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A little honesty here

I do not have it all. It’s a normalish Sunday here and I am enjoying a cup of tea in my Kitchen with my husband playing a game on his laptop which I am typing this out of mine.

Sounds idyllic? In many ways, today it is. The house has had its vac and steam courtsey of us both and while Jon was in the gym, I was getting my legs waxed and under-arms bared. Tomorrow, I will do my hours (and maybe a little more – I’d like to finish off a near complete project), before coming home – I think it’s my turn to cook tea. Inded, once this article is cmoplete, I have some pasta to mix for our snack this evening (big lunch on a Sunday, so a simple snack in the evening).

Tomorrow, with three working adults in the house, the absolute basics are done. The hovering doesn’t happen unless a bag of flour gets dropped, the toilets get a good clean if things have gone a little awry with a “visit” but we do not have the time, energy or inclination to do more. In fact, with an upcoming trip, I’ve taken a few days off to ensure the dusting is done (not one of our “Sunday chores”) so things are nice for our return.

These are my choices (and to a large extent the rest of the household). There are so many hours in a working week and resting weekend, and I cannot spend mine more than once. I like cooking, so I do that rather than the rest of the DIY at the moment. Though that will swap as our days get longer. The gardening will come to the fore too.

I could employ a cleaner but the cleaning burns off calories. I do like the gardening, especially getting the seats out and enjoying a meal or drinks after the weeding, planting or mowing is done. We have a long hedge providing privacy and we swapped out a fast growing laurel hedge for a slower growing beech one. So that’s a big job once a year.

Again, that’s a choice. When I was sharing the school run with Jon and our son was small, that took up the time we now spend cooking. Ready meals three times a week meant life was doable. The house was not as tidy and clean then. But that’s OK.

I appreciate others have different priorities, that’s what’s so great, we’re all different. But I am enjoying my cuppa just at the moment.

While away some time before popping out

… to get some of the things I cannot buy in my main shop.

Like many, I do the majority of my shopping from a supermarket. But they don’t do everything and besides, I did forget a couple of things.

Why the wait, well I live in a football town, so waiting until kick-off has happened will mean a huge reduction in the traffic and a chance to finish my cup of tea 🙂

My beloved is recovering from losing a tooth yesterday as a result of his treatment for cancer 20 odd years ago, so I have been pottering in the kitchen.

I love cooking for us all, but it’s the hardest thing I do on so many levels. By law, ready made dishes must have their nutritional values on them. When you cook yourself, it’s much more of a guessing game and that can take the shine off the whole experience if you end up too high or low following the wrong bolus or wrong delivery type. Cooking basic foods different ways can make a huge difference to how the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats work together.

Still, today’s lunch was good, a carrot and coriander soup cooked from fresh in about an hour (taking prep into account). I have about a serving each for later in the week as a quick lunch or to take into work.

I’m just doing some tea cakes to have later, having got the kitchen straight from lunch, and chilling watching my favourite cookery Saturday morning show.

It’s not at all sunny, but the UK is experiencing significant amounts of wind power, so I don’t feel too bad about cooking. Indeed, the UK has enjoyed a long period of lower carbon dioxide electricity production due to the investment in wind turbines.

Sitting here, watching the trees sway in the wind, I would love the ability to do this myself, but living in a town, it’s not as straight-forward to do this in a domestic capacity. Planning permission may be required (not as clear cut a decision as it used to be), then there’s erecting the turbine.

All in all, a non-trivial task and being a low scale market, there’s going to be a long wait until the prices are as competitive as solar for domestric microgeneration.

Of course, some people are lucky and live by streams that can be harnessed for hydropower. In England, compared to other parts of the UK, our relatively flat landscape means that the number of people able to do this is tiny.

Far more could make use of combined heat and power (CHP), especially during the winter when the days in the England can be extremely short, barely 4 hours, as per see first graph showing number of day light hours in London . This when we tend to heat our homes. Imagine every time you heat your radiators you also produce some electricity? Again, in my house, the smart meter shows that I heat my home most while the sun ain’t shining in the winter!

