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Author Topic: Shopping  (Read 1607 times)
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« on: November 18, 2007, 09:43:16 AM »

What's the must-buy item this season? Are you going to be camping out this Black Friday. Or just vent about your frustrations fighting with the mall traffic
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madupont
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2007, 10:56:51 AM »

Oh, man, they are letting me know by e-mail.Big time, overtime. Sometimes one per day from the same establishment. This keeps me busy eradicating e-mail.

I never have fought mall traffic, I just don't go there.  Some of the regional locals are hopping a bus to Manhattan for the usual spree; but, one of the better experiences that I ever had was walking down 5th.Avenue with a friend enjoying the window-displays of the well-known emporiums of the day (before franchise became extravagantly American even there) and well after sensible shoppers and working stiffs had come home from parties and gone to bed.  Not an extraneous soul was in sight. Just a winter night with appropriate amount of snow and gorgeous window decoration, all the way south to Greenwich Village.

I gradually learned over the last seventeen years that you can window-shop, doing your browsing for Christmas gifts (and necessities of the Season),right on the internet, check the details by phone, order, have them deliver where ever you ask . I have on occasion bought what might be termed "folk art"  in my region just short of ten years of my residence; and then I have to wrap it myself, about which I am all thumbs, and post,UPS or FedX to relatives -- which is a real thrill right there to test your patience and endurance. 

I've made it a habit,meanwhile, to start the season with visiting all the Holiday bazaar/fairs of the local churches of all denominations for things that are often home-made but sometimes raffle-prizes like American Dutch antiques formerly available in Blauenburg,New Jersey, home of early Dutch settlers; and nowadays Moravians and Austrians. But, that reminds me, I have to phone some Amana community people to order from them, although they are probably  not answering the phone on Sunday. The New calendar has to be ordered from my friendly acquaintance of many years who always returns to her home in southwest France (where the walnuts grow) to case out what's new over there that will sell over here. 

Then it is time to address the greeting cards, do the Christmas letters, decide the menu, and whether or not the most fragrant greens are likely to be available locally or need to be ordered from a bit further north. It's very simple really but leaves you over-rushed and exhausted no matter how simple you imagine it to be.  The worst of course is forgetting what it is like in the line at the Liquor store, if you didn't collect all the odds and ends you plan to use in your baking, then cooking, and eventually drinking. One must also plan on taking the storm door apart so you can reach a shovel out of the opening to remove the snow that is blocking the door from being opened to go anywhere anyway.
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madupont
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2008, 01:28:30 PM »

Boy, was I wrong about the expectation of snow!

However, perhaps, Shopping would be an interesting topic if we changed the emphasis from what we were doing to get ready for the holidays and drag ourselves into that area which is noticeably the Changing Economy these days deepening a Depression although it seems more a tendency toward annoyance with everything.
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2008, 02:15:19 PM »

After reading an article in the NYT (The Invisible Ingredient in Every Kitchen, 2 Jan 2008 by Harold McGee) about the heat efficiency of various cooking stoves, I am thinking of retiring my 1938 Chalmers gas range and buying one of those glass top electric things.  The article says the induction cooktops are 90% efficient, compared to 70% for electric coil and 35-40% for gas burners.  Those numbers sure got my attention.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2008, 03:25:15 PM »

They look easy to clean, too....a real plus in my book.
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2008, 04:40:42 PM »

Since the surface scratches, they say you have to give up your iron skillets.  Oh me.  You could still use them to bake with in the oven, though.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2008, 04:45:44 PM »

I didn't realize that iron skillets would damage them, it makes sense though.  Hmmmm....easy clean-up or fried potatoes, fried onions, bacon, eggs, fried bread dough....
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madupont
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2008, 04:58:34 PM »

My sister Laura put one of those in to the house that she designed above lake Michigan before the end of the 1970s, when our father had  helped by assisting on the roofing to finish the house.  Then came the divorce
which is just too sordid a story as she had her own decorating business in partnership  and I guess that you can guess for yourself. Bottom line, when you live in a state with equal division of marital property, the house for which she had arranged the curved brick walkway, and the shells collected on the beach were placed into the designed pattern for the fireplace front in the master bedroom, and the skylight in the pantry saved electricity by day, and the twin mirrors were installed over the side by side sinks in the long bathroom, and the etched glass installed in the doors (the fashion of the times),the house has to be sold at the end of the marriage.

Other than that, saving energy is a very good idea.

I hate to tell you, but before the Holiday excessive catalog prompt to buy,buy,buy flooded into my apartment, there was a kitchen gear catalog which advised me of the current price of the humoungous French stove that I would have bought for myself had I anywhere to put it. This was when my sister and I were comparing what, on second-thought, and too late now, we could have done with some part of our legacy from Mom. But we didn't.

