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December 10, 2013

The Sugar Problem
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:08 PM * 447 comments

One of the constant challenges of living in a foreign country is the way that different cultures slice the epistemic cake of the world in different places. Sometimes it’s funny, like how the Dutch routinely put chocolate sprinkles on sandwiches but consider pancakes at breakfast laughably outlandish. Sometimes it’s not so funny, when one says or does something quite trivial and the whole room falls silent in shock. At times like that, I always think of Cordlia Vorkosigan, trying to figure out Barryaran social protocls around sex.

One could not mention sex to or in front of unmarried women or children. Young men, it appeared, were exempt from all rules when talking to each other, but not if a woman of any age or degree were present. The rules also changed bewilderingly with variations of the social status of those present. And married women, in groups free of male eavesdroppers, sometimes underwent the most astonishing transformations in apparent databases. Some subjects could be joked about but not discussed seriously. And some variations could not be mentioned at all. She had blighted more than one conversation beyond hope of recovery by what seemed to her a perfectly obvious and casual remark, and been taken aside by Aral for a quick debriefing.

She tried writing out a list of the rules she thought she had deduced, but found them so illogical and conflicting, especially in the area of what certain people were supposed to pretend not to know in front of certain other people, she gave up the effort. She did show the list to Aral, who read it in bed one night and nearly doubled over laughing.

Barryar, Lois McMaster Bujold

But in my experience at least, the real trials of living abroad are not the great and terrible moments. The really difficult things, like the really wonderful things*, are the little everyday differences that remind one in quiet ways that one is not home (for whatever value of home one uses).

I first noticed this phenomenon when trying to buy sugar in my local supermarket, Albert Heijn, a few months after moving to the Netherlands.

When I was growing up in the US, sugar was always with the baking ingredients. Likewise, in the UK, there it was next to the flour, right where I expected it. But the first time I went looking for sugar here, I was baffled. Flour, baking mixes, raising agents, pancake mixes…no sugar. I searched the entire cooking ingredients quadrant of the store: Herbs, spices, oils, vinegars, long-life milk, pasta, eggs (not refrigerated, because foreign), meat, chicken, exotic ethnic foods like tortillas…no sugar.

By this point, I was convinced that I was just being stupid. I was also in that state that Martin and I call shop-glaze: the condition of being sufficiently overwhelmed by the myriad details of the store that all decision-making (and, indeed, object-perception) fuses have blown. Since it was not the time to ask shop staff for help in a language I didn’t speak very well, much less process an answer in that tongue, I left the shop without sugar.

Then I came back later, with more energy, and conducted a search. It turns out that the Dutch put the sugar next to the coffee, which was halfway across the store from the flour. That was very useful information for the next time I had to buy sugar.

But finding the pattern was even more useful, because I hit it again and again: times when something is impossible, or at least impossibly difficult, because I’m making some hidden assumption or category error. I’m slicing the cake of the world in the wrong place. And that’s not really a function of living in a foreign country, because we all leave the tiny household cultures where we grew up and move into a wider world, one where people do things differently. They all store some metaphorical sugar in the wrong place.

Thus, the sugar problem.

* I talk a lot about how difficult living abroad is, but it’s also really fun. There’s always some difference—or some similarity I took for granted when I was in my native culture—to delight me.

Comments on The Sugar Problem:
#1 ::: micah ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 05:33 PM:

I run into the same thing here in my native US: I can never find the peanut butter.

It moves about capriciously, taunting me as I meander through the myriad aisles of the supermarket, and it is never found in a place that I would expect. I have yet to remember where they place it, or for that matter why that placement occurs, upon entering the supermarket.

#2 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 05:33 PM:

As a completely trivial example, I am minded of the time when a friend came to visit me and the boyfriend I was living with. It seems he was appalled at the disorder in our pantry. While we were out, he very helpfully rearranged the contents so that it was all logical and orderly.

However, while doing so, he also intermixed my boyfriend's and my separate stocks and supplies.

In due course we came home, and set about making dinner. Whereupon we discovered the fruits of his efforts. When we explained why there was one sack of sugar on the third shelf, and another on the sixth shelf, as well as other similar disorderlinesses, the visitor said, "Oh." The possibility of separate stocks hadn't even occurred to him. (It took us a while to get things sorted out again.)

#3 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 05:40 PM:

Chocolate sprinkles on sandwiches?

#4 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 05:42 PM:

That reminds me of the old anecdote (don't know how true it was) about how a Chinese couple, new to our shores, went looking for food in a supermarket. They reasoned that the picture on a container would show what it contained. They saw a big can with fried chicken pictured and bought a can of Crisco.

#5 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 05:57 PM:

At some point in a previous holiday season, I went looking for a can of pumpkin in order to make a pumpkin cake (pumpkin is not an item in regular supply in my kitchen). Next to canned vegetables? No. In the aisle with canned fruits? No. In fresh produce near the other holiday cake/pie supplies, like nuts and dates and those preserved-in-sugar-fruitcake-bits? No. I finally tracked it down near baking ingredients, where it was stored on the bottom shelf near canned pre-made pie fillings (cherry, apple, etc). Logical, if I had even been aware that there was a separate sub-category for pre-made pie fillings (which I would normally have looked for near... canned fruit.)

#6 ::: Michael Mock ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:01 PM:

It isn't always sugar. Sometimes it's a question of figuring out where they keep their socks.

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:04 PM:

Just the other day I had the damndest time finding "graham cracker crust" style pie shells.

They're for making pie, right? I walked up and down the baking aisle. I checked the refrigerated baking products (e.g., biscuit dough and pie crust dought sheets.) No luck.

I eventually asked a stock clerk.

They turned out to be stored along with Jell-O and pudding*. Which made a certain sort of sense**.

* Pudding meaning a creamy custard dessert; I think this sort of thing is referred to as a blancmange in Britain.

** There is a category of "cream pies" which contain pudding.*

#8 ::: Wendy ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:04 PM:

Chocolate-sprinkle sandwiches! And don't forget Speculoos spread, which looks like peanut butter but is made out of Speculoos cookies. So they spread cookies on their bread and then top it with chocolate sprinkles!

I so need to go back to Belgium...

#9 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:18 PM:

Wendy #8: Speculoos is now available in the States, notably at Trader Joe's. I like to mix a spoonful into a cup of coffee.

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:19 PM:

Explaining 'Boston cream pies' is a whole 'nother problem.

I can see sugar close to the coffee; it makes some kind of sense. And the stores I go to tend to put the pudding and cake mixes (and the non-refrigerated pie shells) in the same aisle, with the other baking supplies. Finding them, in a store you don't usually shop at, can be a bigger problem.

#11 ::: Miramon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:24 PM:

On the other hand, in the US they don't have stroopwaffel in the stores at all....

#12 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:32 PM:

My favorite culture-shock movie is Moscow on the Hudson.

In the bad old S.S.R. days, a Russian circus is allowed to come to the U.S. An unlikely member of the team defects.

In Moscow, we had seen him joining a line out in the bitter cold as soon as he spotted it. No one was quite sure what was on offer - shoes? potatoes? It turned out to be toilet paper, and he "magically" produces a number of rolls, tossing them to his family around the supper table. They immediately juggle them.

He is deep in shop-glaze his first time in an American supermarket. Then he turns a corner and is confronted with an entire aisle of coffee.

Lovely movie. I re-watched it a year ago and it's stood up well. Time to put it back in my queueueue.

#13 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:34 PM:

Miramon, that may depend on where in the US you look for stroopwafels! Here in New England I've been able to get both regular caramel and maple stroopwafels at Whole Foods, and occasionally at Stop & Shop.

#14 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:37 PM:

In an unfamiliar store, peanut butter is near the bread. Quik is near the coffee. Cookies and crackers are near each other but might not be in the same aisle; soup goes with crackers.

I like seeing other logics, though, like the one HyVee here that puts Quik with baking products because it's like cocoa which is like hot chocolate sort of. And I have never figured out where stuffing goes. By the potatoes, by the boxed meals, by the baking things because it's like bread crumbs?

#15 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:51 PM:

I made something like three circuits of one London host's kitchen early one morning going through "every" cupboard looking for the sugar bowl and feeling increasingly baffled until it occurred to me to check the dish cupboards, and sure enough, there was the sugar, next to the tea mugs. On one level this makes perfect sense, but at the time I felt pretty strongly that you put food items in pantry cupboards and dishes in dish cupboards and never the twain shall meet. Mixing condiments and dishes is an abomination before something or other. So now I do it, too...

#16 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:51 PM:

So that's why I had to ask where the sugar was at my local corner shop (in the UK) the other day! I couldn't understand their logic, since it was nowhere near the other baking ingredients. But come to think of it, it was next to the coffee.


#17 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:54 PM:

For me in France, it was cream.

I looked for cream to put on desserts for months. I asked for the kind of cream you ate with fruit, and got sour cream (crème fraîche); I asked for the kind of cream you whipped, and got sour cream; I wandered the refrigerator aisles and looked at all gazillion kinds of sour cream.

Finally, I asked for the kind of cream that you would put in coffee. "Ahh, Crème liquide"; it was with the condensed milk, in the square, wax/foil/cardboard packages for shelf-stable milk products.

And now (as of today) I've gotten an offer to move to New England. I'm a Southerner; I know in my head that it isn't so, but my gut sense is that from Philadelphia/Pittsburg north is an undistinguished mass of cold places, barely habitable, inhabited by our historic enemies. If I keep my "foreign country" spectacles on, I will enjoy it and learn a lot; I'm still apprehensive.

#18 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:54 PM:

I generally find peanut butter near the jelly in local supermarkets. It's where I'd look first.

#19 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 06:58 PM:

Some stores are not organized for the convenience of the shopper at all, but for the convenience of the delivery people, which is a different problem.

At my local grocery store, for example, you will frustrate yourself if you look for active dry yeast in the Baking Needs aisle. No, it's kept with the bread.

Never mind the fact that it's a quintessential Baking Need. Never mind the fact that if you buy bread you don't need yeast! Never mind the fact that the FLOUR is in the Baking Needs aisle.

No, they get bread and yeast from the same supplier, so they put them in the same aisle to save time.

Their time. Not yours.

#20 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:00 PM:

I had the dickens of a time finding wheat germ in my local grocery store. I was looking near the flour, because my family uses it for baked goods (and pancakes*). Turns out they keep it in the cereal aisle.

*Wheat germ pancakes are seriously nummy.

#21 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:08 PM:

In an unfamiliar store, peanut butter is near the bread.

That rule will lead you very, very wrong in my local Big Chain; the bread is generally in an aisle near the dairy/eggs cold case, while the peanut butter and jelly live in the same aisle as pickles, olives, and miscellaneous condiments.

In one store I visit regularly, the peanut butter is literally as far away from the bread as is possible, given the store's layout. Any further and it'd be in the makeup section.

The one that gets me is when they periodically move the popcorn.

#22 ::: Blaise Pascal ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:23 PM:

My local supermarket has a tendency to put stuff in multiple places. This usually works out well, as you can get canned mushroom soup both in the soup aisle and in the frozen food section (next to the green beans and fried onions), or the store-brand organic peanut butter in the "natural foods" section and the condiments/spreads aisle.

Sometimes it doesn't work well. If I want the best price on spices, I have to check the spice rack in the baking goods aisle, the large bags of spices in the Indian foods section, and in the bulk foods section -- some of which are unit priced per pound, some per ounce, making comparisons difficult.

Some are just not easily explained. If I want seltzer, I can get the same brand and flavors by the bottle in the "beverages" section (in the seltzer subsection), or by the case in the Kosher foods section.

(Yeast is in the refrigerated case, near the cheeses and butter, not the breads or the baking goods, just so you know.)

About once every year or two they do a major reorganization and move whole sections around. It takes a couple of weeks, during which everything is in temporary locations until they get moved to their new home.

#23 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:23 PM:

@SamChevre: You'll be fine. New England has some really, really pretty spots. Summers can be gorgeous.

Folks are definitely more reserved up there. But not in a bad way.

You're going to want to get some nice wool hats and sweaters and rubber boots.

#24 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:28 PM:

Fred Meyer, a nice Pacific NW variant of the Kroger chain, used to have PB&J on the aisle "behind" the packaged breads.

For some reason it migrated to the middle of the "center aisles" section.

"Freddies" has a natural / organic packaged food section, behind the gourmet food and wines section. If you put walls around it it could almost be a stand-alone store. Some esoteric condiments and ingredients can only be found there.

#25 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:32 PM:

After living in a very small town in the not-quite-wilds of Ecuador for some years as a child, I came back to the United States with my family (briefly) at the age of seven. Some friends picked us up from the airport, and took us all to a generic fast food place for dinner.

I remember that it was very bright and shiny, and oddly clean. But what I exclaimed over at the time was the napkins. They were huge and thick and multi-layered, and they were out in a dispenser where just anyone could take them. Anyone at all. Not just that, you could have as many as you wanted. It boggled my mind. Truly, the United States was a very strange place, and full of very rich people, as I had always suspected.

#26 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:33 PM:

When shopping for the Worldcon consuite a couple years ago, I spent quite a lot of time at a gigantic restaurant supply store (seriously, they had high-lift pallet trucks tootling down the aisles, and a walk in refrigerated section that you could put an entire convenience store in!) trying to find the Nutella. I'd found the jelly on my list (well, except for the strawberry, which they didn't have in the right size), and the peanut butter (smooth AND chunky), and looked around for the Nutella. Nothing. Up and down the aisle. Nothing. Up and down the NEXT aisle. Nothing. It turned out to be three aisles away and around a corner.

And the #10 tin of canned three-bean salad was in the next aisle from the #10 tins of canned garbanzo beans and chick peas and whatever other beans were on my list. The three-bean salad was next to the canned corn.

#27 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:36 PM:

Presumably there's an entire data-driven specialty of rearranging grocery stores. I wonder how *they* slice the world -- not just the world of products, but the world of people and the stores themselves.

#28 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:40 PM:

What always trips me up is that cans of baked beans (molasses-based sauce) are not in the same place - sometimes not even in the same aisle - as cans of beans without sauce.

Also, I recently moved, and the Stop & Shop nearest my new house is not only a lot smaller than the one nearest my old house (it's a much older store with a footprint not unlike the one I grew up with in the 1970s), it has some shelving decisions I find quirky. Pizza sauce should be with the pasta sauces, right? Jarred tomato sauce, same brands, only slightly different formulations? But this store has a "pizza things" section that has jarred pizza sauce and pre-baked crusts together, at one end of the bread aisle.

The four-foot section of British imports (in the aisle with the tea, coffee, cocoa, and bottled juices) is a nice plus, though.

I had to completely reorganize the kitchen when I moved in here, as I was taking over the bulk of the cooking duties. I am sure that at some point there must have been a good reason to use the large pantry closet in the kitchen for cleaning supplies, forcing food storage to be confined to the less-convenient cupboard over the stove and overflow on the kitchen table, but it had led to such oddities as five aerosol cans of furniture polish and half a dozen bottles of Febreze (with no pets or smokers present). I went back to the time-honored tradition of Under The Sink, with overflow in the garage, and laundry supplies actually in the cupboard nearest the washing machine, and the pantry now contains FOOD. Lots of it. I moved in with a quantity of baking supplies, and I needed a place to put them!

Combining three people's pots and pans was interesting, too, especially because, while my accompanying entering housemate had only been acquiring kitchen gear since around 2004, and had mainly stopped after 2006 when she first came to live with me, I've been accumulating it since 1991, and the house we moved into had a supply going back to 1968 and it wasn't starting from scratch THEN, as it wasn't a first household for the occupants. (Already-present housemate has lived in said house since she was six. She's the only one left.) A quantity of stuff went into storage, and even more, of the "nobody will want to use this even if we go separate ways" variety, went to Goodwill. Some stuff stayed out in multiples, once it looked like there'd be room for it; this is why I made six pies at Thanksgiving for four people, because I got dared to after I decided that all six Pyrex pie plates could stay in the kitchen. But it wasn't just the duplication; abi's Sugar Problem reared its head in where to put things. The drawer under the oven, for example, was full of pot lids, all kept separately from the pots. I keep my pot lids with their pots or very near them, because I hate hunting through a drawer of lids to find the right one, and in my world, the drawer under the oven is for cookie sheets.

I'm still working on "do we REALLY need a toaster oven when I brought a nice compact toaster that doesn't have to be supervised to make sure it doesn't burn the toast, and the real oven now works?" but this is because the toaster oven is taking up valuable countertop space and an outlet that I want to make into the permanent home for my stand mixer. There was a stand mixer (an ancient one) in the kitchen already, but tucked away in the cupboard over the refrigerator that nobody can ever reach, along with a very large unopened bottle of cooking oil that had expired in 2001. I use my stand mixer a lot more than that!

But yes. Pizza sauce by the pasta sauce, or by pizza crusts as a species of bread? Lids with their pots, or all in a drawer together? There's usually some sort of logic at work.

#29 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:49 PM:

Micah, #1: I usually find the peanut butter in one of two places -- either with the jams and jellies, or with the other condiments such as mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce. Some stores don't even separate the jams and jellies from that section.

Jacque, #2: He rearranged the stuff in YOUR cupboards to suit what HE thought was proper? Man, I would have gone up like Vesuvius and he would never have darkened my door again. Boundaries: you just don't do that to other people's stuff without asking first. That's like installing software on someone else's computer without permission.

SamChevre, #17: One thing you'll find up there that may not make sense to you is shoe-bags, especially at this time of year. This is because of shoe-boots -- winter boots which are intended to be worn as shoes rather than over shoes. If you wear shoe-boots to and from the office, then you need a shoe-bag to carry your office shoes in to wear during the day.

(I'm now reminded of how difficult it was to find winter boots that didn't have 3" heels after I moved to Nashville. I finally resorted to looking for them in Goodwill, where there were plenty -- doubtless abandoned by Northerners thinking, "Well, it's the South, I'll never need those again." Hah.)

#30 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:50 PM:

More than obscure shelf arrangements, the thing that drives me crazy about supermarkets:

"Hangers." Little shelf / bin units that are tacked onto shelves or freezer case doors to display a "related" product. Such as ice cream toppings by the ice cream, or seasoning packets by the sour cream (to make dips).

"Hangers" (my term) are often large enough to make it difficult to easily see / access the shelves behind them. Opening up an freezer case so you can see the ice cream within is a real pain the ass.

"Dumps" (industry term). A free-standing display shelf. Sometimes metal, sometimes folded cardboard. The clutter aisles and block shelves. One dump-variant is a sort of parasite shelf added to the aisle-end displays; these make getting into or leaving an aisle difficult, and function like an untrimmed hedge at a street corner, making it dangerous to leave an aisle.

#31 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:56 PM:

P.S. My pantry:

This was taken a while ago. It is pretty solidly packed now.

Most of the breakfast cereals are now in plastic bins in the garage/basement. An overflow canned goods shelf was relocated here. All of the sugar and grain products are now in plastic bins, after a pantry moth scare.

#32 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 07:57 PM:

Ulrika, due to the Great Kitchen Consolidation, I have three active sugar bowls!

One doesn't match any of the other dishes, and has a lid with a notch to accommodate a spoon, so the granulated white sugar's in that. The second is part of the set of flowered blue and white china, with a matching creamer, and I put the sugar cubes in that. When the weather was warm and my housemate who prefers cube sugar to granulated wasn't drinking hot tea, I stuck it in the cupboard, next to the (empty) creamer, on the same shelf as the cups and saucers of that set - most of the time, we use mugs, which are on the next shelf down.

Side note: did you know that Target is now selling a set of basic service-for-four stoneware dishes that DOESN'T include matching cups or mugs? Just big plates, small plates, and generously-sized bowls. They figured out, I guess, that most people have their own individual collections of mugs, and don't need or even want plain ones to match their dishes when they've become attached to the one with the fornicating bunny rabbits or what have you. And that set of dishes is a third of the price of a comparable set with mugs included. Clever of them.

But I said three sugar bowls. The third one isn't a bowl. It's a glass container with a flip-top metal lid, of the sort you might find in a diner. I keep Demerara sugar in it, because that's what I put on my oatmeal.

Carrie S., in some stores, I expect to find microwave popcorn on the same aisle as the potato chips, but plain bulk popcorn in the produce section next to the nuts and dried fruits.

#33 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:03 PM:

Rikibeth (28): My local Stop and Shop* recently (within the last year or so) massively rearranged the entire store. I hate it. The new arrangement makes a lot less sense to me, and not just because of (un)familiarity. And there are a few things I used to buy semiregularly that I still haven't refound.

*which has** been my grocery store through at least two different changes of name/owner/chain

**had, rather; I just moved almost ten miles and am having to orient myself to all new shops

#34 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:06 PM:

I spent too much time in a US grocery store, looking for peanut butter without added sugar (not the ALL NATURAL stuff, just ordinary peanut butter). It turned out to be in a special Diabetic Foods section.

#35 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:12 PM:

I suspect that the large supermarket companies develop formal taxonomies for their stock at some level of the organization. If you really want to see a formal taxonomy, one probably influenced by tradition, look at the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States and be glad that stores are not laid out like that. (I am no expert, having used the HTS only a little to fill out customs declarations for international eBay shipments.)

In the U.S. supermarkets periodically rearrange things to force shoppers to search the shelves and presumably make more impulse purchases ("I haven't found X yet, but I think I'd like Y").

I have also noticed more pragmatic rearrangement recently (at Safeway, where I shop regularly, and at Whole Foods, where I would like to but it's too expensive).

Some food items, such as prepared salads, cut-up vegetables, and tofu, are located just past the fruits and vegetables for people who dare not venture into the rest of the supermarket.

Some snack foods, such as cookies, crackers, and snack nuts are logically put in the same aisle (but chips -- crisps to you UK readers -- are not, because the bags take up too much room and need a separate aisle). But baking nuts are located in the baking section.

Fig jam, which should have been with the jams, jellies, and preserves, was located with the tapenade and olive selection in the deli section.

Don't even think about trying to find dried fruit or honey. They will not be where you think they should be.

#36 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:13 PM:

Mary Aileen, they might have gotten rid of the things you can't find. I had thought it was just that the nearby smaller Stop & Shop didn't have the skin-on, wedge-cut frozen French fries that my housemate favors, but when I went back to the large one across town, THEY didn't have them any more, either.

Target does, though. In fact, I discovered, when making a trip to Target for laundry detergent (because they carry larger, cheaper sizes than the grocery store) that they have MOST of my standard grocery list, and cheaper than Stop & Shop. If it weren't for loss leaders and produce, I'd probably be doing all my grocery shopping there.

Well, and there's the scan-it guns. I've gotten really used to scanning my groceries as I take them off the shelf and bagging them as I push the cart around. At Target I have to wait in a regular register line. Do Not Want.

#37 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:20 PM:

sara, they must have been classifying fig jam as being akin to membrillo, or quince paste, and thus something to be served as an accompaniment to fancy cheeses. (For me, fig jam is a thing to smear on boneless chicken before wrapping it in foil and baking it. Mixing with mustard optional. I can also make a fabulous vinaigrette with it.)

#38 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:26 PM:

sara, they must have been classifying fig jam as being akin to membrillo, or quince paste, and thus something to be served as an accompaniment to fancy cheeses. (For me, fig jam is a thing to smear on boneless chicken before wrapping it in foil and baking it. Mixing with mustard optional. I can also make a fabulous vinaigrette with it.)

#39 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:35 PM:

gaukler, #34: We buy certain types of (generic term) nutrition bars for behind-the-table snacks. Many stores will have these in two completely different locations depending on the brand -- some of them will be near either the breakfast cereal or the cookies, and the rest (generally the ones labeled either "protein bars" or "diabetic") will be over in the pharmacy area.

#40 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:37 PM:

SamChevre, I really like New England. Details on request. (Although part of that is that I live in Boston, which is REALLY FABULOUS, if also FRELLING COLD.)

French sugar is also by the coffee. And their sugar lumps are giant rectangular slabs. You dunk half of it into your tiny espresso and bite it off. Then you hold the second half in your molars and drink your coffee through it.

#41 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:41 PM:

Ha. Just yesterday, in a town I have lived in for 13 years, in a country I've lived in all my life, I drove myself nuts looking for the molasses in the grocery store. I wanted to make gingerbread. It should be in the baking aisle near the sugar, right?