However, the UK government’s decision to essentially ban gas boilers in the UK mean these units are not being sold in the UK 🙁 despite the fact our air source and ground source markets are still immature, making this a difficult option to choose, especially in renovations rather than new builds. By comparison, heat pump installation costs in Norway are tiny compared to a similarly sized installation in the UK…

CHP has popular in Denmark (45.3% market penetration), the Netherlands, and Finland. Norway tends to use heat pumps where possible rather than gas for heating and like the UK has difficulty harnessing solar during the winter months (Germany, Greece and Spain are keen users of solar due to their long day light hours).

Don’t get me wrong, solar is fanastic and during the summer, we are almost running off the grid the majority of the time. Our yearly generation is between 3.4 and 3.8MWh, our consumption of electricity was 3.9MWh (excluding our V2G draw which was 3.5MWh and I say that, because we donate so much of our battery charge per annum) – the majority of that consumption is during the winter – at 92% efficiency, our CHP could cover that. Which is a bit of a wow factor.

Usually, CHP hasn’t been competitive compared to domestic electricity costs from the grid, 2022 and the situation with Russia has changed all that. Like our solar generation and donations from the car, the pay back is much quicker.

But now is definitely the time, if that sounds good to you.

All together now.

As a keen home-automater, much to the chargrin of my family, one of my dreams is to have one place to do everything. Now the market is maturing, it has been interesting seeing the developments and share some of my experiences or a tale of the good, the bad, and the plain ugly.

Thermostats and radiators.

I started our journey with Heatmiser’s wifi programmable thermostats which could speak directly to our wifi and didn’t need a separate “hub” back in 2014. They worked wonders for our heating use and comfort. Basic but remote control was the fundamental for us, albeit from a manual point of view. The joy was putting these on a guest wifi network which meant we had complete control over the security and it had a HTML interface so any phone, tablet, or network connected phone gave you control if you had the password.

As you’re aware, I traded them in once I started using the Tado smart radiator valves and this journey is now complete. As ever, the first radiator valve and thermostat took the longest to install because you’re working out everything from first principles, but the devices and the control functionality are brilliant. Tado is pricey, especially if using the automated geofencing. What is a little disappointing is that it doesn’t work with Samsung’s Smart Things, but that’s my only whinge. It also needs a powered hub, which I’m not keen about but I have this on a segregated network.

Like Heatmiser, Tado provides a web interface so heat settings can be monitored and controlled from any password enabled device. I love this in all respects although the phone app is the only one that gives out the reporting functionality.

Kasa.

I bought my first TP-Link “wireless controlled plug” back in 2017 and was delighted with the Kasa application. I have no idea why the brand differentiation, but the fact I could plug in devices and have them working immediately from my phone was amazing. I bought it to have the a light come on for when we came home because sunset is never the same time two days in a row in the UK.

Since then, I have 26 “devices” in our Kasa application, mostly plugs and bayonet bulbs as I live in the UK, though I do have a couple of Eddison screw bulbs too.

The lights are amazing, giving timed and dimming choices galore. But the plugs do have a “timer” function which is brilliant when teamed with a lamp – have a light on for 10 minutes and then switch off. Brilliant!
I’ve recently set up rooms which are brilliant for managing that number of devices in different locations. Our bedroom has 6 devices and that’s excluding the two radiator values and the Chromecast on the older smart TV.

I have played with scenes, but these are quite hard to do and quite rigid so it’s been a mixed offering.  My favourite is the one that powers down the lounge and switches on the hall lights and some in our bedroom though it won’t turn off the spare lights – that has to be done manually.

Oven.

We have a phone controlled oven from Neff. It is used through the “HomeConnect” app which I loathe. Finicky and unpredictable, a bit like Office 365, never the same actions twice. Why?

Fridge.

Lovely if everyone goes on holiday at the same time – no wait, I keep medicine in mine, so not that useful! Again, we’re using HomeConnect: why, just why?

Washing machine.

This is our first wifi device from Samsung and we’re now using SmartThings. All I really want is a delay start so that when I use the washing machine, it is when the sun is at its peak solar generation. But no, the delay doesn’t count down to when the device starts the wash but when it spins. Pointless.

Putting that aside, like the German manufacturers, Korean ones do feel that one should not have mixed functions and therefore it shuts down at a moment’s notice. We tend to double spin in the washing machine to cut drying time. To achieve that, you have to press the “remote start” and then after you’ve set the programme and before it ends, you need to tell it to “Smart control on” and retain the function. Blah. Foul.

