Skip to main content

New project in the backyard

bricksPicked up a number of fire bricks, and some insulation brick, in preparation for building a pizza/bread oven in the yard.
Not sure 100% exactly what style I’m going to build – brick or cob/earth oven – but I came across this deal that was difficult to pass up.

With what I have here, I should be able to have a cooking surface almost 36″ in diameter. If I decide to go the brick oven route, I can get more of the fire brick – shouldn’t need any more of the insulation bricks.

Found an article on building a clay wood-fired oven – the approach used for the base may not be as permanent, but I like the simplicity. The materials are largely from a building supply – so pretty easy to get hold of, at a price.

Here’s my list of stuff I’ll need to buy:

  • done – 30 fire bricks ($36)
  • done – 30 insulating bricks ($30)
  • 20 cinder blocks (abt. $60)
  • 5kg pail of cement (abt. $17)
  • 6 bags of jointers sand (abt. $66)
  • 175kg clay
  • wheelbarrow

UPDATE : 2015-07-21
No cinder blocks used – just built up the base with urban rubble, sand, and some concrete.
Materials used so far:

  • 10 bags of play sand (40 lbs. each) – used this in the base, filling in space between the rubble.
  • 12 bags of jointers sand (80 lbs. each) – half was used for the dome form!
  • 3 bags fire clay (50 lbs. each) – ran out while doing insulating layer – so getting a couple more bags.
  • 2 bags cement – used this on the top of base, then layered jointers sand, insulating bricks, and kiln bricks

Here’s the list of other tools/equipment I’ll be using:

  • tape measure
  • large tarp
  • old kitchen knife
  • 5 gallon pail(s)
  • newspaper

Espresso machine maintenance

Andreja Premium schematic with non-standard control box.
Andreja Premium schematic with non-standard control box.

While I plan out what I’m going to do regarding the intermittent control box behaviour in my espresso machine, I decided that it would be helpful to update the electrical schematic for it – especially since its using a non-standard control box.

The control box is actually one that is normally used in the Isomac Tea – a very similar machine to the Andreja Premium.

I figured that I should do some other maintenance on the machine – having received a few grouphead gaskets from Espresso Planet, I figured I would replace that first.  Last time it was replaced was a couple years ago, and it was a bear to remove, so I’m going to try and replace it  a little more frequently.

This was also a good time to clean the shower screen – which was quite plugged up.  Replacing the grouphead gasket more frequently will allow me to clean this more frequently as well.

A new cookbook!

smith_familymeals_pbI won a copy of Chef Michael Smith’s new cookbook called “Family Meals” from Simplebites.net last week – and the book showed up in my mailbox today.

Had a quick browse through – the raman noodle quick lunch and the broccoli tofu are on the menu later this week – and there are many more great looking recipes that I’ll be trying out soon! Thank you again SimpleBites!

Checked out Amazon, and they’ve got a great deal on it – list price is $32.00! Click on the cover to the left to order a copy.

Raspberry Pi + Andreja Premium?

My Andreja Premium has been providing reliable service for the last 7 years – but just recently has been a little temperamental.  Seems that the controller is overheating – and so for the past couple weeks, I’ve been running the machine without its stainless steel casing, and the controller sitting beside the machine.

The controller was actually replaced once before, and it’s a fairly expensive repair – it was around $400 to replace the controller and descale the boiler. Don’t really want to spend that again – just to have the controller get wonky a few years later again.

A couple things I’m considering:

1)  Building a teak outer shell, with larger cutouts on the side to mount perforated stainless steel panels, as well as on the top.  Would also extend the wiring to that the controller is mounted where the water reservoir used to be (added the plumbing kit shortly after buying the machine)

2) Building a teak outer shell as above, but instead of using the same controller, use a Raspeberry Pi, and  do the iSpresso mod, adding the following features:

  • Programmable PID Controller for precise boiler temperature control
  • Programmable Pre-soak time, wait time, and brew time
  • Controllable from web browser, iPad, iPhone (Android coming soon) on WiFi network
  • Schedule allows programmable on / off timing for each day of the week
  • LCD readout for system status, toggle buttons for operation
  • Smart Connect for easy set-up to your WiFi network

Not sure if this mod would be easily ported to the Andreja or not, or if this would even increase the reliability – but it sure looks interesting!

[wpzon spec=”1″ asin=”B00GWTNYJW”]


Sites for reference :

UPDATE: 2014-08-30 – Picked up some bubinga to construct a new shell frame – I liked the look of the wood more than the teak – it was also $20/bd ft. vs. $50/bd ft. 🙂 Still need to get some perforated stainless steel