May 6th 2020

My mom showed me how to make biscuits many years ago, and I’ve been trying to get better at it. This is my current recipe– it’s based on the Alton Brown recipe with some tweaks:

4teaspoonsBaking Powder
1/4teaspoonBaking Soda
1/3teaspoonCitric Acid or Other Acid
bisciuts and honey and butter

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt very thoroughly. The leavening agents need to be evenly distributed.

Cut the butter into about 10 pieces, drop it into the flour, and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into pea-sized pieces. Then rub the butter/flour mixture between your hands, start with your palms together and swipe one hand’s palm down towards the other hand’s fingertips. Picture a motion like you’re trying to get something really sticky off of your hands. Do this until most of the pea sized pieces of butter are flattened.

biscit cut in half reavling crumb

Mix the citric acid into the milk. The milk should immediately feel a bit thicker and coat a spoon.

Pour the milk into the butter/flour mixture, and mix as little as possible to incorporate most of the dry ingredients into the wet. It’s much better to have some dry left in the bowl than it is to overmix.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop, sprinkle a bit of flour on top of the dough, and pat the dough to 3/4″ thick. I use an Aeropress to cut my biscuits, but you could also use a 2″ or so biscuit cutter or a cup with straight sides.

When you’ve cut as many whole biscuits out as you can, reform the dough and repeat. Try to work the dough as little as possible. Any manipulation will make the biscuits tougher.

Transfer your cut biscuits to a cookie sheet or baking stone and bake for about 15 minutes at 425F. Watch for the top of the biscuits to go golden all over with a bit of golden brown.

Reverse Engineering Oatly

April 25th 2020

I’ve really come to love the Oatly Barista Edition Oat Drink. Since I’m stuck at home and I’ve run out of Oatly, I’m working on replicating it. I started by doing a review of oat milk recipes online to figure out the oat to water ratio. The average is close to 1:4. Interestingly, the ingredients on the international Oatly website give the oat ratio at 1:10

Unfortunately the recipes procedures don’t match up as well. Some recipes suggested soaking the oats; others said that would make the oat milk slimy. Some said that rising the oats after soaking would make the oat milk not slimy. Other said that overblending would make the oat milk slimy. I guess the takeaway is that sometimes oat milk is slimy.

Armed with the ratio, I made a batch of oat milk for my morning coffee. It was underwhelming. It broke apart and looked a bit like miso soup, which Oatly never does.

I reviewed the Oatly recipe, and saw the second ingredient was rapeseed oil (aka canola). I used the same ratio of oats, but added some canola. The canola helped the mouthfeel, and tamped down the oaty flavor somewhat. Two pinches of sugar in my coffee mug with the coffee and the oat milk wasn’t bad. Though it wasn’t as good as Oatly.

I really needed to figure out what Oatly is doing. I turned to the ingredients list and nutrition facts. With some detective work I should be able to determine what the recipe ratios are. I think my ratios for oats, water and canola are pretty close. I’m pretty certain that Oatly needs Dipotassium Phosphate. I’ve made a guess on the amount based on the nutritional facts showing potassium and phosphorus.

I’m currently sourcing food grade Dipotassium Phosphate for my next experiments. I also wonder if there’s a secret processing step that Oatly has up their sleeve.

Ingredients by Weight for 100ml
Ingredient Amount Units Purpose
Water 87.1 gr ingredient
Oats 10 gr ingredient
Rapeseed Oil 2.3 gr ingredient
Dipotassium Phosphate 0.5 gr ingredient
Calcium Carbonate     vitamin
Calcium Phosphates     vitamin
Iodised Salt 0.1 gr ingredient
D2     vitamin
Riboflavin     vitamin
B12     vitamin

I’ve noted which ingredients I think make functional changes to the recipe and which I think are added just as vitamins.

Adaptoid n64

April 17th 2020

I bought an Adaptoid in about 2003. It’s a really great n64 to usb adapter for playing emulated n64 games. For some reason there are a couple of of these on Ebay for $600-700; the folks on Ebay talk about reverse engineering.

I’m going to look into reading the code off of the microcontroller, but for the time being here are some photos of the device disassembled.

It looks like the Wish Technologies website went down around 2009. I did find this website which seems to have some code available for interfacing with the Adaptoid.

Saffron update

February 13th 2020

The saffron bloomed in November. All or nearly all 100 bulbs sent up shoots and produced flowers. We got maybe 0.1gr of saffron after drying. Maybe next year we’ll get more.

saffron crocus with saffron picked

Yet another bed

February 13th 2020

murphy bed style bed plans

We’re working on getting a guest bedroom setup. We don’t really want to have a bed setup all the time, so we started looking at Murphy Beds, but quickly discovered that they are super expensive. Even just buying the hardware kit for the Murphy Bed is a couple hundred bucks.

After some looking I found the Lori Wall Bed which is sold as a kit of plywood, which doesn’t require any special hardware. The clever part of the Lori Wall Bed is that it has curved edges that help tilt the bed down from the vertical. Unfortunately it’s still more money than I’d like to spend.

I spent some time designing my own bed plans, borrowing the curved edges. I haven’t built this bed frame yet, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can get to it.

The bed takes four sheets of 3/4″ plywood. The idea is that you build a box and a platform. The platform’s bottom has a grid of shelving on it that is used as the bed frame when the bed is being used.

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