Exploring gas to induction conversion

We’ve had a gas burning cooktop for as long as I’ve lived in my current home (which is many years). For several reasons I’ve recently been thinking of having the gas cooktop removed and switching to an electrical induction cooktop.

  • Gas is a fossil fuel, and I don’t really want to be burning it.
  • Burning gas produces waste products known to exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions. Although I don’t suffer from these, it’s clearly got to be healthier not to be burning this stuff in my home.
  • Burning gas also produces water vapour, contributing to internal humidity. This became a major concern over the past couple of years of unusually wet and damp weather we’ve been having here, where keeping mould at bay has become harder and harder. Anything to reduce humidity in the home has to be welcome.
  • Natural gas prices are predicted to outpace the rise in electricity prices, so in the long run this is going to save money.
  • The gas cooktop is a bit old now and has accumulated wear and grime that is difficult to clean because of the shapes.
  • An induction cooktop should be safer, in terms of potential gas leakage, and also burn hazard.
  • As a bonus, if we ditch gas we can cap the gas line at the wall behind the oven, which will free up some depth behind the oven – so that we can push the oven all the way into the cabinet space. We replaced our oven a few years back when the original one kicked the bucket, and it turned out that a standard depth oven wouldn’t fit into the gap in the cabinet work, because the gas line for the cooktop protrudes from the wall too far, blocking it from being pushed in. There were no similar ovens of lesser depth, so ever since then we’ve been living with our oven protruding from the cabinetry by about 4 centimetres. being able to push it all the way in flush with the cabinetry would be awesome.

So anyway, I’ve had the thought to get onto this for some time now. Today I decided to start seriously looking at options. I checked a couple of models of induction cooktop from retailer websites and found some that have good reviews. And then I checked the installation dimensions. One model I liked the look of says it fits in a 560 mm wide cut-out hole in the bench top. The existing gas cooktop is about the same size…

I pulled the oven out a bit so I could poke around under the gas cooktop. I found I could push it up a centimetre or so and, with a bit of awkward difficulty, see the cut-out hole it sits in. I wedged some post-it notes under the lip of the cooktop, lined up with the edges of the hole as best I could manage, and then measured the distance between those with a tape measure. 555 mm. Great.

I did a search for induction cooktops with a smaller cut-out width, and found one that was listed at 555 mm. It cost $800 more than the first one I found. So… if I assume the measurements are all correct, I can either pay $800 extra for a very slightly narrower cooktop, or I can find a stonecutter to cut the solid granite bench top to widen the hole by 5 mm. So I need to get a quote to find out how much that will cost.

Although… it’s highly possible that one or more of these measurements are sightly off. In particular, I’m not sure of the accuracy of my own measurement. To see how big the cut-out is, I really need to remove the gas cooktop first, so I have full access to it. But to do this I need to get a gasfitter in to disconnect the cooktop and cap the gas outlet. And once I commit to doing that – we can’t cook until a new cooktop is actually installed.

Anyway, if I do that, then I can confirm the cut-out size and either order an appropriately sized induction cooktop, or get a stonecutter in to widen the hole. And then! We need an electrician to install the induction cooktop. The gas cooktop is plugged into a standard 10 ampere power point to supply power for the spark ignition system. But an induction cooktop (the one I looked at) draws 27 A. So it needs a custom cable wired from the fusebox and an extra circuit breaker installed. The wall behind the oven and cooktop is solid brick, but there’s a power cable to the oven, so presumably there is a conduit that an extra cable could be threaded through for the new cooktop – though I don’t know how an electrician would do that.

I mentioned this to a friend, and he said there may also be a safety issue having two high amp cables running through the same channel because of potential induction effects between the cables. So… this means before I even think about having the gas cooktop disconnected and taken out so I can have a look at what size the cut-out hole is, I need to get an electrician in to look at the wiring and confirm that it can be done, staying within safety regulations (and presumably give me a quote for the work).

To summarise:

  1. Get electrician in to confirm if installation is possible and supply quote for cost.
  2. Get gasfitter in to remove gas cooktop and cap gas pipe.
  3. Measure cut-out hole accurately.
  4. (optional) Get stonecutter in to enlarge hole in granite bench top to fit preferred induction cooktop.
  5. Order induction cooktop to fit cut-out hole.
  6. When it’s delivered, have electrician back to install it with new cabling.

This is sounding like a significantly bigger project than when I first began thinking about it. I need to mull it over a bit more before deciding to either go ahead, or just live with our existing gas cooktop for a few more years. So a lot of thought and effort went into doing pretty much nothing today. I suppose I have a better idea that I don’t know if we should do this or not!

In other activities, I spent some time preparing a science lesson on the topic of weather for my occasional online science student. I have more to do on this, which I’ll do in the next few days, as the lesson is on Sunday afternoon.

New content today:

Experiments in Asian cooking

Today I spent the morning writing the new lesson for this week’s round of online ethics classes. It’s on the topic of ageing, and I use the story of Logan’s Run to introduce it. We explore a bunch of questions around the disadvantages and advantages of getting older, and ponder whether the life experience that older people have is relevant for the modern, rapidly changing world. I ran the first three lessons this evening, and it seemed to go okay, but I was unfortunately a bit distracted and tired so I felt it a little bit of a struggle to make it through. (One lesson I had to deal with an urgent parent inquiry about the next lesson, while trying to multitask and teach the current lesson at the same time.)

