Les

 

Gun Forward Hand
Puts them up, takes them down,
Doesn’t get them twisted or drop them in the water.
Spinnakers that is…
He’s also a Guru in Communications, Electronics and Performance Cars –
maybe he knows too much!

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Cyclone Yasi in Cairns – my report

 

Our Cyclone Yasi report from Cairns



The Short
:Cairns was extremely lucky, Yasi veered south putting us in the best , North West quadrant. We got a little less wind than in Cyclone Larry, I would rate Yasi a Cat 1 for us, lot of branches and tree damage.

The Full Report
: Firstly we prepared for cyclone Anthony, due to hit the coast late Saturday Jan 29 2011. It eventually veered 400 kms South of us and fizzled into a huge rain depression. Thanks to that we were already in some state of cyclone readiness.

I began watching the depression that became Yasi on Sunday 30th Jan. It was west of Fiji which is 3,400kms away, so far that our Aussie Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) were not issuing cyclone watches or warnings.

On Monday YASI developed further and the US Joint Typhoon Warning centre forecast had it pointing almost right at Cairns.


It was Time to worry. In the last 3 years the JTWC predictions have always been correct earlier than the BOM, so I watch both sets of predictions. I also check Western Pacific Weather, they issue a youtube video which features several predictions and explains what the weather is doing, which helps understand it all.
http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC/
http://www.bom.gov.au/qld/
http://www.westernpacificweather.com/

On Tuesday 1st of February Yasi was looking HUGE, bigger than any cyclone we have experienced on the East Coast of Australia.

It was time to make serious preparations.

We are on the hillslopes, safe from any flooding and have a large inner room whose back wall is underground, with rooms all around it and a second floor above. In this room we feel safe. But if this monster hit Cairns there would be total devastation, so we planned on being totally self-sufficient for at least two weeks. That’s Water, Food and Electricity.

Shed Mate Steve advised me to make a video of all the household contents etc, very useful in the case of an insurance claim. I made the video and also took photo’s of everything. We worked hard all Tuesday, preparing the outside as best we could and getting last minute things like Prescriptions and Money, and topping up Gas, Fuel, dry biscuits, cheese and other provisions.

On Wednesday morning Yasi was moving at 35 knots and was so large that the satellite images showed the edges touching New Guinea at the top and Noumea in the South. That is a distance of 1800 kilometres!! We were warned on the radio that there had never been a cyclone this large hit our coast in human history. It was Cat 5, one stage higher than the cat 4 Cyclone Tracy that devastated Darwin.

We spent the day mostly preparing indoors. We moved all our important documents, the gas cooking gear and utensils, dishes, cups, cutlery, batteries, torches, kero lamps, portable radios, all our important clothes and valuables to the cyclone room. It was an enormous job to move basically everything we had into one downstairs room. I even took the aerial off the roof and moved the new TV downstairs.

I cooked a casserole in the hot pot, so we would have a good meal at the end of the day when Yasi was predicted to begin having affect on us. We were very concerned at the devastation ahead and what would happen to us and our house. It could change our lives.

I checked the weather radar constantly all of Wednesday. The predictions gradually showed it hitting the coast South of us. At first only 40kms and then later in the day below Innisfail, about 90kms away. In cyclone Larry this distance would have been enough to save us from annihilation but because of the severity and size of Yasi, we felt we were in for a bad time.

The wind and rain were due around 4pm. Outside the weather had been quite sunny for the last 2-3 days, it was unbelievable to think such a monster was out there. At lunchtime we had a short rain shower and some wind for 5 minutes then back to sunshine and light winds. During the afternoon we had the quick rain and gusty wind return about 3 times but at 6pm we still had no heavy wind and I started to think our house would survive. The North West quadrant of the cyclone had yet to touch the coast at Cairns while the South East quadrant was already hitting Townsville 380kms away.

We spent the evening in the cyclone room, ate the casserole and watched DVD’s. The experience was made harder by having to look after Mo’s 80 year old Mum who has dementia and has no short term memory.

Stronger gusts began around 9.30/10pm. The Electricity went off at 11.30pm. By midnight I didn’t think it would get any worse, so we went to sleep. It was very hot and muggy in the airless cyclone room, with no aircon or even a ceiling fan. Mo’s mum couldn’t understand why the light switches didn’t work, so Mo shone a torch for her to visit the bathroom, several times. She was very confused and disorientated.

Here’s the satellite picture as enormous Cyclone Yasi crossed the coast near Tully with well defined and large eye. Cairns is a little bump on the coast, about 5mm above the eye, at the edge of the bright red –

It was all over by dawn the next morning.The area around Lucinda, Hull heads and Tully, where the eye crossed the coast, had taken the fiercest part of cyclone Yasi for around 12 hours. We had wind for just a few hours and much moderated because of being in the North West Quadrant. The Cairns weather station shows that our strongest gust was 50 knots, half of that at the center. It’s hard to say what wind strength we had here in Bayview Heights, the mountains around us both shield and funnel the wind so it can be less and more than out at the airport weather station where it is flat.

I woke up to the sound of the neighbour’s generator. I set off round to the fusebox at the back of the house, to throw the switches to connect our generator to the house circuit. A large 4 metre tall Hibiscus had blown completely over, roots and all, and was blocking the path. I managed to squeeze through on a thin strip of the neighbour’s land, with a large dog watching me. Having turned off the mains power switch and connected the generator to the house supply, I set the generator up outside and it started first pull. YAY we had electricity to keep our two fridges cold. The two freezer compartments were jam packed full of food and most important to our 2 week survival strategy.

Expecting the worst, we had been prepared to loose our roof and maybe the entire top story which is timber. We sheltered downstairs which is block, in the rooms that are half built into the hill, so we would survive, but with the roof gone I suspect the tiled 1st floor would leak and we’d be wet.

Looking round at the mess of leaves, and branches of every size, I could see that we got a little less of a blow than from Larry. A lot of trees and branches broken, mess everywhere, but generally houses and people safe.

3 hours of generator running and the noise was already getting to me, when it suddenly sounded like it was working very hard. Before I could do anything it stopped producing electricity. The generator still looks like new and has done less than 100 hours work. The reset switch had popped. I pushed it back in, the engine would run but no electricity. Bugger!! I removed the reset switch and checked continuity across the reset switch- yes it was working but no power.

This was a major setback. We had no Ice, and were relying on the generator. It was not a good time to be looking for Ice because I had heard it was all gone the day before. I drove round to Shed Mate Bob’s place and saw he had a spare generator that he’d borrowed from work, but it had no pull cord. I offered to fix the cord if I could borrow it, but decided that it would be best to look for some Ice first because the later I left it, the harder it would be to find some.

I drove all over Cairns South looking for Ice. It seemed 30,000 people were all doing the same thing, plus getting petrol. The queue’s at the fuel stations were unbelievable. At one Servo there were 50 people in a queue to the till!! Didn’t these guys prepare???

Everywhere I was told ‘There is No Ice in Cairns’. I decided to go to the source, the Ice Works. As I got there I saw people with wheelbarrows full of ice loading their cars. YES!! I dashed in and found they had block ice- this form of ice lasts the longest. I bought 8 blocks from a pallet sitting out in the hot sun- it was selling so fast it didn’t matter!!

I came home with the ice and we began our old Esky system where we have one esky that is set up as a store, not to be opened for a few days, then a 2-3 day esky and a 1 day esky for the milk etc. We covered the eskies in multiple layers of rugs and blankets to try and make the ice last as long as possible.

