Dialing in the Espresso

My espresso machine has been working well, but I think I was getting lazy in spending time to properly dial in my beans – but after spending a little time this weekend doing just that – I realized what a difference it really makes!

I was motivated after taking apart the grouphead trying to resolve some excessive water dripping from it – I was going to take the parts into a local shop and basically rebuild and re-gasket the entire grouphead. Once I had all the parts out, and cleaned everything up, I realized it would be a couple days before I could get to the shop – and I didn’t want to be without my morning espresso’s, leaky machine or not!

So back together it went – and shockingly, the leaking went away, and I also found that the shot lever actually moved with little resistance – much like it did when I first got the machine over a decade ago!

Dialing in my shots didn’t take long at all I found – don’t know why I thought it was such a chore. I have the machine dispensing about 2 oz. of espresso in 29 seconds, with the portafilter dosed with 19-20 grams of beans.

The Gecko goes on…

My printer has been idle for a number of months and this past weekend I finally spent a little time fixing up some wiring and actually printed a coffee grinder funnel prototype I started working on. The initial print was great – but after making some changes and starting another print job, I almost immediately ran into issues with blockages in the hotend.

I upgraded the machine with a genuine E3D Titan extruder and V6 hotend, but I’m still not impressed with their performance. Need something better – but what?

Update 🙂 I think I have a plan…

Mosquito hotend by Slice Engineering

Came across a company called Slice Engineering in the U.S.A., that has developed a hotend they are calling the Mosquito. The design is very intriguing, and it looks like it might be 1/2 of the answer I’m searching for.








Bondtech BMG-M Extruder

The other half of the answer is the extruder, and a Swedish company called BondTech has an extruder designed for the Mosquito – the BMG-M. I like the dual gear mechanism they’re using, and from what I’ve read, is a good step up from the Titan.

Updating UConnect software

There was an update for the UConnect software for our 2016 Cherokee Trailhawk, so I downloaded the update to a thumb drive as instructed on the UCconnect site.
What exactly was updated I’m not too sure – it’s too bad they don’t include release notes, so that owners can verify that features behave as expected, and also to learn what new functionality the system has.
Anyway, I also discovered that the instructions on the UConnect site weren’t very accurate.
Tip #1.  Download the update to your desktop, then extract the enclosed files to the thumb drive.  Not within a folder, and there were 2 files for this latest updated.
Tip #2.  The instructions on the UConnect site state to put the vehicle into Run mode, but without the engine running.  This is done be keeping your foot off the brake pedal, and pressing the start button twice.  Problem with this is that the update takes quite a while – and the vehicle shuts off – which messes up the install.  I ended up calling the 1-800 number provided in the UConnect installation guide, and was advised by a support manager to actually start the vehicle, and then proceed with the update.  Sucks to have to idle the vehicle for the 20 or 30 minutes it takes to do the update, but at least it works!
Tip #3.  Lastly, there was a spot where the screen goes blank for quite a while – 5 minutes or so.  I thought something failed, since the vehicle had shut off as well.  When putting the vehicle back to RUN, the screen remained blank, and unresponsive for just over 5 minutes – which prompted me to call support.  A couple minutes into the call, the screen came back to life, and the installation started over.
Kudo’s to UConnect Support, I was surprised to get through right away on a Saturday – no holding – just had to press a couple buttons after the automated answer and listening to the voice menu.

Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 oz fresh horseradish peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream optional

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients, except whipping cream in a blender. Be careful of the fumes, they can be overwhelming.

  2. Blend until finely grated.

  3. In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form.

  4. Fold in 1/4 cup of the horseradish mixture.

  5. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving.

  6. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

Heating the grated horseradish mixture tones it down a bit.  If you like horseradish with lots of bite, don’t heat.

Store remaining horseradish mixture (without the whipping cream) in the freezer.

Almond Milk & Lattes

Amazing how time goes by. It’s almost a year since we began a Keto way of eating – not 100% clean, but making an honest effort for the most part. It has proven to be a very positive change, not only in weight loss, but also been very helpful for my wife in managing diabetes.

We used to go through a fair bit of milk, and now we use none. We do go through whipping cream – perhaps a litre a week. Much of that was being used making lattes. Recently, after our blender broke down and I replaced it with a Vitamix, I’ve been making almond milk, and discovered that it is awesome steamed up and used for lattes.

Making the almond milk is so simple. I almost fill a 4 oz mason jar with almonds (unsalted), then fill the jar with water. After putting lid on the jar, I put it in the fridge. The next day, 12 – 24 hours later, I empty the mason jar into a sieve, and rinse the almonds under running water, then dump the almonds into the Vitamix. I add 2 cups of cold water, pop the lid onto the blender and run it at full power for about a minute or so if using blanched almonds, and maybe 30 seconds longer if using almonds with the skins still on them. I then pour the milk through a mesh bag. I’ve been saving the filtered almond pulp in the freezer, and will try using it like almond flour at some point :).

When making a latte, the almond milk steams up very nicely, and get’s slightly thicker and more cream-like. I’m able to get some very good microfoam and pour some pretty decent rosettes. The almond milk has a very mild flavour that doesn’t get in the way of the coffee flavours, unlike some of the commercial almond milks, that have various additives for stabilizers etc.