Planning and record making

Drinks, Food, Outside stuff, Technology No Comments »

So – you have a few batches of wine (or indeed, whatever) on the go. You wrote everything down in your book and now you go to your notebook and find out that one of the kids has used it for school. Disaster has struck…

No notes.

It’s not exactly the end of the world but it’s inconvenient at best.

Here’s an online idea for you that may help save some frustration and a few batches of wine.

The internet has many useful tools and services that you can take advantage of for free. Of these – I would like to introduce you to:

OneNote is a Microsoft program and may not be free – sort of depends on your license. EverNote is free for all, although you may be limited in the amount of records you store (but for our purposes – it will do fine).

Trello uses a “board” to store a number of Lists. Each list is made up of cards. A card can have various information with it (due date, photos, text etc).

If we use one board called say “Wine” and then make a list per batch of wine. We call a list after a batch of wine e.g. “strawberry”. We create a card for “Starting” and in the card we put a due date of the day started. I also put in a link to the recipe and some other stuff in there.

Then, when you rack the wine, you create another card called “rack” with a due date the day you rack. Continue with adding a card for each time you do something. A nice way to keep records. But, wait, there is more…

The “Due Date” field can be used to plan. Create a card for say “Bottling” and put a due date in the future – and you get the basis of a planning system as well. Nice. When you’ve done the job on the card – mark it as done (and make sure the date is the date you did it) – so you can have a good indicator of where you are.

How does that look in practice? A bit like this:

wine planning on trello
A Trello Board.

And this is what a card looks like:

A Trello card

Give Trello a go – it’s kinda cool. You can also share your boards with other people. This lets people work together for say maybe if you have a shared room or such and need to see where certain things are. (I don’t want to use the term “project management” but you get the idea).

This is all well and good but it’s not a real notebook – more of a scheduling tool. This is where we bring IFTTT (If This Then That) into play.

We can make it so that when you enter a new card – it adds to your online notebook. By connecting Trello to IFTTT and then into OneNote or EverNote then you can take your note taking to a new level.

First, make sure you have a OneNote available online. EverNote is always available online so it may be a little easier to deal with.

Then go to IFTTT and create an account. There are some good resources there that explain the next step – linking IFTTT to Trello and also to your OneNote/EverNote. When those two services are added – you need a recipe like the following to do the lifting of creating notes from cards:

Example IFTTT recipe.

When this recipe is run it will add a new page to your notebook. For me – this is OneNote and looks something like this:

OneNote in action.

This is just the start of where this can go. Using services like IFTTT, we can link numerous things together to get some useful and handy solutions in place.

Dutch Oven Soda Bread

BBQ, bushcraft, camping No Comments »


…it’s time to shake it up a bit and try something new.

…you have an itch to scratch.

…you just want to do something different.

…you just wanna burn stuff.


That time was a few weeks ago. Having received a small open BBQ and bought a heavy cast iron dutch oven, I wanted to do something with them. Nothing too involved just yet. This was, after all, the first time I would use the dutch oven. But just something a bit different.

At Christmas, we have a tradition of making an oat based soda bread and serving this with homemade potted pork and/or smoked salmon. The bread is very easy to make, incredibly tasty and requires no yeast or even kneading. As such, it’s great for lazy people like me. Experience told me that this would be a great project just to get started with. Experience was right.

The Dutch Oven

Basically a Dutch Oven is a large heavy cast iron pan with a lid that can go directly on an open fire and is used to cook things. Things like stews, roasting meat or even bread. Made famous by the Settlers in the American West and now used not so much. Which is a shame.

They are seen as hard work, requiring seasoning and special care. A pain to clean and maintain. Well yes, and maybe no. Once you’ve used them a couple of times and understand that cleaning should be done after use, and not three days later, then life becomes much easier.

Cooking with them may require a bit of muscle but thats ok, the type of food you are going to cook will have plenty of calories in it and you needed that work out anyway.

Cooking with them outdoors, can be done on gas but that just isn’t fun.

Cooking with them outdoors is done on real fire, with real burning wood. Thats fun that is.

Cooking with them outdoors requires a few extra skills and some planning for sure. Skills that are easy to acquire and very valuable. Probably you already have them (and if not – then I’ll post something about those soon so you can learn  too):

  • Fire Lighting
  • Fire Building

The Fire

There is a lot to write about fires and what type fire is best for which job. I’ll skip a lot of that here as most of the heat we need for soda bread comes from embers and not open fire. In fact, at a pinch and not as much fun, you could bake soda bread using BBQ briquettes. But you really wouldn’t do that, would you? Missing out on all that smokyness. That would be a sin!

Briquettes on top of Dutch Oven

Briquettes under stand of Dutch Oven

The recipe

This is not my recipe. I got it from the following link:

Soda Bread Recipe

The link contains a lot of information about how & why it works without yeast and all that good stuff. Even if you only make it in a regular oven – it’s still a good bread to make.

HINT – do not overwork the mixing. Read the recipe closely and understand what it does.

That all said – this is what it looks like before it goes on the fire:

Dough mixed an in the pot

The Bake

This is where it gets a bit tricky so take note…

Heat on top and (too much) below.

When I did it, I had way too much heat on the bottom of the oven. This made the bread burn on it’s underside. So what would I do different?