The long term esky, buried beneath blankets, rugs etc –

Then I took some pull cord and tools round to Bob’s place and fixed the spare genny, but we couldn’t get it to start. It had a good spark and my guess was that the carby was gummed up. We couldn’t undo the bottom drain nuts & it didn’t look easy to remove the carby. As it wasn’t his, and I had Ice, we were reluctant to mess with it.

I came home and began moving everything back, a job that took several days and still isn’t finished as I write this a week later. But we know where a lot of stuff is now.

Mo’s Mum was rather disturbed by everything and especially no electricity. We were worried about what to do with her that evening, to keep her amused, and I decided we would sit on the veranda with a kero lamp, eat our dinner and watch the weather!! It turned out a very good plan because we had a huge Tropical Storm, with sheet rain, about 100mms of water every 15 minutes, lightning and thunder- it was awesome and well worth watching.

I discovered that the gas stove won’t light without electricity. What the heck is the point of having two sources of power if one relies on the other??? You would need to hold a blow torch on the glow bar ignition to get it started and I suspect every time the oven reached temperature and switched off, it would need re lighting again. Something needs to be done about that for next time.

So for the evening meal I thawed a frozen Shepherds Pie on the BBQ, drank beer and watched the storm. Because Mo’s mum was so unsettled I slept downstairs with a torch and left a nightlight candle burning so she could find the bathroom. For the first half of the night I heard the light switches clicking on and off several times and some muttering!!

The next day(Friday). At 8am I was extremely lucky to find a generator repairer and drove there as fast as I could to get in the queue. It was worth doing because at 10:30am the genny was fixed. A large capacitor had failed.

I restarted the genny but kept hearing it struggle. I HAVE run 2 fridges with it 2 times before- I thought something else drawing a heavy current was connected. I checked everywhere but couldn’t find anything else turned on. For safety’s sake I was only running one fridge and a lot of food had to be left in the long term esky.

I put the TV aerial back on Thursday but reception was very bad, not that it mattered because we were very busy returning things that day and the next. I had unscrewed the legs of the two veranda tables to make storage easier, there was a lot to put right. Friday lunchtime I went on the roof to fix the TV- after extensive testing, starting at the wrong end, I finally found the problem of why it wasn’t working –

Some Idiot had forgotten to re connect the cable from the Kingray amplifier to the house, when he re connected the aerial on Thursday!!! The next time I am in front of a mirror I shall have a few words with him.

While up on the roof admiring the view through a film of sweat, I noticed movement in the pool water, just as if the pump was running. Our pool is on economy tariff 33 – (18 hours a day supply which is separate from the house supply that the genny was powering )

That meant the power was back on – Yippee–

I turned the generator off. Threw the switches in the fuse box round the back of the house – HUH!! no power to the house. . . . that’s strange…….. oh and the pool pump has stopped!!

YEP, the generator had been trying to run 2 fridges and a pool pump when it carked !! THAT EXPLAINS IT – no wonder it threw the reset switch, it was exactly at the time the pool pump comes on.

We had a new fuse box installed 2 years ago. The electrician assured me that he had connected the pool pump to the Tariff 33 supply, and we even went up to the meters at the top of the drive and he showed me the tariff 33 meter running. (but it must have been the hot water, not the pool.)

We should have the hot water and the pool on that tariff. Obviously the pool is connected to the house circuit and we have not been getting an economy rate for the last 2 years!!!

The things you discover in times of emergency!! That should save a few $s each electricity bill once I get it fixed.

The noise of the genny was really annoying. I built a ‘Cone of Silence’ around it so that the sound went out to the courtyard and was a little muffled for the veranda and house. I used an old boat awning. It dulled the high yapping sound a bit.

The palm is to mark the brick holding one of the lines. I need a ring bolt
in the concrete!

Honda 5.5 hp 2.5KVA generator, plumbed into the house Electric Circuit and the old thick vinyl awning from Legato –

On Saturday night we suspected that everyone around us had power, but we didn’t. I ran the genny until 10:45pm and had a hot nights sleep with no fan or aircon. I had about 5 cold showers during the day because I was soon soaked in sweat from head to toe again. I used 4 pairs of shorts! There was no hot water of course because it is on Tariff 33 (unlike the pool!!) but the cold water was about 28C so not really a problem except for the first few seconds because of being so hot when first standing under it.

At dawn on Sunday I checked, there was still no electricity. I walked up the drive and noticed a neighbour had their aircon on hmmmm Then another neighbour across the road told me the power had returned at 1:30pm Saturday – Bummer, what’s happening ? A couple of trips up and down the drive to get some tools and check switches in the meter box at the top of the driveway kept me fit and sweaty. The result was that no power was coming into our meter box.

I rang Ergon and lodged a fault, the operator said the most likely thing was the pole fuse, a 10 minute fix, but they had more important work to do than fix one house, which is fair enough. So we were put in the queue. I imagined it might be a week before we would get power back. The genny noise gets to you after a while and it is too noisy to run overnight otherwise we could at least have a ceiling fan on.

There was no electricity all Sunday and we ran the genny till 10:30pm, then switched off, threw the power switches and voila! we had mains power back YAY!! They must have fixed it sometime between 6pm and 10:30pm- Good onya Ergon

I was just about to get into bed, with fan and aircon running, when I remembered the pool which had a lot of leaves and small branches blown into it. I had scooped out as much as I could while having a cooling dip on Thursday but it was still looking a bit green. I put some shorts on and went out into the night to switch the pump to manual and run the filter through the night. Luckily I had dumped 20l of liquid chlorine into it on Friday and the overnight running did the trick. On Monday morning it looked clear again and has stayed that way for a week.

I still have to service the generator and put it away till next time and another job planned, thanks to Yasi, is to clean the pool shed out before putting everything back, that could be an all day job!!

The devastation further South, in places like Tully is on the news every day. The poor buggers down there still haven’t got their power on and a lot of people are homeless. There was a large tidal surge which damaged and destroyed coastal homes. We are sorry for those guys. I notice that even here in Cairns, where we got off extremely lightly, everyone is sharing a sort of trauma. The experience has had a strong affect on everyone.

The local newspaper building was evacuated for the first time in it’s 120 year history and a core group of newsmen set up in a local hotel to keep the paper going. The Editor’s wife phoned him late on the night Yasi approached. She said,”I’m so scared this will be the last time I ever speak to you”.

(Cairns Post 12th Feb 2011, page 10)

That is how we felt.

Why do we live here- there are times when we wonder – Shed Mate Les sums it up –

“It is a PITA – but just think of all the time we get to spend basking in tropical glory.
If you lived down South you’d be bitterly cold and complaining for 3 months of every year….
This is the price we pay I guess”

Here’s a time lapse video of 81 hours of Cyclone Yasi as it approaches and crosses the coast –

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Fridge not cold enough- solution

 

If your fridge is suddenly not as cold as usual, the cause could be that the Freezer section is too full or partially blocking the airvent. I have had this happen twice on two different fridges. The contents of the freezer were semi blocking the airvent that pumps air to the fridge section.

How an average fridge works – The freezer section is where the cooling is done. There are no cooling elements around the fridge section.

Cold air from the freezer is pumped to the fridge section. Usually at the back of the fridge at the top you will see an airvent where the chilled air vents out and also a temperature control knob.

Obviously if your freezer is not cold then there is a more serious problem than my solution here.

The first thing to do is put your hand near the airvent in the fridge section and see if air is being pumped through. If yes, then the pump is working and it’s very likely that something in the freezer is the cause of your fridge not being cold enough.

At this stage I suggest you put a thermometer in the fridge, near the airvent, close the door and wait 10 minutes. Read the temperature and you will know what temperature your fridge is giving.