For dinner tonight I tried another variation of the vege patties and salad that I’ve been doing the past few weeks. I started with chick pea patties, and then tried lentil patties. Today I decided to change again and make corn fritters. I had two ears of fresh corn, which I removed the kernels from and combined with red capsicum and onion (and egg and flour) to make fritters. I decided the tahini sauce I’d been making wasn’t as good a match for this, so I tried making some Vietnamese nuoc cham. But my wife being vegetarian, I didn’t want to use the traditional fish sauce, so when I popped into the supermarket to grab some limes and lemongrass, I looked at the condiments aisle and selected teriyaki sauce as a potential substitute. (Turns out I should have looked at Wikipedia, as it actually says that vegetarians use so sauce instead of fish sauce – I could have just done that!)

Anyway, a friend of mine with cooking experience suggested omitting the sugar, as teriyaki is sweet already. So I did, and actually it turned out all right. It wasn’t really the same sort of taste as nuoc cham, but it was perfectly fine as a topping for the fritters and a salad.

New content today:

A drenching

One more online class on Monsters this morning.

The morning was warm and sunny. I had some lunch and then went to take Scully out for a walk. I looked outside… yep, very sunny. I smothered myself in sunscreen to ward off the ultraviolet rays. Took Scully and we set off on one of our loop walks that takes about an hour, with time for some ball chasing at the park down by the water.

We got about a quarter of the way and the clouds closed in thick and very very fast. It started raining. It looked like it could be a serious storm. And I’d left most of the windows at home wide open. If the wind blew from the wrong direction, we could have arrived home to a sodden bedroom or living room. The rain got heavier and the wind picked up.

I aborted the walk and we took a shortcut home as fast as practicable. Which wasn’t all that fast, as part of it was up a steep slope. Scully got soaked. I got soaked. I dreaded getting home and finding the bed and the carpet soaking wet.

By the time we made it home… the sun was out again! We got in and I rushed to check the windows. We were very lucky. Open windows facing two different directions had not a drop on them. I’d left a window facing a third direction closed, and that window was soaked on the outside. I dried Scully off with a towel. I did a complete change of clothes, drying myself with a towel as well, and hanging up the wet clothes to dry.

And then the entire afternoon was hot and sunny again. We’d somehow chosen the exact 10 minutes that the weather turned into a stormy downpour to be out walking around, not expecting it.

Speaking of weather, our Bureau of Meteorology a short time back changed the way they format rain forecasts, to make them “simpler and easier to understand”. We used to get rain forecasts that looked like “1 to 3 mm of rain”. They thought this was “confusing” because it was a probability band corresponding to 1st and 9th deciles or something, so you could in fact possibly get more than 3 mm of rain. To avoid this “misleading” information, now we get a set of explicit probabilities, and today’s included this:

50% chance of at least 0 mm of rain.

Seriously. Much more useful. 🙄

Tonight for dinner I wanted to use up some mushrooms that I’d bought, but wasn’t feeling inspired. I didn’t want to make risotto, which would be the usual thing to make to use up mushrooms. So I searched for mushroom recipes, and I found this one for mushroom and caramelised onion quesadillas. I had everything except the rocket leaves, so I took Scully out for her evening walk past the nearest supermarket and grabbed some, and then cooked it up when I got home. Turned out good!

New content today:

Science and engineering of photography

Today I spent most of the afternoon working on a presentation for the university Image Processing course, to be delivered to the students on 10 October, during the first of their project work face-to-face sessions. The lecturer asked me if I wanted to give a guest lecture as part of the session, and I agreed, thinking I could do one on the Science and Engineering of Photography.

I did an outline of the presentation, then started working on slides. This is the part that takes time, as I have to source images that can be used without violating copyright, or make my own. I got through the camera obscura, pinhole camera, what a lens does, how a camera focuses, circle of confusion, and point spread function. I still need to do slides on convolution, the Fourier convolution theorem, pupil function, optical transfer function, depth-dependent blur, aberrations, camera sensor construction, imaging noise, colour filter arrays, image demosaicing, and other post-capture image processing operations. There’s heaps more that I could go into, but I need to keep it down to about 45 minutes.

The slightly annoying thing is that I had a good presentation on exactly this stuff at work, when I used to work for Canon, which I presented a few times to other staff and to visiting interns and students. But since I made that presentation at work, it was on work machines, and I couldn’t bring it home with me. But at least after I do this, I’ll have one handy for future use. I could even adapt it for use to teach kids about how cameras work on Outschool.

This evening I made a special dinner. I’ve always liked fried cauliflower, but it’s a bit of a mess to make. But today we had most of a cauliflower left over as the remaining vegetable before grocery shopping tomorrow, so I decided to go for it. I cut it into florets, coated them in flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs, and shallow fried them in a pan until golden brown. I served them with a mix-it-yourself set of sauce ingredients: yoghurt, tahini, sriracha, chutney, and mayonnaise. It turned out great! (Except I left a couple of pieces a bit too long before turning them and produced a bit of smoke, but fortunately it dissipated without setting the alarm off.)