Yet who had an inkling of what George Bush,sr. was up to at that time, some people had just recently voted for Clinton, who would have imagined the present situation would arise? Well, our brother did for many many decades. He is no longer around to tell us," I told you so". No doubt that was why he was so prescient. Someone has to be because the majority are not.

But as I learned several winters ago when we actually had plentiful snow, the English model of enameled stove that I discovered when looking at the actual samples of Sturbridge Yankee chairs in a shop not unlike my sister's ideal workplace yet quite different in style for the rural regions where electricity and therefore often your heat goes out too, well that English stove is your fall back item where you can not trust the utilities to come through for you.  It is not the optimum convenience for our later years in life, however.

The French stove had its own drawbacks in that it is a better plan  to have it brought in as you are building a house or adding a kitchen to a wing of a house as the colonial Quakers did when they still cooked on the hearth. It weighs the proverbial ton. I don't recall the actual poundage but it is a hassle.  The price rise, was easily something I could comprehend, since gradually over the last five years where can you buy real underwear of the kind that Germans find practical. The French shirts become luxuries in a Republican run economy. (Have you ever noticed  how Nicholas Sarkozy dresses?)  And then suddenly when I had time to think about it,the price of a well made French brassiere jumped into another price-bracket entirely so I'm not going to tell my sisters what our mother would have had to say about that.
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madupont
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2008, 05:00:22 PM »

What do they recommend, teflon? I always knew they were not well thought out but who listens?
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harrie
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2008, 05:25:40 PM »

We have a glass (radiant element, not induction) cooktop and it has its pluses -- the heat is more even; it holds heat for a long time; it's easier to clean; and it's flat so you can (gently) set stuff on it without worrying about the unevenness you'd get with a raised burner (sort of extending your counter space if that's something you need).  One drawback of which I'm keenly aware -- I'm always afraid I'm going to drop/slam something down and crack it. 

According to our paperwork, cast iron is okay as long as you don't go slamming stuff around, and I think we've used our cast iron dutch oven on it (carefully) a couple of times.  Our literature says as long as the pan is flat-bottomed, you're okay. But a pan with a ridged bottom -- like some grill pans and a big canning pot I was once considering buying -- can cause uneven heating of the burner area and possibly crack the cooktop. Which is bad.

Those induction cooktop efficiency numbers look huge to me.  If we had our druthers, we'd have a gas range, but right now our setup is electric; hence the choice of glass
« Last Edit: January 06, 2008, 12:22:42 AM by harrie » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2008, 12:19:03 PM »

Harrie, " . . . holds heat for a long time."  I thought the heat stopped when you removed the pot.  I have always been shy of these kinds of electric ranges because of that.  I mean, who knows when someone might put a pot on the stove "pre' some other cooking decision?  Tell me, then.  When does the heat come on?  When does it go off?  What about this "look no heat" that TV salesmen tout by putting their hand on a "burner?"

The Mfg suggested cooking vessels were aluminum or steel.  No copper clad or clay and some other thing I can't remember.  And, of course, I prefer steel and have lots of steel pots of various sizes (no skillets.)  I do not use aluminum at all.
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harrie
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2008, 06:14:59 PM »

Maybe that's the induction cooktops where the heat cuts right off; ours is a radiant element, and there's no way I'd put my hand on a just-used burner.  When I say it holds heat well, I mean for example when cooking rice, you can turn the burner off after 12-15 minutes and let it coast to doneness.  I guess you can also do this with an electric coil element, but it doesn't always work out like you wanted it to.  Or at least, that's been my experience.

We turn the burners on and off manually, which I see as a plus for the reason you cited.  The burners do heat up quickly and we're told they heat the pan more evenly, which I believe but cannot prove.  Still, it's electric; and even though you get a little better finesse temperature selection-wise than a coil stove, it's just not the same as gas where you can fine tune exactly what you want.
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madupont
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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2008, 12:23:50 AM »

Harrie,   I've had that 'gas prejudice' for years. It's that fine tuning that you mentioned. Out in the rural areas, you risk running into locales where gas happens to be propane and I'm not happy about that at all. Too risky.  The Amish of course use it for refrigeration as well as cooking.
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harrie
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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2008, 10:25:48 AM »

At some point after writing that, I realized that "fine tuning" may be on its way to becoming archaic, what with cable removing the need to fiddle with the TV to get a station in.  So thanks for also using the term, madupont -- makes me feel better.
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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2008, 10:36:21 AM »

Harrie, you still have to "fine tune" short wave radio.
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