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Monday, February 23, 2015


Have you ever felt you were cheated at a store?  And didn’t know what to do about it?  I did today, and I did something about it.

I shop at a particular grocery store.  I normally don’t question the weights of the fresh fruits and veggies.  I mean, how can I tell the difference between 2 pounds and 2.5 pounds of apples? 

But I CAN tell that a small handful of snow peas ISN’T .85 pound!  But that is what the register scale said.  When I challenged that as “ridiculous”, the cashier re-weighed it as .5 pounds.  THAT was still ridiculous, but several re-weighings got the same weight.  So I paid and went home.

I have a good quality Salter digital kitchen scale.  I checked the accuracy  by carefully measuring a pint of water (minus the container weight) and it showed PRECISELY 16 ounces (to the nearest 1/8 ounce).  So my digital scale was VERY accurate.

The .5 pound (8 ounces) of snow peas (according to the store receipt) actually weighed only 1 7/8 ounces according to my verified kitchen scale.  That’s a bit of a difference.

So I weighed most of the other fresh produce.  Same over-weight charge pattern!  I was annoyed.  But it would be my home scale against the store’s certified scales.  Of course they wouldn’t admit any error, and if I brought stuff back to the store for a reweigh, how could I prove I hadn’t removed some of the produce?

Ah, but there was the scale in the store. 

I called them.  I told them I suspected they had an inaccurate #4 register scale.  It took a while to get to the store manager...  First was the customer service desk.  They insisted the scales are accurate because they are checked every 2 weeks.  Then I got to the cashier, who remembered me because of the snow pea reweigh. 

When she couldn’t explain a way where the scale would be examined AND I would be advised about the result, I got to the store manager.  HE took it seriously.  I explained why I was sure my scale was accurate.  He agreed to check the scale immediately and call me back in 10 minutes.

I assume he simply grabbed a large can and compared the weights on different register scales.  I doubt he had a certified test weight on hand.  I expected a callback saying that the scales are tested regularly and were accurate.

I was wrong (which means I was right).  He reported that the #4 register  scale had some produce debris in it that caused inaccurate readings.  HE AGREED I WAS RIGHT!  So I asked about getting an adjustment to my bill on the percentage of inaccuracy.

He immediately assured me that I should come back soon with the receipt and he would refund 100% of the cost of all my weighed produce.  Wow, that was almost everything I bought.

I also asked “what about all the other customers who went through that register and were overcharged?”  He said they had no way to identify those customers.

They do.  I studied my receipt, and the register number is identified there.  There is a data string in the receipt, and I’m good at figuring those things out.  Date/time/store#/register/etc/etc.

AFTER I get my refund, I will point that out to him, and “suggest” he have the IT department arrange for similar refunds to those customers (via shopper club numbers). But if they don’t I’ll never know.

I did my part by checking something suspicious and questioning the store. 

You know what ELSE I did?  I decided to make a scale-tester for future use.  I took my bowls of accumulated coins (who uses coins anymore?) and scooped out about a pound of pennies.  I found the smallest lidded container that would hold them and even cut off enough duct tape to seal it.  Then I weighed the container, tape and pennies on my verified accurate digital scale, taking out pennies until the container and all weighed PRECISELY 16 ounces.

I’ll bring that to the store from now on, first to show to the manager, and for verifying the register scales in the future.

It pays to be willing to check on things you doubt.

Monday, February 9, 2015


OK, I have a bread machine.  So that's basic to me.

Use bread machine to make dough.  Let sit in covered oiled bowl overnight in the fridge.

Slice up peperoni stick, green pepper, mushrooms, and onion to taste.  Set them all on a late an M/V them 1 full minute.

Preheat oven to 500F

Open can of crushed tomatoes and simmer til thick.  Or use jarred spaghetti sauce.

When oven is at temp, sprinkle flour on clean flat surface and drop dough on it.  Sprinkle a little flour on top.  Mangle dough until it is "handleable".  Flatten it by hand or rolling pin until it is thin.  Turn the dough over several times in that process.

When you can pick up the dough, curl up the edges by hand, wipe some olive oil on the dough, and transfer it to a pizza paddle sprinkled well with cornmeal (for sliding later).

 On the pizza paddle, spread tomato sauce, add toppings, and cheese if desired.

Slide pizza onto cooking surface (pizza stone, baking tray, whatever).

At 12 minutes, lift a corner of the crust to look for toasting marks.  If none, leave for 3 minutes.

Use pizza paddle and something to keep the pizza from being pushed off the baking surface to lift it out of oven.

