Thursday, October 17, 2013

Epic cake day weekend part 2

The weekend had more cake than that, but to add any more to what I wanted to say in the last post would have spoilt it.

So far in the game, we have had 2 cakes. But wait there's more!

The following day, we had news that kooka cafe was to close down. Apparently the owners(or one of the) are going to Australia to further her studies. We have to catch them on their last day.

When we went to Kooka, there was a promotion to buy 3 cake slices for the price of 2. So we took the 3 most promising cakes Kooka had to offer, honey pine nuts, almond orange and something I forgot. Haha.

There isn't much to say, the cakes were good, but after what we've had this weekend, it was too much to take in. And by now we've had 5 cakes and more than we ever want to eat.

Phew... talk about an epic cake weekend huh...

So we had dinner to wrap up the weekend. Went to vivocity for the World's End(Simon Pegg WOOHOO!). The movie was awesome, the trilogy has now been completed. We had dinner at soup spoon and it was a great weekend.

But a good blog post wouldn't be perfect without a twist right? Surprise surprise, turns out soup spoon had a promotion for a free cake with minimum spending of $20. There it is, the 6th cake of the weekend. Cloying, sweet, commercial. Compared to what we had, handmade with love, this was the cake of all evil. And here it is.

Our epic cake weekend.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The epic cake day weekend

Let me get this down before I forget. Ahhh...

So it was Aud's birthday last weekend, and by some funny chain of events, we ended up having more cake than we ever want to in our lives.

A couple of weeks ago, I won a kitchenaid mixer. A thing of beauty that is. Red, shiney, and lots of muscle beneath the shell. So what better way to present a cake to the love of my live, than to make it myself? I'll be so amazing and everything will go well right?

Not right. In fact, everything that could have gone wrong did. By the time I left for Aud's place, I was covered in a sticky film of chocolate, sugar, flour and sweat. And frustration. Made a mess, dropped a chocolatey whisk, spilt milk. The works. But nonetheless, a cake was produced. A whole kilo of awesome.

Took a quick shower, put the gorgeous cake into a nice cardboard box and then rushed out of the house to catch a waiting cab. And then it happened. The cardboard handle tore off, the cake fell and went khabloosh. All the effort and all the pent up frustration came flowing out of my eyes.

So I went to Aud's house, defeated, empty handed, deflated. We had a store bought cake for her birthday, and it was nice, we had dinner, it was also nice, and then we swore we'll get back at the universe and make another cake that would put the first one to shame. We'll rise and take on the challenge hand in hand. Two of us, we cannot be beaten.

And it was beautiful.

Funny thing about this, it took me a huge failure to realise that a relationship is not one sided. That love and marriage, is about combining the best of both parties to achieve things that wouldn't have been easy, or possible even, to accomplish. That, to me is a blessing that I never would have learnt of, if not for this lesson.

I love you Aud.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

(So you've bought a Delonghi KG89) How to get a better coffee grinder than what you paid for

First of all, I'd like to say that if you treasure your product warranty, you can stop reading right about now. The very first modification you make will void the warranty.
Still here? Good. So I bought my Delonghi KG89(KG79 is the exact same model without the brushed steel finish) about 6 months ago to replace my manual hand grinder because I started having fore-arm cramps(for a healthy young male to get fore-arm cramps is near impossible). I used it for 4 months and gave up, going back to another hand grinder. So you bought a KG89 too right? You must have read the reviews online, good for it's price, solidly built, cheap , looks good on the counter top blah blah, easy on your wallet, dusty grind, good for drip coffee. The warning klaxons should have sounded towards the last 2 points. But you bought it anyway, proving that you're an idiot, you didn't do your research, or you're cheap(like me).
Ok, enough chatter, here's the guide to hacking your grinder into a better grinder than the one you bought.
It's good to have your grinder beside you for visual reference as I took the pictures post modifications.

First off, take out the grinder insert and take a look at the 3 screws. It's a burr grinder, the fins/grooves guiding, easing, sliding the beans in gentle caress towards their imminent crushing. Wait, why are the screws there? More importantly, why are the screws doing the grinding? Remove them. Join the burr disk onto the plastic with superglue instead. Also the 3 rods came out, right? Glue it back on or remove it, your call. Now set it aside to dry for however long your superglue label says.

There. Your grinder has become a better grinder than the one you've bought. The next step will push your grinder to the limits of good coffee, but if you're not making espresso, you can stop now. Your french press will start to have less sludge and every cup of coffee you make will just taste better.
Ok, now you're getting to the tricky part. Some of the steps might be a little scary, but trust me, I took it apart to mod, and then once again to take pictures.
Remove the knobs, pry it outwards with a flat head screwdriver. The grind setting knob is a little bit tricky with the plastic snap things. But take a deep breathe and pry it out.

Notice how I've made markings around the adjustment knob, you'll see why later. Flip your grinder upside down and you notice 4 of these slots. The little plastic snap catches are here.

Now put your fingernails where the slots are. Gently pry it outwards and the outer case should be able to slide downwards now.

Look at that.

Remove the hopper that is held together with 4 screws. Easy.
Notice that you have 2 little switches that Delonghi put in because we are all idiots. They stop the motor if the hopper lid and the grind collection box is not in place. Annoying. Remove if you want(if you don't know how or don't have the tools, you can skip this step). Solder the red wire onto the PCB board directly to complete the circuit. I leave the switches there for the tactile feel when I put the hopper lid on.

Now, the part that really matters. See here, the adjustment gears. Unscrew the frame and take out this one. There is a little piece that restricts the grind adjustment to less than a full turn. Pinch it off with a pair of pliers. Congratulations, your grinder can now grind anything from a french press to true espresso(non-pressurised porta filter).

Now, you can stop here and reassemble everything, or you can make it stepless. I haven't tried grinding with huge amounts yet and I'm more comfortable with the stepped adjestment. So this is an at your own risk thing...
Remove the big white gear held by one screw. There is a little black nub held by a spring. Remove it and keep it somewhere safe in case you change your mind later. There. Stepless grind adjustment.

Now put it all back together and give it a test run(without beans), slowly tighten the grind until you hear the burrs brushing against each other, a kind of heart rending screech, immediately bring the grind size back up two steps and turn it off. This will be your lower limit. Make a marking and make sure you don't go past the mark.
There you go, your KG89 home abomination grinder has now turned into a passable espresso grinder. But do take note that home grinders in this price range can only run for about 5-10 minutes every 1 hour. The motor will eventually burn out, but if run it for more than 10 minutes without resting, you'll hurry it along to it's eventual demise.