Friday, November 23, 2007

When they say "20-25 people", they really mean just two meals....

T-day at last. A day for thanksgiving, a day for taking pictures and gorging ourselves senseless. And yesterday, at Penguin Hall, that meant not just gorging yourself on one measely little turkey, but three insanely stuffed up birds. The great irony in all this is, that when you finally sit down to the roast, it becomes apparent that the turducken and its feasters are merely exchanging appearances; by the time one has finished the meal, you feel as stuffed as the turducken looked when you cut it open. For those of you who are interested, here is the play by play: After thawing for three days in the cooler, you cover the birds in foil and cook at 350 degrees for 4 hours. Then, for the last hour, you cook it uncovered. Basting produces a glorious glow to the skin and at nearly five hours and an internal temp of 170-180 degrees, you have a meal fit for a holiday table.
A very proud Mr. H presided over the cutting of the birds, and with glasses raised, a toast to the feast, the holiday and the efficacy of the internet, which made this meal possible. All cheer Cajun, for a centerpiece that was completely prepared, easy to make and a spicy, delightful dinner!

A cross section of the turducken is shown below, and the cajun pork sausage stuffing can be seen, cascading out of its cozy confines of multiple fowls. Side dishes included a mixture of green and yellow beans with sage flavored sauce, orange marmalade/thyme spiced yams, mashed potatoes (turduckens make an unbelievably flavorful gravy!), fresh rolls and the ubitquitous cranberry (or as the kids call it "can-berry") sauce. Mrs. H. opted for the Australian Yellow Tail Shiraz as the wine pairing; it held its own against the nicely spiced sausage dressing. (The younger members of the household can be observed enjoying a soda-pairing with their repast.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

T minus two days, and counting....

The mysterious foam box arrived in the mail Friday. Mysterious because, while the lid was clearly on the top, the label was applied upside down. (You can tell it is a good product, because the dry ice comes in a bag with a penguin on it!)
Immediately, the frozen feast was whisked into the freezer for safe keeping. Since it is only two days 'til Thanksgiving, the thawing must begin. Pushing aside various and sundry perishables, room was made for the portly fowl(s), and for the next 48-72 hours, much salivating and speculating will ensue.
Shown at left: Chilling in the 'hood; specifically in the neighborhood of our frozen beverages. Following that, in the cooler as we begin the long slow process of bringing the bird up to temp. Next episode: Dinner most fowl!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Countdown to "Turducken Day"!

The good china is dusted off, the linens are fresh and frenzied trips to the local market are the order of the day around Penguin Hall. Colleen, Chris and Ian have been scanning the horizon for the uniformed courier bearing the frozen centerpiece of their Thanksgiving feast. Flying all the way from Louisiana this year (in the refrigerator compartment) is a magnificent turducken for the family table!
For those who came in late...a turducken is a de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. Turducken is believed to be Cajun in origin, although it may also have originated in eastern Texas or northern Louisiana. Some enthusiasts have taken it a step further, and come up with the turduckencorpheail. This is a standard turducken, which is then stuffed with a cornish game hen, which is then stuffed with a pheasant, and finally stuffed with a quail. The turduckencorpheail is not for the faint of heart; it is an extremely time consuming endeavor, as birds of the proper size must first be obtained, and then prepared. The largest recorded nested bird roast is 17 birds, attributed to a royal feast in France in the 19th century: a bustergophechiduckneaealcockidgeoverwingailusharkolanbler (originally called a RĂ´ti Sans Pareil, or "Roast without equal") - a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an Ortolan Bunting and a Garden Warbler. The final bird is small enough that it can be stuffed with a single olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds. This dish probably could not be recreated in the modern era as many of the listed birds are now protected species. In the Thanksgiving 2004 PSA of the Halo machinima series Red vs. Blue, Sarge parodies the concept of the turducken. Starting from the smallest bird, a hummingbird is stuffed into a sparrow, then a Cornish game hen, into a chicken, a duck, then a turkey, then a penguin, a peacock, then an eagle, into an albatross, then an emu, an ostrich, a leopard, into a pterodactyl, and then finished off in a Boeing 747. (When asked why a leopard, Sarge explains it's just for presentation.)*

There will be late-breaking updates and pictures as events warrant!
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sweet Innocent Pussycat, or Ruthless Assassin- You decide!

A recurrent visitor to Penguin Hall has been “Killer”, a Siamese-American Shorthair mix, who is apparently the neighborhood extermination queen. (Shown, at right, is Pepper, our indoor resident, and Killer, waiting patiently on the doorstoop for some "fast food".) Lately, residents of P.H. have been making book on which form of vermin Killer will present to us; odds had been leaning towards mice and the locally indigenous small avian population. But Killer, not being content with appetizers, has been working towards honing her skills on larger fare, thus forcing us to extend the field. Here’s hoping she doesn’t get above herself and try to take on something really fierce, though local opinion seems to agree that anything smaller than a wandering herd of hyenas is pretty much taking it’s life in its hands if it steps in the yard. Killer, (or “The Verminator” as we call her) is really a very sweet visitor and a loving companion; a true delight to one and all.

The Dead Pool (for those of you keeping up:)
Mice: 6 (she managed a double-header on Halloween)
Birds: 5
Skunks: 1
Mystery Kill: 2

Friday, November 2, 2007


Get out the fog machine and bring on the spooky music- it's that time of the year again! The time to buy and hand out ten pounds of chocolate secure in the knowledge that the kids will bring back fifteen. A time of sloppy pumpkin seeds on every surface of the kitchen, small children wielding sharp implements and danger lurking around every corner. A time of year that brings together those time honored traditions of devils, evil-doers and sugar. God bless America.
Towards that happy goal, Penguin Hall, of course, is decked out in it's usual fare of gravestones, black lights and black cats, spiders (actually, they're not decorations; they're perennial residents) and ghosts. Despite the perfectly lovely weather this year, however, the crowds were down and horror of horrors; there was candy leftover! That makes the scariest thing at Penguin Hall the bathroom scale.

Tell your friends!