Turbacken versus Power and the Empty Propane Tanks

Turbacken, sitting on the floor of my Sport Trac.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

I volunteered to provide the turkey for this year’s Thanksgiving family feast. My ex had suggested we all just go out to a fancy restaurant, but I like eating at home with family. Even if it isn’t my home. So I offered to bring the turkey, stuffing, yams, and gravy. All he and my son would have to provide would be mashed potatoes, rolls, and pie. Should be easy enough for two bachelors, right?

I decided to kick it up a notch this year and make turducken instead of my usual turkey stuffed with dressing. So, off to the store this morning before work to buy the ingredients. But, an actual turducken–chicken stuffed inside duck stuffed inside turkey–is really too much for four people (my mom included) to eat. Seriously! That’s more than 20 pounds of meat!

I thought I would see if I could instead purchase a turkey breast and wrap it around some chicken thighs (because they’re juicy) and maybe a duck breast or thigh or something. But, no joy! They had only whole ducks, and they were frozen solid. Not only were they too big, but also there wasn’t enough time to thaw one. I had to cook it tonight.

Turbacken, ready for roastingSo, Plan B: Turkey breast–I found a nice 6 1/2 pounder–stuffed with a bacon-wrapped Cornish game hen, stuffed with bacon-wrapped chicken thighs. A turbacken! I picked up a giant slow cooker to cook it in, dropped it off at home, and headed to work.

After work, I started my assembly. Everything fit together beautifully, which I found surprising. A chicken thigh fit nicely inside the game hen, which also fit nicely inside the turkey breast/, although it did look oddly like the turkey breast was giving birth to a game hen. The breast also had room for two more bacon-wrapped thighs in the neck cavity. Just for good measure, I crammed bacon in any place it would fit. Mmmmm. Everything will be bacon infused!

I put it in the slow cooker, put the lid on, and–power went out.

Damn! I checked my breakers, but they were all fine. I went out to the power pole, and it was fine, too. Curiously, I couldn’t see any lights on in the neighborhood. One of my neighbors came out of his trailer, checking for lights, too.

“Is your power out?” I called.

“Yes,” he said. “Traffic is beginning to back up. It looks like it’s out all over.”

Yep, it sure was! So much for my turducken.

I waited about an hour, and still no power. The sun had already set, and the temperature inside my tiny home was dropping.

You see, I ran out of propane in May, and I’ve just been too lazy to fill the tanks. And, I’ve never done it before. I didn’t really know how to remove a tank or install a new one. When I lived in my motorhome in Arizona, a propane service came around weekly and topped our tanks for us; all I had to do was give the driver a check.

Delivery here is only for the big tanks that are leased from the propane companies. I had put in an order for one five or six weeks ago, and it still hasn’t been delivered. I’ve just been using an electric space heater, a toaster oven, and a hot plate, and until now, it has worked fine.

My Plan B clearly has some flaws.

I do have cold weather gear, so it is possible for me to stay in my trailer without heat. However, it wouldn’t be fun. If I’m going to be sleeping in the cold, I at least want a campfire.

I checked my phone and found a propane dealership a half mile away. How hard could it be to remove a propane tank? Apparently, not as hard as my mind had made it out to be. I checked the tank; it was already turned off. All I had to do was unscrew the clamp and unscrew the hose connector. It took just a few minutes, and the tank was in the back of my truck.

People were really nice and let me slide into traffic. It really took only a few minutes to get to the propane dealership, even though it was rush hour and all the traffic lights were out.

Turns out my tank is bigger than the tanks they sell at the dealership. They offered to take my bigger one in exchange for a little one, but I decided against it. I didn’t want to give up one of my two bigger tanks. Since I do live in my travel trailer full time, it wouldn’t hurt to have a third, smaller tank for emergencies such as this. I paid the $50 and left with a new, full tank.

It was just as easy to hook up the new tank as it had been to remove the old one. I made sure everything was tight before turning on the gas. Before turning on the furnace, however, I had to clean out last summer’s wasp nests from one of the vents. The long drill bit I’d used to unclog the toilet last week worked well in scraping out the nests. That’s the most use that drill bit has seen in a decade!

Before turning on the furnace, I tested a burner on the stove. It lit up just fine, so I powered on the furnace. Cat hair blew everywhere! Clouds and clouds flew up into the air out of the three floor vents. I had done my best to keep them clean and even covered them with foil in the summer, but it still wasn’t enough.

But, I had heat. I could feel it almost immediately. Whew! At least I’d be comfortable tonight.

I grabbed my turbacken and stuck it on the floor of my Sport Trac. It was far too big to fit in my little refrigerator, and it was definitely cold enough outside to keep it safe. I’d have to cook it at my ex’s, after all.

I went back inside and…lights on! We had power again. Time to cook the turbacken, after all!

Turbacken stewing in its own juicesAnd now I know how to refill my propane tanks!