Espresso snobbery…

I’m just reading through http://www.home-barista.com/ where some poor sod with a tiny budget is being told he can’t possibly get a usable coffee grinder for under £300 (his budget for an espresso machine is £200, which is perfectly doable, but suggesting £300 for a grinder is just nuts), and he should get a hand grinder instead. You know, as with any hobby – and this reminds me very much of the attitude I encountered in archery – there’s a massive amount of snobbery that says you can’t make espresso (or shoot well), without spending a small fortune, and most of it is, like this, the purest bovine ordure.

Take grinders. I have a Continue reading

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Weighing beans for espresso…

The best coffee, without a doubt, comes from freshly-ground beans and, to avoid waste, you really need a scale capable of weighing small quantities accurately.

I have a scale that weighs to 1g, which is ideal for what I use it for – breadmaking – but I fancied something small that could be kept alongside my grinder and take up minimal space.

Having scoured Google for over an hour, the only place with suitable scales at sensible prices, was a head shop. I had a good look around anyway and, almost spoilt for choice, I settled on Continue reading

Manual espresso machine musings…

I’ve decided to buy myself a lever-operated, entirely manual, espresso machine, not least because I’ve had, and continue to have, a really shitty time lately and, hell, I deserve to be cheered up.This is the tale of that machine, and a warning. . .

Note: On an espresso machine, the “group” is the part where the coffee is brewed. The “group head” is that part which is fixed to the machine. The removable part is the “portafilter” (Italian, porta filtro – filter carrier), and, naturally enough, it contains the filter. Now, on with the show… Continue reading

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…

That should be the legend over the door to the A&E department, Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral.

There are many versions of that quotation. However, I feel that this one best suits Dante’s original text “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” and it’s the one I was taught by the best English master in the world, bar none. Argumentative pedants will be ignored. So there!

Monday night, after Continue reading

Missing in action…

Just in case anyone is wondering where I’ve got to, I’ve been out of action.

On Monday I was hauled off to hospital with a gastric bleed, and I’m still very weak. Today is the first day I’ve managed to get dressed this week, so it’s progress of a sort.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be writing up the whole sorry affair later today but, in the meantime, here’s a tip – if you’re sick, and also suffer from ME/CFS, you might want to stay away from the A&E at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral.

Omega-3 and white fish – are we being conned?

Yes, I believe we are.

We all know how oily fish are touted as great sources of omega-3 which, as it’s peddled as a sovereign remedy for so many ills, is in grave danger of assuming the mantle of snake oil, but what’s the story with white fish?

I ask because I have several packs of white fish in my freezer, from a variety of sources, all claiming to be “A natural source of omega-3” (and by the way, TV advertising retards, it is NOT pronounced ohmeega).

And how do you think we managed to survive before Continue reading

Short people and heart disease – a real risk?

Well, really, I don’t think so…

Study suggests link between short stature and heart disease, screams the headline. Which, at 5’ 5” failed, utterly, to cheer me up. However, rather than deep-throating a shotgun, I read a little further.

Apparently, a research team at the University of Tampere, Finland, looked at the findings of 52 previous studies, involving over three million people. A lot of people give reliable results, you might think, but this is our Continue reading

50% Oat Bread…

The Hovis Hearty Oats loaf is being touted as the first ever loaf to be made with 50% wholegrain oats and 50% white bread flour. Claiming something as the “first ever” is always reckless and often, as in this instance, totally wrong.

I made my first 50% oats, 50% white bread flour about Continue reading

A waterproof jacket for mobility scooter use…

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve got waterproofs, but on my scooter they don’t fasten closely enough around the neck to keep heavy rain out. So, as we might be in a for a wet summer – depending on which set of “experts” you believe it’s either going to be horribly cold and wet, or it’s going to be the “barbeque summer” we were promised and didn’t get last year – I’ve bought Continue reading

Shipton Mill flour versus Doves Farm’s…

Prior to switching to Shipton Mill, I used Doves Farm flours for some years, and I was perfectly happy.

I switched to Shipton Mill mainly because of their extensive range of flours other than basic white, and because their strong white flour is described as untreated, whereas Dove’s Farm’s version contains statutory nutrients**, added in accordance with The Bread & Flour Regulations 1998: Calcium carbonate, Iron, Thiamine (Vitamin B1) and Niacin. It also contains vitamin C which, as far as I’m concerned, is unwanted. The 25kg bag has no vitamin C – so why foist it on the rest of us?

**As I’ve since been advised by Shipton Mill, so does theirs, against their will.

In addition, the Continue reading