The BBQ I used was too small. This really limited the sort of fire I could build and amount of coals I could use. Limited is perhaps the wrong word, I had too many. Normally, there would be a fire to one side and coals would be taken from that and placed on and under the oven away from the main heat of the fire.

Because of the limited space – I had way too much heat in a small space. I know that now. As to how much heat to use initially, here is a little snapshot from a great little book I bought:

Fuel guide for Dutch Oven

Pencil figures are temperatures in degrees Celsius.

The Result


The results speak for themselves:

Fresh Soda Bread still in the oven.

Freshly cut Soda Bread

It tasted really good warm with butter. Even the burnt bits were not too bad:)


Cooking using a Dutch Oven is fun and flexible

Learn to control heat and be aware that more is not always better

Cleaning the Dutch Oven should be done as soon as is practical and don’t be afraid to re-season it.


The Ikea Hobo Stove – an introduction…

bushcraft, camping No Comments »

Well – not so much an introduction as a philosophy…

Sort of:)

Lets face it, cooking on fire is fun. It’s warm and just a bit primitive. But – we don’t always have the opportunity to set up a camp fire because of grass or no camp fires or wind or rain etc etc. All very frustrating.

Well – you can always use a gas burner or something like that but it just isn’t the same. Meths stoves sort of give a nice flame but again, it just isn’t the same.

You need fire, real fire. Wood burning, smoke making, fire…

Building a fire pit can be difficult and lighting your fire on the ground is probably not acceptable. So what to do?

You could always go and splurge a lot of money on one of the many brilliantly designed stoves out there. Like the Firebox. A great design, I want one but I can’t afford it. Or you can go cost efficient and make your own. For not a lot. And the results are pretty good.


Ok – a little disclaimer. I didn’t invent this and I’m making mine after seeing other versions floating around the internet. As most things, this is a work under construction and will be improved upon and worked with over time.

Start of at a local IKEA and look for product called “ordning” or some such. It’s a cutlery drained made from stainless steel.

Get some 30 to 40mm bolts and fix them to the bottom to form legs. I know that this doesn’t seam to stable but it works for now. Some designs I’ve seen have cool detachable legs. This is something to improve upon.

At this point you can use the stove as is. To be fair you don’t even need the feet. Just throw in some burny stuff and light. But we want something a little more classy.

Get the pot and mark out where you want the fuel hole….


Marked up pot for fuel hole

This needs to be big enough to slot in pieces of wood but not so big as to cut the thing in half. I chose two groups of the holes and three rows up. This felt about right and also looked to be popular taking into account other designs out there. Interestingly, some designs have the holes higher up. I don’t know what difference this makes. Maybe if used with a trangia or some other thing?

Now to fire up the Dremel or multi to of choice. You could us a saw or I guess even cutters. I just like the Dremel:-) Cut along the outside of the holes to give as straight a cut as you can. Important here is to wear those safety glasses and don’t jam in the cutting wheel. If you bend it too far and it then shatters, is going to hurt.


Save the bit that you cut out. I’m not sure what it will come in for buy her, you never know.


There will be sharp edges, so use the tool to remove these.


Cheap nasty grinding to alert! Don’t use the cheap and nasty tools that you can pick up in the bargain bins. They don’t last, do a poor job and are most likely dangerous. Anyways, is tone for first burn. All that work, you deserve some fun. Right?

I cheated and used a fire lighter thing. I know, I’m not proud of it and I let the side down but it is what it is…


Building the fire up further, we get to see some potential here. Not just for cooking but also heat, light and general camp comfort…


In conclusion…

This is just the start. Looking around the web there are so many things you can do with this style of some. It’s use as a multi fuel since should not be over looked. The Trangia can be made to fit by using tent pegs through the holes.

Fuel tablets can be used, again the tent pegs and a metal burning plate. Pan stands and grill plates made from computer fan covers? Removable feet and legs. All in one kits where you store your cook waste inside. Etc etc etc.

Lots of things to try. And lots of things to cook. Let’s see how it goes:-)

I want to ride my bicycle…

cycling No Comments »

bike pathA friend proposed the idea that he would like to do some long distance cycling in South Africa.

Why not?

Well, personally, having been there, I can think of a good few reasons why not but I will not digress. What I will say though is that while that may be the goal, it’s a very good idea to get some smaller successes under your belt first.

That got me to thinking about what and where are some long distant cycle paths in Europe. So a little Googling and Bob’s your uncle…

EuroVelo is a network of routes set up by the European Cyclists’ Federation connecting many European countries. Currently there are 14 routes but it is expected that these will increase substantially by 2020. The routes can be found here:

EuroVelo Cycling Routes

A recent article from The Worldwide Cycling Atlas gives a little more information on these routes together with some hopping off points for further exploration.

For Brits the Telegraph has a good article on a number of UK Cycle Routes. It’s not totally comprehensive but is a good start.

For those in The Netherlands, there is a good blog that contains quite a lot of information on cycling in The Netherlands (and it’s in English). NL Cycling – Long Distance Paths. And speaking of cycling in The Netherlands, if you need a great route planner…

Nederland Fietsland Routeplanner

Probably this is not a bad place to start out if you really want to do some long distance stuff. The routes are safe, there are lots of camp sites & repair shops and maybe the best bit – it’s all FLAT;)

I’ll post more paths and stuff as I find them. If you have any favourite paths then let me know – I’ll happily publish them.






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