Happy Wednesday! While we assume, of course, that everyone is familiar with Myles Standish’s role in the first Thanksgiving, this year we’re fascinated by the story of the Pilgrims’ harrowing journey to Plymouth as told by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony. What happened to making elementary school students write essays about dense historical subjects, anyway?
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Israel and Hamas reached a deal Tuesday night for the release of 50 Israeli hostages—30 children and 20 women, taken by Hamas during its October 7 attack on Israel—in exchange for a four or five-day ceasefire and the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners, Haaretz reported. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office suggested the ceasefire could last beyond the initial timeline, with an extra day’s extension granted with every additional 10 hostages released by the terrorist organization, but Netanyahu himself stressed that the fighting would resume. “There is nonsense out there as if after the pause in fighting, we will stop the war,” the prime minister said. “We are at war and we will continue it until we achieve all the objectives. … We will eliminate Hamas, return all the hostages, and guarantee that there will be no element in Gaza that threatens Israel.” The deal between Israel and Hamas—mediated by Qatari officials, with involvement from Egypt and the U.S.—is also expected to allow the Red Cross to enter the Gaza Strip to provide the remaining hostages with medical care. The deal will reportedly permit hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian aid and fuel to enter Gaza.
- A U.S. AC-130 gunship on Tuesday struck Iranian-backed militants in Iraq in a “self-defense strike” that resulted in “several enemy casualties,” according to the Defense Department. The strike followed an attack earlier this week against American troops at Al-Asad Airbase near Baghdad, Iraq, in which militants launched a close-range ballistic missile that injured eight people and did minor damage to the base. The gunship was in the air at the time of the attack on the base, a Pentagon spokeswoman said, allowing U.S. forces to track and target the militants responsible for the strike. Overnight, the U.S. carried out precision air strikes targeting two militant facilities in Iraq. “The strikes were in direct response to the attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces by Iran and Iran-backed groups, including the one in Iraq on November 21,” U.S. Central Command said. These are the first publicly known U.S. reprisals on Iraqi soil to the 66 attacks on American forces in both Syria and Iraq that have occurred with some regularity since October 17—the three preceding U.S. strikes had all hit militant targets in Syria.
- North Korea claimed Tuesday to have put a spy satellite in orbit after two failed attempts, though the U.S., South Korea, and Japan have yet to verify whether the launch was successful. The alleged launch has drawn particular attention following the meeting between North Korean President Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, when the Russian leader promised help with Pyongyang’s satellite program.
- The Coast Guard said Monday that at least 1.1 million gallons of crude oil had leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. The leak, which originated from an offshore pipeline, was first discovered last Thursday during an overflight of an area 19 miles offshore, near Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, after which the pipeline was shut off. Officials said there were not currently onshore effects of the leak, and on Tuesday three of the Coast Guard’s skimming vessels were in the process of cleaning up the spill.
- Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of California announced Tuesday that she will not run for reelection next year. The 80-year-old lawmaker represented the Silicon Valley area for more than 30 years in Congress and plans to serve out the rest of her current term. Republican Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio also announced Tuesday he will not seek reelection—instead, Johnson will become the next president of Youngstown State University.
TMD Gives Thanks (And Recipes)
We’ll be back to the news on Monday, but we wanted to devote some space, given tomorrow’s holiday, to taking stock of our blessings and all that we have to be thankful for as we rapidly approach 4.5 years of The Dispatch.
From James: It’s been a whirlwind seven weeks since I started at The Dispatch, and as I wrap up this Thanksgiving edition I can say I am truly blessed. I’m grateful to Steve and especially to Declan, who took a chance on a random (but loyal!) longtime reader and gave me the opportunity to carry on his TMD legacy. He’s been nothing but gracious and unendingly patient, especially as I’ve slowly transformed this newsletter into a safe haven for New York/New Jersey sports teams and music references. I’m thankful to work with Mary and Grayson, who bring intelligence, wit, and insatiable curiosity to every story they write—these two are the real deal. Thanks to the entire Dispatch team, who has welcomed me onto the skiff with open arms, as have you readers. Finally, I am grateful for family, friends, and folding chairs—without any of which I would be unable to host a large Thanksgiving dinner in a tiny apartment.
