Seals on the Move

Seals on the Move

I think I never really got into how WordPress worked… I’ve been blogging since about 2005/2006, and it was always on Blogger. I think I gave WordPress a few attempts, but it was only really with Butternut Biking that I persisted! In the end, the stupid hand injury put a stop to my biking, and so I stopped blogging here.

I ended up getting more into my running and started a blog where I wasn’t constrained by my choice of activity. I’m back on the bike now, and I think my hands have settled. While they definitely aren’t 100%, there hasn’t been any noticeable pain since late August – but I need to keep stretching my fingers!

So come visit me at Seals on the Move! 🙂

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Long time, no post!

I haven’t been on my bike all year – I overstrained the tendons in my fingers (thanks uni!) early in the year and now find it difficult to hold things for extended periods. I find I need to just drop my hands and do nothing sometimes… which is a bit difficult to do if I need to hold handlebars. So I haven’t been riding.

The hands issue also means that EVERYTHING takes longer. I’ve found I struggle to finish sifting almond meal and icing sugar, I doubt I could probably knead things properly, and generally have less time to cook! I’m hoping to be back to normal in a month or two. I can’t wait to have ironed clothes and linen again!

Macro Wholefoods Lemon Citrus Biscuits

This time I was at a Thomas Dux supermarket. They’re a little bit fancy but you can still snare some bargains depending on when you’re in store. I do like Thomas Dux as they stock Evia yoghurt (although a limited “skinny” selection and possibly only the “natural” full fat, whereas I prefer the “classic” full fat), a range of gluten free breads, gluten free freezer pastry, Koko Black chocolate (we have no Koko Blacks in Sydney) and various other little treats that you don’t typically find in the supermarket.

So when the biscuit need struck, I had a bit of a different selection available to me at Thomas Dux – lots of fancy looking biscuits that looked very tasty, but also very expensive. If I can find a cheap (well, as cheap as gluten free gets) biscuit that I like, then I’ll stick to it. So this time I decided to give the Macro Wholefoods’ Lemon Citrus Biscuit a go. Mainly because they were the only Macro Wholefoods biscuit that did not have chocolate. No way was I going to go through that sickly sweet pain again!

Just gluten free, and no chocolate. A promising start.

Just gluten free, and no chocolate. A promising start.

Looks like a biscuit. No imitating some other biscuit. It's just a biscuit.

Looks like a biscuit. No imitating some other biscuit. It’s just a biscuit.

I ummed and aaahed about getting these as I was worried I'd get sick of the lemon flavour quickly. So far have been proved correct. Texture is OK, but prefer the flavour of these compared to others I've tried so far.

I ummed and aaahed about getting these as I was worried I’d get sick of the lemon flavour quickly. So far have been proved correct. Texture is OK, but prefer the flavour of these compared to others I’ve tried so far.

Would I buy again? Yes, but not anytime soon.

I think I’ll try one of the expensive ones next time…

Macro Wholefoods Double Choc Biscuits

Sometimes you’re just too busy or too tired to bake your own biscuits. All you want to do is prepare a cup of tea and have a few biscuits. Baking? Not always!

Of course, now that I am stuck with gluten-free varieties of biscuits, I’m going to have to find one I like. Goodbye Butternut Snaps, most brands of Scotch Fingers, Tim Tams, and Kmart choc chip biscuits! Hello lack of variety.

I started with Freedom Foods’ Crunchy Coconut Biscuits. They were disappointing. A friend who recently started eating wheat-free posted how he was unhappy with Freedom Foods’ Chocolate Blitz cookies on Facebook, and I decided that I would have to try an alternate brand next time I was at the supermarket in search of biscuits.

So it occurred one night at my local Woolworths supermarket, and I came home with Macro Wholefoods’ Double Choc Biscuits. I think they’re meant to be a gluten-free version of the Tim Tam.

Gluten free but also dairy free and vegan. That was probably too accommodating to those not in the typical population and should have set off alarm bells.

Gluten free but also dairy free and vegan. That was probably too accommodating to those not in the typical population and should have set off alarm bells.

They look a little like Tim Tams (although it's now been a while since I've had a glorious Tim Tam, so my judgement may be compromised by romantic ideals of the Tim Tam).

