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Rescued tom turkey enjoying pampered days before release to wildlife sanctuary

Photo: Josh Huskin, License: N/A

Josh Huskin

Joel Hailey and Avery Saenz share a holiday feast with Jadon, recently liberated turkey.

It was difficult separating the bird from its penmate, she said. "We tried our best to herd him to the car, but I had to lift him. I swear I almost broke my back. He was also very sad. He didn't want to be separated from his friend." And in an expression of what some will write off as blatant anthropomorphism, the practice of attributing human emotions to non-human animals, Saenz said Jadon was soon happy and "smiling." And if it weren't for the ability of turkeys to change the colors in their faces and necks and even inflate a tube of skin known as the "snood" over their beak when irritated, perhaps such allegations would stick. But Jadon's appearance, at least as I found him after he had been relocated to Hailey's backyard, suggests the bird is certainly content. And a smile seemed implied as he was hand-fed grain and canned corn at table.

Hailey said this week's event is not about converting people to a vegetarian diet, though that is "something for people to think about." And he recommended tofu-based Tofurky dinners this Thanksgiving as a place to start. "It's the healthiest option I can recommend: no cholesterol, high in protein, and no chance of any animal being harmed in a factory farm."

What about alternative, less abusive systems? "I'd prefer not to comment on that. I am a vegetarian, of course. I can't really endorse even the organic farming of turkeys. … We're just trying to let people know that these are affectionate creatures that need love and care." •

For more information, find the Haily Foundation online at


Turkey Rescue Dinner (vegan potluck)

7-9pm, Tue Nov 22
106 Irvington
(210) 333-3310


Click here to see Jadon's photo shoot video


Gloria Weers' Tofu Turkey

Gloria Weers is a local chef some may remember from the cooking classes she taught at Central Market.

5 pounds firm or extra firm tofu
3/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce

You can make more sesame oil and soy sauce to use as a marinade as the tofu turkey baste. This helps brown and give it more flavor. I personally like to make it a day ahead and just reheat in the oven.
Mash tofu well (I usually press the tofu to get most of the moisture out of it) and mix with 1/3 of the sesame oil and soy sauce. Line an 11-inch colander with a single layer of moistened cheesecloth. Transfer tofu to colander. Press tofu against the colander to about 1-inch thickness and fold edges of cheesecloth over it. Place a cake tin or other flat object over the surface of the tofu and weigh it down with a heavy object to press the liquid from the tofu. I find very little moisture comes out it if you press it in advance.
After the tofu has drained for an hour or more, hollow out to within 1 inch of the colander. Fill the cavity with your favorite stuffing, or use the stuffing recipe below. Pack in stuffing and cover with remaining tofu. Pat down so surface is flat and firm. Oil a roast or turkey pan, place pan over colander, and flip over so that flat surface of filled tofu faces down. Remove cheesecloth.
Mix remaining sesame oil and soy sauce to use as a basting liquid. Baste tofu with liquid and bake covered at 400 degree for 1 hour. Remove cover, baste, and return to oven to bake uncovered until top becomes golden brown, about one hour more. Baste often during remaining cooking time. It slices much better if it is chilled first and then reheated.

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