Spice storage

The array of spices that we’ve acquired over the past while seems crazy – especially with my interest in all the different Asian dishes (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc).  Last count, I think I had around 60 bottles (!!!) of different herbs & spices, and various blends.  I’ve been trying to come up with a better, more accessible means of storing them – and thought that small mason jars might be a good choice.  So, off to Google, and came back with this great idea!  Blackboard paint and mason jars – perfect!
Mason jars - perfect for storing spices
On another blog, the recommendation is to use a brushable blackboard paint – for better control, and less mess.  I like this – as I can do it in the house then!
I’ll have to practice my chalk writing so the jars look as good as these!
Think I might use shelves to hold all the mason jars – I think the color of the spices would be great out in the open, as well as make sure they are readily accessible.

Fixing the espresso machine

Andreja_premium Well, after 7 years of almost daily use, it appears that the pump has failed on my Andreja Premium espresso machine.
The machine uses a 52W, ULKA EAX5 vibe pump – and as it turns out, this is a fairly commonly used pump in espresso machines.  I also found prices varied wildly.  The dealer where I purchased the machine originally sells the replacement pump for $95.  I found a replacement on Ebay for $39.99.
Ulka_52WattAfter getting the new pump swapped in, the machine seemed to be working fine.  Then, this morning, it seemed to have stopped again 🙁
So, removed the casing from the machine and hooked the water supply back up, and this time I tested things out  with the cover off.  This allowed me to see the water flow.  Everything worked fine. Maybe I kinked a hose as I put the machine back together?
I carefully put everything back together – making sure no hoses were kinked, and tested the machine again – everything was 100%.  This morning, the timer kicked in and turned the machine on at 6:00 AM, and at 7:00, I pulled a double shot with no issues.  I think that the shot was up there with some of the best that I’ve done!
Something I came across, that might be useful in future, is this page describing the process of repairing the ULKA pump itself – with lots of photos and additional comments from other readers.  I still have the old pump just in case.  They certainly aren’t that complex!

Creamsicle Juice

The sweet potato adds a creaminess to the juice that reminded me of a creamsicle.

Creamsicle Juice
Recipe Type: Beverage
Author: Ray
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
This was a wing-it concoction that really surprised me with how great it tastes!
Ingredients
  • 1 lg sweet potato
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1/2 large gold beet
  • 2 navel oranges (peeled)
  • 1 golden delicious apple (cored)
  • 1/2 lemon (peeled)
Instructions
  1. Juice all ingredients, and pour over ice if you like…. enjoy!

Ground Beef Curry

Ground Beef Curry
Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Ray
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
This was quick and easy to prepare, and tasted great! Next time I will add an extra Cardamom pod and a few extra cloves though
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. med. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. Garam marsala
  • 2″ stick of cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion – diced
  • 2 med. sized sweet potatoes – diced
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper – diced
  • 1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can consomme
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Instructions
  1. Brown beef and drain fat
  2. Add olive oil, curry powder, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick and heat for a minute
  3. Add onion, sweet potato and red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to turn golden.
  4. Add diced tomatoes and consomme. Stir and scrape bottom of pan.
  5. Reduce heat, add frozen peas and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes or so.
Notes
Serve over freshly cooked basmati rice

a new fridge!

A few months back, our fridge packed it in – fortunately we had a second fridge and figured that we could get by just using the one fridge. Well, after a few weeks, we decided that one fridge was not enough.
So the research began, and after some shopping around, we decided that we would up the budget a bit and had a new Samsung fridge delivered.  Was able to get a next day delivery, so that evening, I ran a new water line into the kitchen to supply the fridge water & ice dispenser.
All was good until I realized that the fridge was not going to fit through the front door (or any other door) of our older house.
Front view of Samsung fridgeSo the fridge was delivered to the garage – and the next day, after removing all the doors and door fronts from the fridge, and the screen & main doors from the house, the fridge was in the house! Great! Until another Homer moment…. the entrance into the kitchen was too narrow as well!
So, out comes the reciprocating saw, so quick work of the entrance and the fridge was finally in place.  It fit perfectly into space where the old one was – but this new one has way more space – almost 26 cu.ft. in a 30″ opening.
A little more work than anticipated, but  well worth it!  Love the space and functionality that the new fridge gives us.