They look a little like Tim Tams (although it’s now been a while since I’ve had a glorious Tim Tam, so my judgement may be compromised by romantic ideals of the Tim Tam).

Does not taste like Tim Tam. Sickly sweet is how I would describe it in two words. Texture was good, but taste not so much.

Does not taste like Tim Tam. “Sickly sweet” is how I would describe it in two words. Texture was good, but taste not so much.

Would I buy again? No

The search continues…

San Francisco

I was recently in San Francisco for a conference, and spent an extra week in the city playing tourist. The weather was lovely on the Monday of my extra week, so I rented a bike and explored a bit of the city on two wheels.

First stop: about 5km into my ride and I had to pull over in order to adjust the height of the seat.

My first stop was about 5km into my ride and I had to pull over in order to adjust the height of the seat.

My destination: the Golden Gate Bridge (rental bike in foreground on right).

Lots of people about enjoying the gorgeous day

Even though I bought a map with bike routes, it was fairly easy to figure out how to get to the Golden Gate bridge.

At the start of the crossing

Sharing the path with lots of other users wasn’t a problem. No anger between any users – such a welcome relief compared to attitudes in Sydney!

Sausalito – a cute and quiet little town, but there’s no avoiding the hills wherever you go in San Francisco!

The only real coffee I had while in San Francisco. These guys even gave my latte art! And it’s not that the teaspoon is small in that photo – there was a lot of coffee in my double!

I was already fed up with my rental bike on flat surfaces (how I missed my Merida Speeder that day) so I opted to take the ferry back into town instead of climbing up the hill to cross the bridge back.

But the ferry turned out to be a fantastic little ride – passing by Alcatraz and getting nice views of the city and the Bay Bridge!

Uni chaos

I suppose going to a conference is nice but I just prepared two posters for a conference and have been too tired to do anything else! Including blogging. I will be back blogging when I get back!

Pffft! Garmin

Look, I love most of my Garmin gear – I love the heart rate monitor, I love my little foot pod (for running) and I love the little contraption near my bike’s rear wheel that logs distance and cadence. When working properly. You see, the way that it logs cadence and distance are my two little magnets that are fixed to the pedal crank and to the spokes of the rear wheel. So you need the magnet. The rear wheel magnet is fine – it’s tightened onto the spoke with a nut-and-screw-style setup – the magnet is the “screw” and a little piece of plastic is the “nut”.

It’s the crank magnet I’ve had problems with. All you are provided with are stickers and cable ties. You stick the magnet onto the inside of the crank and then tighten it with the cable tie on the outside of the magnet. It’s a shit system. The cable tie easily slips off, and the sticker doesn’t hold. I ordered a replacement crank magnet online (which comes with the spoke magnet), and after thoroughly cleaning the crank, tried again. A few weeks later I lost the magnet again. Bah! I don’t really want to build a stock-pile of spoke magnets… so I just gave up.

Well, at least the Garmin-supplied cable ties are good

Now that my bike’s rideable again, I started looking into the matter again. Garmin themselves weren’t helpful, just telling me to keep purchasing the replacement set. Then I found a random review on Wiggle about how I wasn’t the only one with crank magnet problems and that they solved theirs with the help of a Cateye magnet.

Well guess who turned up in the post a few days later?!?!

A cable tie through a plastic cap that covers the magnet – genius! Simple, too.

And yes, he works perfectly well with the Garmin. If you’re making other purchases, then go for Wiggle or ProBikeKit (both have free postage if you spend over 80 pounds, and the magnet is about 3 pounds). If you just need the magnet, I used a seller on Ebay located in Australia. At about $10 (incl. postage), it cost less than the Garmin pair of replacement magnets, and thus was still a bargain in my opinion. Particularly as I don’t expect to have to purchase it again. (Of course, if you’re purchasing other stuff on PBK or Wiggle and meet free shipping, spend the $3-$4 there).

Pizza crust quest – store wars, part 3

Eagle Boys Maroubra Junction got a trial of the gluten-free pizza crust, although I have to admit the conditions are different to other trials as the pizzas were delivered. Every few weeks we have pizza (and chicken) nights at uni, with the pizzas delivered, so they spent some time in those pizza bags travelling to uni with almost 30 other pizzas. I’m not sure if the flexibility in the crust was a result of steam rather than a normal property of the crust itself.

