Month: February 2017

Caffeine Fix(er)

Caffeine Fix(er)

Caffeine Fix in Jeopardy

My morning routine is to put the coffee machine on first, then do all the things that mornings are for, like making the bed, working out what to wear, soaking up the steamy water in a long hot shower, etc.. Then, when all the routine things are out of the way, I make my way back to the kitchen to make the first coffee of the day, and thereby feed my caffeine addiction.  Actually, it’s the only caffeine fix for the day – most of the time.

Last Friday morning the routine was no different until I got to the part of priming the coffee machine ready to proceed to the important step of pouring a double shot of caffeine. The double shot that kick-starts my heart and de-fogs my brain, making me ready for whatever the world wants to throw at me over the next 24 hours.

But disaster struck!

The water refused to pump through the brew head, or whatever that part of the apparatus is called.

I tried it again – nothing! I waited a few minutes and tried again. Still nothing.

As I watched anxiously, awaiting the moment when the golden liquid would pour down into the cup, I kept thinking –  ‘I knew I should have had the machine serviced’. The thought had crossed my mind many times over the past few years and still, I didn’t heed the warning and find someone who could check the machine and make sure that everything was as it should be. And now I was standing before my beautiful Rocket Giotto, waiting, and waiting, and wondering if it would ever work again.

After switching everything off, I Googled: Espresso Coffee Machine Repairer Gold Coast/Murwillumbah, and was surprised to find a repairer who serviced machines from Brisbane to Ballina, 7 days a week. Given how heavy and awkward the machine is, the mental calculation of picking it up and taking it to a repair shop was daunting, which is probably why the service idea had never progressed beyond the thought process.

I phoned Luke at Universal Espresso Repairs and was surprised to find that he would pick the machine up later that day.

All too easy!

Luke Pretki:  owner of Universal Expresso Repairs

When Luke arrived I had decided that the Grinder needed a service as well (trying to be proactive and not suffer the same fate as the Rocket), so I handed over two of my favourite things in the kitchen. I have to admit that I nervously watched Luke carry the Rocket down the steps and out to his van. Every time I’ve moved house – except for the big move back from Central Queensland (CQ) at the end of 2015 – my Rocket travelled with me.  The removalist would carefully place it in the back of my Santa Fe for the journey, and then lift it out at the other end and place it in its new position in whatever kitchen it happened to be moving to. The move from CQ to the Coast was a different matter and I had to trust that the removalists would get it here in one piece – which they did.

Over the next few days, Luke kept me updated on the progress of the repairs.

Assuming there was a blockage somewhere, Luke had checked and re-checked but found nothing out of the ordinary, so he serviced the Rocket and the grinder, and had them both back to me on Wednesday evening, having had to wait for a replacement light for the Rocket. The old one died a long time ago, and while it didn’t affect the coffee making process, it did have a built-in safety feature – it blinked when the water level was low, so it was definitely a good idea to replace it.

Customer service from Universal Espresso Repairs is second-to-none.

Luke brought the equipment in, turned the Rocket on, and then spent ages making sure that everything was working perfectly and showing me how to get the best brew from the Rocket. Having owned a cafe for 6 years, Luke knows about brewing coffee. I discovered that my double shots of the past were high in caffeine but not as high in flavour as they could have been. Instead of filling the shot cups almost to the top, Luke only half filled them in the same time as it would normally have taken me to fill them. This is where knowing about the grind comes in handy. By setting the grinder to a much finer setting, the shots pulled much slower than I would have done – in the past. The shots looked and smelled divine! Before he left, Luke suggested that I call him if I had any questions about the process – from grinding to brewing – and he would talk me through it or call in to show me.

The cost of the service for both items was a lot less than I had expected

I was really surprised, considering that the Rocket even came back nice and shiny. It looked like new again.

Eager to test out the new settings, I jumped out of bed much earlier than usual the next morning to turn on the Rocket. When I made my double shot, only half filling – instead of filling the shot-cup almost to the top, the taste was amazing! It was so good I decided to make a second coffee later in the day (and did the same the next day!).

I’m glad the experts are beginning to realise that coffee is actually good for you because I really can’t start the day without a double shot of caffeine.

Oh, and a big apology to Josh at Re Cafe Nate, my local ‘best coffee on the Coast’ cafe. Now that I have my Rocket back I won’t be coming in every day for a coffee – but I will still be there at least once a week because the coffee really is the best on the coast – and anywhere in Australia for that matter. Not that I’ve tasted the coffee everywhere in Australia, but Bean Hunters have and they voted Josh’s coffee the 34th Best Coffee in the nation in 2016. Not bad for a small cafe on top of a hill, away from the (sort-of) busy streets of downtown. Watching Josh ‘free-pour’ coffee art is amazing; check out his Facebook page to see how it’s done. And even better, call in, and Josh will show you how it’s done. Oh, and watch the board on the opposite side of the road for inspiring messages. The latest one is: ‘A wise man said – “I don’t know – I’ll ask my wife’.  Very wise Josh! – that should earn you a few Brownie Points.