It was halfway across the store next to the pancake syrup, which was sensibly next to the pancake mix, which was in turn next to the peanut butter and jelly, not next to baking supplies.

Not the way I would have sliced it. Although it didn't surprise me in the least to have the Karo syrup next to the pancakes, because that I do put on pancakes - although it's also a baking need, because pecan pie.

Re beans, in my usual grocery store the canned black beans are in two places, with the ethnic food next to tortillas and such, and again on the next aisle with baked beans and chili and such. Different brands are in different places, which is mildly annoying when I'm looking for something specific like the reduced-sodium ones.

And sara @35, yeah, had a similar problem looking for the raisins once. I eventually found them on an end cap in the produce section (not with canned fruit, not with baking goods, not with snack foods...)

Also, Michael Mock @6 thanks for the link about the socks. I liked that perspective.

#42 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:46 PM:

Lee @39, I think those bars are in 3 different locations in our store. Odwalla bars are in the produce section, most of the others are near the nutrition and pharmacy, and some are with the granola bars and pop tarts near the cereal.

#43 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 08:50 PM:

Blaise Pascal @22: If I want seltzer, I can get the same brand and flavors by the bottle in the "beverages" section (in the seltzer subsection)
Some stores in my area seem to have artificially sweetened "flavored sparkling water" in the soda aisle, and regular selzer (flavored and un-) in the water aisle, and club soda & tonic water in the mixers aisle, which are all different aisles.

Rikibeth @28: pot lids, all kept separately from the pots
I live in a housing cooperative, which has a similar over-accumulation-of-cookware problem, and I'm reasonably certain that the pot lids get their own cupboard because most of them belong to pots that no longer exist. I hardly ever use pot lids anyway, but if I were going to I would find it very difficult to find one that neither overhung nor let too much steam escape...

Also our "misc tools" drawer is labeled "A Massive Cultural Experience".

#44 ::: Evan ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 09:12 PM:

...but consider pancakes at breakfast laughably outlandish

De Dutch Pannekoek House lied to me!?

#45 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 09:21 PM:

And then there's going to Target.

There seems to be only two rules they definitely follow: Women's and girls' clothing at the front center, and the food on one side wall or the other. After that it seems to get pretty arbitrary, so that of the three stores I go to regularly, two of them appear to be mirror images from the outside, but are not so inside. So the first thing I do when going in the door is to set my mental map of that store so as to not waste too much time wandering around.

(Apropos of nothing much, the Crystal City Target, a bit south of National Airport and the Pentagon, has a giant target painted on the roof, big enough to draw your eye on GMaps as soon as you zoom in enough to pick out individual buildings. I have no idea why and I've never seen this anywhere else.)

#46 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 09:33 PM:

clew@27 - "Presumably there's an entire data-driven specialty of rearranging grocery stores."
Oh, yes. Very much so, especially for bigger chains. Walmart in particular is well-known a huge set of cutting-edge data warehouse stuff that they use for that, in addition to the rest of their supply chain management. Some of it's driven by their measurement of customer expectations of where to find stuff, some of it by vendor management (lots of shelf space in a typical US grocery store is managed by vendors rather than the store, e.g. there's a chunk of space for the Mexican food dealer, a chunk each for Coke and Pepsi, multiple sets for bread dealers, etc.), some of it for material-handling reasons (fresh milk, other dairy, eggs, meat, frozens all have constraints. And milk and juice are heavy.)

A couple of examples that are cross-industry - you'll often find beer near the disposable diapers, because when Dad is sent to the store to get more diapers, the impulse purchase is right there. If there's a loss-leader sale on chicken, depending on the class and ethnic mix of the neighborhood, you may want to promote BBQ sauce, or white wine, or beer, or tortillas, so you'll want some of those near the chicken as well as in their usual locations. And the checkout lane has candy bars at child-eye-level as well as celebrity gossip magazines at adult eye level (though some stores will also have a no-candy checkout lane.)

I studied Operations Research in college, back when the grocery chain I had a coop job with was time-sharing on a PDP-11. We did a lot of inventory-level theory, time-and-motion study, etc. Computer price-performance has increased by a factor of about a million since then, which has let them do a lot more data-driven planning. And bar codes tell them a lot more than just the price and what to re-order, like what products often sell together.

#47 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 09:50 PM:

mine puts peanut-butter, honey, and jam together, but bread is on a different aisle.

every store is different, and then they rearrange the contents every so often so you have to re-find everything.

#48 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 10:01 PM:

Finding cocoa powder. Apparently at some grocery stores around here, it's viewed as a "seasonal" product, so they don't carry it in the summer. And at others, it's in two places - near the coffee and tea, and with the baking supplies. But the cocoa near the coffee is all the pre-mixed stuff with sugar and powdered milk. If you want straight cocoa, it's only over with the baking supplies. (And not only does it cost about the same per pound to get the diluted sugar/milk stuff, it's designed for children in America so it's undrinkably sweet, probably 2-3 times the amount of sugar per cup as I'd use.)

These days when I'm making cocoa, I usually start with chocolate chips instead of powder, bittersweet if I can get it, or semi-sweet, and melt it in the microwave.

#49 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 10:03 PM:

The grocery I usually go to (because it's in a shopping center with an office-supply store, a hardware stores, and a crafts store) puts the pancake mix and syrups in the cereal section. I don't remember where they stash the molasses, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it there.

They're a little annoying, because they have a deli cheese/olive bar, a bakery section (not to be confused with the bread aisle), a couple more 'deli' islands, and a coffee place, all taking up a fair amount of floor space where there used to be aisles with more food. Cereal is now half an aisle, and so are the baking section, the coffee and tea section, the canned veggie and soup sections, and some stuff has disappeared or gone to weird places.

#50 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 10:08 PM:

estelendur, I found NINE pot lids that no longer had corresponding pots, not including the aluminum Universal Lid with all the concentric ridges to fit multiple sizes of pot.

The potless lids went away, but I greeted the Universal Lid with cries of glee, and tucked it at the back of the pot cupboard, against such time as I might want to clap a lid on my large cast-iron skillet while I'm using the glass lid for my large stainless sauté pan on the pan itself.

As for the gadgets, well, the drawers in this kitchen ARE notably small, so they occupy two drawers. I've divided them into Baking and Savory. There's a Microplane in each. :) Okay. The one in the savory drawer is the plastic-handled Microplane that I use all the time. The one in the baking drawer is the handleless one that I used to keep in my portable work kit along with the pastry tips, a couple of Victorinox paring knives (very good for the low price, but cheap enough that if I lost them, I wouldn't grieve) and the mini offset icing spatula. I still reach for the handled one even if I'm grating nutmeg or citrus zest instead of Parmesan, but the handleless one was part of my baking kit so it's in the baking drawer.

I nearly had a heart attack when Inhabiting Housemate brought me a package to open and handed me one of my good chef's knives to open it with. Accompanying Housemate knows better; even if she hadn't figured it out by analogy from Fabric Shears vs. Paper Scissors (and she's got YEARS of costume shop experience, that one's second nature) she'd borne witness to the fuss I kicked up when my then-husband used one of my bread knives to trim the bristles on a bamboo pot scrubber that he wanted to use as a drum broom. This didn't stop her from using one of the bread knives, some years later when we'd begun living together, to cut off a piece of plastic whatchamacallit on her car - but she used the bread knife we'd quit using because the other one was better, and after she'd done it she confessed by coming in holding the knife and saying "I did not just use your knife to trim that piece of plastic off my car. Nope. Didn't do it. Wasn't me." Which had me laughing, and was also an admission of I Know Bread Knives Are Not Really For Cars. Said bread knife is in my toolbox now with the screwdrivers and the hammer and the needle-nosed pliers...

Inhabiting Housemate has two decent knives and a whole slew of rubbish ones, and I don't think she ever learned the difference.

#51 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 10:20 PM:

The layout of this shop is most perverse,
the signs are gibberish, and the staff are worse.
These items: why are they all in one aisle?
What label could you put on such a file?
Down here, shelf after shelf of suckling pigs.
Down there, trained bears and tigers dancing jigs.
Across from them, some desiccated snakes.
Mermaids? On special? Oh for heaven sakes!
Innumerable beasts--I'm turning green.
Stray dogs. My head hurts--but don't make a scene!
What kind of patron would a nervous cop tase?
A foreigner, trembling as if mad with shop-glaze.
And as I sink into a swoon of store-haze,
I see: it's the Emporium of Borges.

#52 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 10:30 PM:

oldster: Magnificent!

#53 ::: Miramon ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2013, 11:59 PM:

oldster, are you channeling Avram Davidson? Inspired, though, wherever the afflatus may have come from.

#54 ::: Bruce H. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:01 AM:

At my local, the hot chocolate mix used to be near the coffee, but then they moved it to the cereal aisle.

#55 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:22 AM:

It was a problem even in Shakespeare's time:

Tell me, where is fancy bread?

To which the modern response is "Aisle 7, opposite deli", rather than near ordinary bread. My example recently was trying to find coconut milk. Turns out it was next to soy milk and almond milk, not next to all the curry-related things.

Less specifically food-related, I spent a long time when first in the US trying to get passport photos. In Australia, you get them from pharmacies. In Seattle, not.

#56 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:24 AM:

Miramon @11, here in Brooklyn, I can get stroopwaffel at my local Korean deli.

#57 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:25 AM:

My "traps for new players" one in Australian supermarkets is tomato spaghetti sauce, as compared to tomato sauce (ketchup) for putting on meat pies.

The spaghetti sauce base is generally in the same aisle as the pasta. Indeed, often the sauces are shelved immediately above the pasta. Why? Because the spaghetti sauce is a "convenience food". You'll most likely find other wet meal bases in the same aisle, and you may well find things like the canned spaghetti and the baked beans and tinned meals there as well. Dry meal bases, meanwhile, will be in the same aisle as the herbs and spices (and possibly the oils and baking goods). Dried fruit is in with the baking goods, except for the bulk stuff which is in with the fresh fruit and vegetables.

Meanwhile, the tomato sauce (ketchup) inevitably shares an aisle with things like barbecue sauce, soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce, marinades for meat, vinegar, oils, salad dressings and pickles. Because it's something you add to the meal once it's completed (or add as an ingredient early on).

Oh, but the soya sauce may also be stored in with the "Asian and Exotic Foods" aisle (wherein you will generally find the rice and the dry non-pasta noodles as well). So check both locations. Mexican food counts as exotic, so look for most accoutrements of mexican cuisine here - except for Salsa, which will be in the same aisle as the corn chips and potato chips, probably close to where the corn chips are.

Nuts? Well, if you're after bulk nuts, they're in with the fresh fruit and vegetables, down toward the back of the store. If you're after nuts for nibbling with drinks, look for the aisle with the potato chips (crisps) - this will share territory with either the soft drinks or the confectionery, but soft drinks is more likely. If you're looking for nuts for baking, they'll probably be in with the baking products, amongst the dried fruit. Check all three locations, because if you can't find what you're looking for in one of them, it might be in either of the others.

Fruit juice is either in the same aisle as the soft drinks, or look for it near the cereals, or the tinned fruit and desert products, or there's some in the fridge section near the milk. Canned fish is near the canned vegetables, but not near the canned soup. Beans for cooking and salad are not stored with convenience meal baked beans. If you're looking for jam, marmalade, peanut butter, honey, Nutella and other such spreads, they'll be in the same aisle as the canned fruit. Or they'll be near the bread and cereals. Unless you're looking for the organic/low sugar stuff, in which case it might be in a separate aisle altogether.

Oh, and often the tissues and the toilet rolls are in separate aisles, but not always.

Can you tell I've spent a lot of time explaining the logic of the Australian supermarket to my partner?

#58 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:27 AM:

P J Evans @47: every store is different, and then they rearrange the contents every so often so you have to re-find everything.
I've seen it suggested that the purpose of this might be to draw you past things you haven't looked at in a while, and tempt you to buy them.

Rikibeth @50, I'm tempted to declare that the house should just buy five universal lids; it would be simpler, and given that the lids are in a *vertical* cupboard, make me worry less about inevitable breakage on a mass scale…

I nearly had a heart attack when Inhabiting Housemate brought me a package to open and handed me one of my good chef's knives to open it with.
Dear LORD. This house has several cast-iron pans and ONE good knife. This is a source of much frustration, partly because the one good knife is mine and nobody seems to understand that mistreating it will get us NO good knives, and I rehabilitated all the cast-iron in September… Now, you seem like someone who Knows: what, when you get right down to it, is the proper way to care for cast-iron pans? Because I have one idea and at least one other person in the household has a distinctly different idea.

oldster @51: Applause!

#59 ::: Doug Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:30 AM:

As an IT person, I believe in solving every problem with more IT. And so does my supermarket chain: they have an app, which, once I tell it which store I'm at, purports to tell me what aisle I'll find things in.

I haven't used the app much yet, and so I'm still to discover why half of its reviews are one star...

#60 ::: GlendaP ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:15 AM:

Estelendur @58: My go to for cast iron care.

#61 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:01 AM:

Bill Stewart no. 46: Then I wish to heck somebody at Wal-Mart would call me to explain the logic behind where the heck they keep their matches! I cannot find them anywhere.

#62 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:03 AM:

Just remembered a rule that slapped me in the face when I attempted to buy fruit in Middletown, Connecticut: Apparently you aren't allowed to handle it yourself. How do you know it's any good if you can't pick it up?

#63 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:13 AM:

Thomas, #55: Finding hummus can be an issue, too. The big HEB where we shop for ours has at least 3 locations that have stuff-in-tubs. One is yogurt and cream cheese, one is flavored spreadable cheese and queso, one is hummus and other vegetable-type spreadables. All in different parts of the store.

estelendur, #58: I seem to have generalized from "don't use the sewing scissors to cut paper" to "don't use the kitchen shears to cut non-food". Which doesn't bother me unless my partner has taken the crappy cut-anything junk-drawer scissors out of the drawer and put them down... somewhere, now well-buried under a pile of Stuff. He does the same thing with pens. It took me a couple of years and several explosions to establish that My Good Pens (at the computer desk) are not to be removed from that area; ditto My Desk Scissors, Letter Opener, Tape Measure, etc. At least that way I always know there's ONE of the required tool in a place where I can reliably find it.

#64 ::: AlyxL ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:18 AM:

Bill Stewart @48

I've had the same problem with cocoa powder, and I suspect it's partly a generational thing - I seem to be the only person in North London who still buys it to drink. The "drinking chocolate" with added sugar is way, way too sweet.

This whole thread strikes a chord, though; I spent ages this week trying to find vacuum-packed pre-cooked chestnuts. Are they a vegetable, a baking ingredient or a nut?

#65 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:38 AM:

We have two large Chinese supermarkets in town, and they have a system of stocking I would call perishability + space + history. That is, you can pretty much assume that the fresh and frozen fish will be at one end of the store, and the cutlery, dishes and incense at the other, but what's between is comprehensible only to someone who knows the complete history of stocking the store. Why is the tapioca starch on an end cap with the canned squid, instead of with the rice flour and tapioca pearls? Why is the oyster sauce on a different aisle from the soy sauce, and next to the canned fake meat? Even the stocker can't answer that one, he's only been working there for 18 months. He just puts it where he's been told.

#66 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:26 AM:

oldster @51:

You are beginning to seriously damage the credibility of your assertion that you don't write poetry.

I laughed aloud.

#67 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:30 AM:

"The past is a foreign country..."

I was in a store a few days ago which had been completely re-arranged since I was last there.

Here in the UK there are two or three supermarket chains which have spread from Europe. (I think one, which was not seen in my area, went bust.) They are sometimes oddly laid out. Goods which you would expect to see together are not. There are unfamiliar brands and products, which might be in a special section of a large British supermarket.

Rye bread? Waffles?

#68 ::: Tom Womack ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:14 AM:

I well remember an attempt to buy matches in Argentina when the clicky thing for lighting the gas stove in the hostel stopped clicking; my Spanish is dreadful, I go and ask for 'cosas pequenas de bosco para hacer fuego', and the people in the shop look at me very strangely indeed.

#69 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:32 AM:

Steve C @4: that reminds me of the anecdote about the Russian exchange students visiting (either the UK or USA) in the early 90s. And the girl who broke down in tearful hysterics in one particular supermarket aisle.

See, she was used to the labelling convention that what is depicted on the outside of a tin represents the contents of the tin. And then, for the first time, she encountered canned kitten food ...

#70 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:55 AM:

oldster @ 51: wonderful!

When I was a student, I used to do a lot of my shopping at the nearest supermarket. It was an irksome place. I can live with the odd seasonal reshuffle, but this place used to swap everything around with infuriating frequency. The idea that this results in more impulse purchases is only sensible if your regular clientele has the money to do that; but if most of your clientele is students on a very tight budget, all you're going to end up doing is hacking them off.

It eventually got to the point where I flagged down a member of staff and said, politely but despairingly, "OK. You win. Where have you hidden the yoghurts this time?"

#71 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 09:22 AM:

#59 ::: Doug Burbidge

I assume the problem with IT for locating items in stores is keeping it updated. I wonder if visual recognition has reached the point where cameras could supply the information for updating.

Security cameras aren't set up to cover the merchandise that thoroughly, but I like the idea of storebots wandering through the aisles when the store is closed. That's just for fun-- cheap little cameras throughout the store would probably be enough.

#72 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 09:30 AM:

In roughly three weeks I get on a plane for Japan to begin my secondment. A year living not only in Japan, but not in the major expatriate areas (I'll be living in Mikage, in Kobe, and working in Osaka).

I expect I will have many, many sugar problems.

#73 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 09:38 AM:

estelendur @58, in re cast iron: I was raised to treat cast iron in a way that horrifies some people when I describe it, but over my whole childhood kept pans in quite good repair and with a lovely seasoned surface that sheds everything up to scrambled egg. I learned to care from them from my mother, who as a broke college student populated her cabinets by finding rusted misused cast iron in thrift stores for $.50 and rehabilitating it. So I know how to go from rusty, too, though I'd really really prefer not to.

My cast iron frypans are hung on the wall when not in use. Take down, cook in one; let the dog lick out whatever remains once it cools. Then I take my Dobie dish scrubber and ordinary dish liquid (Dawn by preference in our house) and wash it like it was any other frypan. It goes from the sink to the stovetop (because our drying rack WILL NOT hold that much metal upright without mishap), where I light the burner low to dry the pan. Once dry and sufficiently warm, it gets a small puddle of oil poured in it to spread and shimmer, at which point the burner is turned off. A half a paper towel is folded and employed to spread the hot oil all around the surface of the pan, top and bottom and up onto the handle.

If it's in pretty good shape, it is left like that until it cools, wiped out with the other half of the paper towel, and hung up again. If it needs it (about once every 3-5 washes), it gets put, copiously oily (my mom used to butter it thickly with Crisco and put it in face-up for the serious rehabilitations, once the rust was scrubbed flat), upside-down into a 250degF oven (with a piece of foil under it to catch drips) for several hours, taken back out, heated on the stovetop with more oil, wiped out thoroughly while hot and oily with another paper towel, and then allowed to cool, wiped, and hung.

This keeps them in quite good shape with a nice deep season, but I have friends of the "no dish soap ever touches it, just wipe it out hot with oil and hang it" school, which to me leaves an unacceptable food residue and lingering flavor on the pan.

When my teenage sister was living with us, we had an Oh dear God who DOES that?? moment. She baked. Using my stuff. She (completely without cause; what she was doing did not call for it) used my complicated two-metal-screens-and-activated-with-a-trigger sifter … and put it, still half-full of flour, into a big mixing-bowl full of water in the sink when she was done. I found it there several hours later when I was clearing up after dinner.

Who soaks metal screen?!? Plus, it had a nice layer of unremovable flour paste entombed between the screens gunking up the moving parts. It was a total loss. I didn't use it much, but for things that DID need to be sifted it was wondrous convenient, and now it was trash.

#74 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 09:43 AM:

I also remember the endless recipe-translation threads on rec.arts.sf.fandom, because what stuff gets called (and what is even available) transpondially is radically different, despite purporting to speak the same language. SamChevre's many creams problem is an example. Then there was the poor expat trying to make a Proper Pecan Pie for her British in-laws' Christmas celebration, but unable to find Karo, asking if Lyle's Golden Syrup would do ...

There are now websites for this, thank goodness, some which even define the US kinds of milk-stuff by how much butterfat remains, for ease of conversion.

#75 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 10:26 AM:

GlendaP @60: Thanks!

Lee @63, my mother has the same issue with supplies disappearing, despite the fact that there is at least one pair of scissors in each of three rooms. Perhaps it's better now that my brother and I are out of the house.

Elliott Mason @73, that sounds more or less like my method except I only rarely soap it up (I am afraid of disturbing the still-forming seasoning layer). Also I don't do the oven thing because our oven is currently broken. The landlords supposedly know. They haven't done anything about it. Argh. And I keep finding the pans in the drying rack, stripped of the nice black layer they were developing through cooking, or worse, soaking in the sink...

#76 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:23 AM:

In my supermarket peanut butter is across the aisle from the cereal near the jelly. After all, they are all breakfast food.* It is, by the way, about 2/3 of the way across the store from bread!

* One spreads peanut butter on toast, does one not? This is perfectly sensible and all other methods of categorizing peanut butter are heresy!

#77 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:28 AM:

Tinned milk seems to wander around.

In my environment, evaporated milk is used for macaroni and cheese and for pumpkin pie, and condensed milk for key lime pie. And indeed, from time to time, I find stores which put both of them next to the baking section.

Some other stores place them next to the coffee/tea section, along with abominations like CoffeeMate.

A third set have a separately signed section -- i.e. "canned milk" is listed as an item on the aisle signs -- and in that case they are shelved along with coconut milk ... which I use only for making curries, and which is frequently, otherwise, shelved in the "International Foods" section.

#79 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:32 AM:

Oops. Didn't see spam in that case.

#80 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:16 PM:

Further to the gadget drawer, mine is subdivided into sections. One section contains "things to open things." Can opener, scissors, corkscrew, nutcracker, etc. Works for me.

#81 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:17 PM:

oliviacw #5:

I had exactly the same problem this Thanksgiving, when assembling the ingredients for pumpkin bread. Are you in Austin or some other place that has a Central Market?

Carol Kimball #12:

When I flew to London after several months living in Venice, one of our first stops was a Sainsbury's. I'm (not too) embarrassed to say I broke down crying. Because all the lovely shelves! Filled with all the different brands of food!

My current problem is with, of all things, Velveeta. Last week, we spent what seemed like forever wandering round an entire 85,000 square foot grocery, trying to find it. This processed cheese product seems to be the one thing that the chain cannot agree upon, as in three stores: one keeps it next the dips (logical, for the main use around here is in chile con queso); one keeps it, along with the grated Parmesan, next to the hot dogs (unclear logic here); and the third--the one we played search party in--seems, so far, only to have the two-pound bricks, in a floor display next to the prepared foods-to-go (logic completely lacking). Presumably they have smaller amounts somewhere, but at this rate, I'm convinced God Himself couldn't find it. I much prefer the small local chain that keeps it right next to the hot sauce.

#82 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:22 PM:

James @77: Tinned milk seems to wander around.

That's a disturbing sentence, taken on its own.

Elliott Mason @74: the endless recipe-translation threads on rec.arts.sf.fandom

My favorite such thread (possibly from a different newsgroup) included roughly the following sequence, from four different posters:

    1: "What is trifle?"
    2: <recipe including ladyfingers>
    3: "What are ladyfingers?"
    4: "Okra."

Each post was a perfectly sensible response to the previous one, but between 1 and 4 there was a horrible transition in food vocabulary.

#83 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:29 PM:

Oh, here's a "sugar problem" that visitors to my house consistently run into: they go into the bathroom to wash their hands, and can't find the soap. That's because the only soap in the bathroom is allocated to the shower. I hate trying to wash my hands in a traditional bathroom sink, which is traditionally designed around the idea that you want to use it to wash your hair. (I mean, seriously!?) The resulting faucet design means that, not only can't you effectively rinse your hair (trying it with mine courts a depressed skull fracture; its design features sharp right angles. Stylish. Yeah.), there's not even clearance to easily rinse your hands.

