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Building Code And The Future! And, Um, A Bunch Of Recipes.

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Green building geeks: The rest of this post has nothing to do with green building. So I'll start this with a VERY intriguing code / architecture / passive house post I came across this week that might affect YOU:

"Air Admittance Valves (AAVs) failure, or 'Can you depressurize a passive house?' " 

WHY does this post fascinate me?
Because it discusses a tight, energy efficient, passive house under construction where the building inspector is concerned about applying code not to the existing, energy efficient current building scenario, but to what *might* happen down the road *if* future owners added penetrations to the structure. 

There you go: There is your green building intellectual bone: Discuss.

Due to sleet, the children were out of school, and as the afternoon descended into chaos (I can only try to telecommute for work for so long after X hours of "Let's Pretend We're Three Year Olds" and battles over Whose Lego's Were Whose forced me from my desk continually),  I thought it would be a good day to do a taste test of grains to see what we might grow this spring. We purchased barley, amaranth, sorghum, wheat, oats, and buckwheat, and will experiment throughout the next weeks to see which we like the best / yet might grow best in our Virginia conditions. MY vote is for barley. #beer

So we made Winter Barley Soup.
[I *was* going to call it Casati Family Winter Barley Soup, but the 8 year old said, "Nah, leave out the name, we don't want people crowding around us all the time because we can cook."
Ha. I broke it to him that no one cares about his Momma's soup... but was flattered he liked it so much.]
Here's how we made it:
Winter Barley Soup:
  • Sautee minced onion, garlic, green pepper (which I diced & froze this summer)
  • Add local, natural ground beef
  • I had already canned, then opened a tomato marinara, and made some pureed tomato soup with leftover chicken stock earlier this week, so, after the above was softened & cooked, I added this to the pot. You can add hand-crushed canned tomatoes and beef broth if you don't have something similar on hand.
  • handfuls of barley
  • Add enough water or broth to turn it into soup, then simmer until it cooks down and becomes stew, at least an hour
  • dollops of sweet pepper relish from Mrs. Esh added a touch of sweetness / roasted flavor
This was requested to be packed into their school lunch tomorrow. [Casati Family] Winter Barley Soup was a hit. 100% local, healthy, no additives = happy children eating good, fresh food... at school.

Then, because they were still squabbling, we made amaranth popcorn (do NOT use oil! Shake shake shake the pan.).  Here's a video I found on YouTube that shows you how:

Our amaranth popcorn was a disaster because the 6year old was SO disappointed the popcorn actually turned out to be the size of a pin head. I thought it was cute, but hard to pack for a school snack...
They voted to Feed It To The Chickens. Dag. But I will continue to experiment with amaranth.

What I like about amaranth is that you not only get a high mineral and vitamin grain, can eat the leaves like spinach, but it's also adaptable to high temperatures and rather purty. It will hopefully do well after seeding the field last year with clover, which added nitrogen; and I can broadcast the seed *then* mow the field, which would give it the 1/2 inch of cover it likes to do well & sprout without tilling.
A sleet-y day like this was also a good excuse to keep the kids busy making appetizers to freeze, to then have on hand in the coming weeks to serve to guests this winter. I decided to make some of my own family's recipes, most from Mother.

Note that my Mother is neither a cook nor a localvore ("What's a localvore?"), so you will need to adjust everything accordingly. Gracious there is a lot of butter & cream cheese - serve with lots of vegetables! Don't make more than two or three of these at a time to serve or you will all surely die!

Spinach mixture - form into small balls.
Mother's Spinach Balls
2 boxes frozen spinach (What ev. I just threw a gi-normous bag into the bowl.)
2 c. herb stuffing mix (Dump in a bunch of assorted multi-sized frozen bread crumbs, plus herbs, salt)
1 minced onion
6 beaten eggs
3/4 c. melted butter
1/2 c. parmesean (a HALF cup? Is she kidding? I scattered it liberally all over, honeys.)
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. black pepper

Mix & form into balls. 350 degrees for 20 minutes OR cook 10-15 minutes then freeze.

Mother's Cheese Balls
1 c. sharp cheese (Grated by our faaaaabulous Salad Master! If you ever find one in a thrift store, GET IT!)
2 T butter (what the heck. measurements, again.)
1/2 c. flour
dash of cayenne
25 medium olives, well drained

Cream the cheese with butter, blend flour. Wrap about a teaspoon of dough around olive, cover completely. 400 degrees for 15 minutes. *Copeland's note: This by far takes the most amount of time. Picture: You are taking pieces of the mix and pressing it between your palms to make a dough to then wrap an INDIVIDUAL olive in, evenly. But it's worth it, it's worth it! I added lots more cayenne so I will watch with great interest our guests as they pop one into their mouths. #Experiment #WhoNeedsMeasurementsAnyHoo

Mother's Walnut Dip
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 T. grated onion
1 whole garlic, minced
*Mix the above, then chill. On a nice platter, make a flat wide circle or oval about 1" high, then atop it add:*

Topping: Heat below, then add in the chopped pecans or walnuts, cool until then thickened, and spoon over and on the sides of the cream cheese mix. Serve with wheat crackers.
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 T Worcester sauce
1 t. brown mustard

*The Walnut Dip + consumption of alcohol = well, it's addictive. Be warned.

Grandmother S's Cream Cheese For Fruit
2 8oz packages of cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
1 c powdered sugar
2 T orange juice
1 T grated orange rind (or more) >> more! more!
1/2 t. vanilla (or more) >>are you *kidding* me? slosh that stuff in

Mix, form into an oval or whatever (my words). Grate orange peel also on top. Serve with sliced apples, pears, whole strawberries, it is DEElish. (My words, again.)

There you go. Enough winter appetizers to kill an elephant. I am now ready for guests.
Oh, P.S. This is SO in honor of my dear friend Big Ugly... enjoy. She's had a little trouble with some PTA moms lately...

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