First Pitch: Cooking With People Who Write About Prospects For a Living

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.

Aside from having all of the best (and worst for you) foods, it’s great if you’re like me and like to cook. I’ve been cooking Thanksgiving meal for my family for the last seven years, and have it down to a schedule. If you’re looking for any last-minute ideas, here’s what I do:

The Turkey – I like to brine it overnight using a brine kit from Whole Foods. I’ll then add a half-gallon of apple cider, and two cups of bourbon. I use Wild Turkey 101, which is appropriate. Let that brine overnight, or at least 30 minutes a pound. I stuff it the next morning with a sliced up honeycrisp apple, a small yellow onion sliced in half, fresh rosemary sprigs, sticks of celery, and some of the seasoning rub from the brine kit. My preference is to smoke the bird, which can take at least 5-6 hours. Let it cool for about an hour, then put the turkey in the oven under the broiler to crisp up the skin. The total combo here leads to a very flavorful and juicy turkey, but also that golden brown picture-perfect turkey.

Fun Fact About Turkey – It’s a garbage meat. I do all of the above every year, which requires prep work and cooking that spans almost a full day. And yet you can just grill a chicken breast with some seasoning sprinkled on, it takes less than an hour, and it’s so much better.

Sweet Potato Casserole – This is my favorite thing to make. It’s basically dessert that you’re allowed to eat for dinner. This recipe is the closest match to what I make.

Crock Pot Corn CasseroleThe recipe is here. It takes about four hours, so prepare ahead of time. I have to make one crock pot worth for every four people with this, and it’s always the first leftover to go.

Stuffing Ideas – I like to mix it up a bit with the stuffing and throw some fruit in there. Cranberries and roasted chestnuts is a good combo. My favorite is cutting small chunks of honeycrisp apples, and including that with celery. Also, it’s stuffing, not dressing.

Veggies – I’ve done classic green bean casserole in the past, and still do that for tradition. My favorite thing to make with veggies is a roasted veggie tray. I’ll use the following: Tri-color mini potatoes, carrots, green beans, squash, zucchini, asparagus, red onion, and really you could add whatever other vegetable you want. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary. Then bake until the potatoes start to turn golden brown and the veggies all start to get a char or a crisp to them. This is great to get away from butter-filled casseroles, giving a really fresh option on the table. If you use the purple, red, and gold tri-colored potatoes, it also combines for an awesome color.

Pumpkin Pie – If you’ve added whip cream, but you can still see any portion of the pie, you’re doing it wrong.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! My wife and I have both sets of parents in town for the first time ever, so there’s a chance we don’t make it through the weekend.

We’ve got our Black Friday Mega Announcement coming up, and I can’t wait. I might have a sneak preview for you tomorrow morning.

Feel free to use the comments for any discussion or questions.


I’d pay for a full album version of this.



By John Dreker

Nine former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including a key member of a World Series winning club.

Dave Giusti, pitcher for the 1970-76 Pirates. In seven seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 2.94 ERA in 618 innings, with a 47-28 record and 133 saves. During the 1971 playoffs, Giusti pitched a total of 10.2 shutout innings, with 5.1 each in the NLCS and World Series. The Pirates made the playoffs in five of his seven seasons. He played a total of 15 years in the majors, winning exactly 100 games.

Tim Laker, catcher for the 1998-99 Pirates. He batted .364 in 20 games with the Pirates, split over two seasons. He was a .228 hitter over 11 big league seasons, playing a total of 281 games.

Randy Milligan, first baseman for the 1988 Pirates. He hit .220 over 40 games with the Pirates, after being acquired in a trade with the New York Mets. Milligan then spent four seasons in Baltimore, where he hit double digit homers each season. In eight years, he had an .810 OPS in 703 games.

Bill Short, lefty pitcher for the 1967 Pirates. He made six relief appearances in his brief time in Pittsburgh, throwing a total of just 2.1 innings. His best season in the majors was as a rookie for the 1960 New York Yankees, when he made ten of his 16 career starts in the majors.

Bob Schultz, pitcher for the 1953 Pirates. After three seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he went 0-2, 8.20 in two starts and nine relief appearances with the Pirates. He played just one more big league game after that season, giving up three runs over 1.1 innings for the 1955 Tigers.

Joe Bush, pitcher for the 1926-27 Pirates. He lasted just 117.1 innings in Pittsburgh, but Bullet Joe had a long career in the majors. He won 196 games over 17 seasons and once led the league with 24 losses, despite a 2.57 ERA. Bush also had a 26-7 record for the 1922 Yankees. He was on a World Series winner with three different teams and played in a total of five World Series.

Marty O’Toole, pitcher for the 1911-14 Pirates. Despite a 3.17 ERA in 550.1 innings, he had a 25-35 record with the Pirates. They paid $22,500 to purchase his contract during the 1911 season, which was a huge sum of money at the time. He was out of the majors by age 25 and pitched four years in the minors following his last big league game.

Jim Kane, first baseman for the 1908 Pirates. In his only big league season, he batted .241 with 22 RBIs in 55 games. Kane debuted in pro ball in 1907 at age 25 and he played seven seasons in the Western League after his season with the Pirates, batting .318 in 1,097 games.

Jack Kading, first baseman for the 1910 Pirates. He played eight games with Pittsburgh and hit .304 with four RBIs. His only other big league experience was three pinch-hit appearances in the Federal League for Chicago in 1914.