I Love my Electric Bike!

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I bought my Aseako electric bike a few months ago and absolutely love it. It is very solidly constructed and wasn’t particularly difficult to assemble and get ready to ride. The European model E-bikes were really tempting but started out at more then twice the price of the Aseako which was out of my price range.

The green tyres were not the standard ones that come with the bike. Two weeks after getting it I blew the rear tyre which really annoyed me as it had only been used for a short time and it had only been ridden on sealed roads. Changing the rear wheel on a heavy E-bike on the side of the road is difficult and unappealing and was a bit of an issue if I planned to use this as my second vehicle and main form of transport. I ordered some Tannus tubeless tyres and got them fitted at Giant Cycles in Rockhampton and am really happy with them. The tyres are a very tough polymer that are solid filled and are perfectly satisfactory for urban street use. If feels great to know I can go on a long ride and not have to worry about getting home after a blowout.

The bike is powered by a 200 watt motor connected to the peddle crank and the battery gives the bike enough power for around 20 km with a 90kg rider. The battery itself is quite light and can be unlocked and removed from the back frame for charging. The torque does tend to fall away as the battery gets closer to empty so I usually put it onto the charger at the end of each day.

The E-Bike laws have changed since I got this bike so they don’t sell a version with a manual throttle anymore. The Law now allows 250 watt motors to be used but not with throttle controls. Instead bikes must be fitted with a pedelec controller which applies the power in proportion the the speed that you peddle. I always turn the pedelec controller off when riding my bike as I consider it to be dangerous. I have found that you can often forget that you have it switched on and find that when starting from a stationary position it can kick in and give you unexpected forward momentum. I can just imaging getting thrown under a bus with this type of miscalculation so I stick to the throttle.

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The council has been putting in a fantastic bike path that runs along the old railway line starting near the old railway station in Yeppoon and going past my place and up past the golf course. When it is finished it is going to make it really easy to commute into Yeppoon by bike.

Miscellaneous Projects

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The Bok Choi plants have grown so much faster then the other greens and are getting to the point where they are ready to harvest. This is were I usually lose everything to cabbage moths but this time I have started spraying with DIPEL at the first sign on infestation.

I went out to check the plants this afternoon and there was a cloud of moths flapping around the greens but there was still only one plant showing signs of damage. This was the one I first found that told me it was time to bring out the spray.

 

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You can see the web that forms in the heart of the plant which is the first sign you get that a massive infestation is about to break out. I will put some spray on the next few days to try and fend off the plague.

 

 

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I have started up the incubator again and am going to begin hatching out chickens on a much larger scale then before. I am not allowed to have a rooster in my zoning but am lucky enough to have a friend who will sell the fertilized eggs to me for the same price as unfertilized ones. It took a fair bit of tweaking to get the incubator to the exact temperature but now that it is set correctly it seems fairly stable.

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The incubator didn’t cost much but is a US model so I have plugged it into a 120 volt inverter which is running of a computer power supply. If you are using a PC’s power supply you just have to remember that the red wires are 5 volts, the Yellow wires are 12 volts and the green wire needs to be crossed with the black wire to turn it on.

I picked up a Swiss Brown mushroom kit as I want to work out how to culture my own mushrooms. There is some information on the Milkwood Permaculture site about doing this from scratch but you first need to get hold of fresh mushroom spawn so a mushroom kit seemed to be a good way to get started.

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Judie and Greg are getting married!!

I am so happy to be able to announce that Judie and I were engaged on the 12th of July and are planning to have a December wedding. Judie has been such an inspiration to me and I am looking forward to spending my life with my beautiful, caring and kind hearted sweetheart!

