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Consumer Watch 209

A Cheese Saga

A certain 28% sliced yellow cheese comes in three package sizes: 200g, 350g and 500g. I buy the 500g package for convenience and economy because I don't have to buy as often, and its per-gram price is cheaper.

Fine, until I couldn't find it. About to take the smaller package, I rooted around and found the 500g packages hidden behind another brand. It happens, especially when shoppers don't put a rejected item back in its place, but… three times running?

Calling the dairy's customer service number to tip them off, I had to cut the nice rep short twice: first, when she said it was probably just a customer misplacement. Once or twice maybe, but three consecutive times? Then she said I had to tell the supermarket – which is hooey! A number of major food distributors employ their own shelf-stockers to arrange merchandise and subcontract this service to other companies. They are also known to manipulate sales by how and where items are placed on display [see "Hydrox-Oreo Rivalry Heats Up with FTC Complaint" to get the idea].

So the next time you can't find that item you want, root around a little… sometimes it pays to be nosey.

Tag those Bags!

Between crazy weather and a crazy year my wardrobe and linens were in utter chaos. Worse, I couldn't find what I needed when I needed it. Rather than trying to organize everything at once I started sorting as items came back from the laundry: summer, into the closet; winter and transition in small piles.

When the piles grew a bit they were bagged and TAGGED. A piece of heavy recycled paper or cardboard gets a hole punched in the corner and a rubber band attached; as each bag is knotted closed the tag is attached to its knot with a mini-inventory on it, like:

* "L/S white and colored flannel shirts, 3 t-necks, fleece coat"

* "Transition: L & 3/4 sleeve shirts"

* "Unaltered Jeans"

* "Fleece cape, poncho, ruanna, 2 shawls, fleece coat."

There's even one heavy bag marked

* "Linens for sewing projects."

THIS time I'll know what to bring down when it's needed!

Pause to consider

…before throwing away, giving away or donating clothing, textiles, household goods or appliances this season. You may not be able to replace them.

The simple truth is that the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted world supply chains, manufacturing and transport, which will translate into higher prices – some MUCH higher – in the near future. Or even no availability.

If that were not enough, the price of a container shipment to Israel recently quadrupled (that's right: x4) because of the delicate situation in our region… and the recent Suez blockage may have had something to do with it too. As happened at the beginning of the pandemic, it certainly put the spotlight on just how fragile our "global village" economy really is.

So even while we enjoy more relaxed restrictions let's make use of the old motto: Make it last / Wear it out/ Make do - or do without.

Potato Masher?

The metal of a potato masher bought before Passover turned out to rust! Still, I hesitated to throw it away because the handle was exceptionally well-molded. A good thing too: it is now my heavy-duty Retrieval Tool for items that fall in awkward places or just out of reach {I don't bend as well as I used to}.

Lid for a Tin Can

Need a temporary lid for a tin can? Fold a sandwich bag in half, place it over the top and hold it in place with a rubber band. Refrigerates well and is reusable.

A Word to Cat Owners / Lovers

Never give an adult cat milk: it causes diarrhea which can lead to dehydration [same for dogs]. Also try to avoid white and cottage cheeses, which are high in salt (as preservative).

Instead, treat your chosen moggie* to a small amount of UN-sweetened leben, eshel, yogurt or shamenet - nursing mothers particularly adore the latter. Fortunately for my yardies, these days a relatively inexpensive 15% shamenet is sold in 500g cups.

* Largely British term: from Maggie.

A Word to Dog Owners / Lovers

Never allow a dog to eat cat food, no matter how much they want to. Cat foods are formulated with the high protein levels a cat needs to survive, making the aromas extremely appetizing to dogs. However, a dog's kidneys cannot process these higher levels: the result is kidney disease and an early death.

As with cats, never give an adult dog milk: it causes diarrhea which can lead to dehydration.

Showing Appreciation

Is there a person or business you'd like to show appreciation to? Here's one way.

Two weeks before Passover I contacted a very popular local bakery-café (they're so popular, by 10am most days their savories are sold out). Calling very early, I ordered a selection of small baked goods — enough to supply everyone in the house / business with three savories and two sweet rolls — and had them delivered in time for a mid-morning coffee break.

It was a great success. One proprietor called to say "No one has ever done anything like this for me!"

As to cost, it was as much or less than buying pre-prepared baskets (without delivery).

Thank you Helene Hanff and '84, Charing Cross Road'!

P.S. In Jerusalem there's a firm that delivers magnificent fruit platters. [Sigh. I don't live in Jerusalem.]

Chocolate Tip

Israel produces a delicious, inexpensive chocolate that is tastier than anything else I've tried, imports included. And it has very good kashrut. Of course, there is fierce competition and it isn't always easy to find this brand, so I buy as many 3-packs of milk and parve as I can — and give them to friends as gifts.

A while back I wanted to give something to the delivery people who bring meals or groceries or laundry, but didn't feel right about just giving money. I hit upon giving a chocolate bar instead (they're kept in the refrigerator). The positive feedback was a nice surprise: some delivery people call me "the chocolate lady" and have no trouble finding my convoluted address, others thank me for spoiling them. Still others tell me they don't eat it, but that's OK too: I tell them to pass it on to someone who needs a smile — and they smile back. 

Baked What?

A documentary on medieval cooking revealed that hard eggs were originally baked on the hearthstone, not boiled. Curious, I tried it each time I cooked something else in the large (whole chicken sized) toaster-oven. After trial and error - under-cooked or exploding eggs – the following method works for me:

* One dozen eggs fit snugly into an English-cake tin

* Eggs must be room temperature before cooking

* Let eggs heat up with oven; do NOT place in pre-heated oven

* Optimum temperature C 175 (no explosions)

* Optimum cooking time 30 minutes (or membrane bakes to shell, making it hard to peel).

So what's the advantage? I save time and energy by cooking two items at once, and always have hard eggs to hand.



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Saturday, 18 May 2024

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