With the Rocket and Grinder back in their respective spots on the bench in my kitchen, and producing the best coffee ever, all is right with the world here in my little part of paradise.

Life is good!

 

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments
Travelling The World

Travelling The World

When I was very young someone made the comment that I would travel because I had a gap between my two top teeth. Back then, living out of town on almost 20 acres of land, with electricity the only modern convenience we had, I thought the 35-mile journey into Sydney was the ultimate travel experience. Oh, how my life has changed!

My journey’s since then have taken me to:

  • Europe (twice)
  • Penang – lived there for two years
  • Singapore – can’t remember how many times
  • Vancouver – spent almost a year there (2005) and visited in 2016
  • San Francisco – spent almost a year there (2006) and many visits since

  • China – 2 fabulous weeks; fell in love with the Ancient Water Towns

Zhujiajiao

  • India – 17 amazing days, including seeing the Taj Mahal

All of the journeys have been amazing and hopefully, I will be able to expand on each one through the posts on this site.

 

 

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 1 comment
Blogging Along!

Blogging Along!

Learning The Ropes of Blogging-Along

Bear with me as I learn the ropes of Blogging. The pages of this site are so much like the pages of my mind – ‘bits and pieces from here and there, all thrown together with reckless abandon’.

If you have any compulsion to see the site organised in a more rational way, and the expertise to make it happen, contact me; I’ll take all the help I can get!

Someone once made the comment that I was like a butterfly, flitting from one thing to another. They were so right.

And all the memories I’ve made as I’ve flitted along are right here, scattered amongst the pages and posts. You just need to find them.

 

 

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Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?

Where Were You When The Lights Went Out?

Sitting at my desk late in the afternoon, trying to sort out why my printer was suddenly being quirky and not cooperating, when suddenly the lights went out. The lights were only on because I had the shades down on the verandah to keep out the last fragments of the sun and heat, which made it too dark inside to see the fine print in the instruction manual. I managed to persevere for a while with the battery power left in my laptop and by seeking solace in the online manual. But when I couldn’t get any further, I found the torch (flashlight), investigated the edible remnants of last week’s shopping that didn’t require electricity (chocolate), and headed for the back verandah to sit in the cool and read Shantaram from the Kindle App on my iPhone (thank God there was enough battery left).

While kicking back on my fabulously comfortable outdoor sofa, with the shades now up to let the breeze and last remaining light of day in, I read, while half-hearing conversations drifting around me as my neighbours sought comfort on their verandahs as well.

And it was in that half-hearing of conversations that a simple sentence, delivered me smack-bang into a time when I was eighteen years old and living in a very old flat on the south-west side of Brisbane. The line wouldn’t have meant much to the younger generation, but to anyone from my era, it would probably have evoked similar memories and a journey a long way from now.

A couple had walked down the path between two buildings nearby, and my friendly neighbour in closer proximity to them than me informed them that the power was off. The couple made a comment, and my neighbour suggested that they “might need to put a shilling in the meter“. That was all it took to transport me to the kitchen in that old flat, all those years ago. The ‘shilling’ by then was in the modern, decimalised form of a 10 cent coin, but it still had the power to remind me of how far we have come.

For the purpose of ensuring an ongoing supply of gas for cooking, ten-cent coins were scrounged and saved and stacked high on a shelf near the back door. While the culinary masterpiece was simmering nicely on the ancient gas stove, constant vigilance was needed to make sure the gas supply continued to provide the necessary heat to keep the meal progressing in a forward direction. More often than not, the gas flame would flicker, splutter, and then die. Then, with the speed of a marathon runner, you would sprint across the room, arm yourself with a handful of coins, dash out to the landing and deposit the coins into the hungry jaws of the gas-meter. And then you would reverse the sprint, back into the kitchen, find the lighter and re-ignite the spark that would hopefully see you through to the end of the cooking.

Mission Accomplished!

I am truly grateful for the progress we’ve made since then. Now I put everything into the Thermomix, set the timer and the temperature and get on with more important things, like writing, or reading the latest novel while my dinner cooks. No more vigilant monitoring of the little blue flame of gas, with coins at the ready to feed the hungry gas-meter.

I love technology…

Except for when the lights go off!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 1 comment