Very early on, I realized (after the Nth time cleaning up the soap soup on the side of the sink) that it was my house, and I didn't have to wash my hands in the bathroom. Ever since, I always do so in the kitchen.

clew @27: Presumably there's an entire data-driven specialty of rearranging grocery stores. I wonder how *they* slice the world -- not just the world of products, but the world of people and the stores themselves.

"What maximizes impulse purchases?"

Lee @29: He rearranged the stuff in YOUR cupboards to suit what HE thought was proper? Man, I would have gone up like Vesuvius and he would never have darkened my door again. Boundaries: you just don't do that to other people's stuff without asking first.

Heh. I think I was polite, mostly because I was so shocked. As it happens, he didn't darken our door again. And, yeah: boundaries.

I'm now reminded of how difficult it was to find winter boots that didn't have 3" heels after I moved to Nashville.

My go-to solution for things like that is to look in the men's section.

Stefan Jones @30: Hangers & Dumps:

"Oops! Did I just knock that over? My bad!" }:-)=

@31: All of the sugar and grain products are now in plastic bins, after a pantry moth scare.

I've never had trouble with moths in the sugar, but all of my grains and seeds that aren't in sealed mason jars tend to live in the freezer.

Rikibeth @32: the produce section next to the nuts and dried fruits.

Except in Boulder, the nuts and dried fruits tend to reside in or near the bulk section. Produce is a separate section entirely. The bulk section is often (but not always) near the produce section, though.

My local Safeway, for a long time, had a really annoying arrangement: the "health food" section was between the bulk and produce sections. Bulk soap (think kind where you whack off a chunk the size you want) tended to live on the side of "health food" nearest the produce section. This meant that I wound up having to hold my breath if i wanted any form of cabbage, onions, or potatoes. Somebody finally got a clue and moved it, thank Ghu. This fall, they'd decided to do a similar trick with those obnoxious cinnamon pine cone bags (which logically live in the floral section, between Produce and the front door), which meant that choosing kale or apples had to be done oxygen-free. That one was blessedly short-lived.

#84 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:30 PM:

Jacque @2 As a completely trivial example, I am minded of the time when a friend came to visit. It seems he was appalled at the disorder in our pantry. While we were out, he very helpfully rearranged the contents so that it was all logical and orderly.

Lee @29 Man, I would have gone up like Vesuvius and he would never have darkened my door again. Boundaries: you just don't do that to other people's stuff without asking first.

Jacque, is your friend a Virgo? Because the same thing happened to me. Only it was my whole (efficiency) apartment. Her only response was "Never leave a Virgo alone in a confined space." Of course the tone of delivery changed ranging from matter of fact to apologetic. Embarrassment was optional.

Lee, sometimes friendship, and a friend in need, trumps boundaries. She was going through a tough time and organizing (and reorganizing, and re-reorganizing) things was one of her coping mechanisms. I spent the next year calling her up to ask "what did you do with _______?" whenever I reached for something that wasn't where it should be. She always knew where she'd put it, which made it easier for me to deal with the re-ordering. Although the first call was full to the brim with exasperation, it got to be a running joke. The sometimes daily calls also seemed to help her emotional state of health (which had me worried). Having sat suicide watch over her, putting up with environmental disorder was nothing.

However, I never left her alone in my home again.

#85 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:33 PM:

We have two gadget drawers. One has measuring cups, spoons, scoops, graters, small spatulas, rolling pin, etc. The other, which could (should?) be labeled "really sharp shit", has anything sharp, like Cuisinart blades, and anything else that connects to something that connects to what's in that drawer. (IOW, all the rotating machinery, hand-held or not.)

We have a pair of proper kitchen shears, which also get used on floral stuff. There are also, at opposite ends of the kitchen, two pairs of cheap scissors, specifically for opening recalcitrant packaging.

My spouse understands how location/layout-dependent I am in finding things (which I blame on being very nearsighted, even though it's corrected), and is generally very good about putting stuff where we have agreed it goes, but this occasionally falls down around the main gadget drawer, where stuff occasionally ends up on the wrong side, at which point I grumble loudly "You're messing with my mise!" and take a moment to rearrange.

Monday night's gravy almost got very weird, for after baking, he had unaccountably reversed the flour and sugar canisters when he put them back in the pantry. I didn't figure it out until I was actually dipping a measuring spoon into the sugar.

Everyone does something weird in their kitchen that seems totally sane to them and can cause confusion to outsiders. In our case, we keep a sugar bowl full of kosher salt on the tray next to the stove. Right next to it is an old-fashioned diner-style shaker full of sugar. My mother visited, and was only prevented from salting her coffee by the lack of a spoon.

#86 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:43 PM:

Jacque #83:

I got caught by that one as a Sweet Young Thing working in a family-run hardware store. Went up to the kitchen one day to get lunch out of the fridge, washed my hands in the sink, and the owner's sister (the real moral tone of the place) damn near expired from the shock and horror. Boy, did I get the lecture.

As to your visitors, you might want to keep a pump soap as part of the bathroom sink paraphernalia like I do, mainly for that one issue.

#87 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:46 PM:

Many of the pantry comments are reminding me of book sorting issues. I don't suppose there's a Pantry of Congress classification system to fall back on?

#88 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:46 PM:

In one of the Dysfunctional Families threads there was a discussion about the difficulties of washing box graters, because you can't easily get your hands into them. So I'm thinking "Huh? Why don't you use the dishwashing brush for it?"

Apparently in some foreign countries long-handled dishwashing brushes aren't taken for granted...

#89 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 12:56 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo @88: Apparently in some foreign countries long-handled dishwashing brushes aren't taken for granted...

"Nay...nay. Tes too pretty to cletter those great old dishes wi'. I mun do that with the thorn twigs; they'll serve. I'll keep my liddle mop in the shed."

#90 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:05 PM:

For passport photos try your closest office supplies store and/or Kinkos. That's where we used to send our new auditors to get photos for their credentials.

Matches: First check the picnic/grilling supplies area. If that's a bust, look in the area where the tobacco products are...and third, if the store has a candle section the matches MIGHT be there. BTDT.

I found out several years ago that Krogers allows each store manager to tweak the aisle arrangements. Which seems to mean infinite possibilities of where a particular item may be.

It is amazing how many different areas a proper mint sauce is placed does vary from store to store, and chain to chain.

#91 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:06 PM:

The proper place to shelve Velveeta is the home hardware aisle, by the spackle.

But I kid. I have this special Tupperware-like Velveeta loaf caddy. Like a giant covered butter dish, with VELVEETA stamped on top. I'd like to put it to use someday. Maybe as an ironic housewarming gift, with a loaf of Velveeta inside, in a basket with a selection of crappy luncheon meats and a can of Spam.

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:09 PM:

Alex, #76: Peanut butter on toast, absolutely. This is the only reason I have to prefer creamy-style over chunky-style -- it spreads better when it hits the hot toast.

dotless i, #82: The term "ladyfingers" has always bothered me because of its cannibalistic overtones.

Jacque, #83: I've never seen a bathroom sink that was large enough to even try to wash someone's hair in, so I'm rather dubious about that claim. I do understand not wanting soap-gunk on the porcelain; perhaps the solution might be a pump-style soap for the convenience of visitors?

Victoria, #84: I hope that I would have had the ability to handle that situation as gracefully as you did. But I can't guarantee it, because People Messing With My Stuff is a HUGE trigger for me. It would, I suspect, have come down to what the rest of my week had been like, and whether or not I had the spoons to deal with a violation that profound. (And no, superstition is NOT an excuse and having it offered as one would have made matters worse.)

#93 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:09 PM:

On pantry re-ordering: yes, that's outrageous. I'm reminded of a scene in a movie (which I didn't watch all of) where the protagonist's mom is in the refrigerator "looking for the Cheez Whiz." The definite article is essential there; it expresses her assumption that all houses must contain Cheez Whiz (which will not be entering MY household, I assure you). But she was actually using it as an excuse to completely rearrange the refrigerator, so she may have deliberately picked something to "look for" that she knew her daughter wouldn't have.

Last summer some incredibly generous and loving friends came and cleaned out my apartment, which I was unable to do. It took all five of them plus me a total of about 20 hours to do it, and now I have an apartment with substantial quantities of visible floor. One of my friends rearranged my kitchen, giving me a place for nearly everything (I didn't think it was possible to find a place for the tempering machine, but he found one). I have to admit, it has improved my kitchen process. The only trouble I have is reaching the basket with the smaller gadgets (he's a lot taller than me and has more reach).

But this was all done in my presence, with my buy-in, and with due allowance for my occasional panic attacks. Doing it without those things would truly be an outrage.

As an aside, I don't have enough space for all my spoons and lifters and spatulas and rubber scrapers (and those are all separate objects with no overlap) and spoons and ladles and graters and mashers. I have a drawer that's so full I can't quite open it sometimes, and a countertop basket so full I can't stuff more into it (and sometimes can't get things back in after using them). The only hooks I can find at the hardware store any more are too wide for the holes in some of this equipment, and too short to hang more than one of them at a time (a non-starter because I don't have much wallspace either).

When I become fabulously wealthy (the diamond meteor in the back yard, the mysterious envelope addressed to me with the winning lottery ticket) I will move into a place not a lot bigger than this...but the kitchen will be GIGANTIC. With granite counters. And two ovens.

Jacque 83: I stopped using bar soap for anything a while back. I shower with bodywash or shampoo, and for hand-washing I use a bottle of liquid soap with a pump top.

Some people (including me) are very uncomfortable opening the bathroom door in someone else's house without having already washed their hands. So that may cause discomfort in some guests.

#94 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:13 PM:

Rikibeth @50 This didn't stop her from using one of the bread knives, some years later when we'd begun living together, to cut off a piece of plastic whatchamacallit on her car - but she used the bread knife we'd quit using because the other one was better

Bread knives also work well as a saw on small diameter branches. My example comes from watching my sister using her's to cut off the lowest branches of her first "live" Christmas tree when it wouldn't fit into the stand. Getting the pine sap of took some doing.

joann @ 85 We have two gadget drawers. One has measuring cups, spoons, scoops, graters, small spatulas, rolling pin, etc. The other, which could (should?) be labeled "really sharp shit", has anything sharp, like Cuisinart blades, and anything else that connects to something that connects to what's in that drawer.

For a time, I was Volunteer Catering/Catering Support for my local Arts Center. Those of us who did that duty the most had relegated all sharp instrument to the "Box of Death". The plastic bonbon container served us in lieu of actual drawers. (Which the space's designer left out.) Other non-edged implements were pretty much store helter skelter. There was a whole lot of Sugar Shuffling done in that bar/kitchenette.

#95 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:19 PM:

estelendur, if my cast-iron skillets have nothing grubbier in them than the butter residue from frying an egg, I wipe them out with a paper towel and call it done.

If they're dirtier - bits of melted cheese, residue of taco grounds, sauces - I scrub them with a dishcloth and kosher salt, rinse in hot water, dry on the stove, and - if the seasoning looks to have been thinned by the scrubbing - I wipe a little vegetable oil onto the hot pan and then wipe off the excess with a paper towel.

I have to be conscientious about doing this promptly because if I leave it, Inhabiting Housemate will use soap on it and possibly put it in the dishpan of sanitizing bleach solution, and, having explained to her Why We Use Sanitizer, I lack the energy to explain But Not The Cast Iron.

#96 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:20 PM:

Lee 92: I've seen a Halloween snack which consisted of finger-shaped cookies (or sometimes cake) with a halved almond for a nail. Also, there's a Charles Addams cartoon that was my first encounter with the word, so when I saw a food called that...well. No.

#97 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:27 PM:

Roy G. Ovrebo @88: I for one don't trust the dish brushes in my home (and they're short-handled, and often harder to find than the sponge...). Also housemates often leave the grater until the cheese is dried, at which point it requires more scrub than the dish brush can provide. Which is why I use flat graters. :P

#98 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:29 PM:

Rikibeth @95: Aha. That is, indeed, what my father taught me.

#99 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:29 PM:

Lee @ 92 (in response to Victoria, #84)

I have different triggers than you, obviously. I was deeply disturbed, but I also had a butler's pantry filled with spoons (and knives, but that's another, if related, story). I was also trained in patience by my family's tradition. When a small child wants to help, you give them a task, over see it and help them through the fumbles.

I chose to view the 'I cleaned and organized while you were at work' episode as a 'you helped me, so I'll help you' payback. Ghu only knows how often I helped her clean and sort out her head the year before.

#100 ::: Antongarou ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:37 PM:

In Israel the sugar and the flour would be right by each other, but not necessarily by the baking supplies. But both will be near the rice an legumes, and right by the salt, and the oil probably won't be far off.

Reasoning?These are all basic kitchen stuff - if you have one of each category these in your kitchen you can feed yourself and your family, even if it is only a basic meal of rice, and some fresh baked bread.

#101 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:39 PM:

The 'Cooks Illustrated' cookbook has a similar procedure, using flaxseed oil, and six repetitions of oil and high heat in the oven. It's supposed to produce a surface which is seasoned and only needs to be wiped clean. (They even ran it through a dishwasher with degreaser once, with no problem.)

#102 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:41 PM:

Lee #92:

I was raised to wash my hair in the sink, although somewhere during college I broke myself of this habit. If I hadn't done so, I would have had to when we moved into the 1930 Spanish-style with the sink that had two taps, one for hot and one for cold.

#103 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:46 PM:

Xopher #93:

Would it increase your room if you stored all the long-handled tools vertically, in crocks? (We have two, one on each side of the stove. One has actual use-it-on-the-stove stuff, the other ... doesn't.)

#104 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Jacque, have you got a link to a picture of the "traditional bathroom sink" you're talking about? Do you mean the turn-of-the-last-century kind with separate taps for hot and cold, where the idea was that you'd mix your desired temperature of water and wash your hands in a full basin of water, just as if you were washing with a jug and basin on a wash-stand? I grew up washing my hands under running water in a single-faucet bathroom sink and the whole "hot and cold from separate taps" drove me bonkers, even though I loved how they looked.

But washing one's hair in the bathroom sink? All the bathroom sinks I've ever seen are about waist height, and they don't have neck cutouts like a hairdresser's shampoo sink where someone washes your hair for you in the sink while you sit in a chair. How are you even supposed to get your head to sink level? Kneel?

I keep pump bottles of hand soap at both the bathroom and the kitchen sinks. Yes, ServSafe says handwashing sinks should be kept separate from dish sinks and prep sinks. I'm willing to risk a few random bacteria from my hands getting into the kitchen sink in my own house, especially since anything I'm washing for food prep doesn't touch the sink surface, but stays in a nice colander.

Like you, I use Dawn dishwashing liquid for preference, and this is why I have different hand soap; when I worked in the bakery-café where the boss couldn't be arsed to buy hand soap for the handwashing sink and just filled the dispenser up with the dishwashing Dawn, my hands cracked and bled from getting all the oil stripped out, and I wound up using a certain amount of the vegetable shortening as hand cream. I use dish gloves when I wash dishes, and the only time that Dawn touches my hands is if I have to get off a thick coating of olive oil. (Or motor oil. But you get the idea.)

I was very, very pleased to discover that while the large refill bottle of store-brand liquid hand soap said "Washes off bacteria and germs!" prominently on the front label, the ingredients listing had NO triclosan. Perhaps it's marketing, or perhaps they've been paying attention to Uncle Jim.

#105 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:48 PM:

Also camera stores, if you have them. Some post offices (the ones that accept applications) can also do passport photos, but you're going to be waiting for the other customers to finish first.

We had, in one house, a 'knife drawer', a 'spoon drawer' and a 'funny shapes' drawer. Forks were in the knife drawer (because pointy). 'Funny shapes' got whips and cookie cutters and other odds and ends. 'Knife drawer' was shallow and right under the bread board, so you weren't going to be getting into it by accident.

#106 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:50 PM:

Xopher @93: The only hooks I can find at the hardware store any more are too wide for the holes in some of this equipment

My solution for that issue is to get a bit of leather thong, or stout string, and tie a loop in the teeny hole. May be a problem if you use a dishwashing machine. We rarely use ours, though.

#107 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:57 PM:

joann 103: I already have them in a vertical basket. Also, my stove has only one side (the other side being the refrigerator, with no counter space), and that side is the eight-inch strip between the stove and the sink. Currently that space is occupied by my stand mixer and a hot pad where I set things between cooking and the sink.

When I say my kitchen is small, I don't just mean "compared to what I'd like."

pericat 106: I do use a dishwasher, but it occurs to me that nylon strings might work (I stopped using the heated dry cycle a while back). Thanks!

#108 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 01:58 PM:

Thomas @ 55 -

Strange. When my wife and I renewed our passports a few years ago, we got our pictures made at a local Walgreens.

#109 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 02:02 PM:

joann: I am only saved from flour/sugar canister confusion because I stock too many different kinds of both to have identical canisters for them. My base set of canisters is a "vintage" (handed down from a friend's mom, a/k/a "free") set of graduated round Tupperware ones, in harvest gold with a brown flower splodge on front. The largest one of those is big enough for a 5-pound bag of flour, so it has the all-purpose flour in it. AIUI, the next size down is intended for sugar, but I also buy my white sugar in 5-pound bags, so it's too small for my purposes; it's where I keep my cornmeal. The next smaller one has confectioner's/icing sugar, and the smallest has moist dark brown sugar.

Where's the white sugar? In a plastic container that used to hold 5 pounds of fresh mozzarella balls, although the lid is from a similar-sized container of sour cream.

There's also a round Tupperware canister the same size as the cornmeal one that has the cake flour, two square Rubbermaid snap-and-lock type canisters that hold 5-pound quantities of bread flour and whole wheat flour, and an even taller, some-other-brand squarish canister (I think it might have been intended for spaghetti?) that I swiped from Accompanying Housemate's stored stuff when I needed something to put the self-rising flour in.

Why yes, I have everything labeled in Sharpie on masking tape on these, why do you ask?

#110 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 02:11 PM:

Xopher @93: The only hooks I can find at the hardware store any more are too wide for the holes in some of this equipment

pericat @106: My solution for that issue is to get a bit of leather thong, or stout string, and tie a loop in the teeny hole. May be a problem if you use a dishwashing machine. We rarely use ours, though.

Or zipties. Since Husband and I are tech-heads, we always have a huge collection of zipties hanging around. Plus, they're dishwasher-safe.

I've also discovered that 3M's Command hooks are wonderful for mounting on the sides of cabinets, or on doors, or any other place where you need a little extra space but you don't want to put holes in things.

#111 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 02:29 PM:

In continuing to settle into our 'new' house (we've almost been here two years) and its (enoooooormous! Halleluja!) pantry space and its (rather oddly arranged, almost no storage but lots of cubic feet of air?) kitchen, we've come up with some compromises between our instinctive 'what goes where' ergonomics and the available volumes to keep stuff in.

We want eventually to have the pantry really seriously set up with actual wooden furniture pieces and drawers and whatnot; right now it has Container Store plastic drawer-towers, because we already owned them and it lets us play with setups. The shorter tower (three increasingly-deep drawers) has a top drawer just the perfect size for a standard plastic-mesh silverware organizer, so we put one in it -- we have one drawer in the kitchen counter proper where we keep the majority of our eating silverware, but the second 'silverware drawer' in the pantry keeps things that LOOK like silverware but are Weird -- the really big spoons, strangely-shaped forks, etc. Things that we agree 'belong' with the silverware but get used once every couple of weeks at most end up in the pantry 'silverware drawer'.

The drawer below that in the same cabinet holds our postal/food digital scale, because it keeps it out of the way and clean. Other small kitchen electronics could go there if we had some. The bottommost, deepest drawer has some oddly sized wooden 'serving' bowls and other stuff that's used infrequently and hard to pack together without lots of air, so it's not a very dense drawer but it keeps 'em together.

Next to that is a thigh-high plastic scrapbooking cabinet, intended for secure storage of flat sheets of very expensive paper. It's a weird beast, with sort of clamshell briefcases that slide in to be drawers or come out and open up to reveal their contents -- we use it for spice overstock. What's not in bottles out for use, is in it, and it works beautifully. We keep the flat Penzey's bags laid in its cases, with a list written on paper visible through the clear top as to what's in THIS drawer. The bottommost drawer is the weird inherited seldom-used spices in big plastic shaker bottles, on their sides.

On the other side of the pantry we have a couple of IKEA shoe-sorter things, on their sides, being vertically-divided volume for stuff like baking sheets, muffin tins, etc, and another on top of them horizontally that holds the flat baking dishes/loaf pans/casseroles.

Beside that is a collarbone-high set of really big deep plastic drawers, and for that we prioritized "heavy == bottom" to avoid tipping hilarity. Second bottommost in it is what I think of as 'the drawer of boxes of rolls of stuff,' the aluminum foil, parchment, waxed paper, etc. Plastic bags would go in there too but there turns out not to be space, so they're elsewhere on a shelf. The bottommost Big Drawer is 'disposable eatware,' mostly inherited collections of paper plates/napkins, plastic cups/cutlery, etc. Further up (because lighter) is a whole drawer of mostly measuring cups and then other stuff that's like the measuring-cup end of the Kitchen Junk Drawer; above that is a drawer with a couple HUGENORMOUS lids in it and our immersion blender and similar "Oh man where do I keep THAT?" things, like the rolling pin. Stuff I want to keep dust-free and handy but that are really awkward to store.

Not everything Has A Proper Place yet, and some of how we'd prefer to organize the pantry has to bow to the fact that its (awesome! Solid wood plank!) built-in wrap-around shelves are fixed and very specific distances apart ... and that we have a mixed gallimaufry of canisters that were not purchased to fit between them. :->

#112 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 02:39 PM:

My kitchen, pre-move-in:

It has lots of drawer and cabinet space, and a good amount of counter space, but very little wall room to hang things on. So things like measuring spoons live in drawers or on cabinet shelves.

#113 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 02:40 PM:

Elliott Mason @ #73: You don't need that sifter. Weigh the flour instead. Degree of fluffiness is immaterial in baking, but weight needs to be precise. If you need to, calibrate once by weighing a cup of sifted flour.

#114 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 02:49 PM:

Theophylact @113: I know, and we haven't replaced it. Honestly most of what I make isn't the sort of thing I need that kind of accuracy for, so I just scoop-level-dump volumetrically (my Inner Tapes of my serious-about-cooking grandmother just pearlclutched at me). :-> I didn't purchase the sifter, it came to us when we inherited three kitchens' worth of stuff in about an eight month period and pared it down to "Really useful. Nice, but we have one; donate it. Huh. I guess I might use that, and it'd be expensive to buy one in a few years ... yeah, keep, I guess ..."

#115 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:08 PM:

Theophylact @113

Weighing flour is the only way to go as regards measuring it, but in some cases you still need to sift the flour for best effect -- not that you can't get the same effect by pushing the measured flour through a sieve.

#116 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:18 PM:

While I know all that about weight rather than volume for baking ingredients, I mostly ignore it unless I'm using a recipe that's expressed in weight from the start. I spoon my flour into the measuring cups and then level it, rather than the dip-and-sweep method, but when I'm making yeasted breads I wind up adjusting during the early stages of kneading anyway, because it's all about the flour/water balance, and even flour kept in airtight canisters seems to be subject to variation depending on the ambient humidity. If I'm making something in the nature of chocolate chip cookies or brownies, they're forgiving, and if I'm tackling something truly fussy, well, it's likely coming out of my pastry school textbook and it's measured by weight.

What I like the sifters for (though I prefer crank-style to trigger-mechanism) is getting leaveners and salt well distributed through the flour. That and breaking up baking soda that's clumped.

But, augh, SOAKING them. If you'd managed to get all the flour paste off the screens, it probably STILL would have been junk, because it would have RUSTED. (Did that myself once, as a novice.)

I've been known to store my sifter on a coffee-can lid to catch any stray bits of flour dust.

#117 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:19 PM:

My over-sink storage.

Visitors paying attention can track the clean dishes/utensils from my last meal(s). In school I was encouraged to "show my work." Here it is.

Rack is built asymmetrically with back legs on window sill. Front span is barely width of sink so legs sit in 3-way PVC connectors on little rubber pads for security. Height of lower shelf lets my big pots go into sink. When I moved in, I talked management into swapping out the low-clearance faucet for this single-lever one with sprayer.

A strip of lath along left side has cup hooks and larger versions of same, some opened out to take holes in big handles (hi, Xopher).

A regular drain rack sits on bottom shelf. Wash, rinse, place above to drip and dry.