That’s ignorning the promise of Smart Things. Able to combine with Bixby (Samsung’s assistant) and Kasa, there is the promise of using one application to control them all. Except Home Connect doesn’t play well with the Samsung devices and neither will talk to Tado.

Tumble dryer.

Bosch, like Neff, do not really approach this kind of automation with anything like enthusiasm providing a useful tool to busy professionals. Getting it to handshake with the network is a nightmare, yesterday it took nearly 45 minutes to get it to work and today it point blankly refuses to provide remote control. Bad, just really bad.

Chromecast and Google Home.

This is a little bit of an outlier but bear with me because you need Google Home to use Chromecast.

Google Home offers that one home and something to control everything. Albeit from your phone or watch. A truly automated home.
Beware though, do not link Kasa with smart things if you are destined for Google Home – you will have Smart Things entries as well as Kasa’s only with a much more basic interface.

Sky Q.

Sky Q on its own isn’t terrible but doesn’t work well with networks that haven’t been provided by Sky, so we switch off the Sky box everytime we want to do anything cast by others – the TV does that for us.

It uses “mini boxes” to provide multiroom functionality which have their own mesh network, to say it doesn’t work well with others is putting it mildly.  Like our TV, it wants to offer to run everything else too, but I wouldn’t if you want something that definitely works!

Sounds deeply involved, not something for me.

I want these to live up to the promise of adding benefit after setting up, looking after me and the house, freeing me up to be creative.

I’ll keep you informed on how I get on with Google Home. Alexa didn’t last long because that wasn’t geared towards a multi-person home and Bixby didn’t do everything, despite both being quite sophisticated.

And in today’s economic climate, that’s what you really need.

Why insulate if it’s all for nothing?

Rebound effect cancels out home insulations impact on gas use study was not a headline I welcomed on Sunday, as a keen advocate of insulation.

I read the article with interest, not least because I feared I’d led everyone reading this blog down a blind alley by encouraging increasing insulation. But wait, for us, a better insulated house made a huge difference, so what is happening to stop those benefits?

Well, according to the article many reverted to “[their] old ways”, turning up their thermostats when things were colder.

We didn’t. Far from it, the money we saved the first couple of years were fed into better timed thermostats and smart radiator valves. What do I mean by that? Well, I do not manually turn the thermostat up or down. I have scheduled temperatures and largely, we leave that running. I run the underfloor heating very differently to the radiators and grab a jumper if the room doesn’t feel warm enough. For example, our kitchen is 18.9°C and, for me, that isn’t quite warm enough, so I have a skinny jumper on with my long sleeved top. The kitchen is set to 18°C, which according to the Vaillant and their homeowners what is the ideal room temperature page, is on the cool side of what a kitchen should be but a good temperature.

Why wear a jumper, just turn up the dial?

Well, because of the insulation in my house, that temperature would disipate slowly but would indeed do just that. There’s no point heating to 21°C to not dress warmly and then have the heat pour out of the house. Certainly, if I were cooking a meal, 18°C is a great temperature for the room to be, as I could work comfortably without generating a sweat. Having had my tea cooked for me tonight, I need the extra layer.

I am writing this in the kitchen to allow the lounge to gently warm to 19.5°C, so I can keep costs down, then I can go sit and watch a little telly before going to bed. The kitchen is begining to cool for the day, the lounge is picking up the mantle – no point in heating a room we’re not using.

So, I guess the article was right. We’ve changed our behaviour as well as benefitting from the extra insulation, making the very best of the advantage that investment gave us.

Is this domestic bliss? Or how to survive cooking the Christmas Dinner for 3 generations

I’m not a “natural cook”, food to me was for many years a means to an end, a way of ensuring my insulin was covered and I kept reasonably healthy.

A working person, there were “emergency meals” kept in the fridge for during the week when either of us were too knackered to cook. After being caught in traffic or tied up on an interesting snag at work.

I’d met people who were brilliant home cooks, mixing that seemingly effortless ease and tasty food. I had a few pieces but they seemed pale by comparison.

What does that mean?