From Mary: I’m so glad to have spent this year at The Dispatch learning and growing as a journalist and a writer during an unfathomably newsy time. This job is never boring, and what a blessing it is to have the opportunity to learn something new every single day alongside thoughtful coworkers who make me laugh, share their wisdom and talents generously, and occasionally bring their adorable children to the office.
On the homefront, I’m deeply grateful for parents who support me in everything I do, even from (way too) far away; for my brother and sister, who keep me laughing (and from taking myself too seriously); and for my wonderful network of friends—old and new, near and far—who are always down for a movie night, a last-minute concert, or a phone call. I’m particularly thankful for my college buddies who got me hooked on fantasy football this year so I can enter the office league with confidence next season (I’m coming for you, Declan). Sitting here writing this little ode, I’ve put the Bing Crosby classic, “I’ve Got Plenty To Be Thankful For,” firmly in my head. Now, I pass this earworm on to you and wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving (and if you make the banana pudding, shoot me an email).
From Grayson: Having read The Dispatch since the beginning, it’s been a delight to join the team this year and get to know and work with journalists that I’ve admired for so long (even though I’m still bitter I missed David French by less than a month). I feel blessed to work with colleagues who are doing truly excellent work and committed to the craft of journalism. And I’m grateful for an incredible group of readers—especially the regular TMD commenters—who make our work possible. It’s humbling to contribute to something so many of you start your day with, and we don’t take that for granted.
I’m also thankful for a few days of rest and relaxation and excited to spend the holiday season in NYC. Hopefully, we’ll have some proper snow this year, and I’ll be able to make some progress on the much-too-tall stack of books by my night stand. At the top of the stack is The Glory and the Dream by William Manchester, recommended to me by the smartest friend I have. At 1,302 pages, it makes for perfect light holiday reading.
From Declan: Like James above, I’m still incredibly grateful that Steve took a chance on a random (but loyal!) longtime reader four-and-a-half years ago, and for the community that we’ve built here—at The Dispatch as a whole, and with TMD in particular. Although I no longer work on it in the capacity as I did from October 2019 to August 2023, this newsletter—and those who read it—will always have a special place in my heart. Accordingly, I’m so grateful to James, Mary, and Grayson (as well as the recently departed Esther Eaton) for grabbing the baton and taking TMD to the next level. I rest easy, knowing it’s in great hands.
I’m also thankful to Steve and Jonah for entrusting me with my new role, and for the opportunity to be working more with all my Dispatch colleagues more closely. We’ve built an incredible team here over the years, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know everyone—and their great work—better these last few months.
Finally, I’m grateful to my friends and family—now including my wife!—who put up with some very strange working hours for several years. Planning a wedding while working on TMD and a book project was not easy—that’s probably why my wife, her mother, and my mother heroically did most of it—but it served as a reminder of just how many wonderful people we have in our lives. Connecting (or reconnecting) with loved ones new and old was really special, and I’m so grateful.
(Some of) Our Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes
Now that we’ve finished the customary sentimentality, we’ve got a few recipes for you to try if you’re looking to spice things up around the Thanksgiving dinner table this year.
Maple Whiskey Sour
A lot of time and effort goes into preparing the Thanksgiving meal, so while cooking we like to keep things simple with a refreshing cocktail. This is the recipe we typically use, but you can make this however you prefer your whiskey sours and just substitute maple syrup for simple syrup. —Grayson
- 2 oz. of Rittenhouse rye whiskey
- 0.5-0.75 oz. of fresh lemon juice
- 0.5 oz. of maple syrup
- 0.5 oz. egg white (optional)
- Cinnamon stick
- Angostura bitters
- Luxardo maraschino cherry
If using an egg white, combine all the ingredients in a shaker and dry shake first. Add ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into your glassware of choice (use a coupe, if you’re feeling fancy). Garnish with the cinnamon stick and cherry, and finish with a few drops of bitters on top
Holiday Mule Cocktail
Created for my family’s annual Thanksgiving-eve party, this twist on a classic mule uses British-style sloe gin and seasonal fruits to add much-needed autumnal flavor to your questionable drinking habit. Crucially, it’s both light enough for grandma to stomach and strong enough to make socializing with the weird side of the family a little bit easier. —Alex
- 2.0 oz. sloe gin
- 0.75 oz. lime juice
- 4.0 oz. ginger beer
Combine all ingredients in a mug—copper if you have it—with ice. Garnish with seasonal fruits and a cinnamon stick.
Banana pudding was my late grandfather’s very favorite dessert, so it’s both a sweet memory and a sweet treat in our family. One year, the completed confection was sitting on the stove waiting to be served when someone—I’m not naming names—turned on the burner underneath it and let it cook for a second time, for a while, before we realized. It still tasted just fine, and now we sometimes refer to it as “Twice-Baked Banana Pudding.” —Mary
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- Dash of salt
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups sliced ripe banana
- 45 Nilla Wafers
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ cup sugar
Combine flour and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in milks and yolks, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 8 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, then stir in vanilla.
Arrange 1 cup of banana slices in the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish. Spoon one-third pudding mixture over bananas and top with 15 vanilla wafers. Repeat layers twice, ending with pudding. Arrange the remaining 15 wafers around the inside edge of the dish. Gently push wafers into pudding.
Beat the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and the sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Spread meringue over pudding, sealing to the edge of the dish.
Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool for 30 minutes.
Since my childhood, this cornbread dressing (not stuffing!) has been the taste of Thanksgiving. It comes from my maternal grandmother, who made it for years on both Thanksgiving and Christmas (we don’t know where she got the recipe). Since her death, my mom has continued making it for both holidays, and it makes an occasional appearance throughout the year, paired with chicken. For the last 12 years, my wife and I have hosted her family for Thanksgiving, and it didn’t take long for this recipe to become a staple at our table too. —Michael (Reneau)
- 1 pan cornbread (homemade in a cast iron skillet is best)
- 7 slices of white bread, toasted, torn into small pieces
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 tbsp. poultry seasoning
- 1 1/2 tbsp. dried sage
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 2 cups onion, diced
- Chicken broth, to preferred consistency
- Salt, to taste
Break up white bread and cornbread into small pieces and place in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add the melted butter, celery, and onions. Pour beaten eggs into the baking dish and mix. Add dry seasonings and mix. Add the chicken broth to reach desired consistency. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serves 15.
In the Scimecca house, the line between Thanksgiving “dinner” and “dessert” has always been blurred—and this dish is a perfect example. My mom makes this side every single year, and yes it sits right next to the turkey, the vegetables, and the mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Pro tip: It’s even better for breakfast the next day. —James
- 1 8.5 oz. box corn muffin mix
- 1 14 oz. can creamed corn
- 1 lb. frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
- 1 large egg
Combine the muffin mix, creamed corn, corn kernels, butter, sour cream, and egg. This is a delicate balance—mix it well, but don’t overmix. Pour the batter into a shallow baking dish (sprayed with cooking spray to avoid sticking). Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
This is great to bring to friends who need a pick-me-up during the holidays, and it thrives in the freezer. —Sarah
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- ⅓ bag frozen chopped onions
- Kosher salt
- 1-2 spoonfuls of minced garlic
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- 3 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chiles, hot, mild or a combination
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. ground cayenne
- 1 rotisserie chicken
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 (14 oz.) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ cups frozen corn
- Tortilla chips, cilantro, lime, cheddar cheese and sour cream for serving
In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped green chiles, cumin, onion powder, oregano and cayenne and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the mixture into a 5- to 8-quart slow cooker. Add pulled chicken. Stir in 3 cups chicken stock and the beans. Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours. Stir in the frozen corn, cover and cook until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve in bowls and add cilantro, lime, cheddar, and sour cream as desired.