Ideal fridge temps near the vent should be close to ZERO degrees centigrade (32F). Temperatures elsewhere in your fridge should be somewhere between 1.7 to 3.3 C ( 35 and 38 degrees F)

Using a thermometer means you have an exact measurement of what is happening in your fridge. Leave the thermometer there and you will be able to tell accurately when you have fixed the problem and be less confused.

The next step is to open the freezer. Find the airvent at the back which is where air is sucked in and sent to the fridge.

The first time I had this problem there were a lot of plastic boxes near the airvent, but it didn’t look as if they were blocking the vent. I moved them and leaving a little more room near the vent solved my problem, the fridge returned immediately to 1-3 degrees C. I didn’t trust that I had fixed the problem and I monitored the temperatures for 3 days before I was convinced! That’s why I suggest leaving a thermometer in the fridge.

Recently another fridge began showing the same symptoms, the contents were cool but not cold as they should be. Everything was frozen in the freezer, but it was chock full and very close to the vent in the freezer was a ziplock bag- this time it was obvious that the plastic bag was the cause. I moved the bag and the temperatures in the fridge were soon back to normal.

If you find this info helpful, please post below to let me know.

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Towards Curry Nirvana Pt 3

 

Curry Nirvana – my quest to cook an Indian Curry to the standard of a good Indian restaurant.

I had a mammoth Curry cooking session on Friday ( 17 December 2010), with mixed results.

A UK member of the Curry Forum very kindly sent me some of his spice mix and because it is so precious I thought I would have a rehearsal using a spice mix made locally from Mick’s Mix #1.

To make a BIR (British Indian Restaurant) curry you have to have 3 things pre made.
The onion Paste
The Gravy
The pre cooked meat

The chefs always make ONE PORTION at a time, ie in one wok. They can have several different curries all being made in individual woks, all going at the same time and they turn from one to another, shaking, stirring and adding ingredients. It seems that it is important that the ingredients must be added at certain intervals.

If it is Tikka Masala they add the spices associated with that dish, if it is Madras they use those spices, that’s how the different flavours are made, all with the same pre cooked paste, gravy and meat.

The actual curry cooking takes 15 minutes.

The Onion paste and Gravy are made in large quantities and frozen in portions- they say that halving or quartering the recipe changes the flavour. This is a problem for me because we just don’t have enough space to store a lot of frozen food. I am being as ruthless as I can in our two freezers already.

Friday’s plan: Make Pete’s Onion Paste, Shah’s Garabi (gravy), pre cook some chuck steak and follow the BIR instructions.

I have been cooking curries for many years but am now changing my methods to the BIR style, for which I have previously made Garabi but not pre cooked the meat or made an onion paste.

I began at 2:30pm with Pete’s Onion Paste. The 2 litres of oil and ingredients filled the pot and simmered away nicely.

I simmered for much longer than the 40 mins suggested because the onions and Peppers looked firm. I used a potato masher after about 80 mins and the garlic crushed Ok but the onions and peppers stayed mostly intact.

I continued on with the recipe, adding 6 tabs of the spice mix, waiting 20 seconds then stirring in. 15 minutes later switched off and left to cool, it was a lovely red colour. I tasted it later and I don’t think I got it right – Pete says “this should now smell incredible and have a real deep sweet BIR taste,” The taste and smell were OK but not exceptional – later advice from Pete says he cooks for twice as long as his recipe states.

It was a very hot day here in Cairns, I had the kitchen ceiling fan full on but sweat was running down my face and body in streams. I didn’t want to put the aircon on because of the curry smells, so I suffered and in between stirrings I jumped in the pool and listened to the Test Match on the radio. The recipes have sweat drops all over!!

Time was running out and I decided to make Mick’s Garabi instead of Shah’s because I have made Mick’s before and it takes less time. When I do the Shah Garabi I want to do the Tarka also.




I had a single piece of chuck steak which I cut into large chunks.





I put the chunks into the slow cooker with 1tab Tomato paste, ½ T salt, 1 Tab Mix powder and 1 T Fenugreek leaves, all just covered with water.


I don’t think I will do it this way again because although the meat was perfectly soft without being flaky, I didn’t like the smell of it during & after it was cooked! Next time I will add an onion and garlic and possibly when the meat is cooked, remove the onions and garlic and add them to the Garabi .

That smell went away once the meat was introduced to the finishing process in the pan.

At 7:15pm I strained the onion ‘paste’ – it wasn’t a paste at all, but bits of onion and peppers.

Pete says there will be about 1.5 litres of oil left over – I got nearly the complete 2 litres back!


Note the sediment in the Left hand bottle, apparently some of this can be added to the curry and is full of flavour.

By the time I had everything ready it was 7:45pm. I heated some of the Onion oil in the pan then followed a Madras Recipe.

I added ginger and garlic paste to the oil, followed by tomato paste and salt. At this point constant stirring should see the tomato paste colour going into the oil and both times I have done this, I don’t seem to get it right. The tomato paste doesn’t want to mix with the oil at all, but I gave it a good go. I discovered later I had forgotten that the tomato paste should be mixed 50/50 with water.

I opened a packet of chilli powder and added 1 heaped T, closely followed by some Hing (asafoetida) that has lost its power (1T), then I added 1 tab of mix and some Methi leaves, a few stirs then a squirt of lemon and 3 Tabs of onion ‘paste’. More stirring then half the Garabi. I raised the temperature here to a boiling/bubbling (not enough water) then added one serve of not very nice smelling pre cooked chuck steak. I stirred it round for a minute or two and then added some more water. I let that all blend for a minute or 3 then added the rest of the Garabi and cooked a bit more. Total time for the meat was maybe 5-6 minutes.

This was the hardest part of the cooking. I need to learn the quantities by heart as there is v little time to spare in the process. Next time I shall write it out in big print and have everything ready in little pots etc. I also need to watch some chef cooking videos again.

I put that serve aside in a dish and because of the smell of the chuck steak, which I knew was fresh but didn’t fancy freezing smelling like that, I decided to make all the other serves. I ended up with 5 servings from 1.1kg of chuck steak.

Pete says he makes about 10 serves from his Onion paste. I must have misunderstood the amount per portion which I though was 3 Tablespoons. I had already used 3 heaped Tabs per portion and there was still more than half the paste left over, so I added another heaped Tab to each serve. I froze the rest of the onion paste for next time. Pete updated me- use 3 heaped Chef’s spoons of onion Paste (thats quite a lot!!)

Here’s a photo of a Chef’s Spoon in a Tikka Masala

By the time I had cleaned up all the pots, the cook top, the wall behind the cook top etc etc etc it was about 8:45pm. I was knackered!! I sat down with some Pappadums cooked in the Microwave Link to Pappadums cooked in the Microwave post and had my advent beer for the day, Link to My Advent Beer calendar post ,  keeping my serve warm in the oven.

I ate about 9:30pm. I thought it was a good curry, but not great. I was too stuffed to think!!

The forum guys told me, “don’t beat yourself up, you set yourself a big task, and after all that cooking your senses were all saturated

and

it’s no wonder you didn’t give yourself 10 out of 10 if you sat down and ate it at the end of such a cooking marathon. Your olfactory centres were by then sending frantic messages to your frontal cortex saying ‘PIZZA!!!’ I bet it all would have tasted much much better the next day.

Obviously I must make the Pete’s Onion Paste, Shah’s Garabi with Tarka and pre cook the meat

    on separate days

to spread the load.

Conclusion:

I don’t think I got the onion paste right.

Micks Garabi was good; I substitute 8 Serrano chilies for the half pepper. They taste exactly like a pepper plus they have good chilli heat. A friend of mine ate one raw, I have bitten the thin end and think I could eat one but I respect my stomach too much and prefer my chilies cooked in a curry.