Well, I had my stilton and celery soup from the cook book I’d spent a Saturday in Bath looking for – actually, it wasn’t the book I was looking for as I was looking for how to cook scrambled eggs, it was the book lying next to it. I had my version of spaghetti bolognese (who doesn’t) and a recipe my mum took off a packet of Sainsbury’s risotto rice to cook chicken and mushroom risotto. (Great emergency meal, very little washing up).

Some things I did not cook at home, but lockdown has changed that and up to a point, so did a gym injury last year when everyone had to pitch in. This year, we had an extra change in that my mum bought a turkey from her local butcher and stayed with us a few days. So how do you make a tasty meal in full few of the whole family and get to enjoy the fun and games for Christmas. Well first things first:

Don’t panic

as it says on the front of the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. You’ve got this.

First, we’ve followed the recipes and made the breadcrumb and herb bags and marked them up for each of the stufffings. Make the stuffings, stuff the bird, and get it in the oven early. The bird is cooked alone – kept in foil, it will keep for up to an hour outside of the oven “to rest”. So everything else is then easily done later after the bird comes out.

Two important things I learnt this year:

  1. Don’t forget the pigs in blankets – they do need to be cooked with the roast potatoes!
  2. Do not use anything above 4 on the induction hob when cooking the powdered gravy, doh!

Otherwise, things went swimmingly. Too much food was eaten by all, too much wine was drunk. Christmas Dinner is best eaten in two sittings – one with the turkey, the second, mid-afternoon with the pudding. Nothing which wasn’t related was consumed that day. I was perfectly calm but my men folk kept telling me to sit and do nothing and “relax”. I bought way too many Brussel Sprouts.

My mum has headed back to hers and we’re not eating much today. But this is a letter to myself for next year.

From an ecological point of view, Christmas is terrible. We spent twice as much energy yesterday cooking the turkey and lighting than we do for a normal day in December when we’re lighting the lights. That’s £15 at today’s rates. True, it wasnt’ very sunny but still… We didn’t bin anything, left overs for the next few days at least.

The fridge will gradually get back to normal in terms of energy use too, as it is unpacked.

Sam, in 2023, you’ve got this. 🙂

All the prep is done, just waiting for the off!

I love the decorations and the meal. Having the family round, all now sadly adults, being together focused on a single goal, is amazing. It’s us and my mum this year, my closest relatives. Of course, nerves can take over but just now, I’m tired out of my little mind. The tree is decorated, the house is looking OK, but having had my flu innoculation this morning, I am a tired bunny…

The shopping for the feast is done and I do use that word. We’re all foodies and it’s a joint effort on the day but I do make some things a little easier on us all.

My top cheats for Christmas Day

  1. Buy pre-pealed chestnuts. If not, use the microwave – cheaper and quicker to get the job done.
  2. Weigh out the herbs and breadcrumbs for the stuffings and bread sauces and pop them in individual bags in the freeze – marked with what they are. This is a boon on the day.
  3. Make the chesnut puree for the stuffing the night before. Stow in an air tight container in the fridge.
  4. Work out the timings the night before. Stuffings take 45 minutes to cook and put in the bird. You need breakfast before hand, so you need to be out of bed at least an hour before you need to put the turkey in 😉
  5. Keep it simple. This is not the time to experiment. If you have vegetarians come round, check they are happy it goes in the oven with the bird and do everything together. Get help – if you are cooking for more than two, everyone needs to pitch in.

This is a celebration, remember to have fun and that means sharing the prep. Merry Christmas x

Hark winter

Today is officially the start of winter as in the northern hemisphere, it is the solstice – the shortest day of the year. Of course, in the southern hemisphere, it is the longest day. All thanks to the earth being on the list, by about 23 to the sun.

It’s one of the reasons so many festivals happen around world and I thought I’d take the opportunity to look at our yearly energy use amidst the “cost of living crisis”. Partly because I’ve been examining this throughout the past few years but up to the point, I’ve felt until this year, many saw this as a quaint idiom, one of “Sam’s things” but nothing to do with me/us…

But you’re hardly one of the crowd, surely that makes this academic and a waste of my time?

To the first part, true, we did do this early. We’re one of 11% of houses in the UK with a EPC Grade B house and that’s largely thanks to the insulation installed while the previous owners built the house and the under floor heating downstairs.