My mom has always made this dish for Thanksgiving. But one year, when I was a kid (I can’t remember the year exactly) she said she was discontinuing the dish as a part of our Thanksgiving menu because we didn’t eat enough of it. I was so disappointed, because of tradition I suppose, that I promised to make sure it didn’t go to waste. And ever since then it’s been among my favorite dishes. —David (Drucker)
- Yams/sweet potatoes
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- Maple syrup
The day before the meal, bake the yams or sweet potatoes (prior to baking, peel or don’t peel, per preference). Refrigerate.
On the day of eating, prep the cold, previously baked sweet potatoes by cutting in half and laying flat side up in a baking dish. Take equal parts butter and brown sugar, packed (about a half cup each) and mix together in a saucepan over a low to medium heat. When it starts bubbling, add a little cayenne pepper, maybe a quarter teaspoon, then keep stirring. Then add a splash of maple syrup, one or two tablespoons, per preference.
Pour glaze from saucepan over yams in the baking dish, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until caramelized. Enjoy.
The adults take a shot of tequila before we cook. Salt, lime, and the rest of the bottle goes in the turkey. —Victoria
No Bake Cheesecake
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with capping a Thanksgiving feast with a Costco cheesecake, but if you want to be able to tell guests that nothing on the menu was store-bought, this recipe—written out on a notecard for me by my mom—is as easy as it is delicious. —Declan
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 8 oz. Cool Whip (defrosted)
- 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
- 9-inch graham cracker crust
Combine the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and sour cream in a large bowl and mix well. Fold in the Cool Whip and vanilla extract, then place the mixture into a graham cracker crust. Chill for at least 4 hours.
Worth Your Time
- As most Americans prepare to enjoy a delicious meal this Thursday paired with splurging on the hottest Black Friday deals, Cabel Sasser offers a trip down memory lane into the wonderful world of the electronic gadget magazines of the 1970s and 1980s, in particular, the DAK Catalog. “For a decade, I’ve been snapping up copies of a certain gadget catalog, one by one, when they’re up for auction,” Sasser wrote on his blog. “The catalogs were disposable, and that means not many people kept them. But, to me, they tell a critically important story of the golden age of electronics, gadgets, copywriting, and sales.” Sasser explored the remarkably compelling copywriting that accompanied luscious images of the latest and greatest electronic contraptions. “I bet you’ve never read anything quite like it,” he writes. “First, a strange, catchy, probably-confusing headline gets you in. Then, a single item is given an entire page of attention. And most of all, the gadget is described and sold almost as if a friend is telling you all about it.” Click for the pictures and stay till the end to find out who inspired DAK and how it came to an end.
Presented Without Comment
Mediaite: Bob Menendez Hires Attorney Nicknamed ‘Gold Bars’ After Prosecutors Say He Took Gold Bars as Bribes
Toeing the Company Line
- Reminder! We’re moving to a new merch vendor, which not only means there will be a lot more Dispatch swag options, but that everything currently available in our store is 15 percent off. Just add a product to your cart—shirts, hats, mugs, Yeti tumblers—and the discount will automatically be applied. From experience, we can confirm these all make wonderful holiday gifts.
- In the newsletters: Nick argued (🔒) that Ron DeSantis’ chances of becoming the GOP nominee in 2028 are slim at best, and Haley explored (🔒) why so many retiring members of Congress are forced to choose between work and family.
- On the podcasts: Andrew speaks with GOP pollster Patrick Ruffini about his new book on the Republican Party’s changing coalition, Jonah is joined by Ruy Teixeira for a discussion about the future of the Democratic Party, and attendees at our recent D.C. meetup take over The Skiff (🔒) to talk about their relationship with The Dispatch.
- On the site today: Megan Dent argues the viral TikTok videos about Osama bin Laden’s “Letter to America” show the dangers of moral relativism, and Jonah urges readers to take a break from the outrage this Thanksgiving.
Let Us Know
These questions have become an annual tradition at this point: What are some of the best things that’ve happened in your life the past 365 days? What will you spend tomorrow being thankful for?