I’m not sure if I prefer it to the Pizza Hut crust, but it’s better than the Dominos one (I doubt you would be able to find worse). At first I wasn’t sure if the Eagle Boys crust was GF as it was quite chewy – I ended up inspecting a few of the normal pizzas to convince myself that yes, the crust I was eating looked different to the majority of the pizzas. I will have to trial Eagle Boys again, but using my local Randwick store to avoid the possibility of “tainting” the crust with steam. That would just mean that my experiment has not been under controlled conditions, and thus invalid.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

… or office – my bike! I finally got it down to a shop (one near uni that I hadn’t used before) and they fixed it on the spot – despite Spring Cycle on a few days later (an excuse that one shop once gave to me when I was trying to book it in for a service).

I missed having my bike next to me all day!

This means that it’s been 12 months since the last service, but I’ve replaced the chain in that period, and the shop I used this time gave the gear cables a good adjustment. I had just checked and tweaked the brakes the night before, so I was happy that they were happy with them too (as they checked the brakes but made no adjustments). The next piece of major work on the bike will be the handlebars, as I seem to be enjoying having them lower. It’s also been a while since I last had a long ride, so we’ll see how I feel about them, and if I want to go lower again (and if I want to make it permanent!)

I’m still seeking a better small baggage combination for the bike. I finally have my saddle bag sitting up higher on the stem so that my taillight is well above the rear rack (the light falls off from the loop on the bag) – but I don’t like the tri-bag I have on the front. I like having it to store keys, my phone and lip balm during commutes (money too during rides), but my uni keys are substantial due to the presence of an ID card and my preference for using a lanyard – so getting them out of the bag is a careful affair as I don’t want everything else out of the bag! Also, if I have a fall, things tend to fall out. Sadly, I know this from experience!

So, it’s not that I intend to fall, but shit happens sometimes. And I don’t want to be scrambling for things in the middle of a busy road when it does. I’m thinking about the Timbuk2 Goody Box, but I think I need to see it in real life as the reviews online vary substantially. They do justify my attitude to my on-bike storage – I’m clearly not the only one in search of perfection!

Ricotta dumplings

I decided to venture to Eastlakes on the weekend – mainly because I’d lived nearby (less than 5km) for a couple of years now, but hadn’t visited. It’s an old little shopping plaza that probably needs a makeover, but has quite a few cheap greengrocers and butchers, a Woolies, an Aldi and a few other “specialty” stores. I knew of the little Eastern European store (Stolichniy Minimart) from this review of the shopping centre, so I had to pop in.

Much to my delight, I found some “Herbal pepper” from Poland – something that I came across earlier this year when I went home for a couple of weeks and visited a Polish restaurant in Dandenong. It was possibly the best thing from that lunch but discovered was a mix of herbs I didn’t like or don’t know if I like (coriander, caraway seeds, marjoram, chilli, horseradish powder and savory are amongst the spices listed on various websites with Pieprz Ziołowy recipes).

Polish herbal pepper, now on my spice shelf.

I thought of making pierogi, but couldn’t be bothered coming up with a gluten-free wrap or boiling potatoes for the filling. So I ended up making ricotta gnocchi, which I then pan-fried with bacon and onion (which is how mum and her mum serve pierogi – although they chop the bacon into small bits, and I was lazy and kept it in thin slices). The gnocchi recipe came from Simply Gluten Free, which I changed by replacing the nutmeg with the herbal pepper, and I drained the ricotta by wrapping it in a muslin cloth and squeezing the excess moisture out. I suspect the amount of potato starch (aka flour in Australia) would vary with how much moisture is left in the ricotta.

Ricotta gnocchi pan-fried with bacon and onion – light and fluffy dumplings!

The gnocchi were lovely on their own, but next time I’ll add more of the herbal pepper as its subtle flavour was lost with the addition of the bacon and onion. I’ll definitely make these again – especially since I only need to buy ricotta to make these as all the other ingredients are regulars of my pantry and fridge.