We paired that with time thermostatic values for our rooms gives us comfort but cheaper heating. Remote lights and controlled power for power consumers (like the computers and TVs), and the solar cells and V2G, and you can see why we’re only 2 points off a EPC Grade A.

But what does that mean in usage on the ground? Show me the money!

Oh, alright then. Coarse as this may be, let’s talk money.

We are 10 days off the turn of the year, so I’m going to extrapolate the figures for December, I am also going to discuss the £400 from the government, coming off a fixed rate deal on a floating one, and the income from the FIT for the solar and the export rate for the power donated to the grid for the V2G and the solar. This is going to take some time, so please make yourself comfortable.

Our usage in kWh

MonthElectricityGas
Jan-22 663.652779.48
Feb-22 561.20 2043.67
Mar-22 601 1784.04
Apr-22 546.40 1384.51
May-22 548.55 653.22
Jun-22 433.4 404.63
Jul-22 622.4 170.74
Aug-22 690.55 0
Sep-22 583.4 608.01
Oct-22 634.05 829.75
Nov-22 666.7 1700.74
Dec-22 794.75 2748.96


December has been guessed on last year’s figures and I’m actually assuming they are going to be a worst case scenario – on the 1st Jan I will be updating these! There are a couple of things to note. Firstly, we generated over 3.8MWh of electrictiy with our solar array – our best year ever. It’s why we turned the boiler off completely in August and we probably should have done that in June and July too – we used solar electricity or V2G to heat our water.

In total we used 7.346MWh of electricity, and 14.88MWh of gas. That’s similar amounts of electricity to last year, but the gas is 25% less, partly because we stopped using gas to heat our water over the summer.

On top of that, we’re running the car and denoting energy from the car. So while the electricity cost £1,965.35, we got £1,561.31 from our donated energy (solar and V2G) meaning our electricity for the house and powering the car was £404.04. Please consider that our electric vehicle has been used for the daily commute (for me 14 miles, and for my son, 32 miles, a day). This has meant our V2G money is a lot less and with my husband working full time from home, he’s running a computer system full time with older, less efficient monitors.

Month _V2G and solar earnings
Jan-22 £80.03
Feb-22 £83.17
Mar-22 £101.60
Apr-22 £165.93
May-22 £163.92
Jun-22 £151.95
Jul-22 £155.49
Aug-22 £160.55
Sep-22 £157.25
Oct-22 £135.66
Nov-22 £145.01
Dec-22 £60.75

Meanwhile, let’s look at the gas. So our gas no costs 3 times as much as it did in January 2022 as we came off a fixed rate deal… Despite that, our gas cost us £942.42, given the government helping out with £400, that’s only £542.42.

So our energy bill for the year was £(404.04+542.42) or $946.46. Ignoring our positive balance with the energy company, so our monthly costs would be £79 a month for the energy – of course there’s a standing charge too, so that makes the total nearer £120. That’s for a house three times as big as the average one in the UK with someone who works full time in the house, so we can’t have the whole heating off during the winter…

Now, I haven’t counted our FIT payments – we were lucky enough to get the solar cells installed while this was still available. We received £758.09 for generating electricity paid quarterly. Meaning, we paid £188.37 for our energy in 2022. Along with the rise in energy prices, our V2G and solar export rate is now running as 11p above the rate we pay for electricity to make it worthwhile for people doing this to donate what they generate.

So, does it pay to have solar cells, an electric car, and a well insulated house? Yes, yes it does.

I updated this on the 1st January to cater for all the figures for 2022.

Off-piste

I am sitting in the warm, drinking a cup of tea enjoying the beauty that is winter sun being harvested by the solar panels dreaming of skiing.

Not eco-friendly at all

I do two terrible things when it comes to the environment: I ski and I have baths. How are these terrible? Well, even if you drive, I live at sea level pretty much and mountains to do alpine skiing are anything but at sea level so energy is needed to transport me and what-ever I am taking to ski, up said mountains.

I never set out to ski. I watched Ski Sunday on the BBC with my folks and thought these intripid people were slightly mad. It looks fun but it’s cold, it’s a hard landing if you get it wrong, and growing up in East Anglia, a mad world away from my day to day.

