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Off Grid Prefab Modern House, Still Without Systems Installed, Performs In Cold Temps! Again!

Big Ugly's back!
Yes, my childhood friend who is an artist and runs around taking nekkid pictures of herself (her "ten second timer pictures" where she sets up a scene, clicks as the photographer, then as ten seconds pass, runs into the frame to become the photo) visited us again in the zero energy passive solar off grid prefab house.

Photo of the field by Big Ugly

Friday night it was cold (down to 30) and pitch black dark when we arrived at the zero energy prefab.

Inside? The thermometer read 69 when we thought to check it (after repeatedly opening the door to unload) after unpacking.

Frost on Big Ugly's car, cozy happy prefab house kit
 in the background, still with no systems.

We awoke to frost on the fields and heavily on the cars, where Handsome Husband had to scrape it off before his  drive to the corner store for milk for our morning coffee...

But our temperature in the house kit overnight only dropped four degrees, and Big Ugly mentioned she was actually HOT with the down comforter on her bed!  Handsome Husband says the off grid house seems to lose a half degree temperature per hour inside, *without any heat* in cold weather.

Yes, I have on a sweater. Yes, I appreciate my down comforter. Yes, I can't wait for the radiant heat to be hooked up. But yes, it is comforting to know how comfortable this off grid house is for the majority of days of the year, still without systems installed.

Handsome Husband: "It just confirms how efficient and effective passive solar design is, and it is crazy anyone would build otherwise."

Cozy In The Off Grid Zero Prefab House Kit, Cold Outdoors!

If I'm reading this correctly, on Saturday the high was 59, low 32. 
But the passive solar house kit was always much warmer, 65-70, just from its passive design!!!

At 8:30 Saturday morning Pat Root, Jason Dorris, and we convened to discuss our next steps in off grid zero systems installation.

[Tech heads: off grid systems update for the prefab house from Handsome Husband later this week. I'm running around with Big Ugly and am laughing too much for technical documentation.]

After the off grid zero energy systems meeting ended, I showed Big Ugly more of the area.
At Mrs. Esh's, I picked up the usual dinner rolls and bread, and spied:
Favorite Family Recipes, Charlotte County, VA
NICE! Another local Amish cookbook, this one with several neighborhood families in it!
If you would like to order a copy please send $11.75 + shipping (I have no idea. Throw in five bucks!) to:
Isaac S. Fisher
6828 Thomas Jefferson Highway
Charlotte Court House, VA 23923

What I really like about this cookbook is that it not only has great recipes and tips, but also sections on how
to make cheeses, yogurts, and a whole chapter on canning and preserving. I will be reading these areas with great interest. My yogurt is pretty ok, but the canning needs an expert eye over my shoulder. Like solar cooking, some experiments are wild successes, the others, er, not so much.

Composting Toilet note: Friday night? The house smelled like sawdust.
And then on Saturday morning, worse. Saturday evening, with wind outside? A return to no smell, not even of sawdust. Usually there is no smell, at all.

We wonder if this is because the SIP house is so tight there might be a hint of backdrafting as the temperature outside drops.  We discussed installing an ERV there, and made some adjustments. Also the lack of wind Friday night (see wind data on temperatures graphic, above). Taking notes.

We'll most likely put an external air supply into the toilet, feeding the composting chamber with that. The DC powered electrical vent kit from Envirolet (consuming 40 W) will be running at all times when we are here. The heater that comes with the toilet is AC (500 W), and we don't want to put that load onto an off grid system.

Between the ERV sucking bad air out of the bathroom, and the toilet vent sucking external air across the compost and back out of the house, the impact to indoor air quality should be minimal.

After we went to Mrs. Esh's for our usual jam and bread, I left Big Ugly to roam Charlotte County taking nearly-nekkid pictures of herself.
Thank goodness it's cold: she's got clothes on.

