House Renovation Sagas Plus Macadamia-Tempura Shisito Peppers

posted in: Cooking, Experience, Savory, Seattle-ing | 20

Some cliches are cliché for a reason, and peeling back an onion is no exception. The metaphor applies to remodeling a house so aptly, my eyes are watering just thinking about it. If you’ve been following the renovation saga, you already know that this tree exists in the living room:

Well, not for long. As it happens, last week was punctuated by the discovery of dry rot all throughout the improperly-dried trunk, which, if left untreated, could lead to our roof collapsing onto our living room. That is not a problem we wish to deal with post-remodel. In fact, the biggest choice I want to have to make after this house is sealed up and I can pad quietly down to the kitchen in stocking feet, enjoying the radiant heat emanating from the floors, is which bottle of wine to open from the glass-encased cellar.

And so now we are faced with the task of removing the rapidly-shedding trunk and replacing it with a beam. We hired a structural engineer to design a beam, and I found someone who can both fabricate and install it. The engineer and the fabricator are in a heated argument over whether we should use a square steel column or an I-beam. I never thought life could get so riveting. If you have a vote, weigh in below, because this is something that must happen in the next couple of weeks, even if I have to fashion it myself.

In another example of onion-peeling, we’ve discovered a series of rat and mouse tunnels going every which way behind the drywall through the insulation in the walls. “Rat tunnels” is the most euphemistic way I can possibly phrase this particular discovery. It’s not as though a sequel to Ratatouille were being filmed behind my walls, at least not a G-rated version. I won’t get too gruesome with a description of the reality here, but suffice it to say we located an abundance of feces and carcasses, so if they were filming anything, it was Lord of the Flies Rats.

But it’s not all piss and vinegar on the job site. For one thing, our kitchen drawings have come back from the modernist master woodworkers. I am overjoyed with the fact that they’ve managed to fit my future tandoori oven in along with a built in deep-fryer. I’m really looking forward to getting super gigantic from eating way too much fire-cooked, deep-fried naan once this whole project is completed. Oh, and more details on that killer rolling ladder coming soon.

One solution we have yet to solve in the kitchen is that of compost. I generate a pile of compost the size of Kim Jong Il’s ego approximately every hour I cook. I hate the tedious little countertop pails, plus I fill them way too fast. I was thinking that since the roof will be planted, we could get one of those bank teller whooshing devices and I could fill the capsule with compost as I generate it, then send it to the roof through the vacuum tube.

future kitchen

My husband reminded me rather scoffingly, however, that we have a budget, and it is not nearly as large as Kim Jong Il’s ego. It’s more like the size of his penis, which I have on good authority (your mom), is rather modest. Because of that pesky budget, and wanting to blow it all on kitchen appliances and kitchen appliances alone, we are navigating this process sans General Contractor. That means that I get the dubious pleasure of manning a jackhammer for several days this week- doesn’t that sound fun?

Back to my original point, the compost issue remains decidedly gaping. The kitchen is attached to an exterior wall, so we thought of boring a chute straight out to the chicken pasture, but we’re not sure we want to puncture the copper siding. If you have any great compost solutions, by all means, chime in.

Remember how there are two round rooms in the house? The upper one is part of the master bedroom, and I had fully intended to turn it into a display room for my shoe collection, putting the shoes on shelves on the walls, and a round fuchsia fainting couch in the center of the room. Until I saw this:

Can you believe this bed? It rocks- literally! And it was practically made for the round room, thereby displacing my stilettos yet still somehow making me very, very happy. It’s not a done-deal, I still have to take some final measurements and make certain the room won’t eclipse the bed, but for now, that is the plan. Update: just bought it-giddy like a little pig-tailed girl with excitement. We have the chance to finish the walls and spired ceiling in that room in whatever material we like, since it hasn’t been sheetrocked yet. Any thoughts?

We also learned this week that my husband’s very generous boss bought us an outdoor pizza oven from Naples as a housewarming gift. It’s on its way across the pond now, and we’re hoping whoever is captaining that ship across the Atlantic sails as slow as Seattle drivers drive. That’s because it’s 10’ by 5’ and if you recall from last week’s recounting of the whole forest-eating-the-house saga, we don’t actually have any land cleared yet that would safely house a 3-ton pizza oven. We’re working on it by ripping off the deck so that we can replace it with an eventual patio that is now guaranteed to be the site of many a pizza party. Oh, the possibilities.

deck demolition

I haven’t been able to spend as much time in the kitchen as I would like, so I find myself learning to get over my aversion to store-bought pasta, and to cook things that take 15 minutes rather than 15 hours. To my surprise, some things can be prepared lickety split and not taste like ickety shit. These shisito peppers fall under that umbrella-ella-ella, hey, hey, hey…

First they are coated in light tempura batter that has ground macadamia nuts in it. Next they are deep-fried in duck fat, and finally they are dusted with even more macadamia powder. The whole thing takes less than ten minutes, although I had to make several batches, because between four people, we managed to pack away three pounds. That’s a slew of shisitos. Yes, they were our sole dinner one evening, no; I don’t feel bad about it.