Hard to see on right: flatware basket from old dishwasher attached to bottom shelf. Blue loop is cobbled-up to dry plastic bags.

The 50s counter's tiles slope slightly, so drips outside the sink proper still run to the sea.

#118 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:25 PM:

A brilliant life hack for kitchen use: a customizeable knife block made of a wooden containing box and a HUGE AMOUNT of bamboo skewers. Stick whatever knives you have in it in whatever order, and FORGET those stupid assumptions that come built into premade blocks! I want one so bad. I'm going to have to make the box first. :->

#119 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:34 PM:

Bartell Drugs in Seattle does passport photos, too.

#120 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 03:36 PM:

I've had this problem with containers of nuts.
Note: I'm American, and now live in Pennsylvania, though I grew up and lived 40 years in NYC.

You'll find some nuts in the baking aisle, usually chopped walnuts and sometimes pecans.

But for eating? Like, jars of Planters? In one store, I looked for them on the "snacks" aisle, but they were with the beer. Here in PA where beer can't be sold in the supermarket, the nuts are (sensibly, I think) with the snacks--though sometimes they're with the granola bars and breakfast cereals. And one time I found them over in the fruit section.

No one knows where the nuts go.

#121 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:05 PM:

Lee Valley has one just like that, with polypropylene rods.

#122 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:06 PM:

Rikibeth #116:

Whisks are good for all sorts of stuff, like flour-based gravies, and mixing milk/water w/ condensed soup. They're also *great* for doing the mixing of leavening, salt and/or spices into flour. I have a sifter because my husband, a gadget freak if you ever saw one, thought we ought to have one. I don't use it. In fact, I'm not sure where it is (==behind something else, somewhere way down below).

#123 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:08 PM:

One local supermarket, the nominally-Latino "Bestway" (I say nominally because, catering to the local population, it also has sizable Ethiopian and West African sections), organizes the non-refrigerated foods not by type but by cuisine. So rather than having a section for canned vegetables and one for dried beans and one for spices there's the Caribbean section, and the South American section, and the West African section. This means that there are three or so places where you can find coconut milk or red lentils, but it also means people seeking the ingredients to make dishes from $HOME won't have to wander all over the store to find them. The one exception is the very large bags (10 pounds or so and up) of rice and flour; those are all together.

#124 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:28 PM:

Carol Kimball: COVET. That's gorgeous. And I would SO LOVE to get the dish drainer dripping over the sink like that.

joann: Indeed, whisks are good for that, and I've done it, but there's something so satisfying about turning the crank on my sifter and having it all pile together in the bowl. Plus, better at breaking up clumped baking soda or corn starch than a whisk.

That said, I think there are five whisks in the kitchen right now. One is the big, restaurant-quality whisk that was part of my student tool set. It lives in the utensil crock by the stove (what separates Utensils from Gadgets comes down to two things: if it has a long handle and you are most likely to use it when standing at the stove, it's a utensil and goes in the crock; if it's of some other shape or primarily used for prepwork, it's a gadget and goes in the drawer) and I don't actually use it much, except for making mac and cheese from scratch, because it's too big for the amounts of most other whisked things I make.

Then there's Baby Whisk, which is an Oxo whisk comparable in size to a soup spoon. This is the one I reach for when making pancake batter, or Chinese garlic sauce, or, well, most of the things where I'd reach for a whisk. It belongs to Accompanying Housemate, and she has a deep emotional attachment to it - possibly because it's essential to the way she makes hot cocoa. Anyway, Baby Whisk has a personality and is really one of our star tools.

Then there are the three itty-bitty whisks that were in Inhabiting Housemate's silverware drawer, or maybe her gadget drawer. She professed not even to know what you'd use them for. I use the smallest of the three, which is about the size of my longest finger, to blend yeast, sugar, and warm water for proofing. :)

#125 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:40 PM:

Passport photos? In San Francisco you can get them done at the big camera store around the corner from the passport office, so when you go there for your appointment with Ms. Kafka and are told that the ones you have aren't suitable, you can quickly replace them, come back, wait in line again, and get told that Yet Another form you've done isn't correct, or that you needed to bring her a different form from a different office on a different floor, and that appointments are only available on an emergency basis within three days of your trip, or you can do them by mail more than three weeks in advance at the Post Office (no guarantees of getting your passport back in time, of course.)

#126 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:43 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @93: I have to say I'm really impressed with your friends. I suppose the Tom Sawyer Principle comes into it: cleaning your own apartment is work, but cleaning a friend's apartment is play.

I have a cast-iron skillet, a wedding present, that is my go-to pan for cooking most things. Its seasoning has definitely improved over time. To clean it, I run hot water over it and scrub it with a brush, then I dry it with paper towels and pour a little canola oil in, spread around with more paper towels. I don't heat up the pan with a burner, I just use the residual heat from the hot water -- should I be heating it on a burner?

#127 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:47 PM:

David Goldfarb: oil spread with the residual heat will be adequate to keep the pan from rusting. If you want to add microlayers to the seasoning, you have to heat it to around the oil's smoke point. You said the pan was a wedding present? If you're newly married, it may make a difference, but after a decade or so, probably not so much.

#128 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:49 PM:

Jacque @ 83, joann @ 86

"Do you wash your hands in the kitchen sink?" is one of those questions that also reveals that it's not just by country that things differ.

Anyone with significant professional kitchen experience has it very thoroughly in their head that DISH SINKS ARE NOT FOR HANDWASHING--the restaurant inspector will kill you. Similarly, you should never use the same tools for two different things without washing them in between: hence the story of my uncle and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He used 4 knives, two cutting boards, and a plate: one knife and one cutting board for the bread, one knife for the peanut butter, one knife for the jelly, a plate to assemble the sandwich, and a separate cutting board to cut the sandwich in half.

If you are in a restaurant kitchen, that's how you ensure safety, and keep allergens out of things. In a home kitchen, it's a bit excessive.

#129 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 04:58 PM:

SamChevre, the home version of the PBJ: One knife and cutting board for the bread, assuming unsliced bread as a start point. Assembly might happen on either the bread board or another cutting board. If no separate knives for peanut butter and jelly, then wiping off the knife with a paper towel in between if all the peanut butter traces haven't come off on the bread, because I don't want peanut butter streaks in the jam jar. Cut sandwich with bread knife, because I'm going to wash it right after anyway. Cut sandwich then goes on plate. :)

But yeah, I see exactly how your uncle got there.

#130 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:01 PM:

#124 ::: Rikibeth

Cheap, too. I bought the wire shelf rack for about $30 at Lowes? Home Depot? and the rest was either kicking around here, alleycycle*, or from ARC (thrift store).

The problem with a rack over the sink is if it sticks too far forward. Backing it as far as feasible by mis-assembling the legs to perch on the window sill made it work.

Should I forgo the mini-blinds to gain another 5" it'd be even better, but I'm in a dense neighborhood and don't want to have to remember to check my dishabille before a kitchen excursion. The sill is also tiled and tilted. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Huh. I could put translucent plastic on the window up as far as sight lines. Will think on that. I like to catch the neighbor kids/dogs frolicking in their closed yard below while I putter. I enjoy hearing them more than I go over & look. Always trade-offs!

I'm going to look for that Oxo whisk. I had a similar but not as good one much like that, that went walkies.

*pick up what others have set with their trash.

#131 ::: Mezzanine ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:03 PM:

My husband and I are baffled by each other's cutlery drawer styles.

In his family, the drawer is divided into "knives", "forks", and "spoons". Which, in practice, means that carving knives, bread knives, and standard dinner knives are all in the same slot - and another slot has both big slotted spoons, and teaspoons.

In my family, the drawer is divided into different "meals". So, one slot has dinner knives and forks, another has butter (non-serrated) knives and soup spoons, another has dessert forks and dessert spoons, and so on. For every meal, you go to the single slot needed for whatever you're eating, and everything's right there. Which I love, but it sends my husband nuts.

#132 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:06 PM:

There are other kinds of sugar problem. When we moved to Jamaica, I discovered that there were two grades of brown sugar, 'D' and 'C'. Against all common sense, D was a higher quality of sugar than C, and no one could tell me why.

Eventually, I found that D was simply short for the familiar Demerara sugar (Demerara being one of the three former Dutch colonies that were consolidated after conquest into British Guiana -- now Guyana). C sugar, the poorest grade of dry brown sugar, remained a mystery for years. Then a book on archaeology explained it. The C stood for 'Cyprus'. During the years it was a Crusader kingdom, Cyprus was an exporter of low-grade sugar to its neighbours. In fact, it was the prototypical European sugar colony. 'Cyprus sugar', shortened to 'C sugar' became the term for the lowest grade of sugar. There is in fact a lower grade of sugar, muscovado or wet sugar, but we didn't purchase that.

#133 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:25 PM:

In S. Africa there used to be 3 kinds of bread: government white, government brown, and government wheat. There were 2 brands of pasta.
Upon our first grocery shopping expedition in the USA, we managed to navigate the bread section, but my wife burst into tears upon being confronted with an entire aisle of pasta brands..

Fade Manley #25: when we spent a year driving around the US, it was noticeable that the fast food places in poor towns (Alaska, the deep South, etc) would hide the cream, condiments, sugar and napkins behind the counter, so you had to ask for them.

#134 ::: rvman ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:45 PM:

#63 - Matches - in Wal-Mart, the most reliable place is the camping section, in my experience.

#135 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:50 PM:

James @ 115
I've discovered that taking a whisk to the stored flour also incorporates air/fluffiness and helps distribute leavening products.

#136 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:53 PM:

Fragano @ 132: when I bake, I very often use muscovado sugar because it has more flavour than the more refined varieties (and, consequently, is not quite so sweet; I like sweet things, but not very sweet things). I regularly put it in my famous gingerbread instead of the demerara which the original recipe calls for. It also works well in chocolate cakes.

Of course, it wouldn't work in meringues, or angel cake, or anything else that has to be light and fluffy. But I'm not really a light and fluffy person when it comes to cakes and biscuits. I like big, dark, complex flavours, much as I do for savoury food.

#137 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 05:56 PM:

Carol Kimball: it's not entirely practical for me, as Inhabiting Housemate would find reaching above her head for the dish drainer kind of challenging, but I admire it a LOT. And yay for alleycycle!

And you're right about them not making sink surrounds like that any more. At the place I lived before this one, the countertops weren't even laminate - when they got damp and started peeling, we discovered that they were particleboard covered with what was essentially contact paper.

What I have now is a shallow porcelain sink, two dishpans wide, probably dating to when the house was built in 1936, with a wall-mounted faucet which is a brand-new replacement for the 1936 original, set in 1950s gold-flecked Formica countertop. I wish I knew what had been there in 1936!

#138 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:16 PM:

I keep reading stuff in the big-data industry trade press about how retail stores are doing such an amazing job of tracking and predicting purchases, and corresponding stories in privacy and electronic freedom fora about how awful it is that retailers are surveilling our purchases in such deep detail.

Then my wife asks "how come Target's current stock of this sweater consists of 10 small, 2 medium, and nothing larger?" And it seems to be a consistent pattern of mis-prediction. She's also mostly given up shopping at our largest local grocery chain (Ralphs), because of their inability to keep specific items that she buys regularly in stock.

I suspect it might be related to the distribution of responsibility between the store itself, the central corporate management thereof, and the various vendors who lease shelf space. They each have their own incentives, none of which seem to be directly aligned with "make sure a customer who comes here to purchase an item has a high likelihood of finding that item, and so is more likely to shop here than elsewhere next time."

#139 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:23 PM:

With apparel (especially in low-end dept stores like Target), most stuff is not re-orderable. The buyer -- whether for that one location or chain-wide, and sometimes the manager/local store has no discretion about it at all -- decides how many of what size will be ordered, orders it, and they sell them till they're gone. If you're lucky you can feed back up the chain the massive over-prevalence of small sizes on your clearance racks, but ...

#140 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:25 PM:

Rikibeth @124: I love that gadget/utensil distinction. And the teeny whisks.

Mezzanine @131: Every kitchen I've been in (all three...) has divided silverware by "little spoons, big spoons, little forks, big forks, butter knives, serving utensils, Other". So there's another method for ya. :)

#141 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:44 PM:

Mezzanine #131:

Silver drawer: Dinner forks, salad forks, soup spoons, teaspoons, with knives across the bottom, and Big Serving Pieces (and for some reason, the espresso spoons) across the top.

Note that "knives" is dinner knives only; we have a knife block (well, two, actually, if you count the steak knife set) for the stuff that you can cut a piece of you off with.

#142 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:47 PM:

Elliott, #118: Hmmm. I didn't watch the entire half-hour video -- but isn't that basically a plain wooden box packed with enough skewers to hold them upright? In which case, is there any reason you can't just find a suitably-sized container, not even necessarily made of wood, and stuff it with skewers? It looked to me as though the whole point of the video was describing how to build the box, and the skewers are secondary.

SamChevre, #128: Okay, now I'm going to squick out all the restaurant people here by saying that the kitchen sink is our heavy-duty sink. We don't have a sink in the laundry room, and when my partner has been working on the car, he doesn't want to have to go all the way to the bathroom (on the other end of the house) before washing his hands with the Serious Hand Cleanser stuff. So the kitchen sink it is. No one on either side of the family had any issues about that sort of thing either that I've ever heard of. It certainly makes sense in a restaurant environment, but there are a lot of things you have to do in a restaurant environment that don't necessarily apply to your home.

Mezzanine, #131: Our silverware drawer is more like your husband's than yours, but we only keep table utensils in it. Table knives* in one slot, forks in two (because we have more forks than will fit comfortably in one), teaspoons in one, tablespoons in one, iced-tea spoons in one. The soup spoons and grapefruit spoons (2 of each) go in with the teaspoons but reversed in orientation; the large serving spoons are similarly stored with the iced-tea spoons. Cooking utensils (carving knives, slotted spoons, etc.) are stored over by the stove, and the sharp steak knives are in the drawer next to the silverware drawer.

I can't imagine storing utensils by "meal" because we're likely to need the same set of utensils for virtually every meal; in particular, we don't have separate spoons and forks for desserts.

* My partner and I have had some, ahem, discussions over what these are called. He says they're "butter knives" because you can't cut anything harder than butter with them. I point out that butter knives are a different shape, and that these have little teeny serrations on them, and that they cut anything except big chunks of steak just fine, thank you. They are table knives.

#143 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:48 PM:

estelendur, I didn't know how much I wanted the itty-bitty whisk until I had it handy, and discovered how wonderful it was to have a whisk that wouldn't overwhelm a glass custard cup.

Of which I have... six? eight? A sizable number, and I haven't once regretted buying them. MISE EN PLACE DISHES. Also very good for a snack-size serving of almonds, or enough salsa for a cereal bowl's worth of chips, or keeping the sauce from the baked beans from getting all over the plate and messing up your hamburger bun.

And, y'know, on the rare occasions I make any form of baked custard, I'm all set.

#144 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:53 PM:

Carol #117, Rikibeth #137:

My very first California kitchen was tiled all over with the color (or maybe a trifle bluer) Carol has as the border.

The next kitchen, the same, only in a rather more boring cream. (They made up for it in the bathroom, though, with dark green tiles and a pink-purple border, all on a Wedgewood blue hex floor with pink accents.)

Bit of a comedown to spend the next 16 years in a house afflicted with white Formica with little turquoise stars.

#145 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 06:58 PM:

Lee, as long as you can be certain to your own satisfaction that the Toxic Automotive Fluids are all going down the drain and not leaving traces around that might contaminate any food you prep in the sink, it's all good. You probably don't stopper the sink and fill it with cold water and wash a dozen heads' worth of lettuce you've just chopped before spinning it all dry and transferring it to a big Lexan storage container in the fridge so the person on salads has enough lettuce for the night. If you DID regularly use the sink for that, you'd worry more about whether there was motor oil lurking around the edges of the drain! Restaurants can't afford to take chances, is all.

This is the first place I've ever lived that has a fully functional laundry sink in the basement. I am well pleased to have somewhere useful to wash out paintbrushes.

#146 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 07:23 PM:

joann, among Inhabiting Housemate's dishes were six Mikasa cereal bowls about the same shade as Carol's border tiles. I think of it as "T-Bird Blue." The Brother cabinet sewing machine that came with my bedroom here is the same color.

The kitchen here has been updated very much piecemeal. The sink is original, the counters are fifties or sixties (the house I grew up in, built 1961, had the same gold-flecked Formica in both the kitchen and the bathrooms), the wallpaper (and STOVE, argh) dates from 1981, the cabinet facings were replaced around 2000 but the internal structure is clearly older, and the floor is Pergo laminate and at least as recent as the cabinets, possibly newer. (And the nicest kitchen floor I've ever had, and the only one that doesn't make me wish for a floor drain to keep it clean.)

The upstairs bathroom has a fairly new white pedestal sink and modern toilet, but the tub and the wall and floor tiles and the medicine cabinet are all clearly 1936. The floor is black-and-white small squares in something more intricate than a checker but not really a houndstooth, and the walls are large glossy white tiles with a black border, six feet high in the shower and four feet high outside it. The tiled-in towel bars and soap dishes and whatnot (like the toilet paper niche) are all black too. Over the sink, the "whatnot" is a cup holder on the left, a recessed soap niche in the center, and on the right a toothbrush rack with a trough meant for a toothpaste tube. It makes me wish that you could get modern toothbrushes with narrow enough handles to go through the holes in it, but toothbrush handles are a lot chunkier than Popsicle sticks nowadays.

What baffles me is that the two towel racks are INSIDE the shower - one at the short end of the tub opposite the faucet, and one along the long wall. It makes me think that the builders must have assumed that baths were the default and showers an aberration, even though the shower is NOT a retrofit the way it can be on a Victorian tub.

Admittedly, the bathroom is quite small, and there isn't a lot of wall space otherwise to hold a towel bar - I was able to put a ring for a hand towel at the left of the sink, but the rest of that wall is a window, and anything to the right of the sink is over the toilet. But still. INSIDE the shower? How would your towels not get wet?

#147 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 07:23 PM:

As to apparel, I was lucky enough to go on an Alaskan cruise last year (it was a two sides of the family meet for the first time since a wedding mumble decades ago thing, and I held down my entire family's side for various scheduling reasons), and while looking for a t-shirt in Ketchikan, discovered that the Really Big Store With All The T-shirts had only child sizes, extra small, small, and medium. And a very few large. No XL or XXL, in spite of the signs giving pricing for them. I tracked down a clerk, and asked her about it, and she said that their (former!) buyer didn't believe in buying shirts larger than a large. Because, I guess, cruise ship passengers are never, ever big and/or fat?

Eventually I did find a locally owned (as opposed to cruise ship company owned, which I'm told are most of the near-to-the-dock shops in cruise ship ports) shop that had a more reasonable selection of sizes, though a smaller set of designs. And then there was the "Sarah Palin" store (which was going out of business), which had shirts up to 5x, but only with really objectionable art. Not surprisingly.

Xopher: I presume you've thought of this wrt your lack of space to hang things, but a couple of command hooks (or very strong magnets) stuck to high up on the side of the fridge, rigged to hold up a wooden board or slat with cup hooks or angle hooks screwed into it might be a useful thing. Angle hooks come in pretty small sizes, and cup hooks smaller yet. Of course, this does have them dangling, if only somewhat, over the stove, which does potentially lead to either falling down or getting smoky/greasy in the event of cooking failure problems. Not to mention getting in the cook's hair.

Still, in the unlikely case you haven't thought of using that fridge-side real estate, there's my thought.

#148 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 07:26 PM:

Rikibeth @127: About halfway in between: our wedding was in 2009.

#149 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 07:31 PM:

138-139 re: odd sizes left, stupid buyer! dept.

You've got to go further back. If you're manufacturing clothing, frex, the most efficient method is to lay out and cut, say, 1 XS, 2 S, 4 M, 6 L, 4 XL, 1 XXL per run of fabric (obviously this varies, but you jigsaw the large and small sizes together to fit across the width of the cloth). When you sell to the store, that's the package they get. If they want to reorder, that's the bundle on offer. The popular sizes go first and leave the odd ducks.

Ordering specific sizes/styles of anything to keep stock balanced is available only in considerably more upscale lines. The extra inventory/fuss/short run costs hike up the price all along the road.

Shouldn't the responsibility rest with the manufacturer, then? If juggling quantities/size hits the market demand better but you've got more wastage, then your cost/garment has to be higher and the clientele goes off to Wal-Mart (I politely turn my head before spitting). Better to put in an extra XS and get paid for it.

#150 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 07:59 PM:

Carol, #149: I just want to mention here that our T-shirts (as well as those of many other independent shirt printers) are readily available in (unisex) sizes from S to 5X because we print to order. Some (though not all) of the designs are also available on ladies'-cut shirts by special order; send an e-mail if you want to check on the availability of such. We can also take special orders for designs on a different color, as long as it's a color we carry.

#151 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:04 PM:

Continuing, large sizes, not. Why?

Buyers who have the option often don't stock large sizes as they need to be more expensive.

Let's go back to those cruise ship folks: "How can this XXL possibly cost more than this "identical" (ha) XS?"

The bigger one uses more than three times the fabric, counting wastage. Price that the same, go broke.

It's difficult to establish a clothing line. Many who do their homework re: plus sizes retreat to more standard sizing and plan on using that profit to expand, so to speak, a couple years out. If they get that far, they hit huge resistance from reps and buyers. It's tough. It's not a conspiracy against large people.

#152 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:11 PM:

So much of the Knowledges.

When my cast-iron pan could use a little reseasoning, I make my grandmother's cornbread -- you put a cold heavily greased pan into the cold oven as it heats, and then pour the batter (which also has oil...) into it. So crusty delicious, and the pan gets shinier.

#153 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 08:19 PM:

If you're not familiar with Lee's products, definitely go check them out - if I wore tees I'd own about 3/4 of her stock.

My guess is that the quality of the shirts, the art, and the concepts are high enough to price from the larger sizes and make a little more on the smaller ones. Some folks (you guys) understand that custom work is going to cost more.

I'm not her manager and this is not about embarrassing her (Lee, if you're uncomfortable we can ask the gnomes to disappear posts).

We do know from her length of time in business that she's doing it right.

#154 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 09:53 PM:

Regarding the original sugar problem, if I haven't found a product in the second or third place in the store that I looked, I ask someone. I get rants about supermarket arrangements, because I get sensory overload in most of them, and I really don't appreciate sneaky arrangements to force me to criss-cross the store.

At home, I have steak knives in the knife block, other table utensils in little bins in a drawer (knife/fork/spoon), bigger stuff in a basket and a ceramic pitcher. But I might well be rearranging things when I reassemble my kitchen this weekend, as they're replacing the cabinetry as well as the floor. (The floor beams had been damaged by termites; they did a temporary fix a few months ago when I reported that the floor was sagging under my weight,)

#155 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2013, 11:42 PM:

Speaking of Wal-Mart, their stocking is driven out of Bentonville by their data warehouse. The exact placement of pretty much everything in the store is set by what they divine from that.

(I have a friend who was last seen profitably wasting his Ph.D. in physics making that happen.)

As to the people who come in and arrange your house for you: Where do you find them? Can you send me some?

#156 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:07 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 155 ...
As to the people who come in and arrange your house for you: Where do you find them? Can you send me some?

I gather you can pay people to do that ... ;D

(finding people to derange your house is so much easier...)

#157 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:07 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 155 ...
As to the people who come in and arrange your house for you: Where do you find them? Can you send me some?

I gather you can pay people to do that ... ;D

(finding people to derange your house is so much easier...)

#158 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:08 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ 155 ...
As to the people who come in and arrange your house for you: Where do you find them? Can you send me some?

I gather you can pay people to do that ... ;D

(finding people to derange your house is so much easier...)

#159 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:10 AM:

Carol, #153: Actually it's my partner's business, but we both end up working on it. And our larger sizes are priced a bit higher, but that's to cover the increased price of the blank shirts in size 2X and up. Also, we use good-quality 100% cotton pre-shrunk blanks from companies that have real QC and standard sizing; if you order a given size of shirt, it's going to fit the way you expect it to.

I can go into more detail about the mechanics of T-shirt printing and some of the differences in shirt style/quality, but will not unless asked.

#160 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:13 AM:

Wow. That was remarkably enthusiastic!

