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1/19/15

Passive Solar Off Grid Prefab Modern Home Readies For New Solar Battery, With Necks.


What a week at the passive solar off grid modern prefab.

Well... I guess... it was typically... uneventful.
...Mild WINTRY? Wintry is so comfortable at the off grid prefab house...

Winds buffeted the off grid prefab.
It smelled like snow.
It looked like snow.
It felt like snow, but none came.

With the clouds, our failing solar battery bank (can't wait until the new battery arrives!) was ok, but it meant the freezer didn't stay frozen over cloudy days. Thankfully we had taken its contents to friends' farms, but I did pull a bag over from our friends, and so that bag thawed.

"So what bunch of meat and assorted items will we be cooking with, this week?"
I opened the bag...
And it was a big bag of...
chicken necks.

Good thang I had already, after butchering meat birds, created a pinterest board for a bunch of chicken neck recipes!

My family rebelled. "CHICKEN NECKS?!?"
As I explained to my Amish friend, B., as we visited, later:
"You know... I DON'T GET IT. You go into ANY city, and pretty much most of the restaurants, much less BBQ joints, are crowing about their fantastic chicken wings. You eat them with your fingers, you chew on them, yet we English won't touch chicken necks, and they're just as delicious!"
B: "WELL. I don't know about cities, much less restaurants, so I can't help you with your chicken wings and necks philosophizing..."
Hmph.

I *AM* looking forward to the arrival of our new solar battery. Our old battery bank still allowed us to live off grid for years, affordably (Really? $450 a year for utilities?!? Even though its lifespan was not ideal that was still much more affordable than the average Virginia electric bill of $1,488 a year, not including other utilities...)... But I can't wait to get the new battery installed, hence my freezer contents back, so we can eat well our way through winter!
Hello, I am TRYING to do sit ups...
Passive solar at work in the modern prefab house...
This Week At The Off Grid Modern Prefab:
Well, some days it rained buckets, our cistern filled, but, now living years, off grid, with a rainwater collection cistern,  I am still always thinking about water.

One night I contemplated our refinished, recycled old claw foot tub.
When we first found it, I was ecstatic, envisioning warm bubble baths, a shelf at the end for  a book, even a glass of wine... I envisioned: SPA.


That clawfoot tub is dry, always. At best, we shower quickly. In winter, often a splashy quick sponge bath hurriedly between the barn and activities... not once has the tub been even half filled; that would be pure water waste!

In exploring this issue one comment leapt to mind:
"Lining up in long queues in a "go low flow" toilet sale this weekend, we were confounded by the ironies. We were also looking for a small tub to replace our old steel one, and were hard pressed to find any selection at all in small tubs, let alone small capacity tubs, whereas the mega tubs with every waterlishious extravagance abounded. The specs don't even list the capacities, whereas the flush volumes on the toilets are specified down to the fraction of a litre."

I contemplate water, and the bath:
Who needs dolls when you can snuggle roosters.

Mutt and Jeff.
Frick and Frack.
Peas and Pods.
Whatever our chaos is,
it was fun.

  • 5 Things To Know About A Clawfoot Tub
    "Clawfoot tubs can hold anywhere between 40-60 gallons of water. That means one good soak could completely drain your 40-gallon water heater."
    Note / FYI: Japanese Soaking Tubs hold about 50 gallons, on average.
    So I consider them in the same category.
  • It's Time To Rethink Tub Sizes
    "It’s a hard statistic to nail down, but a person uses between fifty and seventy gallons of water each time he or she takes a bath. This number includes water wasted waiting for the desired temperature as well as hot water used to return the cooling water to the desired temperature. Compare that number to a five minute shower, which uses around twenty five gallons of water, possibly half that if the shower uses a flow restrictor. Clearly, if water conservation is the main goal, a quick shower is the answer, but let’s not throw out the bathtub with the bathwater just yet.

    Many people don’t limit themselves to a five minute shower, and without a flow restrictor, it won’t take long for a shower to cross the fifty gallon mark. Plus, many people really like a nice, long, relaxing bath. As green has come to incorporate the mood and feel of a house, a nice place to take a bath fits in well in a green house. "
  • From Stanford: Unfortunately, unless you're taking 20-minute showers—more on that later—baths just can't measure up in terms of water usage. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, while taking a five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons. You might argue that very few people fill the tub to the top, but a simple calculation shows that either way, baths use more water. If you're still unconvinced, try stopping the drain during your next shower to measure the amount of water you use. Then compare that to the amount you use for a bath. Chances are, you'll find the same result: showers save water.
Also to note: We reuse all shower water to flush our toilet so that we also don't flush away perfectly fine and valuable potable water!
One morning, I walked into my bedroom, looked out the window and started whispering to the kids to COME SEE! SEVEN DEER ON THE FIELD!!!! Not one, not two, but three... four... five... six... SEVEN!!!!!!!!!!!! After all the clear cutting, all the coyotes, all the hunt clubs taking 50+ a year, I had lost hope of them regaining a healthy population for quite a few years. SEVEN DEER ON THE FIELD! No bucks, but I'll take it as hope.