Then I met my husband, who was a good skier. He learnt as an adult, it was easy once you learnt, he promised me, learning is the difficult bit.

So, I learnt. In East Anglia, I learnt to snow plough (also called wedge skiing) and basic parallel techniques. I have to say, it’s everything I love in a pasttime: it is completely absorbing and you get to travel fast. The clothing does a lot to make harsh conditions tolerable while expending energy. The people doing it are friendly and chatty. The views are incrediable.

There is just one thing I don’t like.

The whole being high up thing. I am someone who does not gamble about on the top of a mountain and think yipee, isn’t this great. It frightens me. I would never dream of climbing up a mountain in the warm and dry. Yet, with a pair of planks on my feet, I willingly do this. I get winched up on a drag lift (does what it says on the tin), or carried serenely up a cabin lift and have that moment.

Or that moment may hit me half way down.

Which wouldn’t be so bad, but I freeze.

Now, I can ski, you’d think that would give me a great deal of confidence, maybe even, a little elan. No, when the fear grips, I turn rigid. Medusa is hitting me from thousands of years ago.

So why do it? Well, I do like everything else about it. I do like visiting places I’ve never been before, I do like being in the mountains. It is an amazing feeling being on top of the visible world. Some trips I don’t get the fear, and it’s just fun. Who knows how long I will be able to do that, from a climate, health, and age point of view?

Carpe diem, follow those piste markers.


It’s been an interesting week

I’ve had a Tandem T-slim pump since January and not had a great deal of success running the “closed loop” (there are so many wrong things about that statement, that yes, I have put it in quotes, more about that later).

Coming up to my 45th diaversary, I am kinda familiar with what I need to do to ensure that part of my endocrine is doing what’s needed to keep me alive today and in the future without too much bother.

Anyway, my son believes this is “my worst pump ever” and being 22, he is quite aware of this. I got my first pump just before he was 1.

Back to the reason for this post…

There is a reason?

Yes! I have tried with letting the pump make adjustments but it’s not been very successful. I have key parts of my day (the daily commute for instance) where my blood glucose goal is a little higher than normal – 5.5 compared to 4.7mmol/l. I am sure there are some type 1 diabetics out there going “that’s low” but actually, it gives me a little wiggle room, a chance to play with a short term temporary basal rate or just have a cup of coffee to raise my levels a little if I need to. The beauty of a pump is it should allow that and, to be honest with you, that’s what I was hoping for from the Tandem Control-IQ software.

Unlike some systems, it is a self-contained unit and has some “learning capability” so it should learn what works. Unfortunately, when it came, my carefully set parameters were ignored when it was running the show – it wanted me at 6.5mmol/l. Which means I cannot sleep very easily because that is not where I feel safe. (Again, there may be type 1 diabetics out there gasping in shock, but after 21 years on the pump, I feel really quite high (hyperglycemic not, you know, tripping) if I run a that level.

Plus, it isn’t what non-diabetics do. They run much, much lower, which again was a shock when I bought a sensor for my husband to wear for 14 days.

Anyway, back to the piece. Running at 6.5mmol/l does have it’s advantages at times – the daily commute, running about at work, etc. Only to achieve that, the Tandem is very keen to stop my basal rate completely… Making me high and swinging much more than I had with my old pump: “worst pump ever” isn’t a terribly inappropriate way of looking at it.

Then there was the learning – out of the blue, it gave me 6 units of insulin as a “correction dose” which would have been a good move the day before but as my period had just started, caused an unexpected and fast on-coming hypo (glycemia). That wasn’t a fun day at all.

So, I turned off the loop for the majority of the time but especially during the night. I was tired (literally) of waking up with a blood sugar of 9mmol/l at 2am because the pump had turned off my insulin just when I needed it.

Six weeks ago, an update for the pump’s software came along and I have been re-experimenting (well, what would you call it?) with the pump.

And it seems to be working. This is the 5 day I’ve been running the loop (over night as well) and it seems to be doing a much better job. Over course, one thing I did make an effort on was getting my basals perfect, but it seems to be doing reasonable things much more consistently. It’s not perfect: there are odd occassions where I’m still calling it “Stoopid” but these are much rarer.

