Archive for August 2017

A fine pair

Posted by on August 24th 2017 in LMAO!

As brand names go, this one's fairly apt:


I wonder if her name's Melanie?

Observing Report 5th-13th August 2017 (Perseid meteors)

Posted by on August 22nd 2017 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

From the 5th to the 13th of August I managed four nights watching and photographing the Perseids. 1799 pics later and I'd caught nine good meteors on camera, and I'd seen about 75 while lazing on the garden bench. Bearing in mind the low hourly rates, several bouts of cloudiness and the rising Moon, nine on camera is about as many as I would have expected.

Here's the best pic of the bunch, captured on the 12th - looking towards the zenith, West is more-or-less downwards. Click it to see a bigger version:

A pair of Perseid meteors heading west-southwest.

Behind the times

Posted by on August 18th 2017 in Rambling on...

Still trying to catch up here, by now I should have posted the holiday pics, some Perseid meteor pics and some more examples of piss-poor parking. Life keeps getting in the way!

Normal service should be resumed after I've finished a few more off-line tasks.

Roll me over, lay me down and do it again.

Posted by on August 5th 2017 in Dehydrating

So, after 12 hours, they should look like this:



Now it's time to peel them off and flip them over, a process helped by having those overhanging lips. They'll still be quite squidgy but with care they should peel off cleanly with flat shiny bottoms, if they don't then they need a bit longer.

After the flip you have to ask yourself which you prefer - bendy or stiff. Either way, don't bother with the drying sheet, it's not necessary. Another 8 hours should produce wedges which, when cooled, are bendy and chewy, if you like a bit of a crunch go for 12 hours instead. Bear in mind that they'll still be bendy until they are cool, so don't be tempted to go beyond dehydration and end up with incineration.

They should end up something like this:


Bendy on the left, stiff on the right


Now, if you can resist scoffing them, you can bag them up and store them.

Or you can experiment with them - I've been quartering them and adding them to pots of Oats2Go porage, they rehydrate well when the hot water is added.


At this rate I’ll have none left

Posted by on August 4th 2017 in Illness and injury

I hate carpet-grippers!

Sixpenny lunch

Posted by on August 3rd 2017 in In the garden

Well, technically, the pic shows a thrupenny lunch - I'd already scoffed the first half of it before someone suggested that I should take a pic.

Cheap, light and healthy - the lettuce, the tomatoes, the spring onion and the Woodpigeon breasts came FOC from our garden, the bread came from Asda's marked-down stash. They went down well with a little olive oil.

It helps if you apply a little oil

Posted by on August 3rd 2017 in Dehydrating

There are a couple of important bits here - which oil to use on your banana, and how to apply it. The rest is innuendo-free.

After trying a few oils, I've found that coconut oil is the best option. There are quite a few options available in supermarkets, the best I've used so far is Morrisons Liquid Coconut Oil Blend which has 80% fractionated coconut oil, the rest is sunflower oil and some flavouring. It's cheap, easy to use, and a small bottle lasts for ages - and it's the magic ingredient. Don't be tempted to use the waxy "solid" oil - it's a pig to work with and doesn't yield better results. During the drying process most of the oil is driven off, leaving only a hint of coconut which lets the banana taste come through really well. As a side benefit, it makes the house smell nice during the drying phase.

The oiling method is quite simple, the main thing is to get full coverage of your banana using the smallest possible amount of oil. Peel the over-ripe bananas (if they are starting to blacken that's a good thing) and use a brush or clean fingers to apply the tiniest amount of oil to the surface of them. Leave them until the oil has soaked in, which usually takes about 10 minutes tops - if it takes any longer you've used too much oil.

Of course, the skins and any bad bits go into one of the compost bins to feed next year's spuds. Nothing's wasted.






After that, use a chopping knife to cut the bananas into suitably sized/shaped chunks. I prefer angled cuts because having an overhanging "lip" on the chunks helps when peeling them off the drying sheet during the drying process - more on that later.