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#161 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 08:03 AM:

Lee -
Yes, primarily your partner's business.

(I hung out with them at a Denver venue where Lee and her partner had booths set up side by side, so I have no excuse).

There are niches for quality items at a reasonable profit, and these guys have found theirs.

If you think grocery stocking is confusing, try festivals. Usually only the food is one cluster. If the organizers are good, they'll space other vendors as far apart and evenly as possible, so the hand-thrown mugs are next to the tie-dyed dresses rather than more pots.

Despite the confusion, I love someone figuring out putting beer next to diapers.

#162 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 09:13 AM:

Hm, in Sweden, I think 2kg bags of granulated sugar and larger bags of brown sugars (muscovado, etc, etc), plus "massive granules" sugar (pearl sugar?) and very finely ground sugar (confectioner's sugar?) are among the baking ingredients. Smaller packets of granulated sugar and sugar cubes are in the coffee/tea shelving

#163 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 09:44 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @93: As an aside, I don't have enough space for all my spoons and lifters and spatulas and rubber scrapers [..]

I don't recall seeing anyone here complain of having too many spoons...

#164 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:00 AM:

Mongoose #136: Muscovado sugar has a much higher mineral content than more refined sugars. Your cakes are, thus, nutritionally richer.

#165 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:01 AM:

Mongoose #136: Muscovado sugar has a much higher mineral content than more refined sugars. Your cakes are, thus, nutritionally richer.

#166 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:48 AM:

Very finely ground sugar is called 'superfine' in the US; confectioner's sugar is superfine plus some cornstarch.

#167 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:58 AM:

Bill Stewart @48: If your groceries have an ethnic food aisle, might I suggest you look for hot chocolate or cocoa there? The Mexican version (Abuela's) is much less sugary, and often also has things like cinnamon. I have found powdered and solid versions to experiment with.

#168 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 11:12 AM:

Elliott Mason, I think US "superfine" sugar is still several degrees grittier than "confectioner's" sugar- which is also know as "10x," I assume for iterations of grinding. You're right about the cornstarch, though.

The way I learned it, US "superfine" sugar is the same texture as UK "castor" sugar, which is slightly less grainy than US "granulated". It'll give a somewhat more delicate texture in baked goods than granulated sugar, and if your UK recipes are turning out disappointingly, it may be worth seeking it out - and if you can't find it in the baking aisle, check with the bar mixers, as in the US one of its intended functions is for mixing cocktails, because the smaller crystals dissolve more readily in cold liquids.

Confectioner's sugar is UK "icing sugar", and due to both the very fine texture and the cornstarch, it can't be substituted into recipes for granulated or castor sugar.

Allegedly, you can put granulated sugar in a food processor and pulverize it until it's as fine as icing sugar. It's never processed down that far in my experience.

#169 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 11:16 AM:

Rikibeth #146:

The bathroom with all the purple and green tiles had a bathtub/shower area that was only tiled to waist level. And painted plaster (admitted, glossy, but still *painted plaster*) above that. And a towel bar at the back end, mainly because there was not room for one elsewhere, unless they'd wanted to skip the toilet-paper holder. The towel bar was almost normal, compared to the shower-water-all-over-your-untiled-wall thing. And it kept some water off the wall! At least there was a cute arch over the whole assemblage.

#170 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 11:39 AM:

joann: Definitely not the world's greatest design. The main bathroom in the house I grew up in had a different flaw: there was a window running the entire length of the bathtub, starting around chest height on an adult. It included one narrow casement section and a stretch of single-pane glass (1961, all the windows were single-pane in metal frames, heating oil was cheap). My parents explained that this was an artifact of Massachusetts building codes at the time, which said you didn't need to have a vent fan in the bathroom if you had a window that opened. My mother found it a great nuisance to have to buy shower curtain liners and cut them off at windowsill level so the curtain keeping our neighbors from seeing into the bath didn't hang down and obstruct the soap dish.

Anoter feature of Massachusetts building codes at the time specified that bathroom light switches had to be outside the bathroom. (I guess this was before GFCIs?) This created a Sugar Problem for visitors who'd lived where such a rule wasn't in place. It also created an attractive nuisance for little brothers whose sisters were inside the bathroom.

I have a slightly different Sugar Problem with the 1936 bathroom here: NO wall switches. There's a sconce light to either side of the medicine cabinet, and they're each operated by a turn-switch on the bottom. After three months, I don't reach over to the tub wall (left of the door) EVERY time I walk into the bathroom, but it's amazing how ingrained a habit like that is. One of the first things I did was to stick a nightlight in the outlet under one of the sconces so I wouldn't have to bark my shins on the toilet to turn the light on.

I've seen towel bars and racks at the back wall of the tub in hotels, but in those, it's been very apparent that the shower spray aims lower than the towel storage. Not so much in my current tub. Our solution was to put a rack of towel hooks over the back of the door, and use the in-shower towel bar to hold the vinyl tub mat so it can drip dry in between showers.

#171 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:11 PM:

I've heard of running granulated sugar through the blender to make the equivalent of superfine. It would seem to be workable.

#172 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:35 PM:

Rikibeth @170: Almost all the rooms that aren't the living/dining pair in our 'new' house are ceiling-mounted with pull-chains. We STILL feel up the wall beside the door instinctually ...

#173 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 12:57 PM:

I have my own version of the Kitchen Storage Variant Location problem in that I've always preferred to organize both equipment and supplies by process flow rather than by category. This means that as my cooking habits shift, I will sometimes re-analyze and re-organize my storage. For some of my less-local family members, this means that every time they have visited me, things have been in different locations.

I'm also still adjusting to storage differences between my old house and my new house. For all that they're located a bare 20 miles apart, the difference between Oakland (fog zone, few extreme highs or lows) and Concord (inland valley, summers regularly in the 90s) has meant some major changes. Butter cannot be kept on the table in a butter dish in summer (which means that soft, spreadable butter must be planned for). Nuts and and any other oil-rich supplies (e.g., sesame seeds) must be stored in the freezer for anything other than very short term or they go rancid. Chocolate ditto or it goes all gray around the edges. I had some unfortunate learning experiences in my first Concord summer.

#174 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 01:32 PM:

Rikibeth #170:

Window over the tub with the shower happened in a bathroom of another house. (There was another bathroom with no shower.) We put a vinyl window shade over the window, but the paint on the frame kept peeling until I had a brainstorm and got some exterior-trim grade paint.

As to light switches: the other bathroom in that house had a switch outside, for the simple reason that there was literally no place for a switch inside, as on one side of the door was the wall the door opened toward, and the open side was the linen closet door. For me, this was not a middle-of-the-night problem (enough ambient light), but spouse (reasonably) prefers light, so he would make his way down the hall to the other bathroom instead.

(The next house, while having an inside switch in the ensuite master bath, came with a door that had the top panels replaced by glass panes. After a week or so of being awakened by other people's middle-of-the-night excursions, I insisted on getting the door traded for the all-solid one belonging to the ensuite in the other upstairs bedroom. (We never did figure out why there were glass panels; just one of many strangenesses about that house. Any possibility that some form of fung shui, most likely of Tibetan or Nepalese origin, was involved?)

#175 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 02:01 PM:

#153 ::: Carol Kimball

I do think it's something in the range of prejudice against large people. There's nothing stopping retailers from charging more for large sizes.

I gather there are still unfashionable clothes in inferior materials which are made *only* for large people.

#176 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 02:10 PM:

Miramon@11: Like clockwork, the Aldi store closest to me (in Iowa) is advertising Stroopwafel as "Caramel Wafers." But then, what I know as Spekulaas, they advertise as Spekulatius. Still more sugar and sat fat than I need at any time of year, let alone close to finals.
I still remember the shock of discovering that the town where I was staying as a foreign exchange student had a cheap grocery that was nearly identical to the cheap grocery in my town, many thousands of miles away.

#177 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 02:11 PM:

I do know that the Gigantic Cruise Souvenir Store did have pricing signs on the walls that included plus sizes (a couple bucks more). I don't know if the clerk was lying to me, all I know is that she told me that their former buyer was fired specifically for not buying larger sizes. So, unless she was lying to me, there was some size prejudice involved. Because, after all, tourists are never, ever fat.

#178 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Rikibeth 168: ...check with the bar mixers, as in the US one of its intended functions is for mixing cocktails, because the smaller crystals dissolve more readily in cold liquids.

Hence it's other name, "bar sugar."

#179 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 03:12 PM:

Its! ITS other name! Aaaaaargh! The shame!

*bangs face on floor until forgiven*

#180 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 03:17 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @179, in my capacity as - something or other - you're forgiven! Stop denting the floor and/or your face!

Or perhaps that should be "your forgiven."

#181 ::: Karen Williams ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 03:49 PM:

I was reminded of this in Brighton recently, visiting friends after WFC. English bathrooms are...different. The light switch is *outside* the room, but the dangling light is *inside*. There will often be one or the other. There's a cold faucet and a hot faucet, but the faucets aren't near each other and only stick out into the basin about three inches. And every shower works differently.

Of course, I was charmed by the grocery store, that had its own Chocolate Biscuits aisle, distinct from the Biscuits aisle.

#182 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:42 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @173: I believe that chocolate going gray around the edges or on the surface is caused by the cocoa butter coming out of solution, and doesn't mean the chocolate has gone bad. It's not as pretty but you can still eat it.

I lived in Pleasant Hill, one town over from Concord, for a year or so, and I found that just as the summer was hotter so was the winter more cold.

#183 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:42 PM:

British rules on electricity in bath/shower rooms is basically: NO! This is due to the Elves who drink Safe Tea (because elfin safe tea is so very important when you have 250 volts AC at substantial current available along with earthed metalwork and lots of water).

The rules boil down to:

1) No power sockets (with the exception of low current, totally isolated (built-in isolating transformer) types for running electric razors and possibly toothbrush chargers off).

2) No switches that can be reached while touching anything earthed - so insulated pull-cord types are generally used for the light, extractor fan, radiant heater and electric shower isolator.

3) All wiring to be totally enclosed.

4) Infra-red (radiant) heaters are permitted but must be fixed to the wall and out of reach.

(A further rummage led to this page which reveals that the extractor fan at Chez Moose is no longer compliant because it isn't protected by a 30mA RCD. I must watch my step!)

(Correcting this will require a long (about 10 feet), thin (9" x 24") qualified electrician since the wiring is in the roof space and behind the cold water tankage - and has since been boxed in!)

Is there a Part P qualified contortionist in the UK? I have a job for them.

#184 ::: Adam Ek ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 05:53 PM:

And many stores now put what you need most often at the farthest point from the door so that you have to walk past all the advertising-packaging to get to it.

#185 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 06:06 PM:

I grew up in Livermore. Tell me about it. (I still remember the summer it hit 112 in the shade. And the June where it was over 100 every day for a week and a half, which was the week they were pouring concrete for our new church. With the delivery at 4pm.) Now I'm in the San Fernando Valley, which is warmer all year.

Yes, my nuts are stored in the freezer. Flour is in the fridge.

#186 ::: Ali Burtt ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 07:02 PM:

SamChevre @ #17: New England has Wegmans! It's the best grocery chain ever and they have an app. I put my grocery list in the app and it divides the list by aisle. Then I never have to guess where anything is. This is cheating, I realize. And also not the ultimate point of this post. But it is a wonderful, amazing thing that I can now do thanks to technology.

#187 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 07:14 PM:

Well behind here, but I wanted to join the kitchen utensil organization thread. Thematic drawers, subdivided by little mesh baskets, in general.

Drawer of eating utensils, divided into small forks, small spoons, large forks, large spoons, ice-tea spoons/butter knives, general dinner knives, steak knives, oyster forks, twist-ties and a section for plastic wraps and similar for food storage.

Directly under that, drawer of serving utensils divided into serving spoons (and one similar metal salad serving fork), serving flat bits (cake servers and the like), ladles and more flats, ice-cream servers, less-frequently used wraps, wooden salad utensils.

Bottom drawer: teas, mixers, pastry blenders, giant roll of aluminum foil, rolling pins, glass citrus juicer.

Over near stove: drawer of cooking utensils, subdivided into cooking knives (plus a knife block up above), scrapers/spatulas, measuring spoons, peelers and small funnels, garlic utensils, measuring cups up to 1 cup small, and a bit of other bumf (cheese cutter, citrus seed strainer, and the like). There's also one upright canister one for larger ladles and one for spatuloids of various shapes and larger sizes; and one for whisks on the other side of the stove.

Things that are larger/less used are in other areas; we've got carving sets in a couple of places, and the family silver is off in a separate chest of its own (dinner knives in top, then various individual stacks including dinner forks, salad forks, soup spoons, tea spoons, fish forks, oyster forks, grape shears, grape/fruit ladle, butter knives, and various bits I don't remember without actually looking at it.

Karen built a kitchen with a lot of storage space.... There's also a very useful pantry downstairs where the aebelskiever pans, springforms, loaf pans and overstock all live very happily until they're needed. Along with a massage chair, several cat carriers, spare staples (canned tomatoes, overstock tea, clams).

Next, we could get into a discussion of where plates and pans go, but that's a much larger issue.

#188 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 07:32 PM:

Adam, #184: That's actually a consideration for convention dealer rooms as well. Put the dealer that everyone wants to visit toward the rear, so that they have to walk past all the other dealers to get there.

Ali, #186: We are very fond of Wegmans unsweetened flavored fizzy water. When we do a con up in that direction, we always try to stop on the way back and stock up, since we don't have them down here.

#189 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 07:53 PM:

My newly local* supermarket doesn't seem to carry frozen orange juice. Or possibly they carry one kind that they were out of this evening. In the freezer aisle, in the section marked Juice, they had apple, grape, lemonade, pink lemonade, limeade, margarita mix, and bacardi mix. But no orange juice. There was an empty slot, but only one. Every other supermarket I've ever been in carries at least three types of frozen orange juice: regular plus, no-pulp and/or "country style" and/or calcium fortified, and I think there's at least one other type I'm forgetting.

I guess next week I'll have to go back to my old supermarket (which is on my way home from work) so that I can buy orange juice. While I'm at it, I'll do the rest of my week's shopping.

*I just moved

#190 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 08:15 PM:

At least one grocery store in Victoria BC has an aisle-section (with its own hanging sign) for `Ginger Beer and Ale'. Joy. I did not check for a `Chocolate Biscuits' aisle.

#191 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 08:16 PM:

Re: Windows in the shower stall.

I'm actually a great fan of windows (with, to be sure, clouded glass) in the bathroom, because of an incident that happened to me years ago when I lived in an apartment. The power went out while I was in the middle of taking a shower. The bathroom was in an interior space with no windows.

It is *incredibly* disorienting to be standing in a running shower in pitch-black darkness.

So, yes, I was pleased to find that the house we bought has a window in the bathroom, even though it is, perforce, above the bathtub in the shower space. I seem to have acquired a very specific, albeit mild, phobia, you see....

#192 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 09:00 PM:

thomas @ 55: the same commonly applies to cheese: the mass-market bricks/slices are in Dairy, while the good stuff is Somewhere Else. (In the 2 cases I can visualize: in Deli, at the opposite end of the store.)

#193 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 09:01 PM:

thomas @ 55: the same commonly applies to cheese: the mass-market bricks/slices are in Dairy, while the good stuff is Somewhere Else. (In the 2 cases I can visualize: in Deli, at the opposite end of the store.)

#194 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2013, 10:25 PM:

Another kind of food category issue: we've mostly been talking about all-in-one supermarkets, but there's also the "baker for the bread, greengrocer for the vegetables" model. I remember two bread-related category surprises:

In France: the pâtisserie/viennoiserie/boulangerie split (bakeries making pastry, sweet bread, and breads, respectively). Recognizing that there was such a split was the first step; figuring out by experiment exactly what was where was the second.

In Portugal: seeing larger covered holes in doors next to the mail slots, and eventually finding out that these were bread slots, for the (at least at one point) daily bread delivery. We thought was an extremely civilized idea.

#195 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 12:18 AM:

I was aware of the split between pastry and bread, but not the one between sweet bread and regular bread.

#196 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 12:24 AM:

I would have thought sweetbreads would be at the butchers, not the bakers.

#197 ::: MinaW ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 12:43 AM:

Miramon @ 11

Just found the stroopwaffels in a second health food store, when the one I had seen them in before didn't have them in stock. (California)

#198 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 02:20 AM:

Oh, and then you start getting into the American insanity about which stores can sell what kind of alcoholic beverages. This varies wildly from state to state, and sometimes even within states. In TN (the one I'm most familiar with), you have "dry counties" where no alcohol of any kind can be sold. Beyond that, there's a difference between being able to buy alcohol in a can or bottle, and being able to get "liquor by the drink" -- a glass of wine with your dinner at a restaurant. Actual mixed drinks may be yet a further complication.

Grocery stores may or may not be able to sell beer and wine. Where they can't, it's also not uncommon for a store to be able to sell beer and wine OR hard liquor, but not both. The liquor store sells hard liquor, the package store sells beer and wine, and they are frequently cheek-by-jowl in a strip center, both owned by the same people but run as two entirely separate companies both physically and financially.

Here in Houston, there are TWO eateries near our house that advertise drive-thru drinks* -- one of them has margaritas, the other has daiquiris. Do not ask me how this works when we also have an open container ordinance.

* This is not the same as the drive-thru liquor stores you encounter in some parts of the country, which are simply liquor stores where you order and pay for your bottles or cases at the window and someone brings them out and loads them into your car, rather than you having to park and go inside.

#199 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 07:37 AM:

And then in Texas there are counties were part of the county allows some kind of alcohol sales.

#200 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 08:31 AM:

P J Evans #199: That's true in other parts of the South. Those are called "moist" counties. That is to say, dry counties containing wet municipalities.

#201 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 08:52 AM:

Lee, in NY it's beer in grocery stores, then wine and liquor. This has the odd and unfortunate effect that liquor stores can't sell mixers.

#202 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 09:09 AM:

Fragano, it isn't even necessarily a municipality. It may be just one of the districts, or part of a municipality.
Texas is weird.

#203 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 09:32 AM:

Lee @198 there's a difference between being able to buy alcohol in a can or bottle, and being able to get "liquor by the drink" -- a glass of wine with your dinner at a restaurant. Actual mixed drinks may be yet a further complication.

When I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, going on 20 years ago, they were in the process of revamping the liquor laws. They, like other southern locales I have lived in, had exemptions where "liquor by the drink" was allowed at private clubs, but not just anywhere. Which led, in turn, to a system whereby one could extremely easily and cheaply join the "private club" affiliated with the restaurant at which one was eating dinner, and then order a drink. This was referred to as "liquor by the wink."

#204 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 09:58 AM:

Texas is the same kind of baffling patchwork in regards to other laws, too. The one I have tried to follow long-distance via news stories is "what values on my original birth certificate or current identification must be 'opposite' to the value of the person I am marrying, for it to not count as a same sex marriage?" In some counties, having undergone a legal gender transition makes you ineligible to marry anyone ... though it's still working out in the case law. I wouldn't want to try to be the specimen case, for sure.

Back to alcohol: In Chicago, beer, wine, and liquor are all covered by the same licence for purpose of selling them in a store; likewise, if your restaurant has 'a liquor license' you can serve any kind of alcohol to diners in glasses with their meals (though many don't stock supplies to make complicated mixed stuff).

However, some wards or some neighborhoods within wards are zoned to not allow liquor licenses, or not to allow NEW ones , while (perhaps) permitting restaurants to have a license to sell by the glass. Then there is the oddest license, by my lights: the BYOB license. You NEED one (you can't just declare yourself BYOB), but it's not for the right to sell alcohol in your restaurant: it's for the right to allow your customers to bring their OWN bottled alcohol in and drink it in your glasses while eating your food. There is at least one case I am aware of of a restaurant and a bar in adjoining storefronts (and with friendly, but non-overlapping, ownership) having an INTERNAL door between their businesses so that you might enter the bar, order a drink of your choosing, return to the restaurant, be seated, and have it delivered -- legally BYOB -- to your chair in the restaurant by staff of the bar.

The more common case is seeing a BYOB sign in the window of a restaurant and visiting the liquor store down the street for a nice bottle of wine before entering and ordering. What's utterly illegal is going to a bar, buying a drink by the glass, and leaving the premises by way of the SIDEWALK, at which point you're consuming from an open container on the public way, which is illegal in all cases (unless you're in a designated-and-fenced sidewalk cafe area for a business that can legally sell to you; that's not 'the public way').

For Chicago's wards, think 'state' but on a sub-city level; our city legislature has 50 Aldermen, who are redistricted every 10 years to have approximately equal populations under their jurisdiction ... really gerrymandered districts, at this point, but that's a different problem.

There's an interesting kerfuffle going on administratively about a property near my house. It was a liquor store since before the area was zoned no-new-license-issued; then it shut, and their first buyer fell through, so there has been a period of no-valid-license, and the new owner is petitioning for a variance to allow him to retroactively renew the grandfathered license, since that location had a liquor store for over 50 years and was reasonably unharmful to the neighborhood. He has various signed testimonies to the effect that he knows how to run liquor stores near residential neighborhoods without letting them get rowdy ...

#205 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 09:58 AM:

I grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, which was a dry city in the middle of a wet county. There was one bar on one edge of town; the land had been annexed and so their liquor license was grandfathered in. The neighboring citys' package liquor store (and grocery stores, which in Illinois can also sell beer, wine, and spirits (I presume they need a license for this)) did roaring business.

In 1985 a referendum was passed, turning Wheaton wet. I'm convinced this was a voting error; to vote for liquor, you had to vote "No", and in the same election three dry city councilmen were elected. But in any case, you can now get a glass of wine in Wheaton restaurants (which go out of business much less frequently now), and buy a six-pack of beer or a bottle of bourbon at the grocery store.

The moral decay has only accelerated: in 2003 professors at Wheaton College were informed that they may now have a glass of wine with dinner in their own home if no students are present! And students may now DANCE! (Off-campus, never on campus.)

What's coming next I shudder to think....

#206 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 10:16 AM:

Faculty at Trinity Christian College (settled and founded by a particularly humorless bunch of Dutch Lutherans, if I recall correctly, and more than half the student body still has last names that sound very Knickerbocker-and-Old-Manhattan to me) is required, as a prerequesite of their employment contract, to sign a morality pledge. If the school discovers that at any point during their employment -- in their off hours, at home, while on vacation in Italy -- they have consumed alcohol to sufficient excess as to 'behave inappropriately;' consumed any illegal substance; committed marital infidelities, if married; had documentable sex WITH ANYONE, if unmarried; and a whole list of other really weirdly nitpicky things... they're automatically fired for insufficient moral fiber.

The joys of living in an at-will state, where 'moral insufficiency' is not a protected class for purposes of employment law, man. My mom still took the job. Which then led to the cases in which her supervisors became very unhappy about forcing her to include the required moral and Biblical content in her (Earth Science) courses ... without her ever doing anything they could fire her for. But that is a different story, best beloveds. :->

#207 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 11:20 AM:

Elliott, the joke I heard about the varying wet/dry places in the state is that the voters will stagger to the polls to vote their county dry.

#208 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 12:03 PM:

Other weird category confusions lead to some very odd stores in Venice, a city which when I was there had only two large stores of any description. Prize examples were the store selling only cleaning supplies, domestic division (dish soap, paper towels, spot remover, Tide and maybe brooms and scrubbers), and the shop selling pastries (fresh and packaged) and dolls--moderate-size collections of both.

(Looks to me as though sweet breads went in with the pastries *and* the breads there. Separate stores.)

#209 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 12:15 PM:

In the early 70s there was a dark, narrow store in Vancouver BC that sold only umbrellas. Not even fold-up rain hats. They'd apparently been there a decade or two and looked reasonably prosperous.

#210 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Alcohol sales regulations can create some interesting economic geographies. Back when I was in college (late '70s California) there was some conjunction of alcohol-sales laws in effect (please don't hold me to the specific details) that precluded establishments selling alcohol from being located within a certain minimum radius from a college/university. In a small town like Davis with a very large university (in terms of acreage), this effectively meant no liquor stores could be located in the town of Davis itself. But at a certain very precise distance outside of town, there was a cluster of liquor stores and bars exactly where the radius ended.