It actually feels like it’s workable. Of course, it cannot tell when to change my basal rates, but if the basals are good, it seems less keen on shutting down my insulin indefinitely.

What is it “closed loop”?

Pancreatic transplants are very tricky to get to last more than 5 years, so one of the ways being investigated for long term treatment is hybrid loop insulin pumps – the Tandem T-Slim is one such offering.

One of my big complaints about these and the way they are used, is they want users to ditch their hard won basals and start from scratch. As a type 1 diabetic, I think that’s naive and missing the point – I know far more about what’s going on that something looking at just my basal rate, last active boluses, and my blood glucose reading which is how all these pumps work.

I know, for example, that on a Sunday I don’t bother bolusing for breakfast if it’s my turn to cook Sunday lunch – I am running around the kitchen so much that doing my normal bolus will make me hypo about 45 minutes after I take the extra insulin to cover my yoghurt. I know if the temperature is 16° instead of 20° I am likely to need less insulin. I do this by switching basal rates not putting in temporary basal after temporary basal.

Until these pumps take our knowledge and needs into consideration, they are unlikely to be as good as their users for anything but shutting off much needed insulin. Maybe the new software for the T-Slim has finally figured that out.

Saturday morning left to my own devices

It’s easy to say that Saturday is our going and and getting things done day but today, I am doing something a little different.

Having recharged my batteries last night and looking out at a beautiful, and sunny, Saturday morning, my stomach is begining to wake up and ask: what’s going on?

I made pasta on my day off last week, so instead, I’m looking at some experimenting – although based on learnings from the internet.

Microwaving sausages for lunch is my quest.  Instead of heating up the oven, grill or frying pan, I am considering using the microwave.  Now, I haven’t eaten a microwave sausage since my dad did them back in the early 1980s, but of course things have come a long way since then.  So, I am very tempted.  The Americans seem to be the ground breakers here though many of their recipes specify 800W as a high setting and my zapper is a 1000W on high and 600W on medium.  A bit of a risk then…

I had to seek out advice from the internet as my microwave’s cooking tables say to grill or grill and microwave (sometimes called turbo grill).  Both of these would take 10-12 minutes and use a lot of power as a result, about 320Wh or 0.32 unit.

Purely microwaving should take about 2 minutes and use less than 33Wh of power, or 0.033 unit.  If we’re using 32p per unit, that’s a cost of 1p.

So why isn’t the microwave book pushing microwave sausages on us?  Well, our tastes say we like sausages dark brown in colour and that doesn’t really happen in the microwave.  It will be cooked, but a little different.

For you, I am willing to try.  My dish will be onion gravy, microwaved frozen veg, microwaved baked potato, and two microwaved sausages.  A feast.

Now, the microwave isn’t that easy to do many foods at the same time, so I’m cooking the potato, then doing the other two things in the microwave.  The gravy will be done on an induction hob: and I’ve got a smart meter to measure what I’m using – although the reason this is published today is because I can’t really see that information until afterwards…

You’ve kept me waiting a day, how was it?

I’ve got to say, it was a little bit nerve wracking working it out on the fly, but as you can see, raw cold or frozen food went in, a tasty and quick meal came out.  The potato was 190g and took 7 minutes 20 seconds, the veg took 1 minute, the sausages 2 minutes 10 seconds.  I did them all on high, so that’s about 0.175 units of electricity, so guessing about 5p – according to the smart meter readings, running the hob for the gravy, lighting to cook and eat, extractor van, and microwave cost 16p or there abouts.

Raw sausages

Raw sausages

 

Cooked sausages

Cooked sausages 2minutes 20 seconds later!

 

Completely cooked meal

A completely cooked meal on a warm plate

The texture was fine, I think compared to what I was expecting, the sauages where more appealing than I was expecting, but maybe I had very low expectations. The taste was great. If I had my time over, I wouldn’t have started the onion gravy before the baked potato which would have made it a little easier.

A quick and easy meal for one. All the cooking utensiles go in the dishwasher apart from the pan for the gravy. I even had a hot plate to eat off as I popped that into the microwave with the veggies.

Here is the evidence of a nearly finished but enjoyed meal:

Enjoyed dinner
An enjoyed dinner

I would love to hear about your experiences.