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Giving them all the bird, solar style.

November 18, 2010

by Ashley Akin

We are officially one week away from Thanksgiving, Smallest Users – that fatty, lazy, utterly American holiday on which you must commit to one or all of the following: stuffing your face to the point of being equal parts disgusted and satisfied with yourself, watching a bunch of football games and/or parades that 80% of the people in the room don’t really care about (floats are scary – they’re like mascots that can fly), and taking family pictures in which half of your relatives will have their eyes closed, your Uncle Mel will still be wearing that damn Cosby sweater from ’82, and your Stepford cousin Marcy will be telling you all to sit up straight so she can get “one good shot” to include in her self-important Christmas update letter. No, Marcy, we will NOT all wear matching snowflake sweaters. Yes, Marcy, we all live to make you deeply unhappy.

And we all know what the main event will be: the bird. (You thought I was gonna say that bourbon-soaked cat fight your Mom and Aunt Kathy always have about who’s gonna get Meemaw’s good teacups when she passes, didn’t you? Well not this year. We put Post-It notes on the back of everything after that brawl last Easter, so now Meemaw can have her daiquiris in peace while she slowly marches toward “the sweet release of death” – her words, not mine.)

Now the question becomes how to prepare that Butterball. If you wanna go full-out Southern fatfest, you know what to do: deep fry that sucker. I know, I know, that’s not exactly kind to your waistband or the environment. Gah, you are such a buzzkill. OK, how about we go traditional and bake the bird? Sure, that’s better, but a little research reveals that America will expend 792 million kilowatt-hours cooking turkeys on Thanksgiving. That’s all well and good, you say, but wha-tha-frick is a kilowatt-hour? To put it in perspective, 56 countries in the world use less energy than that in a whole dimly-lit-but-energy-friendly YEAR. Uh-huh. You can thank your fancy friends at for that fresh batch of infoguilt.

So what, you ask, can we do to ensure we kill ourselves slowly with cholesterol (like we want) without killing the environmental goodness we’ve been doing? The answer is about as tree-hugger as it gets: a solar cooker. Solar cookers are handy little devices that use only the sun as an energy source, meaning they require no fuel or money. And the best part is that they look like this: a mix between your 5th-grade science project and a prop from the set of Roswell, the fabulously terrible WB show that launched a bunch of teenage girls’ alien fantasies and Katherine Heigl’s career. Thanks WB! Sure Kathy H. is a witch on the set, but that girl can deliver a joke.

If you decide you want to go full-on granola and purchase one of these bad boys, it will cost you. Around $250 to be exact-ish. Or you can go the Ikea route and build it yourself – here’s one of many websites that can tell you how. And it’s as (somewhat) simple as that! Trust me, you haven’t had so much fun with tin foil, cardboard and rubber cement since elementary school. Oh OK, go ahead and paint your palm with that rubber cement and peel it off. You know you want to. Just don’t be the kid that sniffs the glue. Because I know that kid, and he turned out real special… and not in the good way.


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