As I recall, the laws creating this effect were changed during the period when I was at school there, leading to the collapse of certain longstanding student traditions. (The fact that the vast majority of undergrads were under the legal drinking age had no effect on the existence of longstanding student traditions involving alcohol purchase and consumption, of course.)

#211 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 02:08 PM:

For complex historical reasons, the district of Leith has had separate alcohol laws than the rest of Edinburgh for a long time. In particular, the regulations around closing time are, or were, different—you can drink an hour longer in Leith.

There's a bar in Edinburgh called the Boundary Bar, which sits right on the border between the rest of the city and Leith. It's long-standing tradition, at closing time in Edinburgh, to pick up your pint and amble round the bar to the Leith side to have another hour's drinking.

#212 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 02:08 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @210 - the same situation with alcohol sales being relegated to a certain distance off campus also led to the denotation of a certain area in East Palo Alto as "Whiskey Gulch", having been an attractant to Stanford students for many years in the post-prohibition era of the early 20th century. By the time I landed in that region, the laws had changed but the moniker remained. Now that there is a Four Seasons hotel and an Ikea in that part of town, I suspect the name is mostly lost to history.

#213 ::: Andrew Wells ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 02:46 PM:

There is a shop in Kirkwall, Orkney, whose main lines are prams / baby buggies and whisky.

#214 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 03:11 PM:

abi @ 211... A man walks into a bar... And comes out on the leith side?

#215 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 04:07 PM:

abi @ 211: ah, so that's why the Leith police dismisseth us; dismisseth us the police of Leith!

#216 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 05:07 PM:

Mongoose @ 215... The Leith said, the bitter?

#217 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 05:23 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @210 -- it wasn't all colleges, just "land-grant colleges", which included the older campuses of the University of California (and Stanford, I believe, among others). On-sale liquor was available near UC Berkeley, but off-sale liquor had to be a mile away (leading to several liquor stores down at the Oakland border on Telegraph and just below Sacramento on University). It was a very peculiar regulation.

#218 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 05:28 PM:

Tom Whitmore @217:
On-sale liquor was available near UC Berkeley, but off-sale liquor had to be a mile away (leading to several liquor stores down at the Oakland border on Telegraph and just below Sacramento on University).

I spent a summer living above one such a store (the Alcatel), years after the law was obsolete. Store's still there; it's a neighborhood institution now.

#219 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 06:00 PM:

Flieg Hollander, an early SCA knight and one of my mentors in fandom, lived in the White Horse apartments right across the street from the liquor store of the same name (and a half block from the bar of that name). And I've bought booze in both places, long ago.

#220 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 06:08 PM:

Tom Whitmore @217 - In the case of Stanford (not a land-grant school), it mostly had to do with the moral beliefs and arm-twisting tactics of its wealthy and politically powerful founder, Leland Stanford. Some historical detail is available here: Palo Alto Prohibition.

#221 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 07:25 PM:

Flieg Hollander, now there's a name I haven't heard for decades. I vaguely knew him from an apa called The Cult.

#222 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 07:46 PM:

Cally @ 205:
    "Why won't <your least-favorite blue-nosed religious> make love standing up?"
    "It might lead to dancing."

Heather @ 210: Massachusetts used to have a similar law -- not an absolute ban but a veto given to houses of religion over licenses within a modest distance from their front doors. This was a serious problem in ancient dense crossroads like Harvard Square (first WASP settlement ~1630), until the Supreme Court dealt appropriately with such an open-and-shut First Amendment case; the attorney general who got stuck defending the law said he'd never been happier to lose a case.

Allan @ 221: I don't remember why I went looking, but I found Flieg's website a year or so ago. Still active in the SCA, but the last time I ran into him in fandom was 1983.

#223 ::: CHip was gnomed yesterday ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 07:51 PM:

hence the double post (192/193); mentioned here because the email address in the response (below) bounced IMMEDIATELY both times I tried it (last night and tonight).
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
The gnomes can try my wife's maternal grandmother's simple chicken soup (now cooling on the back walk after a successful premiere) as long as they don't make a mess and don't look like raccoons....

#224 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 08:34 PM:

As a resident of Ottawa, I live in Ontario, which has a provincial (state) monopoly* liquor and wine chain, the LCBO. And a monopoly beer retailer, aptly called "The Beer Store". Across the bridge into Gatineau, beer and wine are sold in supermarkets and corner stores. Many of those stores are in the same chains as in Ontario. There's a significant mental lurch rounding a corner in a store that's generally familiar, until you meet the beer aisle. Sometimes I can actually "see" what would in the equivalent space on the Ontario side.

* The LCBO has a mostly monopoly, with some wine being also sold through winery boutiques in supermarkets. The Beer Store was formerly Brewers Retail, and is owned by the two major breweries, who in turn are owned by Anhauser Busch and Sapporo. That's the result of a policy originally intended to protect local brewers, a general prohibition on the transport of beer between provinces. A policy that was completely inverted by nationwide branding and TV advertising, where bigger was economical.

#225 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 08:48 PM:

Flieg used to be a regular at Other Change, so I've definitely seen him in this century (but it's been a while).

And I was in the Cult for a few years too, Allan, back in the early 1970s. Small world, fandom!

#226 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2013, 08:49 PM:

Oh yes -- and thank you for the further info on Stanford, oliviacw (@220).

#227 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 01:03 AM:

As the article oliviacw referenced in 220 says, Whiskey Gulch wasn't technically in Palo Alto. It was in what later became East Palo Alto, and it's in San Mateo County, instead of Santa Clara County which goes from Palo Alto south, down past San Jose. EPA was the town where black people were allowed to live, back when segregation was still around.

Eventually Highway 101 was built, with Whiskey Gulch and a small residential chunk of EPA on the west side along with Palo Alto; I knew a guy who was able to afford to buy a house there because the EPA address made housing prices much lower than the Palo Alto houses two blocks away (not counting the much fancier ones on University Ave itself.) Eventually (I think around 2000?) developers were able to get the Whiskey Gulch area rezoned, kick out the liquor stores and other small businesses, and build the hotel and multi-story law-firm offices just in time for the Internet Crash.

#228 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 01:11 AM:

The University of Delaware is pretty near the Maryland border, liquor license rules were different, and during the years when the drinking age was 18 in Maryland, Delaware had grudgingly lowered it to 20, so the area near the highway just across the border from the university also had the big pile of liquor stores catering to the student market.

I went to college in upstate New York, where the age was also 18, and it took a while to navigate the rules about "liquor stores sell liquor and wine, but beer's only available in grocery stores." After the drinking age was cranked up to 21 again, the pub in the student union turned into an ice cream parlor, and the pinball machines were all taken out. On the other hand, when I was at Berkeley, where the drinking age had always been 21, for some reason it was possible for one of the student union buildings on campus to sell beer.

#229 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 01:25 AM:

Whiskey Gulch was just getting "cleaned up" as I was preparing to exit the Bay Area. It was quite a sleazy-looking place compared to the pretty homes and landscaping up the road.

#230 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 04:45 AM:

CHip @223:

Yes, we have server troubles at the moment. Sadly, comments that get that response aren't so much gnomed as Schrodingered: they either make it to the thread or they don't, and you don't know till you refresh.

I'll mention that the email address is bouncing, but that's cosmetic; what we really need to do is go down to the furnace room and sort out the Balrogs on the treadmills. And that's a big job.

Fortunately, we do backups.

#231 ::: Pensnest ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 07:28 AM:

Cross-national fanfic tends to throw up a lot of examples of "this is how things are done" that just aren't so. The Weasley family enjoying their regular breakfast of pancakes. The Dursleys not being willing to pay for Harry to go to the doctor.

I recently discovered that 'chicken salad sandwiches' would be quite different in the UK and the USA. 'Chicken salad' being a concept that (I thought) needed no explanation, I would never have asked.

Recipies also provide 'that isn't how it's done!' moments. Three quarters of a cup of butter? Seriously?

Oh yes, and I still remember the startled outrage I experienced in my first American bookstore, where the price I was charged at the till was not the total price of the books, but more. In the UK, prices shown are *required* to be inclusive of tax.

#232 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 09:24 AM:

What would chicken salad be in the USA?

In Britain a default "salad" would be some kind of green leaves along with slices of other veg, most likely onion, tomato, and cucumber. There might be a dressing, but there might not.

Chicken salad would be that with pieces of chicken, probably sliced breast meat.

#233 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 09:50 AM:

Ken Brown @232: What would chicken salad be in the USA?

Start off with shredded or cubed chicken with mayonnaise or some other binder, and often celery; vary from there by taste and region.

#234 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 09:54 AM:

In the US salad can mean some kind of green leaves along with slices of other veg, dressed or not, but it can also mean some other main ingredient in smallish bite-sized pieces bound together with a thick dressing.

Potato salad is cooked diced potatoes combined with a mayo-based dressing. Pasta salad is cooked pasta combined with a mayo-based dressing, etc.

Chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad tend to be made to a spreadable consistency, and are more used as ingredients in sandwiches than eaten alone.

In the mid-west US (Ohio through Kansas, and directly north of that line) salad can also refer to various desert-like dishes made by mixing together various ingredients. The song "Lime Jello, Marshmallow, Cottage Cheese Surprise" parodies this tradition, with the title salad also including pimento, pineapple, mayonnaise, and vanilla wafers.

#235 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:03 AM:

CHip, #223 -- Dunno how the address went away. I've just now reinstated it; it should work now.

#236 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:11 AM:

Ken Brown @232

What would chicken salad be in the USA?

In the USA, chicken salad would be anything it wanted to be, anything it aspired to be, anything it dared to be.

In a land of limitless opportunity, chicken salad would dream big dreams, work hard, develop its talents, and win the future.

In the USA, chicken salad would wake up early in the morning and thank its Maker for a brand new day. Chicken salad would scan the headlines while gulping down a hot coffee--black--then dash out the front door to greet the world.

Chicken salad would be faithful to its promises, eager to make new contacts, and grateful to the little people that made it all possible. Chicken salad would get an education, find a wholesome hobby, and save for retirement.

In the USA, chicken salad would be a pillar of its community, fostering rugged self-reliance and the can-do pioneer spirit of an Amish barn-raising.

Yes, in the USA, there's no telling what chicken salad would be. But it would be the best darned chicken salad it could be.

#237 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:33 AM:

oldster @236, that was not just LOL but a genuine belly laugh. Thanks for that.

#238 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:46 AM:

Oldster @236, <patriotic bellylaugh>

Ken Brown @232, I should add that your "chicken salad" would be, on the west side of the Pond, widely available on menus as "Salad with Chicken." (As you say, normally greens and a sliced chicken breast, usually with an oil-and-vinegar dressing of some sort).

"Chicken salad" is not entirely dissimilar to a really lumpy pate. The chicken isn't ground smooth, but it's chopped fine, and mixed with chopped-fine celery and perhaps other ingredients (apple, tree nuts; lots of variations possible), all held together in a spreadable paste by a liberal admixture of mayonnaise. This is usually spread on bread as a sandwich or on crackers as an appetizer.

#239 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:49 AM:

Among twenty chafing dishes,
the only icy thing
was the salad of the chicken.

#240 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:49 AM:

oldster @ 236: that's wonderful!

#241 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:51 AM:

Cadbury Moose at 183:
The thing I found puzzling in English bathrooms is that electric heater box control in the shower.

This seems wrong to me, in the same way that taking a hair dryer into the bath would.

#242 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 11:08 AM:

Hmm, I've seen chicken salad that was rather coarser than a lumpy pate.

I've had this conversation with Lenore. To me, the core meaning* of the term 'salad' really entails a contrast in texture; that is, there have to be things with more than one texture in the salad for it to qualify as a good salad.

So the New York Deli style of potato salad is bad, bad potato salad, because it contains nothing but potatoes and mayonnaise (and sometimes sugar, which is an abomination).† Leaving aside the fact that I like my potato salad to have a bit of vinegar in it (it does interesting things to the potato starch overnight), I think it needs some carrots and/or celery or something, to pass the multiple-textures test.

A bowl of iceburg lettuce with dressing is a pretty bad salad, to the point where a friend once opined that it should be illegal for a restaurant to call that a "salad" on their menu. A "green salad" should at a minimum have several different kinds of greens!

My mom's tuna salad (which, in keeping with the phrasing of the time, was always called "tuna fish salad," because apparently not everyone was expected to know that tuna was a fish) had peas in it. Given that they were canned peas, I should have hated them, but there was something wrong with tuna salad with no peas in it. Celery (which I also don't otherwise like!) makes it OK again.

Please note that this is entirely an esthetic judgement on my part. I'm not asserting that this is "the American version" of what salad is, or anything of the kind. My conversation with Lenore made it clear that my view that NYC deli-style potato salad is horrible is far from universal.

*That is, things that don't have the core-meaning traits aren't "not salad," but "bad salad" or "a bad example of a salad."
†This is the only thing about NYC deli style that I really think is awful. Mostly their taste is excellent. But...SUGAR in potato salad? Flogging hardly seems an adequate penalty.

#243 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 11:23 AM:

Basically all this kerfuffle stems from linguistic muddiness: some people use the word 'salad' to mean "something containing a good percentage of lettuce, that is generally good for you," and others use it to mean "a bunch of things cut up to fairly consistent particle size, in a bowl." American chicken salad is the latter; American jello salads are a variation upon it that takes it even farther from the 'green healthy pre-dinner course' definition.

English has a very long history of borrowing a word from someone, deciding it means X, reborrowing another variant of the same root words 30 years later, deciding it means Y, etc ... this is why we have so many differently-defined words that trace back to the same Latin roots, because we borrowed them once from the Romans, once from the Normans, once from Germanic languages (who swiped it from the Romans and rubbed off cerial numbers), and probably once directly from modern French in Victorian times to mean something very snooty. And sometimes an additional 'in legal or medical jargon only' direct borrowing from Latin or Greek ...

The word 'salad' (as opposed to 'word salad,' who firmly come from the chopped-up-mess variant of the word) is actually a bunch of homonyms pretending to be one word, with very distinct meanings.

#244 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 11:27 AM:

My family of origin had (has) a certain confusion over the term 'tuna salad' because we used it for two different things. One was the usual American definition as given above, a sandwich filling made of canned tuna blended with mayonnaise and mustard. Sometimes we added a little bit of chopped onion, but that was optional. The other was a summer main dish that sounds like it would fit the British definition: lettuce (always iceberg* in those days) with chunks of tuna mixed in, with a dressing made of the tuna oil, mayo, and pickle† juice.

*I'm a heathen; I much prefer iceberg lettuce to any other kind.
†dill pickles, naturally--I'm not sure I knew another kind existed until I was an adult

#245 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 11:36 AM:

Upon Chicken Salad

Whenas in chunks my chicken breast lays,
Then, then (methinks) how well repays
That liquefaction of mayonnaise.

Next, when I mince to fine degree
The pickle, chive, and celery,
O how that gluttony taketh me!

#246 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 11:42 AM:

oldster at 245:
Wild applause!!!

#247 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 12:15 PM:

Thank you, OtterB, CassieB, Mongoose, and Carol. I'm glad you enjoyed them.

#248 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 12:22 PM:

"Salad" beyond the borders of France seems to fit the American expansive version of "a cold dish consisting of pieces of a food, usually with a dressing". For instance, Salad Olivier is a Russian dish recognized world-wide; kartoffsalat is quite German. From what I can tell it's only the French who tend to limit "salad" to "cold dish from salad greens".

#249 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 12:48 PM:

Xopher @ 232: no, I agree that NY Deli potato salad is bad. I just agree in a different direction. It's not sweet enough. To me, potato salad should have a very fresh potato taste with rich real mayonnaise, and NO VINEGAR! Deli salads usually taste like they've been sitting a while. Same with most NY restaurant cole slaws. Yuck. It's also possible that they're using one of the imitation mayos. I've never been quite sure what's wrong.

#250 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 12:53 PM:

...and to me, cole slaw has to age a bit before it's any good. Crunchy cabbage in mayo, yuck!

#251 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 01:34 PM:

Xopher @242 My mom's tuna salad (which, in keeping with the phrasing of the time, was always called "tuna fish salad," because apparently not everyone was expected to know that tuna was a fish)

It was always "tuna fish" in my youth. I have since wondered if that was a Texas regionalism to disambiguate from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, which is also a tuna. But maybe it was a more general term of its time.

#252 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 01:55 PM:

The potato salad recipe my mother used had you toss the hot diced potatoes in a vinaigrette, then, after they cooled, it got the rest of the ingredients (diced black olives, diced hard-boiled eggs, celery slices, chopped dill pickle, chopped pimentos (sweet red peppers), minced onion) and the obligatory mayo.

#253 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 02:11 PM:

Oh thank you one and all. I needed a day with giggles, barks, and sometimes howls of laughter. Mostly because BTDT.

When I still shared space with the then-not-ex, I put those few spices he used on one shelf and the rest on another. He had a tendency to rearrange the spices when looking for one, and then seem to feel the need to rearrange them again upon putting stuff away.

When I moved in with jan, he, too, was of the "I only need eight seasonings, and one of them is salt" school of cooking. Since he'd lived here 28 years and knew where everything was, and because he was a cat and one does not disrupt a cat's environment without good cause, I kept my spices in a set of drawers in the living room.

And thanks for the warning about NYC deli style potato salad. I will avoid it.

#254 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 02:41 PM:

OtterB (251): It was always 'tuna fish' in my childhood in Atlanta*, too. Sometimes I run it together as 'twofish', to be silly.

*I got a lot of my food terms from my mother, who grew up in California; her mother was from Indiana. No idea where this particular bit started.

#255 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 02:50 PM:

@254 Mary Aileen

It was always 'tuna fish' in my childhood in Atlanta*, too. Sometimes I run it together as 'twofish', to be silly.

Red fish, Blue fish?

#256 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 03:01 PM:

Cheryl (255): Probably.

#257 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 03:02 PM:

We call the variety of "tuna salad" that is spreadable and used in sandwiches "tuna butter", by analogy with peanut butter, I suppose.

#258 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 03:06 PM:

For me, "tuna fish" comes in cans, and "tuna" comes in steaks and sushi.

#259 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 03:19 PM:

TexAnne (258): ...I think you've got it. Huh. I never realized that before. The fish still swimming around in the ocean are 'tuna', also.

#260 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Are they still "tunny" for anyone? J.R.R. Tolkien set his elven city of Gondolin upon the hill of Túna; I always thought that was a foolish name choice, until it was pointed out to me that he would have known the fish as "tunny".

#261 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 04:37 PM:

Mary @244 - that kind of spreadable near-paste is common in English sandwich shops and called "tuna mayonaisse". "Tuna salad" might still be spreadable (almost always made with flaky tinned tuna) but would contain other veg - in this case often sweetcorn or finely chopped peppers - and little or no mayonaisse. We have "egg mayonaisse" as well, but not as far as I remember "chicken mayonaisse".

Xopher @242 - your NY potato salad sounds very much like British mass-produced potato salad. Finely chunked potato in mayonaisse or more likely the cheap ersatz mayoinaisse we call "salad cream". Sometimes with a little onion. And often too sweet.

I've made it at home for church bring-and-share lunches using a mixture of mayonaisse and natural yogurt, so its less greasy and a little sharper. People seem to like it a lot.

Also helps to put some cloves of garlic in the pan when you boil the potatoes.

#262 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 05:07 PM:

Tolkien's hill never worried me, because for me (being British) the fish are tyoona, whereas the hill is Toona. (Since Elvish ins pronounced like Latin.)

#263 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 05:25 PM:

C. Wingate et al

No one, so far as I can tell, uses "salad" to mean "predominantly greens." The french salades composées are are quite non-green.

NY deli potato salad sounds like Mennonite potato salad, which gets at least a cup of sugar for a dozen potatoes. Hence the fact that in the New Zion, jello is a salad-it's no sweeter than potato salad.

#264 ::: Pensnest ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 05:56 PM:

Yes, the two comments immediately following mine at #231 got it exactly: the UK 'chicken salad sandwich' would be sliced cold meat with greenery, and the American one would be a mixture with mayo (salad greens presumably optional and to be asked for separately).

We do have chicken in mixtures here, but they generally have fancy names, like 'Coronation Chicken', rather than being 'chicken salad'. And one of my favourite sandwich shops did a really good tuna mayonnaise with crunchy bits, which I have never quite been able to reproduce.

Dare I bring up the delicate matter of 'Candle Salad'? I probably shouldn't.

#265 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 06:01 PM:

I'd never realized it either, but in my dialect "tuna fish" means "canned" as well, while "tuna" means the actual fish or never-canned pieces thereof. Huhn. The things we never realize about our own language until it's pointed out....

#266 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 06:39 PM:

Erik Nelson #241

It's not a temperature control box, it's the whole electric shower unit, heater and all. (When you have Rich Chunky Volts available as domestic electricity supply like we do in the UK, you can design a fully sealed and electrically safe 9.5kW (cold water in, your choice of temperature out) shower unit in a very small space.)

All the pipework is electrically grounded, and with typically 4 Bar water pressure it's a simple and extremely effective solution.

Unfortunately my shower is a low pressure system using stored hot water - this is an old house - but it does what I need.

#267 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 07:26 PM:

Regional variation confusion:

When living in southern California, cheddar was orangey.
Now living in upstate New York, cheddar is white, and when the orangey version is seen, it's called yellow cheddar.
Any idea how the variants arose?

#268 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 07:31 PM:

White-to-pale-orange cheddar is pretty normal.
They actually add color to make it orange.

Oh yeah: When I was in the store this morning, I checked, and the molasses and corn syrup are with the pancake mix and syrups, in the cereal aisle. Agave syrup is in with the baking stuff.

#269 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 07:38 PM:

Cheddar used to be naturally orange when they made it with whole, high-cream milk. Then they started making it on the cheap and putting dye in it to fake out the consumer. White cheddar is the cheap stuff only not fake.

Not sure naturally-orange cheddar is available anywhere any more.

#270 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 07:57 PM:

Xopher @ 269

Cheddar used to be naturally orange when they made it with whole, high-cream milk

I'm pretty sure that's incorrect. Cheddar is still made with full-cream milk--the color difference depends on the cows' diet, and is much slighter that the difference between orange and white cheddar. Cheese will be slightly yellow if the cows are eating fresh grass, rather than hay or silage, so traditional cheesemaking, which was a spring and summer process, produced a somewhat-yellow cheese. The yellow cheese in the center of this picture is about as yellow as uncolored cheese gets. (If you've read the Little House books, Ma colors butter with grated carrot.)

#271 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:27 PM:

Returning to the OP and my 14, and reminders that we are all other to someone.

So I'm in Springfield, looking for (and now, having found) a place to live. I went to the grocery store, and what did I see? My food isn't with the "regular" food--it has its own spot in the ethnic food aisle.

I am amused.

#272 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 10:53 PM:

Xopher, as far as my knowledge of cheesemaking goes, SamChevre's got it right (though most cheap orange cheddar is now colored with annato/achiote seed, rather than grated carrot like Ma Ingalls' winter butter) but if you want to talk about fake coloring and doing things on the cheap, we could start in on "yellow egg shade"(yellow #5, usually) added to commercially produced challah to make it a pretty yellow, instead of using enough eggs in the recipe to make it an honest yellow.

I don't tend to make challah - when I do a rich, egg-heavy bread, it's usually brioche. I haven't costed out that recipe in a long time - not since I had to figure out what to charge for a king cake, and that was six years ago - but I can say with confidence that its yellow color comes entirely from the eggs.

I wonder if some of the old-fashioned cheddars got their color from a bacterial process in the aging?

#273 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 11:36 PM:

Yeah, I misremembered that, I think. It was about grazing the cattle. I was sure I heard something about the cream, but...vagueness. Blah.

#274 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2013, 11:47 PM:

Heather, #210: Nashville has a similar ordinance, which caused a problem for Vanderbilt when they were building a new student center and wanted to include a pub. The issue was finessed by measuring the distance from the pub, on the 6th floor of the student center, to the dorm on the other side of the sidewalk as being the distance one would actually have to walk to get from one to the other, by way of those 6 flights of stairs. (I lived in that dorm my senior year, on the side facing the student center, and we occasionally had drunken serenades under the windows just after closing time for the pub.)

