

You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This Section About “You’re So Vain” Is About You

For years, one of the biggest pop culture questions has been whom Carly Simon’s song “You’re So Vain” is about. Turns out it’s about whom everyone thought it was about: Warren Beatty.

Simon herself has revealed that some of the song, though not all, is about Beatty, though other parts of the song are about other men she has known. People that other sections of the song might be about include Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson, and former Vice President Spiro Agnew.

Okay, I made that last one up.

Dorothy’s Dress

The blue-and-white dress that Judy Garland wore in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz went for $1.5 million at an auction put on by Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies. Ten dresses were made for the film but most were rejected, and this dress is rumored to be one of the very few that still exist.

But wait: Is the dress actually blue and white? Let’s start a new controversy!

The Way Americans Used to Talk

You ever watch movies from the ’30s and ’40s and realize that people are talking in a way you’ve never heard before? It’s not British, exactly, it’s sort of a British-fied American accent. It’s called the Mid-Atlantic (or Transatlantic) accent and BrainStuff has a fun video that explains where exactly it came from and why people don’t talk that way anymore:

Robot Pets: The Perfect Gift!

I feel bad about making fun of this product, but not bad enough to not make fun of it.

Have you ever thought that it would be great for your grandparent to have a pet, but you’re not sure if it’s a good idea to buy them a real one? Now there’s a solution: Buy them a fake one! It’s the Joy For All Companion Pet from Hasbro!

It’s a fake cat that moves a little bit and purrs. The more you scratch or rub it the more it does. It’s just like a real cat, except for … well, all the ways that it’s not a real cat. It’s $99.99 and is supposed to give “comfort, companionship, and joy,” but I’m not convinced that it’s really for anyone except a certain small group of people. It seems more like a novelty gift than a replacement for a real cat. The upside? No hairs all over the place and no litter box to deal with.

I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just buy a stuffed animal for the senior citizen in your life. They’re cheaper and they don’t have that disturbing “some day we’re going take over the world” vibe.

Robot pets. A great way to say to your grandparents, “We love you but we don’t really trust you.”

Updates: Christopher Kimball and Stephen Colbert

Last week I told you that Christopher Kimball had left Boston Common Press and would no longer host the PBS cooking shows America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country. This week we found out that Kimball will be staying on as host of the companion podcast for America’s Test Kitchen. This is terrific news. You can’t see his bow tie when you’re listening to the podcast, but you can imagine it.

Also last week we had video of Stephen Colbert’s interview with Bill Maher on The Late Show. The show has fallen to third place in not only overall ratings but also in key demos, with The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live in first and second place. Is it because Colbert is too liberal and alienating half of the country?

Saturday Is National French Toast Day

French toast
SunnySideUp / Shutterstock

Did you see Clash of the Grandmas last weekend? It’s a new entry in the seemingly endless supply of cooking competition shows on Food Network, though thankfully not a weekly show but a one-time holiday special. But this one was actually good, with a group of grandmas competing against each other to see who could make the best Thanksgiving dishes for a $10,000 prize. The winner, Anne, was really funny and said whatever was on her mind (her grandkids even sent a special video to her during the show, wishing her luck and telling her not to say anything she’ll regret later) and should probably have her own show on the channel. Somehow she won without having made a pie in her life and not having eaten pumpkin in over 50 years.

One of the other ladies made a bread pudding, but instead of using a plain bread she used cinnamon raisin toast. That’s a great idea, because the spices are already inside and probably gave the dish more depth. Now tomorrow is National French Toast Day, and I don’t see any reason why you can’t use this tactic for French toast too (we used to use Anadama bread when I worked at a restaurant several years ago). I found a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Swirl French Toast at The Comfort of Cooking.

And by sheer coincidence, it’s also National Raisin Bread Month. So it’s like the stars have aligned, and you have to make it this way.

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

50th Anniversary special for A Charlie Brown Christmas (November 30)

ABC will air a one-hour special at 8 p.m. on the 50th anniversary of the Christmas classic, followed by the special itself.

Mark Twain born (November 30, 1835)

Read some memories of Twain in the Post archives.

Winston Churchill born (November 30, 1874)

The Saturday Evening Post Archives Director Jeff Nilsson writes about Britain’s entry into World War II and three simple words: “Winston is back.”