Back at the house kit, I thought I'd jokingly send Big Ugly my own ten second timer pictures:
Big Ugly, without makeup, planning or a hair brush, here ya go:

Dog #2 also decided to do his own ten second timer pics fer ya:


Updated Fall Color Schemes:

As always, at this time o' year, we are sporting a new color scheme: 
Muzzle loader season started Saturday.

Also, to be completely and utterly shallow, longtime readers might notice a change in hair color.
I started this blog with pastel pink hair. Women in my gym class who never spoke to me for years suddenly,  airily approached me exclaiming,
"I love the pink, it makes you friendly and accessible!"

It made me wonder how people perceived me previously. Wonder how they'll react to indigo.

Don't like it? Get over it. I'm in no mood to take prisoners.

On the way home, we stopped in at Chesterfield Berry Farm for pumpkins and creases.
Now, you cook creases like you would mustard greens, even dandelion - think of savory, bitter elements that you can mix in with softer tastes like potatoes, or a dash of something sweet / soy-ish, but, in my mind, always with MEAT.

While the trick-or-treaters stop by, I'll be handing out candy while cooking up greens!

It is hard to find recipes for creases. But Aunt Arie describes them great in this passage:
"...but now creases, ain't nothin' in th'world no better'n creases.  Some people calls it watercress. Why, I'd hunt th'fields for it. I use t'have it in th'garden, but see, when they come t'plow my garden, I sorta feel ashamed t'get in there and follow'em around and around and around- 'specially strangers- and they 'bout plowed it all up. But in that big field over there where we use t'raise corn, we use t'have creases all over it, and in March I'd have creases t'eat. It's hard t'gather, though. Cook it just like y'do mustard. Take creases and mustard mixed t'gether, and you've never eat nothin' no better in your life. They're 'bout six'r eight inches high when y'get'em. When it gets in bloom you can pinch th'leaves off and not eat th'stems. I just cook th'leaves. Put some middlin' meat on in th'morning and boil it 'bout two hours 'till it's all good and tender. Then pour off th'grease and put in fresh water t'boil and add that meat and them greens and boil all that t'gether about thirty minutes and you've got you something good."
I cooked my creases the following way:
Copeland's Creases
  • Creases, stems trimmed, well washed
  • Collards, sliced in strips, about 2" long (Actually I planned on using collards but used turnip greens instead, as they came with the turnips I also bought. So I'll add a tad more sweet jam / cook more to cut the sharpness of this combo)
  • Meat, make sure it has some fat on it
  • Garlic
  • Good oil or bacon grease
  • Blackberry jam
  • Hoisin
  • Soy
  1. Sear the meat with garlic and oil (or grease) until it's crispy on the outside, red-as-you-can-stay inside. Set aside meat, leaving grease in the pan.
  2. Add the collards and creases into the coated with fat / oil pan.
  3. Add a tad of water and let simmer awhile until water is green, mostly evaporated and the greens are soft but pan is still covered with a smidgen of water.
  4. Slide the greens over to one side of the pan, add the meat / garlic back in, and coat the meat lightly with blackberry jam, hoisin.
  5. When it starts getting crackily, add dashes (but not too much!) of soy to the pan to finish. 
  6. Transfer meat to a platter, stir up the greens in the pan and top the meat with creases
  7. Serve with mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes made with a mild cheese / cream / butter / dash of kosher salt woven through the potatoes), a fresh salad with dill vinaigrette, then cheese. And consider starting with a hot puree of pea or lentil soup!
I also stir-fried pumpkin seeds from the carved pumpkins in a pan. Start at a high temperature, then finish with a long, low heat, sprinkled with kosher salt. Try it sometime, it's good! It's especially useful if your Handsome Husband blew up your oven a few months back too!

Just for fun : Our road in fall

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At 11/1/10, 10:02 AM , Blogger Big Ugly said...

Ahhhh! Look at YOU dabblin' in "dash" photography, haha - LOVE it! Just thing you know - YOU'LL be hooked!

GREAT post, Copie...So many beautiful pictures...makes me already miss being there at Higher ground with you wonderful peeps. Thanks again,for aNOTHer FABulous visit!


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