Cassy/Xopher re chicken salad and "lumpy pate": Pate also isn't supposed to be crunchy. Good chicken salad should have any or all of minced raw celery, minced raw onion, or coarsely-ground nuts to raise it above the level of chicken-flavored toothpaste. Which I have had served to me under the label of "chicken salad"; while not inedible, I consider it to be a very poor-quality specimen of the dish.

Xopher, #269: I hate American-style white cheddar. In conversation with a friend, it was mentioned that white is the usual color of UK cheddar, and that most of it is of similar quality to US orange cheddar. This emboldened me to sample several white cheddars at the London party in San Antonio, and discover that my friend was right. I tried 3 different versions, of which one was not to my taste and the other two were just fine.

#275 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 01:54 AM:

Let it be far from me to argue with anyone else's personal taste, but I'd put Cabot Vintage Choice white cheddar up against any cheddar cheese in the world.

#276 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 02:09 AM:

#248 ::: C. Wingate :

I'd never heard of salad olivier until you mentioned it. I'm not crazy about most olives and pickles, but it sounds as though there's enough other stuff in it that I might like it.

I have no idea where I'd find some already made in Philadelphia.

#277 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 03:04 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz: If you're looking for premade Salad Olivier, I've found most Eastern European markets/delis to habitually carry it. Interestingly, the versions they carry are a bit more homogenized (e.g., carrots, potatoes and the like all chopped to the same size) than the version my Amazing Girlfriend taught me to make (my Amazing Girlfriend is Russian, and it's one of the foods of her childhood).

#278 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 08:31 AM:

My understanding is that as far as mass-market cheese in the US, "white" versus "orange" cheddar is strictly a matter of coloring... but there are regional preferences for "what color is cheese", so the producers adjust their marketing and distribution to suit.

#279 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 12:30 PM:

Related to "white" vs. "orange" cheddar. My mother told me that when she was a girl (1920s-30s, in Virginia) that margarine was not allowed to be sold colored yellow so that you couldn't confuse it with real butter. They would sell it with a little packet of coloring that you could mix in at home.

#280 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 01:30 PM:

Sam Chevre @262:

'Salade' in French seems just to mean '(a) lettuce'. (I was taught the word 'laitue' as a boy in England, but I've never heard it used in France.) So a menu that just mentions 'salade' will mean lettuce leaves with vinaigrette.

Anything with multiple ingredients counts as a 'salade composée' (or, if autocorrect is to be believed, a 'sad ladle composer'). Salad Niçoise, Caesar salad etc.

Stuff held together with mayonnaise seems typically to be called 'salade russe'.

You sometimes come across the word 'sallet' in oldish Emglish texts. It seems to mean 'lettuce', and is presumably the first naturalization of the French word.

#281 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 02:15 PM:

In Montreal, the menu will have "Les Salades" for the salad selection. As for lettuce, "salade" by itself is iceberg, while other lettuces are "laitue".

I grabbed this from the online menu of Queue de Cheval:

Salade ( un choix)
La César Classique de la « Q »
- Laitue romaine coupée à la main, croûtons à l’ail parmesan reggiano frais râpé et anchois
Salade iceberg croustillante
- Avec un assaisonnement de fromage bleu stilton émietté & croustilles de prosciutto rôties

From the Au Vieux Duluth menu:

Fromage feta, tomates, olives grecques, concombres, huile d’olive, poivrons rouges, origan, servis sur un nid de salade et notre vinaigrette maison
Laitue romaine avec morceaux de bacon, de croûtons et de parmesan, servie avec notre fameuse vinaigrette

for comparison's sake.

#282 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 03:29 PM:

As long as we're talking about interesting border effects, did anyone else grow up outside DC? I remember that as Independence Day neared, an empty lot on the DC side of the 5200 block of Western Ave was a solid wall of fireworks stands -- because fireworks could be sold in DC but not in Maryland. That instance of the phenomenon disappeared when Lord and Taylor built on the lot; I've never looked to see whether there are still instances on less economically-advantaged parts of the border (most of which could accommodate, as >>50% of the DC/Maryland border runs down the middle of three avenues.)

Idumea @ 230: TFTI. I just didn't know whether anybody knowledgeable knew there was a problem (cf abi's request for issue reports after the recent big cleanup). Knowing that comment acceptance is random is useful; I'll know to check rather than reposting if it happens again. And I quite understand about the balrogs in the basement; I worked at a large software for years 10-28 of its existence, and was still coping with debatable practices of mathematicians-halftrained-as-programmers up to my layoff.

Pensnest @ 231: Inclusion is possibly because the UK has a nationwide sales tax; as you may have noticed, in the US each state has its own level (often multiple levels depending on the goods) and some cities are allowed to pile on that. This is a particular problem for books; part of the reason they're cheaper in the US is that the entire run is printed in one giant plant. Hotel bills can be especially obnoxious for travelers; the recent debatable WFC (Brighton UK) posted pre-tax rates, possibly to try to persuade US members that the rates weren't as bad as they looked (although some US combined hotel taxes are approaching UK levels...).

Xopher @ 242: New Yorkers put tomatoes in clam chowder; why is sugar in potato salad a surprise? Sugar \and/ vinegar (cf my Pennsylvania-Dutch mother's ancestral potato-with-bacon-grease salad)would at least be medieval; I've run into a number of documented sweet/sour recipes in the SCA, and fondly remember a salad dressed with cider vinegar and maple sugar at the late lamented Blue Strawbery [sic]. (Their rule #1: There Are No Rules at The Blue Strawbery.)

Eliot @ 243: wrt the above, IIRC "sallet" was originally chopped this-and-that, including lots of protein; I don't remember when/how it evolved to make greens primary.

SamChevre @ 263: cf above, my expectation of "salad" (absent modifiers) starts with greens; even today, while I see "garden salad" in many mainstream menus, that distinguishes from Caesar rather than sallet, and the choice-of fine print often just says "salad".

Pensnest @ 264: speaking disrespectfully of Candle Salad can be hazardous in these parts; TNH has discussed it as part of her heritage, and IIRC dissected someone of lesser lineage who claimed it was phony.

Cheryl @ 281: that's a very strange formula for Caesar salad; bacon and vinegar instead of anchovies and lemon juice? At least they don't forget the cheese....

#283 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 03:31 PM:

My father-in-law used to make a dip for parties that consisted of ground bologna and mayonnaise. When asked, he would say, "It's ham salade a la Russe."

#284 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 04:04 PM:

praisegod barebones (280): Interesting that the French would call stuff held together with mayo 'salade russe'. A friend of mine who recently made several business trips to Russia informed me that, in Russia, salad is commonly made without lettuce, just the other vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, etc. If there's mayo involved, she didn't mention it. Since that's the way I prefer salads, sans lettuce*, I have taken great delight in (mentally) referring to the salads I make myself as 'Russian salad'.

*Remember I said I only like iceberg lettuce? I don't particularly care for iceberg, either, it's just relatively inoffensive.

#285 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 04:37 PM:

Further data point on "salad" fro New Zealand.

To me, the defining characteristic of a salad is vegetables served cold. Usually but not invariably leafy greens (lettuce being the most common, but far from universal) make up a large part.

Served cold often means raw, but some things are cooked, and allowed to cool, eg peas.

It may be botanically inaccurate, but tomatoes are considered vegetables for this purpose. So are potatoes, whatever the diet faddists may claim.

In a "Warm X salad" the X (eg salmon) is warm, and served on cold vegetables.

J Homes.

#286 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 04:54 PM:


I didn't grow up in or near DC; I grew up in St. Louis, and fireworks regulations in Missouri vary by county. Jefferson County has laxer rules than St. Louis County (or the City of St. Louis which is not part of St. Louis County), or at least it had laxer rules when I lived in the area (It's been nearly three decades). As a result, there was a fireworks stand right off I-44(I think) on the Jefferson County side of the St. Louis County/Jefferson County border advertising itself as the last opportunity for folks heading into St. Louis County to get fireworks.

Re: Sales tax in the US. It's particularly bad in the state of New York. The state's base sales tax rate isn't that high, but every single county piles on its own contribution and that varies widely, to the point that NY sales tax forms for vendors has a list of counties and rates the vendor is expected to collect for each county. Pulling examples from counties where I've done business, the last time I had to worry about this stuff, sales tax in Dutchess (not a typo)County was comparable to PA sales tax (in the vicinity of 6%) while Sussex County (Long Island) was edging toward 9%.

Re: Alcohol sales

In Pennsylvania, alcohol sales are regulated by the PA Liquor Control Board. I can't say that I'm fully aware of the rules for restaurant and bar sales, but the rules for the sale of alcoholic beverages in sealed containers are arcane. First of all for lo these many years, wine and hard liquor were sold only in LCB owned stores officially called "Wine and Spirit Shops" but colloquially known as "State Stores," and beer was sold in privately owned "beverage stores." Based on observation, beverage stores carry carbonated soft drinks and alcoholic beverages sold in sealed single serve containers, i.e. cans and 16 oz or smaller bottles. In addition to beer, I've seen hard cider in single serve containers e.g. Wood Chuck and Strong Bow. Hard cider in larger bottles is sold in State Stores.

In recent years, the LCB has licensed in-store kiosks and in-store alcohol sales at a few supermarkets. I can't say that I've ever seen one of these kiosks, but I've been to a grand total of two supermarkets with in-store alcohol sales. In one of those supermarkets, the booze is sold in a sort of mini-store in the main store. I suppose that it might count as a kiosk, but it sure doesn't look like your typical mall kiosk, and there's beer stacked outside the entrance of the mini-store. Both of these supermarkets are in fairly upscale suburbs. I've never seen that setup inside Philadelphia.

Anyway, after living in Pennsylvania for over two decades, I get weirded out when I visit my mom in Boston and the local supermarket has this huge section for alcoholic beverages. It's carefully separated from the rest of the store, on a different level, but still.

My mom likes to give liqueur filled chocolates as gifts, and she has a rant about how hard they are to find because Boston (or is it Massachusetts? I'm not clear if this is a state or city level regulation.)requires a liquor license for the sale of liquor filled candies. Last Thanksgiving, she told me that she found some for sale at a local hotel. I speculated that the chocolate was covered under the license that the hotel no doubt has for its in-house bar and restaurant. This had apparently not occurred to her.

#287 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 05:10 PM:

@282 CHip

that's a very strange formula for Caesar salad; bacon and vinegar instead of anchovies and lemon juice? At least they don't forget the cheese....

I'm used to bacon being tossed into Caesar salad, since people seem to like it being slapped onto every damn thing. I have never in my life had anchovies in one.

Wikipedia (yes, I know), says that the original recipe did not have anchovy. Julia Child's recipe doesn't have them.

I'm just as glad, since I prefer not to eat them.

#288 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 05:44 PM:

The Wikipedia article says that candle salad "was also considered a child-friendly introduction to cooking because of its simple construction."

But I have a question (which might open up a controversy): can assembling a candle salad be considered cooking when there is no application of heat nor any changes at the molecular level?

#289 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 06:43 PM:

Inquisitive Raven (286): Because I'm a pedant: The Long Island county you're thinking of is Suffolk, not Sussex.

#290 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 07:08 PM:

The first run-up-to-the-holiday season in my new kitchen can be declared a success:

One of the most useful things in the place: A giant cutting board. I actually found it in the trash. It doesn't quite cover the entire top of my (ceramic top) range. When not protecting the cooker top I use it as a cutting board. I can fit two pans of fudge on it, for chopping.

#291 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 08:12 PM:

Allan Beatty @ 288:

*splutter* Candle Salad would cause Gytha Ogg to nudge and wink all over the place. :)

Stefan Jones @ 290:

I have a board like that; it was my mother's, and was her -- and is now my -- bread board (for kneading), rather than a cutting board (of which I have three - in different sizes -- now). If I'm doing meal prep, I can use one for veggies and a second for meat. The third is much smaller and was given to me as part of my Christmas requests when I was still living in the SRO - I'd asked for a lemon zester, and was given one, along with the board, a lemon squeezer, and a lemon-printed dishtowel. Someone had fun putting that one together. :)

Store rearrangement:

Saying that I hate it is very much an understatement. One of the two local supermarkets has done a partial rearrangement, but it only involves a couple of aisles. The local RiteAid, however, has *completely* rearranged the store. Was there again yesterday, for about the third time since the remodel, and I still can't find anything. Hate hate hate.

And the other local supermarket is planning a (much needed) enlargement... I hope things aren't shifted around too badly. Since they're part of a local chain (three or four stores, I think?), I have hopes.

#292 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 08:53 PM:

Stefan Jones, is it wrong that I spent more time trying to see your book titles than speculating about the ingredients in your treats?

#293 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2013, 11:52 PM:


It hadn't occurred to me that the big board might have been for bread kneading / flattening. That seems more likely that a giant cutting board.


Doesn't bother me in the least. That's the bottom two shelves of my fiction section.

#294 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 02:35 AM:

Allan, #288: IMO, the making of subtleties (which, technically, is exactly what a Candle Salad is) is a variety of cooking.

Stefan, #290: Those top 2 cheesecakes especially look like the bubbles rising from the depths of R'lyeh! What are those things, malted milk balls?

#295 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 08:16 AM:

Lee, I'm not sure you can call candle salad a subtlety. More like, as has been said about a couple of SCA concoctions of my acquaintance, a blatancy.

#296 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 09:54 AM:

... and speaking of english, food, and confusion -- 55 Canadianisms You May Not Know or Are Using Differently.

#297 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:51 AM:

While we're talking food: HELP! I just made a batch of mushroom-tofu pate, using dried porcini mushrooms. I'd soaked them overnight (in cold water), but didn't cook them at all and now I realise the packet says they need to be cooked before being eaten. Will I be able to eat the pate, or not? opinion online seems divided between "should be fine; you can eat porcini mushrooms raw" and "likely to give you stomach upsets".

#298 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 01:20 PM:

@296 xeger

Wow. I guess this means I am not Canadian after all. Hardly any of this made sense to me.

Oh, and please don't come to Montreal and ask for Homo Milk. Despite what this person states, Homo is indeed a derogatory word here.

#299 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 01:49 PM:


Those are chocolate-covered espresso beans.

The recipe appeared on BoingBoing few weeks ago. Search for "wakeup cake."

#300 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 02:32 PM:

Cheryl 298: Also, he says that "all Canada's milk is homogenized," but that "Canadian whole milk that separates when left sitting." He clearly doesn't understand what "homogenized" means.

#301 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 02:41 PM:

Xopher 300: He also says the skim milk is homogenized, which I have also noticed here in New York.

That tells me I clearly don't know what homogenized means, either. How/why do you homogenize skim milk?

#302 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 02:54 PM:

Wakeup Cake deployed!

One slice, and I'm seeing visions from Higher Planes.

#303 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 03:01 PM:

It makes total sense if he's saying "homogenized" when he means "pasteurized." Pasteurized milk could still separate, I guess, but homogenization is to prevent the separation of the cream from the (skim) milk, so it's redundant for skim milk, and will prevent whole milk from separating.

#304 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 03:25 PM:

Victoria @84: is your friend a Virgo?

Dunno, but the irony is that I sure as hell am. Which meant that our stuff was anally organized, just not in a scheme that he could parse at a glance. (I witnessed him Having Opinions about how other people ran their houses, so I suspect this was a Thing with him.)

joann @86: I got caught by that one as a Sweet Young Thing working in a family-run hardware store. Went up to the kitchen one day to get lunch out of the fridge, washed my hands in the sink, and the owner's sister (the real moral tone of the place) damn near expired from the shock and horror. Boy, did I get the lecture.

...? What was her deal? I mean, washing one's hands in the kitchen sink is hardly alien practice. How do you clean your hands between dishes if you're cooking? Was it that you were washing Hardware Store Cooties into the kitchen sink?

As to my visitors: the most frequent one (every other month, at most) Knows The Routine. Anybody else, I just try to remember to warn. I'd put something out for visitors, except that I would then have to navigate around it 99.9% of the time, and I am very lazy.

Oh ghods. Which in turn reminds me:

Worked for a while in a small print shop. The press guy would go to wash his hands (using that industrial grade powder handsoap)—but wouldn't rinse them. He'd just turn off the water with his powder-soapy hands. I don't know how the hell he got the soap off his hands; paper towel, maybe?

I finally got tired of trying to manipulate the tap handles (encrusted to twice their actual size) without getting soap all over me, and cleaned them off (which took a good portion of an hour, as I recall). After that, I'd threaten to skin this guy alive if I even suspected he was getting that crap all over the faucet again.

Roy G. Ovrebo @88: Apparently in some foreign countries long-handled dishwashing brushes aren't taken for granted...

My life became so much easier when I finally put the tool rack up above the sink, not least because the dripity-tools can now drip into the sink. There's a central set of three small shelves that hold dish sponges and drain stops, and all around it is arrayed things like scissors, plyers-and-wire-cutters, bottle brushes of various sorts and sizes, knife-sharpening stick, long-handled dish brush, and fingernail brush. It probably doesn't look like "proper" kitchen decor, but it's so wonderful to be able to just grab the Thing, use it, rinse it, and hang it back up without thinking about it.

joann @85: My spouse understands how location/layout-dependent I am in finding things (which I blame on being very nearsighted, even though it's corrected)

For me, it's not even an eyesight issue; that's just how I track "where things are:" entirely by muscle memory. It's only during that last six inches of the grab that I check to make sure I'm getting "thing" and not "thing next to it." When stuff goes walkies form its Assigned Place, it makes me absolutely crazy.

Lee @92: I've never seen a bathroom sink that was large enough to even try to wash someone's hair in, so I'm rather dubious about that claim.

As far as my mother was concerned, this was SOP. Hell, even I would wash my hair that way, when I was very young, before I worked out that That Was Dumb.

Xopher Halftongue @93: The only hooks I can find at the hardware store any more are too wide for the holes in some of this equipment, and too short to hang more than one of them at a time

I roll my own to taste. The over-the-sink tool rack above? All outfitted with custom hooks made from wire coat-hangers. (This is one reason why the kitchen kit includes pliers, needle-nose, and wire cutters.) (Wire coat hanger is possibly the most useful free household material, with newspaper coming in a close second.)

So that may cause discomfort in some guests.

Well, there is soap in there: it's just on top of the shower-door rail. If they're sufficiently determined. :-)

#305 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 04:28 PM:

OtterB @279: I was told the same thing, by my parents who grew up in NJ in the 20s and 30s. They gave me the impression that the practice (and the regulation?) ended during WWII, perhaps because butter was less available?

#306 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 05:09 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 301

How/why do you homogenize skim milk?

Skim milk still has trace amounts of milkfat, which will separate and look funny if it isn't homogenized.

#307 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 05:32 PM:

Rikibeth @104: have you got a link?

This is what I think of when I think "standard bathroom sink," and is pretty similar to the one I have. My faucet is very similar to this one, except it's the single-knob style, and the corners are much pointier.

where the idea was that you'd mix your desired temperature of water and wash your hands in a full basin of water, just as if you were washing with a jug and basin on a wash-stand?

Oh, yeah, now that would actually make sense. Speaking of sugar problems! Boy, I can't think the last time I saw someone fill the sink with water to wash their hands. In Colorado, that would get you all kinds of Stern Looks, for the water wastage. As for washing one's hair, here we go. Looks comfy, right? (That gives me the raging itchies, just thinking about trying to rinse all the shampoo out. Under that tap.)

How are you even supposed to get your head to sink level? Kneel?

You bend over. Waaaaayyyy over. Your head is essentially upside down. Keeping water (and shampoo) out of your nose requires real skill.

Stefan Jones @112: but very little wall room to hang things on.

Boggle. I could hang the entire contents of my "odd tools" drawer on that wall to the right of the sink, and have room to spare.

Theophylact @113: You don't need that sifter. Weigh the flour instead.

If memory serves, the motive for sifting is to eject all the uninvited occupants.

Carol Kimball @117: My over-sink storage.

My sink came with a shelf about like that mounted over the sink between the cupboards. I eventually had it removed (DIE! DIE! EVIL DIE!!!) because it tended to accumulate Stuff, and always needed dusting. (Nu, how is this different than the rest of your house? Quiet, you!) But the real motivator was that I got richly sick of cracking my skull on it when I'd try to lean over the sink.

Rikibeth @124: I would SO LOVE to get the dish drainer dripping over the sink like that.

That's what I use my dishwasher for. :-) Load in soap and turn it on, it's actually a middlin'-effective dish-rinser.

the smallest of the three, which is about the size of my longest finger

I have one of those. I got it mostly because it was irresitably cute, but I actually use it more often than what I would have thought. Mostly for mixing special food for the guinea pigs.

joann @144: WRT color schemes: I am reminded of Ctein's house in Daly City (the one he was in in the mid-'80s). The outside was a lovley (urk!) pumpkin color. The inside was generally unremarkable. Except for the bathroom. Intense turquoise walls, and a black tile floor and shower stall. What really made it, though, were the little glow-in-the-dark plastic footprints leading to the tub.

Rikibeth @146: It makes me wish that you could get modern toothbrushes with narrow enough handles to go through the holes in it

I wonder if these would serve? GUM 311s.

Rob Rusick @163: I don't recall seeing anyone here complain of having too many spoons...

:-) :-) :-)

#308 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 06:02 PM:

@303 Xopher Halftongue

It makes total sense if he's saying "homogenized" when he means "pasteurized." Pasteurized milk could still separate, I guess, but homogenization is to prevent the separation of the cream from the (skim) milk, so it's redundant for skim milk, and will prevent whole milk from separating.

All milk sold in Canada is pasteurized, the sale of raw milk being strictly prohibited (we can buy raw milk cheeses, though).♀

Maybe he got some info from , which has some really wrong info? As in, it says:

Homogenized Milk: Most cow's milk is homogenized, a process that prevents the formation of a cream layer from forming. In reduced-fat forms of milk (such as skim, 1%. 2% and 3.25%) the fatty cream is removed before the homogenization process. In Canada, a carton that says Homo Milk refers to 3.25% milk. In the U.S., this milk is called whole milk, but in Canada, "whole milk" refers to milk that has not been homogenized and will separate if left for a period of time.

Then further down it says:

Raw Milk: Raw, or unpasteurized, milk is typically only available at farms, markets or organic food stores. Because it hasn't been pasteurized, there is a risk of contamination that can cause illness. However, raw milk contains more vitamins and nutrients than pasteurized milk.

Raw milk is absolutely not available at organic food stores, its sale being STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Never mind that the "vitamins and nutrients" deal is bollocks. Some vitamin C and thiamin are destroyed by pasteurizing, but not enough to make a difference in an otherwise healthy diet.

Now, I've had raw milk. When I worked on a dairy farm as a teen, raw milk was what Mrs. Farmer put on the table for lunch, so that's what we had. I thought nothing of it, other than having to remember to shake it first before pouring. None of us ever got sick. I still think pasteurization is a good thing.

My Mum remembers when the milkman delivered "Pasteurized! for safety!" milk to the house when she was a kid (it was written on the truck). That milk would separate, but she doesn't remember calling it "whole milk". It was just milk.

Today, I would definitely say "whole milk" if what I wanted was 3.25%. I guess it would be legal to sell pasteurized, non-homogenized milk, but I've no idea where to find some.

♀There are loopholes. I think you can belong to some sort of 'club', where you own a share of a cow, and then you're considered an owner and are allowed to drink your own milk? The money you give the farmer is not to buy the milk, it's to pay for boarding the cow. Or something. But I remember some farmer being arrested for that a while ago; I can't recall how it turned out.

Anyway: that whole list was pretty much a wash for me. Except for tuque.

#309 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 07:08 PM:

My mother used to use the kitchen sink to wash her hair, on occasion. But that makes more sense than using the bathroom sink, because the counter was higher, the sink deeper, and the kitchen sink had the handy sprayer thing to use to make sure you got all the soap off the back of your head. I think she did this because she much preferred taking baths to showers, and washing your hair in the bathtub without using the shower head means that it's very hard to rinse out all of the shampoo effectively.

#310 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 07:30 PM:

Jacque #304: As near as I could tell, it was some form of Christian Hygiene Kosher. Mary Douglas, of "Purity and Danger" fame, might be able to unpack it. Although, yes, there were shop floor cooties involving nails and plumbing parts.

#311 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 07:31 PM:

Skimmed milk is disgusting, especially in tea. (You might as well grate blackboard chalk into your cup, which would have the added bonus of being shelf-storable for centuries, as opposed to skimmed milk (which you can't tell has soured until you take the first mouthful and redecorate the wall as a result).)

