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Prefab House Kit In The Rain. And Rillettes, Bean Soup, Mexican Chili, and...

A Gleaming, Glistening-In-The-Rain, Zero Energy Prefab House Kit
What. Who's Calling Me Soggy.

It was raining cats and dogs in Richmond! We had sick, coughing children. I had a fever. So I stayed back and cooked all day while Handsome Husband filled the car to the top with things we usually don't have room for, and trekked out alone to the off grid prefab house kit to deliver a bunk bed and mattresses for the center bedroom, a queen mattress for our bedroom, and to also take some measurements for our Plan To Get Through The Winter With Temporary Penetrations In A SIPs Prefab Home Still Under Construction... *sigh*...

Pat Root, our electrician, has been out working in the zero energy prefab house - and there are two new penetrations on the east wall for the solar electric and battery bank connections:
More Holes To Re-Insulate In The Prefab House

Handsome Husband noted that the temperature gage's low, recorded for the prior week inside the passive solar house kit *with* penetrations, was 40.  Ok, fine, to be fair the weather was freezing cold this week (high, 40; lows 15).

Heat me up, baby.
But I recall last year when it was 11 degrees at night and we awoke to 55, even with no heat, because the energy efficient SIP held the heat inside so well! (Note: We had only gotten it up to 57 that day but it was frigid outside. Windchill of 4, inside in the 50s, not bad with no heat.)  So the sooner we permanently seal up and insulate around these new holes in the energy efficient envelope, the happier I will be.

Part of the solution will be completely sealing the cook stove, so not only is around the chimney re-insulated, but that the flue is completely sealed when not in use. I will be posting more on that, and more information on chimneys in a tight, energy efficient envelope than you will EVER want to know later this week.

Meanwhile, I digress.
In this cold, gray winter rain, I am craving rillettes. I wish Katja were here...
Katja, on the balcony.
66 boulevard Malesherbes, 3ieme ├ętage
Old Friends In Paris
(Please forgive a friend smoking.
I know, I can't believe it either.)

No, on a cold day like this I wish I was living in Paris again, with Katja, and eating rillettes with fresh, crusty bread from the boulangerie across the street, in the happy, happy kitchen. We'd gather around a small table, listening to music, talking, laughing, eating off plain wooden plates, not in the airy 1800s dining room, no, happy in the cozy chaotic kitchen messily passing stinky cheese, cold cuts and rillettes around to whomever was there, spreading it all over warm bread, washing dinner down with red wine for a simple, lovely meal before heading out into the night... Again.

Rillettes is (are? my English and French get mixed when I remember other places) hard to find in Richmond. So I decided to make a bunch o' rillettes, to then can and enjoy slowly, easily on hand, over the winter.

Basically, think of making rillettes... like you would think of building a good fireBefore you even start looking at the hours of the recipe, think of the time it's going to take you to chop a big ole stack o' kindling, er, meat.  THEN, like layering a fire,  take a big ole pot, add a small layer of water, and chunks of fat (lard). On top of that layer, add layers of chopped mixed cuts of pork (or duck, or beef), salt, spices if you like - in this case, I used shoulder and ribs... simmer simmer simmer, hours later fish out ribs or whatever, let cool so you can get the meat off the bone, add the meat back into the pot, and, once the meat is easily shredded / with pressure falls apart, you ladle into mason jars, cool, and top with hot lard to seal. Tips and MORE RECIPES at the end of this post (hey, it was a long rainy day!).
Miss you, Katja!!!
Speaking of building fires, and cooking... let's talk about the prefab SIPS house chimney and cook stove!  In case you're wondering, from Simpson DuraVent, we installed a DuraTek Chimney and DVL Stove Pipe. It works fine except for the heat loss issues, and I look forward to talking to their technical department further about that (I placed a call today, have not yet heard back from them), and what they recommend in tight envelope / SIP homes, if anything.

In the meantime, enjoy the food:

More recipes and Rillettes Tips:
  • The hardest part of making rillettes is cutting up the huge hunks of meat. It also takes a lot of time, so add that to the total time when planning a meal.
  • Be patient, careful, and know 1. it is easier to cut big hunks of meat when not totally thawed and 2. know when to give up, toss in the hunk with the bone until cooked, cool it, cut it then when it's easier to cut & then toss back into the pot. No reason to lose a finger, eh?
  • Also careful when you turn big hunks in the pot - sink yer fork deep into the meat, turn carefully, doing everything you can not to splash hot fat on yourself and start a kitchen fire, 'K?.
Psssst: I also made Black Bean Soup and Mexican Chili. And Thumbprint Cookies Topped With Raspberry Jam. And stock. I was bored, with a fever, and stuck in the house for the day.

Copeland's Mexican Chili
(Adapted and immediately ruined from The Sheraton World Cookbook's Rio Grande Chili Beef circa 1980)

I *think* I normally kinda follow this recipe... kinda. It's on page 102 if you want to read it.
As usual I use no measurements. Like who has time to read recipes, much less follow them.
Here is what you're *supposed* to add:
4lbs beef chuck in 2" cubes
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbs chili powder
1 tbs curry
1 1/2 salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp oregano
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs butter
1 cup chopped onions
4 cloves crushed garlic (I minced)
2 cups beef stock
1 cup red dry wine

Well, I diverged before I got started. I did not add oregano, wine, and had no stock (yet). So I sauteed up a mess o' garlic and onions in the slow cooker, then seared the floured, seasoned beef in a pan then added it to the cook pot, then, in desperation, when I read the part about stock, decided to hurl in some hand crushed whole tomatoes and their juice (2 cans), slow simmered it for 3ish hours at 300, and called it a day. (Oh the wine part? That was tasty, but did not make it into the recipe. *Hiccup*)

I'll freeze this, then add the stock I made from the bones of the rillettes next weekend, when I mix it together & reheat.

Copeland's Black Bean Soup
Wash, soak a bag o' black beans the night before
Garlic (mince)
Onions (dice)
Sour Cream
Lime Juice
Chili Powder
Cilantro (if you like, for garnish)

Sautee diced onions, minced garlic in olive oil. Add a little stock, then black beans, rest of stock + water to top off the volume you want. Simmer for hours until beans are soft but not mushy. Add chili powder & glugs o' lime juice. You can refrigerate, or immediately serve: In a bowl, mix sour cream, Parmesan, even a tad of fresh minced garlic.  Ladle bean soup into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream mixture, then add fresh cilantro, if you like, serve.

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