We all scream for ice-cream

Honey’s friend was telling me how much she liked TM ice-cream. Thinking back to the recipe for “Ice-cream” on the sorbet page of the EDC book I secretly thought she was absolutely crazy (it was blended frozen milk with egg white and sugar) but politely told her it was not one of my favourite dishes.
While searching the web for TM custard recipes (yeah I can never find my EDC book) I made a startling discovery; most of the ice-cream recipes involve starting with a custard type mixture. Most involve egg yolks, cream, milk, sugar but one that I tried used whole eggs- great as I have an aversion to separating eggs and usually just make something else.
This recipe can be concluded with an ice-cream maker or by wizzing frozen custard mixture. As it made IMG_0261slightly more custard than my ICM could handle at one time I went with half in the ICM and half in the TM. On the web there was people complaining about the TM being used as an ice-cream maker and I can tell you my expectations of number 2 were not high. But I popped the remainder of the custard in the freezer, I was surprised the next day when I thought I would need to par-thaw it to wiz it (I had fallen asleep waiting the night before) it was frozen and firm but not rock hard. I cubed it and wizzed it.
My first batch of ice-cream was vanilla flavoured and Honey and I loved it. The TM version was quite nice but the ice particles were slightly bigger. Tested on my nephew and his niece and nephew- they loved it. I tested the ICM version on my niece and she loved it too.
This time I made a caramel version by omitting the Vanilla extract and changing the raw sugar to brown sugar. I put the second lot of custard in the ICM straight after the first lot. It did not go quite as thick but popped it in the same container in the freezer and stirred them about every 20 mins till it was the desired consistency. This made for small ice crystals and Honey and our independent taster also gave it a score of delicious. Tonight I crushed a crunchie and popped it on top. Yum it was like being at Cold Rock.
Judie




The taming of the Kogan - Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff
Davo has a middle name… Tyson, he keeps biting me. Tonight I made beef stroganoff Kogan style. The end result was pretty delicious. Says not just Honey but also an independent taste-tester. Recipe here

MyCook instructions

1. Place EVOO into jar and set 120c, 1 min, sauté. (If using butter cook on 100c)
2. Place the quartered onion into the jar. Set timer 120c, 5 min, sauté (if using butter 100c 4 mins)
3. Place remaining ingredients, except parsley into TM bowl and cook 120c, 15 min, sauté
4. Garnish with parsley and serve with fettuccine (Recipe here) for DF and mashed potatoes for EF option.

Other Thermo-machine instructions

1. If using GSM machine, pop in blunt blades. Place the onion into the jug and chop for 5 seconds, speed 7.
2. Add butter and cook for 2 minutes, 100°C, speed 1.
3. Place remaining ingredients, except parsley into jug and cook for 20 minutes, 100°C, Speed 1 or 2
4. Garnish with parsley and serve with fettuccine (Recipe Here) for DF and mashed potatoes for EF option.

Mashed Potatoes

Honey is not a fan of TM mashed potatoes... I know right - grounds for divorce. So we end up doing them the old fashioned way. I even had to go buy a potato masher. So as penance he is the resident potato-masher. 

So in my attempts to get him to "like" TM mash I tried the Skinnymixers steamed mash (but do you think I could find it) when I am adding to this blog post?

Basically... peel and cube your potato (use one species of potato as they cook at different rates). Pop them on the Steaming trays with enough room to allow the steam through.

Add water to your machine's jug and steam for 15 minutes till soft.

Remove potatoes from steaming trays and pop the water into a cup.

Add potatoes to jug with some home-made mayo or a Dairy Free butter, salt and pepper to taste and wizz till smooth. Speed 5 to 7 is good.

Results for Kogan's performance...

So I tried making the “One bowl” style that I usually make which is weighing the mushrooms in the jug first (unless I forget then I put them in the steam basket on the TM lid) they weighed fine but stuck when I needed to remove the mushrooms to sauté the onions. The blade did not want to release his fungi prisoners and bit me during my attempts to help them to escape.
There are two possible styles of cooking for compensating for the lack of a reverse in the knock offs. One is to use the butterfly on the slowest setting and the other is to just put the setting on slow. If I had a Bellini we could switch out the blade for a blunt blade and continue cooking (now I have a Bellini, I know you can do the whole thing with the blunt blade) and I doubt "not using a blade cover on the Kogan" method will work for another family favourite of Riostto. It is tricky to attach and I have read that someone had theirs come off and the blades chopped it up and it was expensive to replace. So I was going to go with the slow speed forward tonight. Result very tasty Beef Stroganoff some of the mushrooms were chopped in half by the blade which made for a slightly lesser mark in presentation. Biting me made for a lower mark in ease of operation. Overall exceeds expectations +.
Burn marks again on the Kogan tonight when it was finished cooking, I have the dishwasher sorting that out as we speak. I have since found that heating water for about 10 minutes with bicarb soda in the Kogan jug is the most effective way to remove bun marks. They just wipe off.