We've always had a healthy but not overpopulated herd, It has been so SAD to not see ONE deer since summer. Usually when I pull into our drive at dusk we flush 2-4, and not ONCE did that happen this fall, it was scary. I still won't hunt at least two more years probably, until the balance is restored. Healthy ecosystems are everything.

And there lies the irony- where all the hunt clubs are coming from (DC/ suburbs of Va. Beach, etc.) they should be addressing their own suburban overpopulation, not slaughtering our small but healthy herd!

Reading Club:
We trained, responsibly, our children to grow up with and interact well with beasts. 

Note: From the National Gallery of Art:
"Rules:
Do not touch the works of art."

Recipes:
Bean Bowl
Minced onion fennel, thinly sliced carrot, pinto beans and a bay leaf into broth. Simmer until done, Stir in a glug of apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper. Would be great with meat leftover bits as well, stirred in. If I were not sending this over to an Amish friend I'd consider adding some red wine to this as well! Future Self Pips: This is so simple but you LOVED this soup!

To make the bowl I formed it out but even better is make a ball of bread dough, bake it, cut out the interior, use the part cut out to make salad croutons, tossed with garlic and a little parmesan!

Rosemary Neck Stew
In a cast iron pan (because why have anything else?): saute sliced onions, bacon, and chicken necks. Put a lid on over the pan. When the onions start sticking to the pan, add some broth or water, keep turning and checking on everything every now and then. Let it all simmer simmer simmer, adding enough broth or water to keep it simmering but also browning. Add salt, pepper, smoked paprika, fresh rosemary, sprinkles of lemon or lime juice. Always make sure there's a broth around it- not too deep but enough to then throw in yesterday's pasta leftovers to then soak it all up and the broth turns into gravy! You could even add in a little flour first before the pasta, stir it up, then the pasta if you wanted to make it super down home cookin'!

Jamaican Neck Stew
Saute onion garlic ginger necks (loads of everything), adding water so it browns but doesn't burn. Stir in a can of your usual put up tomato / onion / pepper. Add in apple cider vinegar glugs, thyme / parsley / oregano, pepper flakes / hot spices of choice, salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon. Serve over rice. When the kids complain that "ARRRRGH THOSE ARE NECKS in our lunch!" and don't buy your "Oh mah GOSH people, if you like chicken wings you can love necks" argument, don't say a word, wait until they're gone, then, now that it's cooled, hand shred the meat off the necks (it's actually not hard at all), take the bones to the B's for their fox (he's grateful, at least!), then toss the meat back in, and make, for dinner:

Vegetable Soup That's Totally Not Neck Stew
Mince more ginger, slice carrots, stir into a hot pan, add in water, rice vinegar, tamari, stir it up, simmer until carrots are tender, add in the above leftover rice NECK mix + broth until it's a nice... "Vegetable" "Soup."
"Does THIS have NECK MEAT IN IT?!?" they accuse.
Just make sure they're hungry, steel-ily stare them down and offer, "...maybe a stray piece or two."
Then they devour it...  and have the GALL to ask for more... Because it's not NECK soup but VEGETABLE SOUP, WITH STRAY MEAT.

Two Days O' Collards!
Day 1 All In One Roast
In a dutch oven lightly oil, then add slices of potato, loads and loads of collards, sliced garlic (lots!), then a beef roast. Over the roast pour apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper. To the bed of vegetables pour enough water to simmer the collards, and bake in the oven, turning the pot halfway through cooking, until done. Slice the meat, serve with veggies.
Day 2: Collard Sandwiches
Ohhhhh my goodness. Slice up some fresh baked bread, pour over some of the leftover juice, layer on collards, top with pieces of garlic, then a slice of the leftover meat, salt & pepper... HEAVENLY.

I dedicate the next video to Pip 1 and ZeZe. 
She loves us all; but she really is SO good for that boy...

Who? Oh, I blush...
SOMEONE took a bunch o' ZeZe selfies...

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