Put the chunks onto drying sheets in the dehydrator trays. Nowadays we use proper silicone sheets but baking parchment sheets work just as well. Avoid using greaseproof paper - it tears and leaves bits stuck to the chunks. Don't be tempted to oil the sheets, the chunks will stick hard and will be pulled apart when it's time to peel them off to turn them over. In theory, after the drying process has started, the oil helps a skin to form on the uncut surface. The soaked-in oil then has to migrate through the inside, forcing the internal water out of the oil-free cut faces.

Now you should put the kettle on and make yourself a well-deserved cuppa while leaving the trays uncovered until the chunks just start to blacken, as cut bananas do. 10 - 20 minutes should be enough, much depends on how over-ripe they are and how warm the room is.




After that, stick the trays in the dehydrator at about 70C for 12 hours, re-ordering the stack every so often to ensure that they each get equal amounts of heating and drying.

I'll post again when that bit's finished.

This week I’ll mostly be inserting bananas…

Posted by on August 2nd 2017 in Dehydrating

... into our dehydrator.

Earlier this year, after stumbling across the magic ingredient needed to make truly excellent dried bananas which are neither hard nor soft nor burned nor crumbly nor sticky, I'd made a few small batches to find the best setup for our latest dehydrator and the best dosing of oil. I'd been consuming the output ever since, as quick snacks and as walking-fuel, and it was becoming clear that I'd need to make more fairly soon.

This evening saw us at Asda doing the weekly shopping, and by strange chance they had bags of shelf-reject bananas at just the right level of over-ripeness, all on offer at one-third the normal price. Never one to walk away from a bargain without due consideration, I swung this pile of 36 for the stupidly-low price of just £1.54:

16 of them are already prepped and in the machine, another 16 will be fed in when there is room for them. The remaining four were perfects and are now in the fruit-bowl for general consumption.

I'll post a few more pics of the method and the product when they're a bit further along.

A waste of time and money for all concerned

Posted by on August 1st 2017 in A bit of a rant

It's that time again. The annual Vascular Review. It's always a good indicator of how provincial our NHS is.

My GP's surgery is in Leicestershire and if I need specialist treatment they refer me to one of the three Leicester hospitals which use a common networked data system so there's a shared data repository. The edited highlights, such as blood-test results, treatment regimes and medical procedures are communicated to my GP. It's not rocket-science.

At that same Leicestershire GP surgery is a Vascular Clinic (VC) where they monitor "those who have a medical history of Coronary Heart Disease (Heart Attacks and Angina), Strokes or Mini-Strokes and Peripheral Vascular Disease". Once a year they take your bloods, send them off for testing, and later they call you back in for a review. The VC team works independently, keeps its own records, and sends the bloods for testing at The George Eliot over the border in Warwickshire.

But there are problems... the Leicestershire data system and the Warwickshire data system don't interact very well at all, and access to one does not necessarily give access to the other.

So on the one hand we have GPs who get the data from the Leicester hospitals, and on the other hand we have the VC team which gets the Warwickshire blood-test results but can't access any of the 137 blood-test results that the Leicester hospitals have on record for me from FBC/cholesterol/ferritin/glucose tests done during the last 20 months (including 21 test results since the previous Vascular Review), tests which will continue to be done on a frequent basis for at least another 16 months, and intermittently after that until I fall off the perch of mortality and go on to mime in the Norwegian Blue Choir.

It would be so easy if the VC team could use either the phone or the computer to call up my most-recent test-results (13th July 2017 at The Royal), review them, and then either phone me or send me a letter telling me that I don't need to attend because all is well. I already know that all is well - the team at The Royal is currently checking these things at least once every two months, not once every 12 months.

But no, that's far too simple and therefore it can't be done. Instead, to maintain the unnecessary complexity and wastefulness that the NHS has become inured to, I had to attend an appointment at the VC for another needle in the arm (but, strangely, they did no standard obs such as blood pressures, heart-rate, respiration and sats), and now I'm waiting to be called in for another appointment at the VC for a review of the results when they become available. It's unlikely that anything bad will show up, but if it does it'll mean yet another appointment with the GP which will probably result in a referral to one of the three Leicester hospitals, thus perpetuating the data disconnect.

Bloody Hell, as the saying goes.

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