Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

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Pedal2Petal
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Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:56 pm

I've been tossing around the idea of publishing a journal of sorts, talking about what I do with each day post-FI. Initially I started a youtube channel but I think I probably communicate best through paragraphs and pictures. It's the combination of the two that got me to FI, after all.

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My then girlfriend (now wife) took the above picture of me around the same time I discovered ERE as a life philosophy, 4 years ago now. I made a commitment then that I would do whatever it took to retire early.

I've never really liked working, my cycle up to that point was to work for no more than 8 months, then quit and live off savings until I absolutely had to start working again. I started working full time 40 hour weeks at 14, and hated it. Once I got older I could tolerate those 40 hour weeks a little better, but for some reason I never got fully used to it like I think most people do.

Long story short, I cut expenses down to the bone, finding that I could scrape by on 26$/day. Still a pretty high burn rate compared to a lot of you, I know. Then I ratcheted up my "passive income" until it matched 26$/day. I tracked this carefully, and as soon as I hit my target, I pretty much halted my income-building efforts which up to that point was daily, consistent, for-profit blogging.

Anyway I've talked about this all before and my goal with this journal is not to talk about how I did it, but more what I do now to further reduce my reliance on money, and how I fill up 112 hours of free time every week.

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For the last 6 months, a lot of it is filled up by this guy, who is a partial genetic copy of me. I'm a pretty lazy parent compared to other first-world parents, so I don't find being a dad hard at all. The fact that I can be home indefinitely has really really made things simple for us, we will never have to spend a dime on daycare, although the other new parents we know have had to put their babys on waiting lists already for a chance at having an open spot for when their children are 12 months old and they both will be working again. Then they will pay $1200 a month for the privilege of having someone else raise their kid. Honestly I don't know how anyone can afford to have kids in Vancouver unless one of the parents is at home. ERE makes it a breeze - seriously how can people say "you can never afford kids if you retire early!" Total bullshit.

Here's what I'm working on lately

Over the summer I've been learning to identify edible plants that live near me. When I find a large supply of something, I will geotag it using my best friend and constant exploring companion, a Moto G smart phone (without cell service.) Summer is drawing to a close though, so I've been shifting my focus to mushrooms. I've found a large supply of what I'm almost positive are "Shaggy Parasol" mushrooms, considered "choice" among mushroom hunters.

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Mushrooms are a good food source, better than wild salad greens which are very prevalent in my region but not that nutritious. Once I've improved my competency to the point where I'm 100% comfortable knowing edibility, I may be able to supplement a noticeable amount of my diet with wild foods including mushrooms.
Last edited by Pedal2Petal on Sat Sep 19, 2015 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Dragline » Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:15 pm

Nice pics! And a great story, too.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by bryan » Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:41 pm

very cool. Looking forward to following your journal of sorts.

What kind of trailer is that in the top pic?

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Fri Sep 18, 2015 5:02 pm

bryan wrote:What kind of trailer is that in the top pic?
It's a custom built 2-level landscaper's trailer. It's my personal trailer so I still have it stored away at my parents' farm. It was made out of angle iron and 16" bicycle wheels by a engineer in training at a nearby university.

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most of what I had for Pedal to Petal were these shopping cart trailers. 150$ to make, carry 300lbs+

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by FrenchGirl » Sat Sep 19, 2015 2:49 am

Very cool story! Love the photos and texts, can't way read more!

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Egg » Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:31 am

I second the above comments. I'm interested to read more!

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by sky » Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:55 am

Do you have any suggestions on how to get compost? Do you just go to restaurants?

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:22 pm

sky wrote:Do you have any suggestions on how to get compost? Do you just go to restaurants?
Actually we got our compost feedstock from everywhere but restaurants. We rejected restaurants for legal reasons though, I think restaurants would be the best place for food scraps, especially vegan restaurants since meat and bones are trickier to compost correctly (need a much bigger pile.)

Or you can try this - A colleague of mine while starting his farm gave out green 5-gallon-buckets to 20 of his friends and got them to fill them up for him. The average household will fill 1 every 2 weeks, so you can try that approach first.

What I'm Working on Today

Yesterday was lard rendering day. It's a big job but I only have to do it about twice a year since lard lasts so long. In Canada, butter (all dairy for that matter) is very expensive so I substitute lard I make at home for free in every recipe I can. I find that I buy half or less butter than I used to.

These pictures were snapped in a hurry. My Moto G is great at many things, but low light photography is most certainly not one of them.

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Above: Lard starts off as cubes of pork fat. I get this free from my mom's pigs (she does 4 or 5 a year), but don't despair if you don't know a pigkeeper. I've also gotten free fat from local butcher shops but you'll have to call around. Lard's a bit more mainstream now so butchers may want actual money for the fat now.

I usually render enough to fill this dutch oven with fat. Makes about half a gallon of lard which lasts 6 months. Only lasted me 3 months this time though since my wife used a bunch of it to make soap.

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This amount of soap will last about a year, even factoring in giving a bunch away as gifts. If you've never used lard soap, forget everything you think you know about soap. This stuff is as dense as a neutron star; each bars lasts much longer and cleans far better than you're used to with that shit you find at WalMart.

But I digress. I pulled a quart and a half of porky gold from this batch, here's the fat about 1/3 rendered. It really shrinks a lot.

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I took this fuzzy picture this morning. The smaller jar is a lot darker because I sort of burned it a little. Should still taste fine it's just not as attractive.

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By the way, this is my full tutorial on making lard yourself at home.

Tangentially related is another project I'm doing today, something I've never done before. It has something to do with autumn in Vancouver. This is another hint in photo form. Anyone want to guess what I'm doing with this?

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by ffj » Sat Sep 19, 2015 7:43 pm

Chapstick! Did I win? :)

I like your style. Keep up the good work.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Sun Sep 20, 2015 7:20 pm

Thanks to everyone who commented so far, your feedback is what keeps me motivated to keep putting these out - I mean it!
ffj wrote:Chapstick! Did I win?
Nope! Although that's one of the many things you can make using beeswax.

Autumn in Vancouver brings with it torrential rains. (I took video of some of it recently) Where I live we get 99 inches of it per year.

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Let me repeat that - 99 inches a year. That's 2.5 meters. Every blasted year. The thin "waterproof" coating on my rain gear wasn't really designed for that volume, I think all of it washed off long ago. So I'm looking back to 19th century sailcloth technology for a satisfactory solution.

So I melted down 50/50 beeswax and paraffin and tried impregnating a few things with the melted wax. Ski pants and other poly crap didn't work so well, but my formerly useless canvas coat soaked the wax up like a sponge. Cotton is very absorbent which is normally a disadvantage for wet weather, but ironically makes waxing it very effective.

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I came up with my own technique for melting the wax into the cotton. Tutorials online recommend a variety of heating methods - a hair dryer, heat gun, oven or clothes dryer. I used 500watt work lights. They worked perfectly, and were really easy to use since I could set them up and let them work passively for a couple minutes while I took pictures or whatever else. Also unlike a hair dryer they're silent.

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I did still use a clothes dryer to even out the wax. If you don't even it out somehow it will look like it lost a battle with a deep fryer. I stuffed the waxed coat into a zippable pillowcase thing first so as not to wax the inside of my dryer. 1 hour, high heat. This is the finished look.

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Since I don't have a before picture (dumb) I'll just tell you. It looks almost exactly the same (a little darker,) smells like honey (this goes away,) and is stiffer. It's also a smidge heavier - I ended up using half a pound of wax to do the entire coat.

I still have tons of wax left (total cost 14$ for 2 pounds of wax in case you were curious) so I'm going to repeat the technique on a pair of jeans, and a cloth hat if I can thrift one up. That will complete my temperate rainforest ensemble!

Another role I played today that wasn't nearly as satisfying, was as an "experience" consumer. Drove 15 miles each way, had to pay for parking (paid for 2 hours but only stayed for 1) then paid for admittance into a tropical conservatory. It was a fine experience but spending almost 30$ total on the outing still isn't sitting right with me.
Last edited by Pedal2Petal on Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by simplex » Mon Sep 21, 2015 2:21 pm

Great story!

I liked your try at vlogging, but as I'm a more text oriented personality, I didn't watch all you did.

Do you have walnuts around Vancouver? The season should start anytime soon, and its a great thing to look for in the woods and parks.

The cotton you waxed has another advantage over nylon rain gear: when you go quietly through the forest it makes less noise, and it's easier to see wildlife.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:09 pm

simplex wrote:Do you have walnuts around Vancouver?
Hey Simplex! No we don't have walnuts as far as I'm aware. But trees are one kingdom I've studied relatively little about. Mostly what we have are Douglas firs which have taken over and are technically an "invasive species" albeit from something like 10,000 years ago.

What I'm working on lately

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I picked up this marvelous machine for 8$ yesterday, and have already been using it to dehydrate my mushroom bounty.

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I'll also be drying up our extra cilantro and any other produce we can get our hands on. Blackberries are still in season too, so look out for blackberry leather to be put away for snacking on throughout the winter.

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Breakfast. Eggs and a pretty damn good stand-in for bacon.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by thrifty++ » Thu Sep 24, 2015 1:11 am

From what I have heard Vancouver is insane expensive. Whereabouts can you live a post ERE life in Van?

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Thu Sep 24, 2015 6:06 pm

thrifty++ wrote:From what I have heard Vancouver is insane expensive. Whereabouts can you live a post ERE life in Van?
It's expensive. Between the 2 of us we spend 900$/mo on rent, which is a lot higher than the 250$ per adult suggested on this site. But we spent more in Victoria ($1125/mo) and only slightly less in deep rural Alberta (800$/mo in Lloyminster.)

By the way, all those numbers quoted are in Canadian dollars. Which have become shit cheap recently, it's said as a result of much cheaper oil .

We're on the North Shore of Vancouver, which is marginally cheaper plus marginally nicer than Vancouver proper. I think what turns people off from the north shore is that all traffic must flow through 2 narrow bottleneck bridges, which adds extra time to most peoples' commutes to downtown.

Here's "my" bridge.

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Vancouver is universally unaffordable for anyone who chooses to buy a house here. Rent to buy ratios are between 40 and 50 (1 million to 1.5 million for a house. Not an exaggeration unfortunately.) Just across a bit of water to Vancouver Island (where I'm looking to buy eventually) P/E ratios are as low as 10 to 15. I don't think anyone who buys in Vancouver has considered the math. I suppose renting is considered "low class" as it is in many places.

It's also very expensive to drive here, and to drink. I get around by bike and make my own wine at home with the one-minute wine recipe (works out to 2$ a bottle if I remember my math correctly)

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What I'm Working on Lately

Speaking of Vancouver, I started a "mushrooms in vancouver" blog. Future mushroom hunters in Vancouver will be able to visit this site and know for a fact that they can find a given variety somewhere in this city. As usual with any blog I launch, I don't care about monetizing it until it reaches some sort of critical mass, probably in excess of 1000 pageviews a day.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by thrifty++ » Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:59 pm

The area you live in looks really nice from that bridge photo. I found Vancouver to be such a beautiful city when I was there two years ago. At least it makes sense that it is an expensive city. I used to live in Vancouver as a kid when it was cheap. In Port Moody. Last time I spent most of my time in the West End which I thought was stunning with the beach and Stanley Park and views of mountains everywhere.
I live in Auckland which also has huge expense v income problems. Not quite as bad as Vancouver but not far off and moving towards it.

That's a damn nice looking bicycle. They are building cycle lanes here so I am thinking of moving out of the downtown core to a suburb on the cycle way an getting a bike. Makes different to rent costs without adding car costs.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by thrifty++ » Fri Sep 25, 2015 2:59 pm

thrifty++ wrote:The area you live in looks really nice from that bridge photo. I found Vancouver to be such a beautiful city when I was there two years ago. At least it makes sense that it is an expensive city. I used to live in Vancouver as a kid when it was cheap. In Port Moody. Last time I spent most of my time in the West End which I thought was stunning with the beach and Stanley Park and views of mountains everywhere.
I live in Auckland which also has huge expense v income problems. Not quite as bad as Vancouver but not far off and moving towards it.

That's a damn nice looking bicycle. They are building cycle lanes here so I am thinking of moving out of the downtown core to a suburb on the cycle way and getting a bike. Makes difference to rent costs without adding car costs.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by thrifty++ » Fri Sep 25, 2015 3:05 pm

I have also been thinking of making country wine with an airlock. I was worried that it would taste disgusting though. How does it rate for you compared to store bought wine and cider?

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:59 pm

thrifty++ wrote:I have also been thinking of making country wine with an airlock. I was worried that it would taste disgusting though. How does it rate for you compared to store bought wine and cider?
I have managed to make the wine as good as the stuff in the store, it just takes some time to get there. For all the sugar to ferment out and the wine to age properly, it can take up to 6 months. I find that lately my fermentation stops due to either not enough oxygen in the wine (easy to fix by agitating) or too high of an ambient temperature (made wine at a friend's house to compensate for this.) I have a wine diary here where I report that my second batch was perfect, impossible to distinguish from liquor store wine (at least for me.) I'm still trying to replicate that success in my current apartment. Another thing I discovered the other day is that I might be able to skip using an airlock by screwing the cap on loosely, but just tight enough to keep a slightly higher pressure inside the bottle than out. Even more minimalist wine making!
thrifty++ wrote:That's a damn nice looking bicycle. They are building cycle lanes here so I am thinking of moving out of the downtown core to a suburb on the cycle way an getting a bike. Makes different to rent costs without adding car costs.
Heh thanks! This bike has been my project bike for the last 6 months. I bought it in terrible condition for 95$ (cheap for vancouver bike prices) and have at least doubled my knowledge of bicycle mechanics while improving it. It's a lot of fun and I'm considering applying for some part time bike mechanic jobs as a way to meet like-minded people.

Regarding cycleway - We lived near one in Denver and I miss it. For the apartments I am looking at to buy in Nanaimo I am looking primarily along their cycling network.

What I'm Working on Lately

Tried pressure cooking again yesterday - so far I've done beans and roast potatoes. It's time efficient but so easy to overcook something. I use a large combo pressure canner/pressure cooker that I bought at a garage sale 3 years ago for 8$. I do a lot of canning so it's great having something that can do both. Serves as rice storage when not in use.

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More dehydrating, as soon as these bananas are perfectly ripe (probably tomorrow.) They'll be christmas gifts for family I think. Isn't it funny that a bunch of fresh bananas would make a shitty present but a jar of dried bananas would make a good present? Same bananas but one has had all the moisture sucked out of it.

Reviving an old computer with Puppy Linux. I bought the first ever netbook because it was SSD and I knew it would last a long time. Well I was right, it's pretty much as functional as the day I bought it 7 or so years ago. I'm breathing a bit of new life into it so it can run a more modern browser, using a very lightweight linux. I only have 4 gig of disk space to work with, and an underpowered 900mhz processor. I'll be able to take this to the library in my bike bag when I want to get work done, then it will be handed down to my son when he's old enough.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by jacob » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:19 pm

Pedal2Petal wrote:Another thing I discovered the other day is that I might be able to skip using an airlock by screwing the cap on loosely, but just tight enough to keep a slightly higher pressure inside the bottle than out. Even more minimalist wine making!
Ha! If you really must (pun) ... use a jar and fill it to the rim. Put a loose fitting lid on it. During primary fermentation, it'll bubble up and gunk the lid and semi-seal the lid to the jar. Presto! It has turned itself into a secondary. This is old^H^H^Hancient-school style.

Another alternative is to use some plastic film and some appropriately tightened rubber bands.

I don't think I'm ghetto enough to save <$2 for the airlock combo yet though :mrgreen: ... not if I have $5 worth of must on the line.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Tue Sep 29, 2015 11:23 am

jacob wrote:During primary fermentation, it'll bubble up and gunk the lid and semi-seal the lid to the jar. Presto! It has turned itself into a secondary. This is old^H^H^Hancient-school style.
That's an interesting technique - I don't know the difference between primary and secondary fermentation in this context - is secondary done without oxygen? Normally I think of secondary fermentation as being done after decanting off of the yeast but I presume you're not doing this. This sounds easy to do with mason jars and used mason jar lids as long as they are very clean. A quart sized mason jar is actually 30% larger than a typical bottle of wine so it's a convenient size.

Today I'm Working

I'd say I have approximately a 4-hour work month (eat it, Tim Ferris.) And today I've got to spend about half those hours fulfilling my monthly invoicing obligation for pedal to petal (it's about the only thing I still do for them.) I use excel with an auto-pdf exporting script in conjunction with the thunderbird plugin mailmerge to automate just about all the repetitive stuff. Used to take me 5 or 6 hours to do everything, now it's about a 90 minute job. Always give a hard task to the laziest worker, right?

I'm also really good at procrastinating which is why I'm writing in my ERE journal instead of "getting 'er done."

What I'm Reading

I've got the book Becoming Wild: Living the Primitive Life on a West Coast Island waiting for me at the library, presumably it's about someone who managed to live without money for a while in my bioregion. Always fascinating to me. Also becoming reacquainted with /r/vandwellers - a great subreddit about living in campervans and conversion vans (mostly stealth.)

I go through a phase like this at least once a year, obsessing over extreme modes of living. I've done a little experimenting myself, lived on a sailboat for 1 month and in an RV for 8.

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Living in an RV is a hell of a lot easier, in case you were wondering. But the sailboat was cheaper, at least for me.

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If it weren't for "family obligations" it would be a lot easier to continue experimenting. But alas, life is just a series of compromises.

Speaking of my library, a couple years ago I used their "suggest a book" feature to recommend "early retirement extreme" - at the time it wasn't in their book system and only available on Amazon so that's what I linked them to. Well to my surprise they bought it! I wonder if anyone else has checked it out?

Just checked and holy shit! It's got 6 holds on it. Could there be kindred spirits right here in my own neighborhood? *Edit 2 days later - 9 holds, plus the library now has another copy on order. Damn!
Last edited by Pedal2Petal on Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Demosthenes » Tue Sep 29, 2015 7:54 pm

Sail boat living looks... miserable. Are the open buckets there to catch rain water or something?
On an unrelated note, taking your advice and slowly acquiring 5 gallon buckets from my supermarket. What a great free resource!

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:56 pm

achamney wrote:Sail boat living looks... miserable. Are the open buckets there to catch rain water or something?
Yeah I would say miserable is sort of accurate, especially since I was living on it during the beginning of the rainy season in a temperate rainforest. I even fell in the ocean this one time, fortunately near to shore. The waves were really bad so I couldn't go back to the boat so I had to sit at Starbucks and try to dry off. That was sort of miserable, yes.

I found that if I strung up all my clothes near the propane fireplace and lit a bunch of those 20 cent wax candles in this little nook, I could get the temperature up to 80 degrees in the little nook. Such cozy memories in there :) I don't have many pictures of sail boat life at all but I'll try my best to illustrate my cozy sleeping nook.

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A side benefit of hanging clothes in this way is that they all dried out from the propane stove over night.

If I had electricity on that boat, and maybe a way to dry it out better (wood stove or dehumidifier) it could have been ten times better.

This is the bay where I anchored, by the way. Anchoring is free and marina is expensive but far more convenient. I always prefer the hard way...

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And yes the buckets were for catching rain. A lot more convenient than rowing to shore, and the water was really quite delicious. Rainwater coffee is one of the few luxuries I had.
achamney wrote:On an unrelated note, taking your advice and slowly acquiring 5 gallon buckets from my supermarket. What a great free resource!
Tell me about it! Every bucket I scavenge manages to get used almost right away, I have like 8 in my house and not a single one can be spared. I think that means I better go grab a couple more.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by Pedal2Petal » Thu Oct 01, 2015 3:06 pm

I finished my first batch of dehydrated bananas today.

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I was more excited to calculate my final yield in terms of weight and effective price than I was to eat them. I'm sure many of you can relate;)

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If you're interested in the results of the banana analysis hop on over to my recent blog post on IndiePF

A summary:
  • Bananas dry to 1/6 of their initial size, that takes into account the peel.
    Dried bananas have an effective price of $4.14, assuming you buy them for 69 cents a pound (multiply banana pricex6)
    Electricity costs are not negligible, adding ~30 cents to each batch.
Last edited by Pedal2Petal on Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by jennypenny » Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:11 pm

I think dehydrated bananas are really tasty if you put a dollop of honey on each slice before dehydrating.

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Re: Pedal2Petal's post-ERE life

Post by vexed87 » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:56 am

hmmm, they look great! I think a dehydrator is going on my wish list! :)

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