Gas station without pumps

2020 November 24

Black Friday—Cyber Monday sale

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:44
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I have decided to put my book on sale for the traditional American sale season, but I’m too lazy to remember to synchronize to midnight Thursday night.  So I’ve reduced the minimum price from $8 to $6 (well, from $7.99 to $5.99) starting now, and I’ll raise it back up in about a week.

No coupon needed: just go to and pick the price you want to pay.

2020 November 16

Rosemary plant

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:35
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A month ago, I got a sprig of rosemary from the garden at the Food Bin (with their permission) to make my sourdough focaccia. I took a larger twig than I needed, so I stuck what was left in a little glass jar with water, to keep it fresh for later recipes.  After a few days, I noticed that it had started to sprout roots, so I left it in the jar for the roots to grow bigger.  My wife occasionally replaced the water in the jar, to keep algae from growing on the roots.

The twig continues to flourish on the kitchen windowsill.

After a month, the roots have gotten quite long, so it is time to transplant to a pot.

I sifted some dirt from where the compost heap used to be to fill a 4″ pot, and I planted the twig. In the Spring, after the roots have had a chance to grow into the dirt of the pot a bit, I’ll either transfer to a larger pot or plant the rosemary in garden. I know rosemary grows well here, as I used to have a couple of fine rosemary bushes in my raised bed, but they were crowded out by the bay tree.

2020 November 11

Oven fixed

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:33
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Our gas oven (LG brand model LRG3093SW) stopped working last week, just as I was about to heat a plate of nachos. I suspected that the problem was that the oven igniter had failed, for three reasons:

I first went through the trouble-shooting instructions in the manual, which are a very short list of things to check (like whether the stove is plugged in and the gas turned on), ending with calling a professional.  Under “Oven Control beeps and displays any F code error”  subpart “You have ‘F11′” (the code it displayed), it suggests checking the oven gas shutoff valve (and cross-references “Surface burners light but oven burner does not”).

I did not bother checking anything this time—I just ordered the cheapest igniter I could find that looked ok and claimed to be compatible (it was a tossup between Walmart and Amazon, and I went with the one on Amazon).  I went with a cheap one, because even the mid-priced one I ordered last time only lasted a little over three years. I could buy one of the cheap ones every nine months and still come out ahead. I ordered on November 4 and the part arrived on November 9.  Today (November 11) was the first day I felt I had time to deal with it.

I had to look at a RepairClinic video to remember how to take the door off, but after that things went quickly: I disassembled the oven (taking off the door, removing the bottom plate of the oven, removing the heat diffuser over the burner) and turned off the power to the stove at the outdoor breaker box (having remembered this time that there was no indoor breaker for the stove or the laundry room). Turning off the breaker was easier this time than last, as there was no paint seal to break.

I pulled out the old igniter and plugged in the new one. Just to reassure myself that my diagnosis was right, I tested the old one for continuity with an ohmmeter—the igniter was definitely broken, showing an open circuit.

While I had the oven partially disassembled, I vacuumed out the oven cavity and cleaned the bottom edge of the door.  It seems that there are three screws missing from the bottom edge of the door—I wonder what size they were originally and whether they are worth replacing.

I had no trouble this time reassembling the oven and getting the door back on.  I didn’t even have look anything up on the web.

The whole repair took about half an hour—much less than last time!  The differences were the following:

  • I knew what I was doing.
  • The breaker box wasn’t painted shut.
  • The screws holding the igniter were properly installed, so easy to remove.
  • I didn’t drop and lose any of the screws.

It looks like I’ll be able to bake bread for Friday this week—I wonder what recipe I should use.

2020 November 5

Pita bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:55
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This week’s bread is a bit constrained, as my oven failed on Tuesday, and the gas burner in the oven would not light.  This has happened twice before, and each time the igniter needed to be replaced.  The first time it happened, I got an appliance-repair person out to diagnose and fix it, but the second time I fixed it myself (replacing the igniter is not very difficult).  I’ve ordered a new igniter, but it may take over a week to get here.

So, I’m limited to stovetop breads.

I considered doing steam buns again, but I don’t really have time this week to make the filling and shape the buns.  My wife suggested that I make  flatbread in a frying pan—she often makes pita bread using a recipe from Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.  Because I wanted to use my sourdough starter, I adapted the recipe a little.

I started the bread the day before baking.

1¼ cup wet sourdough starter
½ teaspoon dried yeast
1½ cup whole-wheat flour
1½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoon olive oil

Mix the yeast into the starter.  If your starter is not soupy like mine, then you may need to add warm water. The yeast is probably not needed, but I was worried that my sourdough had gotten a bit old and the yeast in it might not have been very active.

Mix in the rest of the ingredients and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.  My dough was a little dry, so I kneaded in another ⅛ cup of water a few drops at a time. Leave the dough in a covered bowl to rise.

When ready to bake, divide the dough into eight parts, and roll each part on a lightly floured board into a circle about 8″ (20cm) in diameter and less than ¼” (6 mm) thick.

Heat a large cast-iron fry pan over medium high heat. Cook one circle at a time in the fry pan—15 to 20 seconds on one side, flip it and cook for about a minute “until big bubbles begin to appear”, then flip back to the first side and try to get the whole circle to balloon.  Flatbreads and Flavors has some advice on how to achieve that by pressing gently with a towel to spread the bubbles that have already appeared.  The authors also recommend adjusting the heat so that the bread takes about 2–3 minutes to cook.

I plan to make just 2 or 3 of the pita bread for bread and tea, with the rest for our dinner (and maybe one or two the next day).  If the recipe comes out as well as when my wife makes it, I might make a batch of dough to leave in a bag in the fridge, so that I can make one or two pita a day for lunch.

I made one tonight (a day before bread and tea), so that I could have a photo for this blog post:

I think I need to roll the bread just a little thinner tomorrow, and make sure that the pan is up to temperature before I start—this bread took a little over 3 minutes to cook and started browning too much before it started puffing.

2020 November 2

Forty-sixth weight progress report

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 09:42
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This post is yet another weight progress report, continuing the previous one, part of a long series since I started in January 2015.

My weight has not stabilized as I thought in August, but has continued to go up.

I’m now at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been, getting dangerously close to a BMI of 25 (the threshold for being overweight).

My exercise has been very limited—I averaged only 0.79 miles a day of bicycling in September and October and probably not much more in walking (about 90k steps per month—way down from the 150k in July). I think I’ve only cycled up the hill to campus twice all summer—I haven’t even ridden the newly repaved bike path. Because bike commuting was my main source of exercise, I remain concerned about how I’m going to get fit again—exercising at home does not seem to happen, even when I promise myself that I’ll do some today.

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