Henry Ford introduces first car assembly line (December 1, 1913)

Neon sign
Sorbis / Shutterstock

Why did Ford double his minimum wage in 1914?

Neon lighting makes public debut (December 3, 1910)

The technology we now see everywhere was introduced at the Paris Motor Show.

The end of Prohibition (December 5, 1933)

Grab a drink, and read Dorothy Parker’s classic short story “As the Spirit Moves,” originally published in The Saturday Evening Post.

Let’s Brunch!

While the origins of the meal remain a mystery, the word “brunch” first appeared in print in an 1895 article for Hunter’s Weekly. In “Brunch: A Plea,” British writer Guy Beringer proposed an alternative to the heavy post-church fare of the day, in favor of a lighter mid-morning meal.

“Why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee?” Beringer suggested. “Brunch is cheerful, sociable, and inciting. … It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

More than a century later, Beringer would be happy with the way America embraced and elevated the culinary hybrid to an art form — a tradition treasured by the hungry (and the hungover).

“At brunch, the last thing you want is last-minute fuss,” says Ellie Krieger. “Basically, these recipes can be prepped in advance.”

To keep it light, think alternatives. “For breakfast, people lean on traditional bacon and sausage,” says Krieger. “Instead try Canadian bacon which delivers the same smoky pork flavor, but is a much leaner option.”

As for presentation, Krieger suggests an inexpensive, edible tablescape. “Pick up fresh, colorful spring vegetables and herbs at the farmers market,” Krieger says. “A bunch of fresh mint in a simple vase or untrimmed radishes on a plate makes an elegant centerpiece.”

All recipes courtesy Ellie Krieger.

Spicy Egg and Avocado Wrap

(Makes 4 servings)



Place eggs in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover with water, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 9 minutes. Remove from heat, rinse with cold water and peel. Remove yolks from 4 of the eggs and discard yolks. Slice remaining egg whites and whole eggs into 1/4-inch slices.
Lay piece of lettuce leaf over center of each wrap bread. Top each with avocado, sliced eggs, tomato, and cucumber. Sprinkle with chili sauce and season with salt and pepper. Fold one side of bread about 2 inches over filling to form pocket and roll into wrap. Eat immediately or cover in foil and store in refrigerator for up to 1 day.

Nutritional Info

Per Serving (1 wrap)

Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Honey Walnut Spread
Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Honey Walnut Spread
(Photo by Alexandra Grablewski)

Cinnamon Raisin Toast with Honey-Walnut Spread

(Makes 4 servings)



Toast walnuts in dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Allow them to cool slightly, then chop them finely. In small bowl, add chopped walnuts to yogurt and honey and stir until well combined. Spread will keep in refrigerator in airtight container for up to 3 days. Just stir well before using. When ready to serve, toast bread and cut fruit into 1/4–inch slices. Spread about 1 tablespoon of walnut spread onto each piece of bread. Top each piece with few slices of fruit. Eat immediately.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving (2 pieces)

Egg in a Basket with Smoked Turkey and Asparagus
Egg in a Basket with Smoked Turkey and Asparagus
(Photo by Alexandra Grablewski)

Egg in a Basket with Smoked Turkey and Asparagus

(Makes 4 servings)



Place asparagus in steamer basket over pot of boiling water. Cover and steam until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Chop asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces. Brush both sides of each slice of bread with melted butter. Using 3-inch cookie cutter, cut hole in center of each slice of bread; reserve cutouts.

Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Cook turkey slices until browned around edges, about 3 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until it is heated through, about 2 minutes, then season with pepper. Transfer mixture to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Place 2 bread slices and cutouts in same skillet and crack one egg into hole of each slice. Cook until egg whites are set and bread is toasted on underside, about 3 minutes. Using spatula, flip bread/egg slices and cutouts and cook additional 1 minute. Transfer bread/egg pieces to individual plates. Repeat with remaining bread slices and cutouts. Top each one with 1/4 of turkey-asparagus mixture. Arrange cutouts on each plate.

Nutritional Information

Per Serving (1 egg in a basket with  ½ cup asparagus-turkey topping and 1 bread cutout)