The pictures speak for themselves. Solid, heavy construction above ground was weakened by bad fill and, over time, erosion from water draining into the hole. Since the weakening seemed to have been accelerated by the earthquake 10 days earlier, there was concern the cavern might have extended to the bay and bay water was seeping into our cavern. This theory was reinforced by significant condensation appearing on a large section of tile (leading toward the bay) and the arrival, most likely from underground, of a horde of water beetles. So digging began in earnest. The deeper the hole, the more small pockets were discovered until they arrived at compacted dirt and....black water. Now, the bay may be somewhat polluted but it was not as bad as what appeared at the bottom of The Big Dig.
As I write, efforts continue to trace the seepage back to the source. The big red pipe in the pictures is the main drain from the house. Four full baths and a kitchen all drain into this pipe which leads to the city sewage line. It certainly appears intact but somewhere, between the hole and this house or our neighbor's, there's a leak.
Ol' Red continues to limp along. After the last visit to the mechanic he offered, in mitigation, that I won't need my annual major tune-up because over the course of the last 2 months, everything has been replaced. Small comfort, that.
How could I forget...to add insult to injury the city water supply has been interrupted by repairs. Until yesterday we had been without pressure water for 21 days. Although we have a cistern of 5,000 liters, we don't catch any of the rain so several times we had to call in trucks to fill the cistern. And as we waited our turn for a refill, we were fortunate to have access to water from the pool for flushing and cleaning. We did take advantage of low water levels by having the cistern cleaned out - it was sorely needed. US$30 for a guy to spend 4 hours inside a rather small tank scrubbing, cleaning, right down to sponging out the final debris. OSHA would have had a heyday with that evolution, as they would with The Big Dig as you can see in the photos.
cTc Charcuterie continues to put out. In addition to regular sausages, February's Special will be an Olive and Marinated Sweet Pepper Pork Terrine. It's yummy. I brought some to a friend to taste and he was surprised at the consistency as one needs a knife to slice it. He called it "Pressed Ham". Further discussion led to the realization that he thought all pates were creamy and spreadable. So, for those of you who may think the same...
Calling it a 'terrine' or a 'pâté' is same-same. The proper term is "Pâté en Terrine" which translates to 'potted meat'. The terrine is the vessel in which the meat is potted. Some purists might argue that one shouldn't call it a terrine unless the meat is eaten from the pot. That seems a bit picky to me.
There are essentially four different styles of pate: Country, En Croute, Gratin, and Mousseline. Country, or Pâtés de Campagne, tend to larger bits of meat and may even have accent pieces of ham, tenderloin, etc embedded in the pâté. There is usually some liver but it's just enough for some flavor, not the primary meat. En Croute means just that - surrounded by pastry. As the story goes, back in the day charcutiers made a lot of Pâtés en Croute and this bothered the bakers' guild to the point where they somehow managed to ban butchers from using a pastry covering. Or so the story goes. A 'gratin' means that some of the meat, typically chunks of pork or chicken liver, are seared before adding to the pâté as a flavoring device. And finally, the smooth pâté most people recognize, the mousseline. Here the meat is pureed, the spices added, and the resulting spread is what most people recognize as a pâté. These are the pâtés of foie gras, pork or chicken livers, fish, chicken, and yes, pork.
A recipe for Marinated Sweet Peppers as used in February's Terrine Special.
3-4 sweet peppers of various colors
4-6 garlic cloves
100-150 deciliters of oil (I use a good olive oil but most any kind will do)
Sprig of thyme
Peel the peppers and remove all seeds and veins. Cut into largish strips.
Put the peeled peppers, garlic, oil, and thyme into a pot and cover. Bring to a simmer over low heat (yes, it'll take a while). As soon as steam spills from under the cover, remove the cover (there will be a lot of water), stir it all and over lowest possible heat to evaporate off the water. Cool, remove the sprig of thyme, then refrigerate.