I haven’t used chilli powder for many years, preferring real chillies and occasionally adding chilli paste if more heat required. It seems you have to get used to every paste and powder, the strengths are different. My guess of a heaped T spoon was good. I could add maybe 1/2 a T more.


UPDATE MONDAY 20 DEC 2010

I had the first frozen portion – WOW my senses must have been whacked when I made the curry, because this is a really good curry and I’m claiming it as ‘best ever that I’ve cooked

It was a perfect red colour, was not too oily, the meat a perfect texture. The taste was excellent, different and better to all the curries I have cooked before, thanks to the Onion Paste and the ingredients in Micks Spice Mix

The only disappointment was the lack of aroma. The smell while it was re heating in the oven was different but not very strong, I could only smell it from a few inches away from the closed door.

I didn’t get the onion paste right, probably it was at 50% of potential and I have some pointers from Pete to do better next time.

I didn’t get the fusing of the spices right either and I suppose that accounts for the lack of aromatics. I must re-visit the way the chefs cook and get that right next time.

The original serve was made as close as possible to the BIR style.

This frozen portion was made together with 3 other portions, all at once, after making the original serve, because I wasn’t prepared to freeze the pre cooked meat due to it’s skanky smell.

I was correct in thinking I needed a trial run before using Iain’s valuable spice mix.

It does seem like a lot of effort to produce a curry, although once everything is pre cooked it is quite a simple job to make the curry and the onion paste makes about 10 serves.

Eventually, if this BIR cooking method succeeds and I reach my Curry Nirvana, I will then try to find a way to reduce the amount of work.  First though I have to get there and I’m prepared to work hard at it.

I am close to achieving my Curry Nirvana, just need to make a much stronger aroma – this is exciting

If you are a curry lover like me, sign up for email or RSS updates and watch my journey.

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My Beer Advent Calendar 2010

 

I’m enjoying a different beer every day in advent.

Kids get a calendar with chocolates or other goodies hidden behind each date; I get a beer!

What is an advent calendar? I posted all about that, last year – Rob’s Advent calendar

This is the third year of my beer advent calendar idea. I enjoy  sampling a few beers I might not otherwise try and there an element of excitement as I open each bottle, not knowing what I am going to discover.

This year I am scoring the beers between 1 and 10.  Assuming ALL beer is drinkable so there is no zero and 10 is the best. Normally I wouldn’t buy a beer rating under 6.

I thought I’d start by sampling a few of the Aussie Boutique Brewery Beers. The test cricket has begun, the English are over here defending ‘The Ashes’ and I’m looking forward to a good summer of cricket on the radio. My choice for the first beer of Advent was obvious –

Day1: Cricketers Arms Lager

I poured the amber brew into a glass and sniffed it – I wasn’t sure what it would be like. Brewed in Melbourne by Sundance brewery using Aussie Malt and Amarillo Hops. Sounds good. I took a sip – Hmm better than expected!

It had a deep colour and a big head that lasted through the drink. There was a hint of Pilsner taste but overall it was light tasting and ‘soft’.

Verdict: Drinkable  Score: 7.5 out of 10

.

Day 2: Byron Bay Premium Ale

I was hot!! the beer was cold. It barely touched the sides as it went down!!

Why do they put good beer in these silly little 330ml bottles? The Aussie beer consumers are being conned.

Even without the hot circumstances, it seemed like a very drinkable beer. It had a Light colour and was neither sweet nor bitter. The taste was not weak or too strong. Overall it was a well blended brew and I enjoyed it. 5% alcohol. I would like to try more.

Verdict: Drinkable Score: 7.7 out of 10


Day 3: Gage premium Lager

Previously called Gage Roads, I was looking forward to trying this beer. It’s made by the guys who make “Sail & Anchor’.

My first sip was very disappointing, I immediately thought I had got an old beer that was going off.  The ‘use by’ date was July next year, so it was in date. Perhaps it had been cycled a few times between hot and cold?

Was this beer off? I  checked out some reviews, and everyone spoke well of it. All I can say is that I drank it, to give it a chance but it put me off beer for the rest of the day.

Verdict: Damaged Goods    Score: 1.2 out of 10


Day 4: White Rabbit

Here was a surprise! I guess I didn’t fully read the label, because when I poured the beer into a glass it was very dark. A closer inspection of the bottle showed a pen and ink drawing of a forest with a stream running through it. In the forest is a small sign – ‘Dark Ale’. Aha , that explains it!

I went to the White Rabbit website which has an interesting and artistic design.  It appears the brewing is also very imaginative, with wild yeasts able to enter the brew via the open fermentation process.

“We let the yeast have a party and it likes to play hard!”

I like dark beers, this one had a fresh taste avoiding being thought of as a stout. Unfortunately I  don’t like the hops used, which seem to me as if the beer was brewed using nettles or other weeds as the hops. I have also tasted these hops in some ‘Little Creatures’ brews.

Verdict: Wrong Hops for me   Score: 4 out of 10


Day 5: James Squire Golden Ale

Poured into a glass the colour was deep golden orange to amber, with good carbonation and a nice head it looked like an English beer. The bottle is 345mls, the taste was OK but not outstanding.

James Squire arrived in Australia as a Convict and began brewing beer secretly while still a convict. He was our first brewer though I doubt he had much to do with the brewing of this Golden Ale!!

Verdict: Not my drop   Score: 4.5 out of 10


Day 6: Wahoo Ale

This beer was good, very tangy. Brewed by Gage Roads Brewery who made the Day 3 beer that was disappointing.  I think I’d better try Gage Roads again because I don’t think a brewer who could make a good beer like this Wahoo Ale could possibly make a skunky lager.

Like the Day 1 Cricketers Arms beer that scored a 6, this one also used Amarillo Hops

Verdict: Drinkable   Score: 6.8 out of 10


Day 7: Fat Yak Pale Ale

This beer is exactly what I think qualifies as ‘Ale’. I can imagine sitting outside at a country fair in England in medieval times, with a pretty wench sitting on my lap watching the jousting while I quaffed large quantities of this Ale from my beaker- forsooth!!

There is  a tanginess on the tip of the tongue, similar to high carbonation, yet the amber liquid seems fairly flat. It has an earthy taste with light floral hops and an underlying taste of smooth malt. All those factors define ‘Ale’ for me.

Verdict: Thanks for the memory!   Score: 5 out of 10


Day 8:Little Creatures Pale Ale

Having the comely wench sitting on my knee yesterday put me in an excellent mood – so I’ve kept the wench and continued to watch the jousting while quaffing another Ale. I know I’m in a good mood because Little Creatures beers have a strong floral taste that makes me think they are strained through nettles, and today I don’t mind!.

This beer is conditioned in the bottle and pours slightly cloudy, as you’d expect. It has that ‘Ale’ taste with more bitterness than the Fat Yak and the brewery use whole hop flowers which accounts for the taste being driven by the floral aroma.

I was expecting not to enjoy this beer, which I’ve had before, but the pleasant company I was in changed my perceptions and although I wouldn’t want too many of these little 330ml bottles, I began to see past the strong hoppy character.

Verdict: Gadzooks! I’m having fun. Score: 4.5 out of 10


Day 9: Cairns Gold

I’d previously enjoyed some draught Cairns Gold so I was looking forward to this bottled version, brewed by local Cairns Micro Brewery, Blue Sky Brewery. It had a light yellow colour in the glass with a good head, the first sip showed some bitterness and there was a very strong malt undertaste.

This wasn’t the beer I remembered. I checked the bottle and printed on the side was “”Brewed by or under licence for Blue Sky Brewery. Maybe the Blue Sky Brewery doesn’t have a bottling system and the bottles beer is brewed and bottled elsewhere. Surely my memory can’t be faulty? I was expecting a 9 and got a 6!! I plan to go back to the brewery and sample some draught and remind myself how good this beer tastes when not in a bottle.