Set on LARGE cutting board to rest 3 minutes.  Cheese needs to set, and crust rest.

Cut with biggest knife (those round pizza cutters never work).


Chicken Cordon Blue

You need:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Make shallow cuts on chicken breast.  Cover with plastic and pound heartily to about 1/4 inch.  Rolling pin works too.  Place layer of cheese, ham, cheese, ham on chicken breast.  Sprinkle with garlic and onion powder.  Add oregano. 

Roll up chicken breast as well as possible (sometimes it ain't easy).  Roll rolled up chicken in bread crumbs.  Stab chicken with 2 metal skewers to hold it together (toothpicks burn).  Set on baking tray, seam side down.  Bake 15 minutes.  Turn chicken roll over.  Bake 15 minutes or until interior is 165F.

See?  Not that tricky...

Next time, Pizza!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

An Interesting Week

I don't do well in the shortest darkest days of the year, but with the lengthening days, I have gotten more active.  It's nice to start accomplishing things again.

1.  I got The Salvation Army out here to pick up stuff I never used or no longer needed.  Mainly, I had a dining room table and chairs that I bought at their local showcase store 8 years ago.  It had some dings and scrapes, and I intended to completely refinish it as a Winter project.  Realizing I would never get around to doing that, I wanted to give it back.  I was also cleaning out closets and accumulated 8 boxes of miscellaneous household goods in good condition, a telescope (I have a newer better one now), an unopened flat screen wall mount (I decided to use a TV table instead), a nearly unused upright vacuum cleaner (I have wood floors now), etc.

It was all picked up last Wensday (I have decided to change the spelling; "Wednesday" is just medieval).  The new open space in my basement workshop is appreciated.

2.  I decided my cooking habits were in a rut.  20 years ago, I used to make pizzas from scratch.  I relearned how.  The first was bad.  The 2nd and 3rd were very good.  A pizza stone helps.  So does a bread machine with a pizza dough setting.  And leaving the dough sit overnight in a covered bowl helps.  I made my own sauce from crushed canned tomatoes too.  I do that for my spaghetti sauce anyway, just let it get a bit thicker.  Sliced commercial pepperoni, hot italian sausage, green bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions.

And I made chicken cordon blue, my own breaded chicken nuggets, ground hamburger from top sirloin (I have a manual grinder), pancakes from scratch, and egg rolls.

My efforts to make decent hamburger buns continue to fail, though.

3.  Rearranged and vacuumed the entire basement wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling.  The guys who filled the walls with insulation last September left such a mess (even though they did a lot of cleaning).  But I moved EVERYTHING and vacuumed.  I vacuumed some spots that may have never been vacuumed in 28 years.  When's the last time you pulled out the washer and dryer and cleaned behind there?  LOL!

4.  Reorganized all the stuff from the attic that I had to move down into the cats' room and stored them for returning to the attic when I replace the flooring up there.  The cats are thrilled to have more space for toys, exploring, and scratchers.

5.  Took almost everything out of the computer room, threw away lots of old stuff, and returned little.  And there is more to get rid of.  Why should I keep the boxes and disks from the apps from Windows 98?

6.  Emptied out 3 closets and most of the stuff went to a new pile of stuff to go to charity.  It is amazing how much unneeded "stuff" ends up on closet floors.  "Out of sight, out of mind".  For example, 30 years ago, I became the manager of an office softball team.  I had bases, gloves and balls in a box.  I'm keeping the ball and gloves, but the bases can go.  One thing charities can't say is that I have boring stuff to give.

7.  I had boxes of newspaper articles clipped out for "information".  Computer articles, gardening articles, cooking articles.  That stuff is all on the internet now.  So those are going into the recycling bin.

8.  One box was half full on fanfold perforated-edge computer paper!  That goes back to the days of dot-matrix printers.  But I'm not recycling THAT.  I now have a lifetime supply of note-taking paper!  Some old stuff is worth keeping.

9.  The weather today was GREAT.  It reached 67F!  I went outside to do some gardening work.  Mostly, I needed to dig level spots for the 6th of 6 framed garden beds.  Unfortunately, the ground was still frozen 2' down, so I did some work, but not as much as I hoped.  Still I did some work and the next warm day I can get another 2' deep.  That will be enough to build that 6th bed before Spring arrives.

10.  Haircut time!  Ever 2 months.  And I love the feel of heated shaving cream around my ears and neck when the barber does that razor cut!

11.  Visited the bank.  Got 6x higher interest rates on my savings with some creative transfers.   3% interest is better than .5%

I may have had a more productive week sometime, but I can't recall when exactly.  LOL!