Here’s the recipe, and be sure to tune in next week for an all-new installment of Salty’s Sledgehammer Sagas.

Macadamia-Tempura Shisito Peppers

Makes 1 pound

Takes 15 minutes

  • 1 lb shisito peppers
  • 1.5 c tempura batter- make it or fake it, your call
  • 1 c macadamia nut powder (I pulverize the nuts in a spice grinder or food processor)
  • 2-3 cups of rendered duck fat (or other high heat oil)
  1. Heat the oil to 350°F.
  2. Mix ½ c macadamia powder into tempura batter.
  3. Coat the shisitos in tempura
  4. Deep fry them until crisp and lightly-browned.
  5. Remove from fryer and serve, dusted with the remaining macadamia nut powder.
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20 Responses

  1. Choudoufu

    I’m enjoying your remodeling posts.

    About the compost question: Speaking from years of experience growing up on a hobby farm (pigs, oxen, huge garden) with parents who loved to compost everything imaginable, and now as an adult with my own kids, chickens and suburban backyard compost bin, I heartily recommend the child labor solution. Young males (and females) love to lug buckets around. And if the opportunity is presented artfully, they rise to the challenge of “helping mom by taking control of the compost.” I suggest getting a special pair of rubber boots, designated only for use in the garden & when managing compost, maybe a rain hat, and a set of buckets in attractive colors that are small enough for him to carry when full. Each time you fill one bucket, set it aside in an appropriate location, and with a little encouragement you should find it has been emptied before you’ve filled up all the others. At least it worked for me when I was little, and works for my son now.

    Good luck, have fun.

    Linda Reply:

    @Choudoufu, That is an absolutely adorable idea- love it!

    Choudoufu Reply:

    @Linda, Glad you like it. And I forgot to mention one must-have item for any aspiring young compost sherpa: gloves! Give my kids new gardening gloves and they’ll pull weeds — and lug compost — for 30 minutes a day just for the pleasure of wearing ‘em.

  2. It seems like something akin to sea sickness would ensue if one were attempt to have sex in that bed…

    Linda Reply:

    @Beth {local milk}, stoppers prevent it from moving, if you wish.

  3. so is fireproofing required on the beam in residences? if so, then i guess it doesn’t matter. :-)

    have you thought about separating the fryer and tandoori from the main kitchen?

    this is such an awesome project. love it.

  4. One vote for an I-Beam, they are totes cool. I have been loving your remodel posts!

  5. I vote I-Beam. Far more interesting visually.

    So I’m guessing the rocker bed will be a guest bed? If so, what happens when you have an overnight visitor like myself, with a big head? Will the bed tip down, pushing all the blood to his or her head?

    Linda Reply:

    @Andrew, Umm, which head are you referring to? ;)

  6. There sure are a lot of critters. You’re like Snow White of Preston. If the column serves no functional purpose then I say beam. But you know I’m still pulling for giant waterfeature.

  7. john v phipps

    I am often pegged as a “belt AND suspenders” kinda guy when it comes to structure. Look your structural engineer directly in the eyes, keep a serious look on your face, and politely ask “Can you rivet the I-beam inside of the square channel?”. Let me know what he says….

  8. Adrian

    I am continued to be wowed. Keep it up! I like I beams myself but it’s your damn house!

  9. I love the idea of the steel post since magnetic possibilities abound…think of the things you could make into fridge magnets and attach them in the middle of the room!

  10. I am loving these posts so much! I want a full tour of the place when it is done! Before and after pictures too!!!!!

  11. Gregory Wright

    Beams…you want whatever is the strongest since you are planting the roof. I-Beams are probably stronger, unless it will potentially twist, in which case the square is supposedly better. Are you then encasing the beam in some kind of sculpted tree? Did you actually buy a house that you will any part of intact? Why oh why are you not tweeting a pic of yourself operating a jack-hammer?

  12. Donna Vining

    What about a compost dumbwaiter to take your little bucket up to the roof? I could see you making that work.

  13. Linda, you crack me up. That Kim Jung Il comment is hilarious. Good luck with everything…I hate peeling back the layers on a house, it’s always something. BUT, you will have your dream house after, so keep chugging :) Also, you could always encase the beam in something and make it look like something else…maybe still get your swing :P. Also, I love the bed, but I still vote for a shoe closet! :)

    ps. I wish I had a ridiculously nice boss that would get me a pizza oven…but since I’m self employed…I’m not that nice to myself ;)

  14. When you’re done, I want to come over and swap stories. Over pizza (and naan) – of course…

    Linda Reply:

    @David, When we’re both done, we should do a week long house swap. Now THAT would be a hilarious blog post.

  15. Helen Dean

    I really hope you get that tree situation figured out, it would frighten me considerably. I have no idea what I would use to replace it, but as for the compost, the chute makes a lot of sense. And you said you would have chickens in the yard? Sounds like a win-win cycle of life right there.

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