Verdict: Beer tasting is full of surprises. Score: 5 out of 10


Day 10: Blue Tongue Pilsner

Ho Ho Ho, first sniff of this one was good, a very dutch beer smell. The taste at first was very Heineken, perhaps more bitter. Further into the glass of this golden brew I could detect a hint of what I call German Hops.

This is a very good beer. I checked some reviews to see what other people thought and came across a very honest VIDEO review – FortyBeers.Com well worth watching.

The Blue Tongue brewery have a great logo –

Verdict: Great Tasting Beer. Score: 7.4 out of 10


Day 11: Corona Extra

I found possibly the strangest review ever written! ( from united-nations-of-beer.com/corona-beer-review) so I’ll let this lady speak –

“Corona. It’s Spanish for “Evil”.

Once upon a time, I had a friend named Corona. He was very handsome, with his pale amber colouring, his festive little lime… and all those bubbles. As long as he was around, I knew I was in for a good night.

Sadly, our time together must end. Because of last night’s disastrous, unofficial Corona beer review session, I’m breaking up with him. It is OVER! Do you hear me, Corona? OVER!!

I had a work function to go to. Very posh, very dressy, men in tuxes and gorgeous suits, women in formal dresses and full length gowns, and my friend, Corona, was everywhere.

Now, you would think after the last work function I’d been to, my boss, colleagues, and the general public at large would work very hard to keep Corona and I far, far away from each other.

The last one involved me getting very drunk, yelling at my boss, and then wandering into the ladies room and telling everyone in there that my boss was a bastard.

Ten minutes later, one of the women who’d been in there came up to me and said, quietly, “Have you calmed down?” to which I responded, rather saucily, “I dunno, have YOU calmed down?”

I then proceeded to literally fall on the CEO’s feet (ON them), and was whisked away in a cab.

And yet, last night? Bottle after bottle was brought to me. There’s me, thinking, “Do they have NO recollection of the last party? REALLY? Fine, whatever, just hand over the deliciousness and be on your way, while I continue my ‘Corona beer review’…”

Cut to me, half an hour later, running, RUNNING, (in heels, no less) after the Prime Minister’s wife (Hi, Mrs. Blair. If you’re reading this… I’m very sorry.) down the hallway. Her secret service guys? Very scary. I was impressed. My boss? Not so impressed.

So… we eat a little, we drink some more (stupid, stupid me), and finally, it’s time to go home. I am feeling very, very energetic at this point, and decide that I’ll get out before my stop on the tube, and walk the rest of the way.

Brilliant. I’m wearing a tight black dress, killer heels, tons of makeup… and my West Coast Choppers hoodie.

I got five “Honey, how much?” offers and one marriage proposal. The weird side-effects of an in-depth Corona beer review…

Get home, chat with flatmates…. And then? Total blackout. All I know is I woke up this morning, and everything was on.

Television? On. Radio? On. Computer? On. Little string of paper lanterns? On. Dress, heels, and makeup? ON, ON, ON!!!

It’s as though I considered getting ready to go to bed, and figured, “Nah… may as well just…” THUD. Fall down in a dead sleep on my bed. On top of the covers.

Do you KNOW how hard it is to get eye makeup off when it’s had 15 hours to adhere itself to your skin? That shit is never coming off, I tell you. I look like I’ve gone ten rounds with Rocky.

And you know what I have to do now? I gotta go to work. That’s my last EVER Corona beer review!

I blame you, Corona. We are NEVER seeing each other again. I know, I know, there’s a party next week, and we’ll both be there, but I will studiously avoid you and make friends with the vodka instead. HA!”

hehehe, now THAT”S a review!!

Verdict: Bland but drinkable. Score: 5.6 out of 10


Day 12:  Coopers Clear

Coopers Beers – you either love em or hate em. I’m a fan and enjoy Coopers Mild which is the only mid strength beer I like. This ‘Clear’ beer is Coopers entry into the Low Carb/ ‘Summer Beer’ market and they have done a great job. This is probably the best brew I’ve tasted in the low carb/ ‘Summer Beer’ range. That’s not to say I liked it. The characteristics of this style are bland bland bland and I like my beer to have a taste.

The brew is light yellow and pours with a good head that quickly disappears, leaving a ring around the glass. There is a hint of sweetness and a slight taste which makes this better than most of the style. I rate this under 6 because I wouldn’t buy it, but it was drinkable.

Verdict: Bland but drinkable. Score: 5.9 out of 10


Day 13: Peroni

This beer was the lightest yellow I have ever seen! The taste was also light but not completely bland. Other reviews have mentioned a strong ‘skunky’ smell, but this bottle was well behaved.

Peroni’s light taste hides a strong 5.1% alc beer, an interesting brew.

Verdict: Light tasting but drinkable. Score: 6 out of 10


Day 14: Beck’s

Shed Mate Bruce enjoyed this at an Oktoberfest and decided to buy a carton which proved to be not as good as expected. With low expectation I poured a glass and sniffed, expecting that German hops, bitter smell. But no, this beer smelt good. After the first swallow I was pleased to find that it didn’t taste like a typical German Beer at all.

This beer was drinkable, I’d like to try more. I am concerned that the quality of the beer available here fluctuates. Just as Bruce found with his carton of Becks, I had a Carton of Stella Artois that was very poor, yet usually it is a good beer. Leaving pallets of beer out in the intense heat of the tropics for too long and /or chilling cartons down then letting them re heat are probable causes.

Verdict: drinkable. Score: 6.3 out of 10


Day 15: Ashai Super Dry

I’ve enjoyed this beer before. It’s not complex, just an easy drinking brew.

a simple, straightforward and refreshing beer.

Verdict: Nothing special but drinkable. Score: 6.2 out of 10


Day 16: XXXX Summer Bright Lager

Comparing XXXX and VB is similar to our Holden/Ford allegiance. I’m a VB fan so this bottle with 4 X’s on it was not first on my list to drink. It had been another very hot day and I was thirsty, I didn’t think it would take too long to swallow this small 330ml beer and carry on with a decent beer afterwards.

As seems to happen constantly, when I expect a bad brew I get a good one and vice-versa. This time was no exception. The XXXX hops taste that I dislike was not there. Instead this was a light malty beer, highly carbonated and inoffensive. It went down OK, the words ‘lolly water’ kept running through my head as I drank it.

Verdict: Not a XXXX fan, this was the best XXXX I’ve tasted. Score: 5 out of 10


Day 17: Barefoot Radler

Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear, shakes head and walks away….. WTBH is this!!! They should put ‘sweet Lemon & Lime flavoured lolly water with a hint of alcohol’ on the label – there’s no way this should be classed as a beer!! Refreshing it says, yes I can see on a hot day IF I DIDN’T WANT A BEER, something like this might be refreshing, if it wasn’t so sickly sweet.

It was a very hot day in Cairns, the humidity giving us strong sauna like conditions and yes I was thirsty, so this ‘beer’ should have gone down well. I was expecting a beer taste so it was a hell of a shock to find I’d opened a bottle of tonic!! Especially because as well as the strong Lemon & Lime taste, it was overly sweet.

Verdict: Yeuk – real lolly water! Score: Can’t be scored, it’s not a beer.


Day 18: Maxx Dry premium Lager

I’d never heard of this beer before. It poured as a typical lager and first taste had me smiling, here was a drinkable beer. Mouthfeel was strangely thin, and there was a faint unusual taste, maybe a style of hops I’m not used to?