Judie



Wicking Bed Winter Greens

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I got the first lot of winter greens into the wicking beds. These are mostly a mix of Asian greens like Choy Sum and Bok Choy and Evergreen Bunching Shallots. Next year I will start the first seedlings a lot earlier as they grow pretty well as soon as the really hot weather is finished. I will start a new lot of seedlings every two weeks to be ready to take over from the maturing ones.
I have 4 six square meter raised wicking beds now but only one of them has been fibre glassed on the inside so the others rely on a plastic liner which I have found to be unsatisfactory for this purpose. I still have a large quantity of Fibreglass matting and will get to work soon to seal another one of the beds. I have found that once the raised trampoline beds are fibre glassed then there is very little maintenance needed in looking after them and they can grow out as many vegies as you would get in a much larger area if you were just planting seedlings straight into the soil.
The biggest problem that I have had in the past has always been with the cabbage moth caterpillars which don’t  just take one or two of the plants but all of them in one foul swoop. This year I am ready however with a combination of pest netting and Dipel spraying to keep the bugs at bay. Dipel is considered an organic treatment and doesn’t harm other creatures including non target insects. It is a trademarked name for the BT bacteria which gets into the stomach of the young caterpillars and causes them to stop eating.
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Holiday Yard Work

I had some time over the holidays to get stuck into a few projects that have been really neglected for some time. The first thing that I have been meaning to do was to weed out the corn growing hydroponic area that had become terribly over grown and covered in strangler vines. I weeded out the beds and pulled out the stranglers and have started to barrow in loads of free woodchip mulch that Ergon has left in mountains at the Farnborough State School. I will post some more pictures once I have finished rejuvenating the site.

The three fibreglass beds were purchased second hand from a guy in Gladstone and the area that I have put them in could comfortably handle another 7 so I would love to expand this sometime in the future. The three beds that are currently in produce around 150 cobbs of corn with every grow out. Most of this excess gets frozen but I have been thinking that if we can grow enough then it might be worth starting to make our own corn bread.

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I have been doing a lot of fencing lately to try to get rid of the problem of “Couch Eggs” where we would wake up every morning to find that we only needed to walk as far as the lounge room to collect our breakfast eggs. We also have the dream of getting a milking goat and a couple of Pygmy goats to keep it company but this can’t happen until the fencing is completed in all the areas to stop the goats from getting into the fruit trees (or the furniture).

IMG_0255The chook pen has been getting a facelift to make it more robust and sheltered and also to allow the chooks to come and go but keep the goats in their own area.

The chook run is totally packed with fruit trees. I am happy with they way it has filled in as I wanted to provide protection to the chickens from the hawks that circle our yard and also create some additional forage for the chickens when they get locked away.

 

The patio is being fenced off as well to keep the animals out and I am planning to take advantage of the northerly facing rear side of the fence to create a pest free greenhouse for growing tomatoes as all previous attempts to grow large tomatoes varieties and Capsicum in the warmer weather had to be surrendered to the fruit flies and other pests.

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The rear side of the fence is the perfect spot to build a frame and then stretch bug netting over. This area is going to be used for bathtub wicking beds which should fit neatly along the fence line.

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Greg

Dealing with ant nests

Denis sent in this tip for getting rid of troublesome ant nests that he tried successfully.

Around the holes of the ants nest Denis sprinkled a thick layer of Diatomaceous Earth and three days later all of the ants were gone.

 

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Enter the Kogan (looking to buy a Thermoblender?)

Honey bought a Kogan thermoblend for us to test-drive. Initially I was excited that I could get it in 2 days and it had 5 yrs warranty. However 2 days after ordering the TB Kogan emailed me saying it was on the way. It turned up 4 working days after the email.
We had mentioned to a relative that we were getting a Kogan she laughed and said it sounded like Bogan… she also wondered why I would want a TB when I have a TM, I said it would be handy and I could blog about it.  So we christened our bogan “Davo” honey insisted we christen Thermie a good German name like Klaus, to reflect his country of origin. Being a fan of the Vampire Diaries I agreed to name my TM after the evil half-breed. So Klaus Von Thermister it is.
It was a tough decision as to which knock-off to try first. I had downloaded the Choice Magazine comparison of the Chef, Bellini and Mix. I had also wasted hours of my life reading an opinions page between the Chef and the Mix. I recommend taking a look at it if you are trying to decide but there is this sarcastic little man that I think you should just skip over. But your choice…. A writer called Stacelee was very helpful, she owns a chef, mix and a more expensive multi-purpose machine and has outlined the pros and cons of each machine and does a lot of cooking.