New content today:

Making an apple pie from scratch

Okay, not quite from scratch:

But tonight I tried my hand at sweet shortcrust pastry for the first time, and tried making an apple pie. I think I added a bit too much milk to the pastry, because it was very sticky when I tried to roll it out, and I had to mix in a bit more flour before I could manage to roll it. it’s in the oven now for the final bake, so let’s see how it turns out.

There’s been a bit of cooking tonight, as my wife made pizza dough and topped it with things for dinner. So the oven’s been going for some time.

Okay, half an hour later… the apple pie turned out… rustic.

Apple pie from scratch

New content today:

New pastry

Friday was online games night, so I neglected to write a blog post. There’s not a lot to say anyway – I’ve bene busy working on my secret project and doing online ethics classes.

I’ve also been organising a visit to my aunt, who is in a nursing home in Germany. We have some time before my ISO meetings in Cologne to visit Würzburg, where my aunt lives. I got contact details of the nursing home from my cousin and emailed to see if we could visit. They wrote back saying it would be fine, but there are some COVID safety rules we need to follow, including getting a test before going there. So I’ve been looking at where we can do that, as well as booking a hotel. I also need to work out train trips from the airport and so on.

Tonight for dinner I made quiche. I’ve been making the pastry using plain flour, but a few days ago I happened to see a Jamie Oliver cooking show where he was making pastry, and he said to use strong flour. So today I tried making it with bread flour. The pastry ended up less crumbly and held together better. I think it was a better result for quiche, whereas the plain flour one would be better for a fruit tart or something where you want a crumblier pastry.

New content today:

A dish that nobody has ever had before?

Today I had my last 3 online ethics classes before a week off, for the Easter break. There are plans for a family lunch on Easter Sunday. My wife’s nephew is flying in from Europe tonight for the holidays – he hasn’t been back to Australia since before COVID began (he has a job in Paris).

Tonight I made sourdough bunya nut okonomiyaki!

Sourdough bunya nut okonomiyaki

I have a strong suspicion that we may be the first people in the world to ever have this dish. I was wondering what I could do with leftover sourdough starter, and also the last of the most recent batch of bunya nuts that I’d peeled, when I had the idea of making okonomiyaki. There are several recipes for sourdough okonomiyaki on the net, but none include bunya nuts.

Sourdough bunya nut okonomiyaki

I made a special trip to the Asian supermarket up the street to get some Kewpie Mayonnaise, okonomi sauce, powdered seaweed, and dried bonito flakes for the topping. There’s also sesame seeds on there. The batter is just sourdough starter and eggs, and in it is shredded cabbage, grated carrot, chopped shallots (aka “scallions” in the USA), and chopped bunya nuts.

New content today:

Day 1 of rain bomb n+1

The rain has hit again. The forecast for today was up to 20 mm. So far we’ve had over 50 mm, and it’s only 9pm. Tomorrow is forecast for 100 mm, and then Friday another 30 mm. And Sydney is getting off lightly compared to some of the places that have been flooding recently – some of those areas are forecast to get over 300 mm.

This morning I had my last face-to-face ethics class at the school for this school term. It’s two weeks holiday over Easter for the kids (and me!), and then we return for term 2. It was raining heavily and the school is having construction work done to build a new hall after the old one burnt down a couple of years ago, so there are makeshift paths and mud and construction workers all over the place.

Tonight I’m baking some sourdough brownies. I thought I’d try to feed the sourdough starter a little more often, which means I’m trying to do things with it in between baking loaves of bread. I wondered if brownies would work, and of course there are dozens of recipes on the net, so we’ll see how it goes.

New content today:

Calzones with bunya nuts

For dinner tonight I made spinach, ricotta, and bunya nut calzones.

Spinach, ricotta, and bunya nut calzones

What else? I had two ethics classes, I took Scully to the dog park, and I worked on a small batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips for this week. I’m still doing just a week at a time – I haven’t managed to get the time to do a larger batch like I’d like to do.

Oh, and now it’s pouring rain… Tomorrow we’re supposed to get around 40 mm…

New content today:

Scully’s 4th birthday!

Scully is 4 years old today!

Scully's 4th birthday

She got a new chew toy from Luna, the poodle next door. And we gave her some peanut butter as a special treat – it’s probably her favourite thing ever.

For lunch today, I made sourdough bunya nut pancakes, with pineapple and maple syrup. I wanted to do it for breakfast, but I forgot to feed the sourdough starter last night, so I did it first thing in the morning, and it was ready for lunch time.

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

I mashed some boiled bunya nuts and put them into the batter. I thought they’d mash more easily, but they were a little tough, so they stayed a bit lumpy. But that didn’t matter.

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

Here are some pancakes being cooked:

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

And the finished result, with chopped fresh pineapple and bunya nuts on top, and maple syrup:

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

It was pretty good! I wonder if anyone has ever had a dish with bunya nuts, pineapple, and maple syrup in it before.

New content today: