Gluten-free, Dairy-free, mostly Sugar-free Pecan Pie

This turned out really well. I modified my cherry pie recipe. Before starting, put 1/2 cup shortening in the freezer to get cold. Then work on the filling, then the crust, then put it all together and bake it.

Filling

  • 2 Tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Cup sugar substitute – I used 1/2 Stevia and 1/2 Agave nectar.
    1/2 Cup sugar substitute is 1 Tbsp Stevia, and the other 1/2 Cup sugar substitute is 1/3 Cup Agave nectar.
  • 3 Tbsp Maple syrup (the not-quite-sugar-free part of the recipe, but the maple syrup flavor is important, so *shrug*).
  • 1/4 Cup water

Mix the things together in a small sauce pan, then heat over medium high heat until it’s boiling for a bit, stirring constantly. It’ll get pudding-y, which is great. I don’t like my pecan pie to be runny after it’s baked. Take it off the heat and add the next two ingredients in order. Then work on your crust.

  • 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Cups chopped pecans + 1/2 Cup not chopped pecans (for decoration on top)

Crust

  • 1 1/4 Cups gluten free flour. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour turned out great and was cheaper than other gluten free flours.
  • 1 Tablespoons sugar substitute. I used Stevia, which has a conversion rate of 1/3 tsp -> 1 Tbsp sugar.
  • 1/4 Tsp salt.
  • 1/2 Cup cold vegetable shortening. The cold part is important. If it’s too warm it gets too melty and makes the crust seem wet so it sticks and won’t roll. Seriously, this makes a difference. Just put it in the freezer while you make the filling.
  • 1 Eggs.
  • 1/4 Tsp apple cider vinegar (not sure why but it was in the recipe I borrowed from.)
  • Up to 3 Tbsp cold water.

Make it like a regular pie crust. Mix the dry ingredients together, then cut in the shortening using forks until you have pea sized pieces. Add the eggs and vinegar and mix some more. Then take one tablespoon at a time of the water and add it to a small part of the crust and mix it until it’s crust-like. Do that until you’ve gotten the whole crust. Then flour a table and roll it out to make your crust.

Bake at 350

Preheat the oven first. Put the crust in the bottom of your pie tin and flute the edge. Then put in the filling. Then delicately put on some decorative half-pecans in a pattern. Protect the crust with a ring of tinfoil around the edge. Bake for 20 minutes. Take the tin foil off and bake for another 25 minutes. Take it out and let it cool.

Not runny! The tapioca did its thing perfectly.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free Cherry Pie

I’m not going to write some super long back story behind this pie. It’s a good recipe. It took me three tries to refine it. I made it for my partner, and she really liked it.

Filling

I tried corn starch but it wasn’t very good. I tried all Stevia but that left a bad aftertaste. This filling nailed it:

  • 4 Tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1/8 Tsp salt
  • 1 Cup sugar substitute. Doing Stevia is ok, but I didn’t like the aftertaste so it turned out 1/2 Stevia and 1/2 Agave nectar worked out perfect. 1/2 Cup sugar substitute is 1 Tbsp Stevia, and the other 1/2 Cup sugar substitute is 1/3 Cup Agave nectar.
  • 1/4 Tsp plus a smidge of almond extract. This is important. Almond extract smells like cherries. Try it. It adds a bunch of flavor.
  • 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract. Because you should always add vanilla to everything.
  • 4 Cups pitted cherries. Or 3 cans of tart cherries in water.

Mix the dry things. Add in the wet things. Then add the cherries. Let it sit while you make the crust. I’m not kidding; the tapioca needs some time to do its thing.

Crust (enough for a top and bottom)

  • 2 1/2 Cups gluten free flour. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour turned out great and was cheaper than other gluten free flours.
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar substitute. I used Stevia, which has a conversion rate of 1/3 tsp -> 1 Tbsp sugar.
  • 1/2 Tsp salt.
  • 1 Cup cold vegetable shortening. The cold part is important. If it’s too warm it gets too melty and makes the crust seem wet so it sticks and won’t roll. Seriously, this makes a difference.
  • 2 Eggs.
  • 1/2 Tsp apple cider vinegar (not sure why but it was in the recipe I borrowed from.
  • Up to 6 Tbsp cold water.

Make it like a regular pie crust. Mix the dry ingredients together, then cut in the shortening using forks until you have pea sized pieces. Add the eggs and vinegar and mix some more. Then take one tablespoon at a time of the water and add it to a small part of the crust and mix it until it’s crust-like. Do that until you’ve gotten the whole crust. Then split it in half, flour a table and roll the halves out to make your bottom and top crusts.

Bake at 400

Preheat the oven first. Put the bottom half of the crust in the bottom of your pie tin. Then put in the cherry filling. Then put the top half of the crust on top. Flute the edge and vent the top. Protect the crust with a ring of tinfoil around the edge. Bake for 20 minutes. Take the tin foil off and bake for another 25 minutes. Take it out and let it cool. You did a thing!

Make the Time to Fix Your Time Debt

You’re too busy to read more than this intro paragraph. We all are. Your interest might get piqued enough to skim, but you can’t read the full thing. Our lives all resemble the White Rabbit, constantly late for our next thing, never enjoying the current thing. You feel simultaneously super productive and yet never productive enough to be satisfied. You yearn for a Jarvis that can automate the mundane aspects of your projects, and yet the prospect of building a Jarvis causes anxiety about not having enough time for yet another project. You see another YouTuber showing off not only a great build but also impressive video production and editing skills. You are suffering from Time Debt, and the solution requires as much discipline and tenacity as escaping from financial debt.

Read the full article at Hackaday: Make the Time to Fix Your Time Debt

Your Face is Going Places You May Not Like

Many Chinese cities, among them Ningbo, are investing heavily in AI and facial recognition technology. Uses range from border control — at Shanghai’s international airport and the border crossing with Macau — to the trivial: shaming jaywalkers.

In Ningbo, cameras oversee the intersections, and use facial-recognition to shame offenders by putting their faces up on large displays for all to see, and presumably mutter “tsk-tsk”. So it shocked Dong Mingzhu, the chairwoman of China’s largest air conditioner firm, to see her own face on the wall of shame when she’d done nothing wrong. The AIs had picked up her face off of an ad on a passing bus.

Read the full article at Hackaday: Your Face is Going Places You May Not Like

Your BOM is Not Your COGS

“The prototype was $12 in parts, so I’ll sell it for $15.” That is your recipe for disaster, and why so many Kickstarter projects fail. The Bill of Materials (BOM) is just a subset of the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), and if you aren’t selling your product for more than your COGS, you will lose money and go out of business.

We’ve all been there; we throw together a project using parts we have laying around, and in our writeup we list the major components and their price. We ignore all the little bits of wire and screws and hot glue and time, and we aren’t shipping it, so there’s no packaging to consider. Someone asks how much it cost, and you throw out a ballpark number. They say “hey, that’s pretty reasonable” and now you’re imagining making it in volume and selling it for slightly higher than your BOM. Stop right there. Here’s how pricing really works, and how to avoid sinking time into an untenable business.

Read the full article at Hackaday: Your BOM is Not Your COGS

Inventor Services – Maybe Right for You – Maybe

You’ve no doubt been exposed to the ads for various inventor services; you have an idea, and they want to help you commercialize it and get the money you deserve. Whether it’s helping you file legal paperwork, defending your idea, developing it into a product, or selling it, there’s a company out there that wants to help. So which ones are legit, which ones are scams, and what do you really need to make your millions?

Read the full article at Hackaday: Inventor Services – Maybe Right for You – Maybe

Planned Obsolescence Isn’t a Thing, But it is Your Fault

The common belief is that big companies are out to get the little people by making products that break after a short period, or with substantially new features or accessories that make previous models obsolete, requiring the user to purchase a new model. This conspiracy theory isn’t true; there’s a perfectly good explanation for this phenomenon, and it was caused by the consumers, not the manufacturers.

When we buy the hottest, shiniest, smallest, and cheapest new thing we join the wave of consumer demand that is the cause of what often gets labelled as “Planned Obsolescence”. In truth, we’re all to blame for the signals our buying habits send to manufacturers. Dig in and get your flamewar fingers fired up.

Read the full article at Hackaday: Planned Obsolescence Isn’t a Thing, But it is Your Fault

The Challenges of Shipping From China – Life of a Flailing Tube Man

Last summer was an exercise in developing a completely different kind of product from my normal wheelhouse; a costume. My Halloween costume had been so popular that I decided to have a go at commercializing it, and that took me on a path into manufacturing that I hadn’t yet taken; shipping by boat from China. The short version is it’s a ridiculously difficult mess.

Read the full article at Hackaday: The Challenges of Shipping From China – Life of a Flailing Tube Man

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – A Trademark

A trademark represents a brand, so it can be words like “Apple”, including made up words like “Kleenex”. It can be symbols, like the Nike swoosh. It can also be colors, like UPS brown, and even scents like the flowery musk scent in Verizon stores. Filing a trademark in the United States is surprisingly easy. With a couple hundred dollars and a couple hours, you can be well on your way to having your very own registered trademark and having the right to use the ® symbol on your mark. You don’t need a lawyer, but you should know some of the hangups you might run into. The USPTO has a fantastic primer on trademarks, but we’ll TL;DR it for you.

Read the full article at Hackaday: What to Expect When You’re Expecting – A Trademarkhttps://hackaday.com/2018/07/18/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting-a-trademark/

Smart Plugs Don’t Save You Energy, But Don’t Consume Much Either

Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and just about every electronic device manufacturer are jumping on the bandwagon of connected devices. They promise us the ability to turn on our toaster from another room, unlock our doors just by shouting at them from outside, and change the channel on our TV through perfectly enunciating a sentence instead of mashing the buttons on our remotes like chumps. And yet, despite all this new-fangled finger-less control, there is an unanswered question: does this technology save us energy in the long run?

For years we’ve been hearing about vampire power and all the devices in our home that sit in standby, waiting for their masters to turn them on, quietly burning power to listen for that signal to wake. Fortunately the One Watt Initiative and general awareness and design for energy savings has cut out a lot of this phantom load. So how does the smart home, which essentially adds a bunch of connected vampires to our base load, end up saving money in the long run? And is it better than other alternatives or just good habits? I put these questions to the test with today’s smart power strips and controllable outlets.

Read the full article at Hackaday: Smart Plugs Don’t Save You Energy, But Don’t Consume Much Either