From reading the opinions people have mentioned that knock-offs tend to “smell” and I was expecting something akin to running out of the room choking. In-fact honey and I had to get very close to Davo to smell anything which was like (according to Honey) a lubricant-grease on the gears of new equipment. It was not over-powering at all.

Yoghurt
So first thing we made with Davo was Yogurt. I nearly had a heart-attack when the degrees mode skipped from 30 to 40 in one go. Considering I had used 37 in my recipes. A quick scan of the internet and I found that you can put the stage 2 mixing on 30c. Being slightly less warm on a freezing night made it more difficult to set. I ended up adding a heat-pack to the esky the next morning and the probiotics did their work.
2 more things you need to bring with you when making yogurt in the Blend is a thermometer and a set of kitchen scales. The Blend did seem to have trouble getting the milk to the 80c mark. I had to put it on for extra time. Next time I shall try it at 90c. The Mix tells you what temp range you are in the Blend merely tells you what temp you are aiming for. It is possible I am doing something wrong though.

Custard
Last night I made custard. I was out of corn-flour and had to substitute in plain GF flour but should have used more as it was still quite runny. It may also have benefited from going higher in degrees or even a little longer as the flour had not quite dissolved properly. But Honey liked it… he is always very appreciative of my cooking.

Dough
Today I tried to make bread-dough for a pizza. I made a ¼ loaf and was very impressed. The Blend milled like a pro and I used the dough button. It came out pretty much the same as my dough from the Mix does when making a ¼ loaf.
Davo is slightly quieter as he goes about his business than Klaus though I was not looking forward to having to clean the lid. It had waves on it. I found them however to be invaluable in keeping the machine from “spitting” so much. It was quite fun to watch the tornado in my kitchen appliance. Recipe here

The Nasty
Davo has “bitten me” a few times but Klaus seems easier to clean “injury free”. The bottom of the jug is slightly wider on the Mix. There is the saying that good mums let you lick the beaters, great mum’s turn them off first”. I had to trouble giving my TM jug and a spatula to Honey’s nephew (yr 8) to clean the cake dough we made out (with a warning to watch the blades). I could never do this with Davo; the blades are just too sharp.

Custard
After making the custard there was the problem that most Chef/Blend etc owners complain of… bits of milk burnt to the jug. I must admit when I first had Klaus cleaning the jug after a cappuccino, custard and yogurt making session was not particularly fun either but the milk sticking to the bottom of the jug thing rarely is a problem these days. I hope Davo will grow out of this problem too.

Cleaning
Too tired to clean the jug last night, I soaked it overnight, gave it a light scrub this morning and popped it in the dishwasher; assuming they meant dishwasher rather than washing machine in the Kogan manual for thermoblends. It turns out I assumed correctly, the jug came out sparkling clean aside from a bit of muck about the size of a finger print which wiped off with a clean chux. I must admit that the Bellini and the blend were more impressive to me than the chef (to try first) as they are dishwasher safe.
We mainly chose the Kogan as it was on special and we thought it too good to pass up.
I give the Kogan an Exceeds Expectations+/Outstanding- overall, it has value for money, does a pretty good job on most of the recipes I have tried. You do need a scale and some recipes require a thermometer too, but it is a very handy appliance to have. Obviously the risotto is one I am putting off due to the blade-covers… but I would love to hear from other Kogan owners how they go with the covers. I didn’t get to meet any alternate mixer owners in person until I was one.
One day I would love to meet a Belini in person and have a play. I like the look of the machine and the fact that you can steam and cook at the same time is a huge time-saving bonus, for larger families. It did not effect me much that I could not use my steamer as I rarely use my TMX varoma for steaming purposes.
Judie

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