I enjoyed the drink, which was over very quickly due to the small 330ml bottle. I checked the label to see where it was brewed and it was imported from new Zealand, so perhaps it should have been called Mick’s heheh.  I checked out some reviews and no-one but me likes this beer, while I could easily buy a carton of it.

Verdict: Drinkable & slightly different. Score: 6.5 out of 10



Day 19: Grolsch Premium Lager

I’m 3/4 of the way through my Advent calendar. Today’s brew is a good one. Grolsch is a typical Dutch lager, similar to Heinekin and Carlsberg, perhaps not as strong tasting.

Grolsch used to have an old style bottle top with a rubber stopper held on by a wire hinge. This bottle had the normal cap. I drank the 330mls very quickly and it was enjoyable. I would buy this beer again.

Verdict: Mainstream drinkable Dutch lager Score: 7.2




Day 20: Stella Artois

A good beer for me is a beer that is well blended and doesn’t have any obvious abnormal taste. Stella fits the bill perfectly. Pours with a thick white head that slowly reduces, good mouthfeel and taste.

This beer is good to drink, I enjoyed it.

Verdict: Very Drinkable Score: 7.7 out of 10



Day 21: Coopers 62

Shed Mate Bob gave me a bottle at our Tuesday Night Christmas Party. Wow, this one is different! I had expected the usual Coopers taste, which I like. This Pilsner had a strong taste that was familiar but I couldn’t identify.

There are not many good reviews for this beer, and some say it doesn’t have much flavour. I thought it had quite a strong flavour, I liked it and would drink more.

Verdict: Drinkable Score: 6.9 out of 10




Day 22: Maxx Blonde

I have completely and utterly had ENOUGH of low carb beers. After enjoying the Maxx Dry on day 18 I expected this one to be good. Unfortunately I didn’t like the taste and it reminded me of all the other low carb beers.

The idea of a low carb beer is good, beer we can drink without getting fat- how good is that?? But the first time I drank one I thought it was false and nothing has changed that view. Something is added to the beer to compensate for the missing carb ingredients. It’s like having sugar substitute in tea or coffee.

Verdict: No thanks Score: 2 out of 10


Day 23: Radeberger Pilsner

I had no idea what this beer would be like, or where it was made. I discovered later that it’s an East German beer with a long history back to 1872. The taste was crisp and clean with a pleasant faint Pilsner aroma which made me think this beer is what a lot of other Pilsners are trying to emulate.

This is the best Pilsner I’ve had. Not my daily drinking style but a special occasions brew

Verdict: An Excellent Discovery Score: 7 out of 10




Day 24: Bombardier Bitter

Here I am, at the end of my Advent Beer Calendar. I saved this one till last because English Bitter is my favourite beer and I’ve enjoyed Bombardier before. I wasn’t disappointed

The beer is much darker than Lagers, with a reddish tinge. The taste is excellent there is everything there- mouthfeel, bitter, malt, hops- all in the right proportions- AND it’s a large 500ml bottle

Verdict: The most enjoyable beer this advent Score: 9 out of 10


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Vindaloo Curry as good as a restaurant – how to

 

I’ve just cooked the first curry that I can rate at Restaurant Standard.

Have I just had a brief glimpse of my Curry Nirvana or will it be the start of a new era in home cooked curries?

The Audio file was recorded while I ate this brilliant Vindaloo!

Thanks to the information at the UK Curry forum and Micks Cookbook, this Vindaloo was head and shoulders above anything I’ve cooked before.

I’ve experimented with the cooking info from the above websites. I bought Micks book- it’s only $5 – and it has detailed info on cooking to the standard of BIR (British India Restaurant).

Unfortunately the Indian Chefs in the UK all say that unless you use the same brands of spices they use, the results will not be the same. I have found two sources of fresh spices in Australia which come pre mixed in kits, the Saucy Spice Co and SpiceZ who’s kits also contain a second sachet of fresh herbs and seeds.

I have made a couple of Garabi’s (Gravies) for the last 2 Curries which were very successful. This time I thought I’d try to make a Bunjara (Onion Paste) from Micks recipe.

I began with a Vindaloo Curry kit from the Saucy Spice Co that Shed Mate Steve sent to me. Some spice is supposed to go in the Onion Paste, but because the kit is pre-mixed for 1kg of meat, I decided not to split it up.

The first step was to marinate 1kg of beef. The instructions with the Vindaloo Kit say to ‘Roast the spices in a dry pan for about 60 seconds’ and then mix in with the beef, sliced onions, garlic, oil, vinegar and sugar’.

I started making the Bunjara Onion paste,  the idea is to cook sliced onions until they are caramelised but not burnt, various other ingredients are added during the process.

I used 3 tabs of ghee and later added 2 tabs of olive oil. One medium sliced onion (because the marinade had one large one already) I added Eight diced Serrano Chillies and 6 sliced cloves of Garlic. Immediately the ingredients in the pot looked like the beginning of the Garabi, so I changed my mind and made a base gravy, following Micks instructions but omitting the spices which were in the marinade. The chillies made a fiery substitute for half a capsicum. I added one diced carrot and a level t spoon of ginger paste.

At the end of the process I added 3 heaped Tablespoons of 100% tomato paste. At the time it looked too much, but now I think it was a good idea. there were no tomatoes mentioned in the kit’s recipe and I reckon all curries should have some tomato in them, for me it’s a basic ingredient. There’s no harm in changing other peoples recipes as long as you take the blame when they go wrong!

After simmering for about 40 minutes I added a chicken stock cube and water and blended the gravy. It had a rich, red, look. I divided it in two and saved half for the next curry.

The meat marinated for 7 hours. I put it in a hot pot with some ghee and lightly browned it, making sure any spice that hadn’t released its pungency got another chance, then added half the Gravy Base, half a chicken stock cube and some water to cover the meat.

This is how it looked after 140 minutes slow simmer –

Here it is plated up, but before adding more juice- at this stage I was more interested in eating it than taking pictures!!!

In the brochure the kit is labeled “Fiery’ Vindaloo, so obviously it has a generous amount of chilli powder. The extra chillies I added certainly made sure it was Fiery!! It was a full on Vindaloo, the chilli heat almost obscuring the taste of the curry. I had an enjoyable battle with it and I’m already looking forward to having one of the portions I froze.

Curry fans will recognise from the tone of my voice in the audio that my mouth was on fire and how much I was enjoying it!!

I’ll update this with the results of the frozen portion which I expect will be slightly less bitey.

UPDATE.

Last night I reheated a frozen portion of this big success story – the Vindaloo.

I was very anxious because I had given it such a big wrap, was I mistaken?

It was every bit as good as on Friday. YAY!!

I added a pinch of the spice mix just before the end of cooking because none of my home cooked curries have the strong aroma that takeaways have. It still was not as aromatic as a restaurant curry, but the taste and oiliness  hehehe were brilliant. The sauce was rich and red, it maintained it’s tremendous bite but I could taste the flavour a little more this time.

I attribute the success of this curry to the base gravy I made. It added a new dimension to an already good curry. I have half of that gravy saved and will experiment with a different spice mix.

SUBSCRIBE if you would like to keep track of my progress towards my ‘Curry Nirvana’

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Saucy Spice Co Afghani Lamb Curry

 

WOW – I can’t believe it – as I go through 6 assorted Saucy Spice Co Curry Kits, they are getting better and better!!

The last Saucy Spice Co kit that I cooked was the Persian Style Beef and thought it was better than the Madras, though I want to revisit the Madras to be sure.

This Afghani Lamb was definitely a cut above all others, no doubt, it was very obvious.

Absolutely FAN-BLOODY-TASTIC.

The smell coming from the kitchen while it was cooking was excellent.

My wife said she could smell it in the street on her way home!! and our kitchen is more than 80 meters from the street!!

Not having any lamb handy, in true Afghani style I made do with 500 gms gravy beef and 500gms chuck steak. The kit had quite a few unidentified seeds in the packet. Ingredients marked as – Cardamom. Chilli, Cinnamon, Coriander, Nutmeg, Asafoetida, Turmeric, Anise, Pepper, Ginger,

I added 2 med Onion & 4 cloves Garlic, 250ml Yoghurt, 1Kg beef, 250ml stock and also 1 Serrano chilli that they must have forgotten to mention in the recipe hehe

The cooking instructions were very simple and it was easy to cook. I simmered quite hard for 45 mins then put the pot in the oven for 1hrs gentle simmer with lid on, then 30mins with lid off to reduce the sauce, still in oven, followed by 20 minutes rest.

The meat was tender, juicy and the flavour went right through. I had only added one red fresh chilli and the meal had a nice bite to it, so there must have been plenty of chilli powder in the kit.

As excellent as this kit was, using Beef, I reckon it would be even better using lamb which is oilier and has a sweeter taste. I will definitely try this one again!

I rate this HIGHER than the Madras, (review here ) or Persian Beef (review here)

Highly Recommended.

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Incredible People Stunts

 

So many amazing stunts – enjoy

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Towards Curry Nirvana Part 2 BIR

 

My search for Curry Nirvana has taken a hug leap forward. The plan – to cook an Indian Curry to restaurant standard.

Zana from www.spicez.com.au sent me links to two UK based websites where many people are searching for the same thing as me. I’m not alone!!! There’s even an acronym for my curry Nirvana – ‘BIR’. British Indian Restaurant.

This link http://cbm-mick.blogspot.com is to ‘Curry Barking Mad Mick’ who, like me, is searching for that British Indian Restaurant taste.

Mick has taken a lot of videos of Indian Chefs cooking and he’s also produced a recipe book of Indian dishes. The Recipe book comes as a PDF and is really great value at only Aus $5, everything is very clearly explained and all ingredients listed.

He says, “I have spent many years gaining access to BIR kitchens by befriending owners and staff. They have given me recipes for base gravies, starters, main meal curries and side dishes. Including Onion Bhaji, Sheek Kebabs, Chicken and Lamb Tikka, Korma, Madras, Rogon Josh, Dopiaza, Jalfrezi, Dhansak, Tikka Masala, Bombay Potatoes, Naan Bread and more.
Over 60 recipes.” – WOW!

I bought the recipe book that Mick had on his website, have talked by email with him, and have been watching videos on his website that he has filmed in UK Indian Restaurant Kitchens.

This one, http://www.secretcurryrecipes.com/curryforum (click link and scroll down to see video) from 2007 really shows what happens. There is a gravy base on the right and the curry, Chicken Madras, is being constructed in the left hand frypan.  Lots of flames and heat!! behind the stove is a counter with various things- tomato paste spices etc. I’m not clear on what’s there…… yet

The Secret is in the GRAVY!

The basic plan is to pre cook a batch of gravy which has a carrot, half a Capsicum, onions, Garlic and all the basic curry spices. Also precook the meat by boiling it. He says after those two things are prepared they can be frozen or stored in the fridge and a curry can be made in 15 minutes, just like in an Indian restaurant.

Not having all the ingredients yet, I tried an experiment, making the base gravy for a curry but adding the spices, supplied from a kit, into the pot at the stage when the meat and gravy are combined, then cooking the meat slowly for 3 hours.

The result was excellent- the meal was lifted to a new dimension. It was my best ever home made curry and far better than a few sub standard Indian Restaurant meals I’ve had over the years.

I am ordering in some extra ingredients so I can give Micks recipe a fair go. This is really exciting!

The other link Zana sent me was to a forum on Indian foods with an enormous amount of infornation – everything from ovems, cooking utensils to spices and recipes. & an Indian Food forum a href=”http://www.secretcurryrecipes.com/curryforum/.

Stay tuned!! If you are interested in Indian Curries sign up for email updates or select your favourite feed below

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Heartburn or Reflux Cure

 

Smeato Shed Mate showed me how to cure Reflux, often called Heartburn.

Late in 2009 I began to get some painful reflux, some mornings, at around 5am. I tried taking Mylanta and Gaviscon for a few weeks but the relief was very temporary. I had a Gastroscopy and there were no ulcers or anything serious, the doctor gave me a script for some XXX  tablets to take daily.

I’m reluctant to take pills on a daily basis unless absolutely necessary and when I mentioned my reflux to Smeato, he had a very simple answer, a Classic Home Remedy, which works. It can be taken as a preventative or for relief. Dissolve one teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda in a small amount of water- say two mouthfuls – and swallow it.

A CLASSIC HOME REMEDY


It tastes revolting. I have a glass of water handy, hold my breath, swallow the mixture and some fresh water, then breathe again. If taken to ease reflux, within 5 minutes a burp or two will signify that the acid in the stomach is being neutralized.

What I like best about taking Bicard of Soda is that it treats the symptoms and I only take it when I need to.

Of everything I’ve tried, this works the best and also the longest. I’ve never needed to repeat the dose. I take it the moment I notice that reflux may be starting. For me that is usually around 4:30-5am. It can also be taken as a preventative – for instance after a gastronomic feast, too much of everything, this settle the stomach and prevents any reflux.

I had been taking 2ooomgs of vitamin C at bedtime for several months before getting severe heartburn and I believe the acid had eaten away at the stomach lining and was the cause of the heartburn/reflux. I stopped taking the Vitamin C tablets late at night and my reflux is reducing, currently (OCT 2010) to about once in 8 weeks. UPDATE: April 2011- no reflux in over 4 months – YAY!

Before I tried this amazing cure, I wondered if taking Bicarb of Soda would be harmful. I found a wealth of info on the net, saying that there were many benefits from taking it. I’ll document them here, but first lets make sure some idiot doesn’t try to sue me for writing about something that is working FOR ME.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical person. I am writing here what works for me and I accept no responsibility for others.

Warning: Baking soda should be tried with your doctor’s approval since this could have many side effects including high blood pressure, headaches, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains and others. Baking soda is high in sodium, so cut down your salt intake as much as possible if taking it. People with heart, kidney, and liver disease, and appendicitis should not try it, without their doctor’s agreement. It is contraindicated with some prescription medicines. Take too much for too long and you could get alkalosis. So speak to your doctor first.

Health Benefits of Bicarbonate of Soda

A Classic Home Remedy: Keen runners have sworn that taking a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda helps them to keep going for longer. From Gout to Advanced Chronic Kidney Disease, from Foot Odor to Flatulence, this magical compound can take care of it all.

Most of the medicinal benefits of bicarbonate of soda come from its natural antacid properties. Let us now discuss the immense health benefits of bicarbonate of soda and why you should always have it handy.

For age spots: A paste of bicarbonate of soda mixed with hydrogen peroxide in equal proportions can lighten age spots when used as a pack on affected areas.

For itching, hives, bites and stings: Apply a paste of sodium bicarbonate mixed with water to ease pain and itching.

For foot and body odor: Bicarbonate of soda can neutralize bacteria that cause foot and body odor. A paste of the compound with water can help clear athlete’s foot.

For foot pain and splinters: A foot soak made of 150gms of bicarbonate of soda with equal quantities of Epsom salts can reduce soreness and minimize nerve pain.

For oral problems: Oral bacteria produce acids that can corrode the teeth enamel. A bicarb rinse several times a day or before going to bed can protect the teeth from untimely decay.

For heartburn: Heartburn is caused when digestive acids make their way up to the tract. A tablet or teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate along with the few drops of lemon juice acts as an antacid and provides instant relief. The same works for dispelling painful wind in case of indigestion and flatulence.

For household cleaning: 4 tablespoons of sodium bicarbonate in a liter of water makes a eco-friendly and non-toxic multipurpose cleaner for the house.

For nappy rash: Bicarbonate of soda added to a baby’s bathwater soothes the irritated skin and promotes faster healing.

For sore throats and mouth ulcers: Acid producing bacteria can cause lot of pain and agony. Add a teaspoonful of sodium bicarbonate in a glass of water and gargle every four hours to neutralize the acids.

For sunburn and heat rash: Bicarb can ‘soften’ bath water which makes for a comforting soak for agitated skin.

For UTIs: Drinking a solution of bicarb can ease the burning sensation while urinating by balancing the acids in the bladder.

For Gout: If you get baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) into your gout diet you add a well known alkalizing agent to it. It’s the classic home remedy for gout and the good news is that it gets many rave reviews from gout sufferers. It may well raise your pH level and alleviate or even end your gout attack. For many people for whom this works it usually begins to happen quickly – sometimes virtually immediately, often within 24 hours, and at least within a week.

It’s even been reported to reduce tophi, but you should note that even beneficiaries get different results.

Dosage Bicarbonate of soda is cheap and the remedy is an-easy-to-prepare part of a gout diet. Use half a teaspoon filled to the top of the spoon’s ridge, not above, (you don’t want a “mountain” of it in the spoon) with eight fluid ounces of water. (Or use measuring spoons). Make sure it dissolves completely in the water. Take, normally, four times a day, which includes one dose before bedtime. The body is said to be more acidic at night. Is it just a coincidence that many gout attacks happen after midnight and before daylight?

Some people find that even a 1/4 teaspoon serving four times a day can deal with their gout attack, and if you can, so much the better, because of the high amount of sodium.

Warning! Baking soda may not be your natural gout cure. It MUST ONLY BE TRIED with your doctor’s approval since this could have many side effects including high blood pressure, headaches, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains and others. Baking soda is high in sodium, so cut down your salt intake as much as possible if taking it. Gout attacks raise blood pressure, and so does excess sodium.

Moreover people with heart, kidney, and liver disease, and appendicitis should not try it, without their doctor’s agreement. It is contraindicated with some prescription medicines. Take too much for too long and you could get alkalosis.So speak to your doctor first. It should not be taken when the stomach is too full. An empty stomach is better.

WHY DOES BAKING SODA (BICARBONATE OF SODA) WORK SO OFTEN?

Sir Alfred Garrod, the Britishman who discovered that an excess of uric acid in the blood is the cause of gout in the mid 19th century, was a practicing gout doctor who ended his career as a physician to Queen Victoria. He also wrote The Nature and Treatment of Gout and Rheumatic Gout.

In this book he explained he believed in alkalising (alkalizing) the blood, or as we would put it today, raising blood pH. This is his key statement about it:

“Any diminution in the alkaline state of the blood lessens its power of holding urate of soda (uric acid) in solution and hence promotes its deposition, especially in tissues in which the reaction is naturally less alkaline than in the blood.”

And another:

“The causes exciting a gouty fit (i.e. flare) are those which induce a less alkaline condition of the blood, or which greatly augment for the time, the formation of uric acid, or such as temporarily check the eliminating power of the kidneys.”

Sodium bicarbonate alkalises (alkalizes) the blood (by removing hydrogen ions), and this is the key. The blood is able to hold more uric acid without crystallising (crystallizing). And when this happens crystal deposition ceases, or better said, usually ceases, because baking soda doesn’t always halt gout attacks. Moreover, in some mysterious way, deposited crystals often begin to dissolve.

Or, if you take bicarbonate of soda in water before an impending gout attack, your blood is further alkalised (alkalized) – remember blood is always maintained by the body as slightly alkaline – and crystallisation (crystallization) is halted in the manner described by Garrod. Morever, higher blood alkalinity makes uric acid more soluble, as does drinking plenty of water.

Although Sir Alfred used bicarbonate of soda in some gout cases, you’ll be surprised to learn that generally he did not. And it wasn’t because of the sodium. The reason was – he thought he had stronger alkalising (alkalizing) agents than baking soda – ones that today have been forgotten in gout treatment.

Note the cautions above about using it, and discuss with your doctor before using it.

Kidney Disease: Daily dose of sodium bicarbonate-baking soda, already used for baking, cleaning, acid indigestion, sunburn, and more-slows the decline of kidney function in some patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD), reports an upcoming study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). “This cheap and simple strategy also improves patients’ nutritional status, and has the potential of translating into significant economic, quality of life, and clinical outcome benefits,” comments Magdi Yaqoob, MD (Royal London Hospital).

The study included 134 patients with advanced CKD and low bicarbonate levels, also called metabolic acidosis. One group received a small daily dose of sodium bicarbonate in tablet form, in addition to their usual care. For this group, the rate of decline in kidney function was greatly reduced-about two-thirds slower than in patients. “In fact, in patients taking sodium bicarbonate, the rate of decline in kidney function was similar to the normal age-related decline,” says Yaqoob.

Rapid progression of kidney disease occurred in just nine percent of patients taking sodium bicarbonate, compared to 45 percent of the other group. Patients taking sodium bicarbonate were also less likely to develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD) requiring dialysis.

Patients taking sodium bicarbonate also had improvement in several measures of nutrition. Although their sodium levels went up, this didn’t lead to any problems with increased blood pressure.

Low bicarbonate levels are common in patients with CKD and can lead to a wide range of other problems. “This is the first randomised controlled study of its kind,” says Yaqoob. “A simple remedy like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), when used appropriately, can be very effective.”

But how does something so seemingly innocuous have such a dramatic effect? During prolonged or intense exercise muscles produce large amounts of waste products, such as lactic acid, that lead to soreness, stiffness and fatigue. Because sodium bicarbonate naturally reduces acids, it acts as a buffer against these performance-limiting by-products.

Sport: For years, keen runners have sworn that taking a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) helps them to keep going for longer. For years, experts doubted that there was anything other than a placebo effect to these claims until they subjected the substance to rigorous examination. Most exercise scientists investigating the trend for “soda-doping” among athletes and gym-goers have shown that it offers significant benefits for endurance and speed.

At Loughborough University, for instance, physiologists reporting in the June issue of the International Journal of Sports Medicine showed that swimmers who took baking soda about one hour before a 200m event were able to shave a significant time off their usual performances. Dr Jonathan Folland, who led the study, says that it is not uncommon for top swimmers to take sodium bicarbonate (another name for the substance) before a competition to give them an edge. Indeed, he showed that of nine swimmers tested, eight recorded their fastest times after ingesting a supplement of the common baking ingredient.

Another small study by Dr Ronald Deitrick,of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), showed that competitive runners also benefited. Dr Deitrick, who presented his findings at the ACSM annual conference, gave 800m runners either a placebo or a sodium bicarbonate capsule, which they took with water. Although a few of the runners had minor gastrointestinal problems after swallowing the capsules, a greater number benefited significantly

For optimum effects it should be taken with water, ideally before exercise, on an empty stomach. Most people take about 20g, although it can cause problems.

“It is not dangerous, but it tastes appalling and can make you want to retch,” Dr Folland says. “It can make some people nauseous when it hits their stomach and a few suffer an upset stomach or diarrhoea when they take it.”

Research Links:

http://www.best-gout-remedies.com/bakingsoda.html

http://www.scientistlive.com/European-Food-Scientist/Ingredients/Baking_soda_good_for_you%3F/22980/

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/body_and_soul/article4539000.ece

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