In .uk you can (I believe) still obtain:

UHT - "long life" milk, Ultra High Temperature Pasteurised sold in cartons and shelf storable for several months to 1 year.

Sterilised Milk - Pasteurised at a higher temperature (which affects the taste unfavourably IMO) - should last (unopened) for 6 months.

Pasteurised Milk - everything else, in several varieties as follows:

Skimmed - red topped bottles - 0.1% fat
Pasteurised - silver foil (or green plastic) tops Minimum 3.5% fat
"Jersey" or Gold Top - supposedly full cream milk Minimum 4% fat
All of the above will separate out if left (though with skimmed it's hard to tell).

Homogenised - standard Pasteurised milk forced through a very fine mesh to break up the fat droplets to delay/prevent them separating out.

After 50+ years this moose no longer has a doorstep milk delivery (since the cost has risen to double the price of a pint of milk, the schedule has been cut back from 6 to 3 days per week, the milk is not well kept and frequently goes sour in half the time it's supposed to, and finally the delivery time kept shifting until after I'd left for the day). One reason I was supporting it for so long was that our street had a lot of elderly folk who relied on it, but they all seem to have departed over the last few years - not that surprising as they were the original occupants of the then new houses.

Oh well, it's progress of a sort, I suppose. At least the supermarket keeps its milk chilled such that it's still usable three days after the "Best Before" date in winter, as opposed to "off" two days beforehand for the doorstep delivery.


#312 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 08:03 PM:

What you can get in the US varies.
In West Texas, they had 2%, 1.5%, 1%, and 0.5% (levels of reduced fat), but skim (non-fat) was hard to find. (Half-percent has enough fat to not be 'blue' or thin.)
In Los Angeles, I can find non-fat and 2%, but 1% is hard to find and the other two low-fat varieties don't exist.
I don't know if un-homogenized is available. You'd probably have to find an actual dairy.

#313 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 08:13 PM:

In Oregon, you can get -- or could as of a year or two ago -- "Skim Milk Royale."


It was skim milk which had bright white carageenen (seaweed!) based additives that gave it the look and some of the body of fattier milk.

If you didn't shake the plastic jug really well, a layer of white sediment would be left on the bottom.

I grew up in a household where skim milk from POWDER was the norm. The simple luxury of milk without having to mix the stuff makes me feel decadent.

#314 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 08:19 PM:

Stefan, we used low-fat dry milk for years. One of the kitchen fixtures was a sign that read 'XIM KLIM', magneted on the fridge door.

#315 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 08:46 PM:

My parents still drink non-fat dry milk. We kids refused to drink it, leading to what we called "mixed milk": the reconstituted powdered stuff mixed equally with whole milk. (It's a lot cheaper that way than just buying 2% milk.)

'Milk' is one of those words that starts looking very strange after awhile.

#316 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 09:42 PM:

Stefan Jones @ 293:

Here's a picture of Mother's breadboard, my kitchen. The breadboard is probably from the mid- to late-1940s; the mixer, which was also hers, is a 1946 Hamilton Beach (with grinder and citrus juicer attachments, even!). And yeah, that's basically my entire usable counter space; the counter to the right of the sink has the dish drainer and the toaster.)

#317 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 09:44 PM:

I had been quietly boggling at the "wash your hair in the bathroom sink" subthread until I got to Jacque @304 mentioning doing exactly that when young, and something clicked.

When I was young, that's how we washed our hair when staying with my paternal grandmother - because she didn't have a shower. Just a bathtub, so hair-washing options were either in the tub or in the sink. I wonder if the "this is How Things Are Done" notion was developed when this was a more common situation?

#318 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 09:57 PM:

My mother had a mixer like that for a long time. Licking the beater* was an exercise in finger-use. (Juicer, yeah. Not the grinder, I don't think.)

*two sets of blades on stems, held together with a kind of tab to keep them properly interlocked.

#319 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:33 PM:

PJ Evans @ 318:

The beaters are a pain to try to replace, if your usual method is via thrift stores. Instead of everyone else's two separate beaters, they're joined.

More mixer geeking:

Sunbeam made a very similar one in the 40s; one of my aunts had one. Beaters and bowls weren't interchangeable between the two brands.

Mixer plus attachments; hover over the ad on the left to see the various ones. We didn't have the salad slicer one, or the coffee grinder (!). I mostly use the grinder for chopping fresh cranberries for sauce (the processor gives too even a texture) and cherries for jam.

The citrus juicer doesn't get used very often. However, one time while I was still living in San Diego, friends gave my mother a full-to-the-top grocery sack of lemons, and I spent most of an afternoon juicing them; she then froze the juice in small containers for later turning into lemonade. I also made my first and only lemon meringue pie from scratch...

And the bowls... there's a ridge on the bottom so they fit onto the turntable. They also have a distinctive sort-of-Art-Deco thing on the outside; I can spot them at about 50 yards in any thrift store. (OK, slight exaggeration there, but not much of one.) (I have two sets; Mother gave me the mixer but hung onto the bowls, so I had to scrounge a set; I then kept hers after she died. Insurance, apparently, as I haven't broken any of 'em.)

Oh, and it's a hand mixer as well as stand mixer, but ye ghods is that thing heavy. Mostly used for beating the eggs & sugar over boiling water for chocolate decadence, and the rare boiled frosting.

I'd love a KitchenAid with a dough hook, but I wouldn't give this one up; I started mixing cake and cookie dough with it when I was 9 or 10.

Oh, it's on its fourth power cord; my father replaced the original fabric-wrapped one in the '50s; my mother had someone else replace *that* in the late '70s or early '80s; and a friend put in a new really heavy duty one about six years ago. They kept fraying at the point they enter the motor area.

#320 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 10:49 PM:

glinda, my mother replaced it with a KitchenAid years ago - I have that one, since my brother and his wife didn't need a second mixer.

#321 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 11:38 PM:

That bread looks wonderful, glinda!

@Jaque#307: That spot of wall gets half-covered when the cabinet door is open, and the counter is deep enough that grabbing things off of it wouldn't be as easy as it should.

Right now it has a "The Oatmeal" poster about coffee on it.

#322 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2013, 11:54 PM:

Various subthreads:

1. In regards to chocolate turning gray, I had somebody freak out about that when I brought some chocolate chips to a breakfast—my MiL had brought them down on one trip, and I suspect that the car had gotten warm at some point on the trip. Just to prove that it doesn't affect the taste, I used the other bag of "blooming" chips in the marvelous turtle fudge I made, and OMG it tasted like premium chocolate.

2. In regards to washing hair in the sink, I've done that at various times for various reasons, and it's easiest when you have a big pitcher for rinsing. Though now that we've replaced our tap in the back sink with a high-arch one, that might not be necessary. (It looks horribly out of place, but for some unknown reason the house builders, cheap fittings aside, decided to go with a split faucet design—which you can't really get for under $80, and you have a limited set of options. I like it, but it deserves a better sink.)

3. I grew up with a glorious backyard garden in a climate where lettuce is a winter vegetable, so I was a teenager before I realized that most people considered lettuce an essential part of green salads. I mean, tomato, carrot, cucumber, bell pepper, and radish make for a pretty good chopped salad, don't they? Can I have another bowl, please?

(Going from that, you know those giant serving bowls designed for parties—well, that was the family salad bowl. Seven people with big appetites and salad wasn't even the primary dish, but we'd clean it out. Homemade ranch thinned with vegetable juices. Mmm.)

4. We have a dingus drawer, a doohickey drawer, a grater drawer, and a cooking utensils drawer. Knives are stored in the inoperative microwave-hood over the oven, which we can't rip out because it's an integral part of the range. I think I mentioned above the bargain-basement builders.

Dingus drawer has measuring utensils, far too many whisks (MiL again), rolling pins, can- and bottle-openers, and so forth. Doohickey drawer has silicone spatulas for scraping out and mixing, cookie cutters, utility scissors, and the vegetable peeler (because it's sharp enough to cause issues when reaching into the dingus drawer.) The others should be obvious, except the knives are there because kids.

Oh, and because the kitchen is half-octagonal, yet the builders used standard cabinetry, there's tons of unused space, which annoys the heck out of me because it's a tiny kitchen to begin with. (My MiL thinks it's huge, but she has a galley kitchen, so she has a point.) All the larger movable appliances (rice cooker, food processor, slow cooker, electric frying pan) live in the garage. I *dream* of the day I can get this kitchen remodeled, or possibly moved. Since this is a "great room" concept (tiny, but still valid), moving the kitchen has possibilities, though it would probably end up with the kitchen being the first room you walked into, which is odd.

*I came home from college on a visit and went to a dinner with my parents. I asked for another bowl of salad and my dad said there wasn't much left but dressing. I asked for that. He asked why; I replied that I was going to drink it. He said, "Thank goodness; I thought I was the only one!"

#323 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 12:22 AM:

Jacque @ 307

I used to bend backwards over the sink (deep enough to get my head under faucets like you were showing, yeah), when I was in high school. Because I could and it was sort of an interesting thing to play around with.

I could never figure out the more rational way that other people used to wash their hair under the tap, except that I was pretty sure my version wasn't it. The closest I ever came was still backwards, only using a pitcher instead of xtreme limbo. Well, moderately less extreme limbo.

Thank you. That clears up a minor mystery for me!

#324 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 09:36 AM:

re 319: My mom's second mixer was one of those (her first was a handheld). We have moved on to a Kitchenaid which I really do not care for. I got a classic Sunbeam when I moved out of the house; unfortunately it threw a beater and was never the same after that.

#325 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 10:13 AM:

B. Durbin (322): tomato, carrot, cucumber, bell pepper, and radish make for a pretty good chopped salad, don't they?

Yum! I usually use onion instead of carrot, but that's my salad.
On washing hair at the sink: I definitely remember doing that as a kid, and still do sometimes, but not the bathroom sink. The kitchen sink* is a better height and has a lot more room under the faucet. Plus the spray thing, if there is one, is great for rinsing.

*The house I grew up in has a "back porch sink" that was great for hair washing. The original was an old laundry tub; it's now been replaced with essentially a shallow kitchen sink.

#326 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 11:15 AM:

lorax #317:

And if you grew up in the country at the turn of the previous century with no real bathtub ... the sink was all you had.

#327 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 11:18 AM:

Another milk-related issue, pond-crossing variety: Can anyone unpack the various terminologies used for cream in the UK? While visiting friends there once, I got involved in cooking something or other that required whipped cream. Whatever looked like what in the US is called "heavy whipping cream" didn't produce the desired effect and never did whip up thick enough. So how does that all work?

#328 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 12:25 PM:

Jacque - slamming my forehead into the over-sink shelf unit was EXACTLY why I stair-stepped it into the window space!

#329 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 12:47 PM:

Joann @ 327 - I don't know about UK cream specifically, but Wikipedia says it has to be at least 30% butterfat to whip satisfactorily.

#330 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 01:30 PM:

joann, #326: That's true enough, but there's no reason to drag a custom born of necessity along with you when the necessity no longer exists.

#331 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 01:33 PM:

I wash my hair in the bathroom washbasin (it's usually called that in the UK rather than a sink, though there are people who will call it that). Continuing on the divided-by-a-common language theme, over here a bathroom is, literally, a bathroom. A room with a bath in it. I was really becroggled when I first heard of "public bathrooms" in the States, until I realised that they didn't have baths in them at all.

Washbasins found in British bathrooms are usually easily large enough to allow the washing of hair. You do sometimes see smaller washbasins which don't, but they tend to be in the downstairs loo in larger houses (that is to say, houses large enough to have more than just a bathroom).

*pauses, while discussing sanitary facilities, to wonder why the cat waits until I'm eating to use her litter tray... ewww!*

So wherefore does the Mongoose not wash their hair in the shower? I shall tell you for why. It is because the Mongoose flipping hates showers. I am a bath person 100%. There are two problems: the first is that I'm very short-sighted, and the second is that my balance isn't brilliant except on a bike. Standing in the shower on one leg, trying to get my foot close enough to my unbespectacled face to see if it's clean, sounds to me like an activity potentially fraught with danger. Besides, I find it uncomfortable, and you can't - well, I can't - come up with a decent story plot in the shower.

I've never found washing my hair in the basin to be either difficult or uncomfortable, except once when I stayed in a faintly weird hotel for one of Star Tenor's concerts, and the mixer tap turned out to be positioned in exactly such a way as to bean the unwary hair-washer at every turn. Fortunately having a slightly bruised skull didn't dampen my appreciation of the concert. *grin*


Also, candle salad. Oh myyyyy. Normally anything suggestive just tends to whoosh over my head, but this, as has already been pointed out, isn't so much suggestive as blatant. About the only way one could make it any more embarrassing would be to serve it with a couple of scoops of ice cream.

#332 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 01:56 PM:

lorax @317: When I was young, that's how we washed our hair when staying with my paternal grandmother - because she didn't have a shower. Just a bathtub, so hair-washing options were either in the tub or in the sink. I wonder if the "this is How Things Are Done" notion was developed when this was a more common situation?

I imagine it comes out of the same tradition as the "basin and pitcher" approach to washing your hands, suggested by Rikibeth @104. I know for a fact that in my mother's early years, baths were a weekly affair, with each family member trading out use of the wash-tub, filled with water heated on the stove. (And set close-by said stove. This I remember vividly because she described the one time a brother accidentally backed up his nekkid fanny cheek to the red-hot-glowing wood-stove, and the remarkable pop she heard when contact was made.)

Anybody else here old enough to remember "I just washed my hair and I can't do a thing with it"? AIUI, one traditionally washed one's hair (in the sink, as above) once a week. After which, one's hair was clean and didn't have all those endogenous oils to give it body and traction. It was therefore slippery and fly-away, and much harder to sculpt into the desired configurations.

I imagine washing one's hair in the sink was a step up from using a basin and pitcher, and probably co-equal with washing it while in the bath. (Assuming, as joann points out, one has one.) As I recall, despite the tech being available, showers didn't actually start becoming popular until I was in my teens or so. Call it late '60s into the '70s. Leastways, in this part of the world.

All the larger movable appliances (rice cooker, food processor, slow cooker, electric frying pan) live in the garage. I *dream* of the day I can get this kitchen remodeled

One of the evolutions my dad did on the house I grew up in was to remake the kitchen. "Remodel" seems hardly adequate. After he'd put the addition (all windows, except for the sandstone fireplace) on the west side of the living room and knocked out the intervening wall, he went after the kitchen. The original was a really badly designed walk-through with maybe two stretches of two-foot counters. The layout was so bad, I can hardly even remember it. When he was done, it was a C-shape, with the refrigerator where the bottom serif of the C would be, and the stove at the top of the C. The sink was in the middle of the back of the C. The rest was all counter.

At the back of the counter on the bottom of the C, though, was a cabinet with sliding doors. It was the "appliance center," and had a lab-style row of outlets along its back. When you wanted, say, the blender, you slid open the door, slid the blender toward you, used it, rinsed off the bits, and slid the reassembled thing back into its place. Same with the toaster, mixer, and various other appliances.

KayTei @323 & Mary Aileen @325: I still remember the backache that washing my hair that way produced. And that was back when I was young and athletic. Nowadays, if I can't wash my hair during a shower (or a bath followed by a shower to rinse), I'd rather go without. Especially with long hair. Contemplating using a sink, even a big one, gives me a headache just to think about.

#333 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:07 PM:

Jacque wrote @ #332:

Anybody else here old enough to remember "I just washed my hair and I can't do a thing with it"?

Oh yes, and the scene in a television program where someone is surrounded by children running riot:

Neighbour: "What's up with the kids?"
Mother: "I've just washed them and can't do a thing with them!"

#334 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:12 PM:

Jacque (332): Backache from washing your hair in the sink, oh, yes. I always wash it in the shower now, except when I can't take a shower for some reason. Most memorably, last winter after Sandy, when my apartment had no hot water for over a month*. I used premoistened baby wipes to give myself sponge baths and heated water on the stove for washing my hair. Washing dishes required a little bit of bleach in the rinse water. See also: why I moved out of the flood zone last month.

*I didn't move back in until the electricity was back on. It took a couple more weeks to get the boilers (heat and hot water) working again. Until then I used space heaters and an electric blanket for warmth.

#335 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:17 PM:

Out of interest, about how high off the floor is the average USAian sink/washbasin? I don't know anyone over here who's mentioned getting backache from washing their hair in such a way, so I'm wondering if yours are generally shorter than ours.

Just one moment. I'm off upstairs to measure mine.

#336 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:34 PM:

Joann @327 The wiki gives a concise summary of the legally-allowed cream descriptors here in the UK. The actual rules are contained in the Food Labelling Regulations, which sadly do not seem to be available freely in their up-to-date form.

Personally, I just buy plain double cream of the not-extra-thick variety, which is suitable for just about every purpose you can throw at it. (the "extra thick" stuff has been heat treated to make it thicker when it pours, but at the cost of making it unwhippable despite its high fat content)

#337 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:36 PM:

Mongoose: Mine's roughly hip-high. A meter-ish. (Metre?)

#338 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 02:43 PM:

Mine's about 32 inches (.8 meters) high, similar to my computer desk.

#339 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 03:17 PM:

Just measured the washbasin; distractions were provided free of charge by the cat, who obviously wanted to know why I was measuring the washbasin. It (the washbasin, not the cat) is 80 cm high at the rim (31 1/2 inches), with an interior width of 50 cm (19 3/4 inches) and a depth of 17 cm (6 3/4 inches). So it's about the same height as an American model.

H'mm. I now need to look elsewhere to explain the presence or absence of backache.

#340 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 03:37 PM:

When we were very young (up to maybe 5 or 6?) we lay on our backs on the ironing board, head over the sink and had our long hair washed for us, at the old-style butler's sink in the kitchen - not the double sink used for washing dishes etc. (one side for meaty, one side for milky), the one used for washing things coming in from the garden.

No shower back then. Showers are a fantastic invention.

#341 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 03:39 PM:

Mongoose @339: H'mm. I now need to look elsewhere to explain the presence or absence of backache.


#342 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 03:56 PM:

Jacque @ 341: possibly!

I did suffer really severe backache (for which read "sometimes immobilising") for quite a while in my late teens and early twenties, but that cleared up as soon as I realised what had been causing it. I had a tendency to work sitting up in bed. I'd been doing that since I was eleven or twelve, ironically because the seat I had at the desk area in my room didn't have a back rest, so I found it uncomfortable to sit on for any length of time. I got away with that at home, but once I was in student accommodation and trying to do the same thing, it told on my back very rapidly. Different type of bed, I suppose.

Anyway, once I switched to sitting on a chair (with a back) at a desk, I was fine as long as I remembered not to sit on anything too squashy, and that still applies. But washbasins? No worries!

#343 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 04:25 PM:

Mongoose @ 335

As far as backbends go, I'm another one who could do it without pain when I was young and at peak flexibility. Since then, I've started to have more problems with spinal compression (as a result of the same freaky mutant ligaments that give me my amazing flexibility) and so deep backbends are no longer a thing I indulge in very often.

I have a suspicion that height makes a difference - For me, being short was a benefit because the arch had to be less dramatic. But if I ... how to describe this? If I bend at the knees, I think, so it's less arch and more of a direct line, it's less painful and I can rest my back a little against the lip of the sink. So I'd think that it might be a question of having hips at exactly the right height for that leanback and that individual differences of a few inches might make considerable difference. (Though it's hard for me to imagine how other people's bodies work, having direct experience living only inside my own.)

#344 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 04:40 PM:

KayTei @ 343: you can rest your back a little against the lip of the sink... ahhh. You're leaning backwards, right? That'd give me backache, too.

I'm leaning forwards.

#345 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 05:35 PM:

This sounds like I am the only person ever to lean forward when washing my hair, whether at the sink or in the tub. Leaning backward is an excellent recipe for getting soap in one's eyes in addition to any backache.

(For the tub, just kneel. If your tap is long enough, this works a treat. I had to switch to 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioners when we had the tub with the anemic little tap that for all the world looked like a cartoon version of something flaccidly obscene.)

#346 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 05:39 PM:

Dave Crisp #336:

That would explain it--I got "extra-thick cream" and sure enough, it didn't whip. Seemingly "extra-thick" != "heavy". Definitely a pond-divider.

#347 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 05:40 PM:

Cadbury Moose @311. Skimmed milk, the redtop stuff in England, is just *fine* in tea. In fact its just about the only thing its good for. No cream in it but you don't want cream in tea, its horrible.

But whole milk is better for drinking and most forms of cooking.

The truly pointless milk is semi-skimmed, the greentop kind. It only sells because of nervous indecision.

#348 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 05:53 PM:

I strongly prefer baths to showers, but almost never get one anymore. I did not realize, when I was a child, what a luxury was built into both my grandparents' (very Midcentury Modern, on purpose; they loved that style) condo and the house my mom and I lived in: deep-enough bathtubs.

Both houses I have owned, the tubs have been not even as deep from the overflow to the plug (max depth at faucet end) as the length of my foot. Admittedly, my foot's longish for my height, but STILL. There is no way to submerge my entire body, even when the body's not gestationally swelled. I can either stick both my knees in the air to get my hair down, at which point there's a high-water line along the top of my belly and upper-torso-protruberances with COOOOOOOLDNESS above and warm snuggly bath beneath, or I sit up with straight legs and have water to just about my waistline and the rest of me cold.

My grandparents' tub, I have never seen the like of since: it was a molded thing with tub-shape inside and square outside, like modern tubs, clearly meant to be built against a wall -- but it was DEEP ENOUGH and it had a sloped head-end to lean back against and it was LONG ENOUGH and there were molded arm-contour slopes from the head end, too, so all of you could be COCOONED IN WARMTH. Mind, I might not fit in it at my adult size; my grandma could, but she was several inches shorter than me and slightly-built in every dimension. I could float easily in it as a kid on my back.

The tub in my mom's house was an antique cast-iron with eagle feet. The feet were molded as claws-clutching-a-ball, and I remember it very clearly because in the process of remodel before we moved in, I helped my mom strip decades of paint layers off the bottom. :-> It had a decent inner porcelain layer, but the outside was literally nearly an inch thick in paint in some places, so while the walls were off, she moved the tub into the bathroom, put it up on blocks upside down, and set to with a narrow chisel and small mallet -- and I got a miniature screwdriver and a halfbrick that fit nicely in my hand. My mother told people for decades after that although she did three feet in the time it took me to do my one, BY GUM that foot was PERFECT and paintless! This was relatively early on in the give-the-kid-jobs process, and part of the confirmation that Me Jobs were the kind that involved sitting somewhere very focussed and being meticulous at something. She also had me sort the cut-off ends of lumber on the jobsite, at what would be our house -- sorted by length, and with all the nails pulled out that I could get to go with my kid strength. She bribed me by saying that anything under 8" long belonged to me, and then helped me afterwards to cut them as desired, nail them together in various configurations, and paint 'em for use as tub toys. :->

So yeah. My mom's tub probably wouldn't quiiiiite be able to submerge all of me at my adult height either, because my mom often had a kneecap sticking out or similar when she luxuriated, but far closer than any of these stupid shallow shower-bottoms I have in my properties now, do. :-/

So I shower. And miss it. I washed my hair in the bath mostly (usually ran a scant bath, washed and rinsed my hair in it first, scrubbed my body, ran out most of the dirty water and filled up to the top for the REAL bath part -- for times when there would be only one filling, long soak first, then wash hair while the water's still clearish, and then wash body, stand up, dry off), but Mom taught me to wash my hair in the sink, too -- for a very specific purpose. When she (and later, I) found herself about to go somewhere She Had To Look Good and discovered last-minute that her hair was not cooperating, she would run a basin of hot hot hot hottest water, and lean over to dunk JUST her hair, NOT her scalp in it. Swish it around and let it warm up to temperature, then towel off thoroughly: temporarily Very Very Manageable hair, because the heat helps style it (and removes some surface oil/etc buildup). Also, it was hot enough to steam itself dry in a very short time, even her (and my) very coarse, heavy, hard-to-dry hair.

By preference she washed her hair in the bath, but the sink was available for "I don't want to get my whole body wet argh" quickies.

#349 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 06:01 PM:

dcb, #340: Interesting. I'm nearly 60, and can't remember ever living in a place that didn't have a shower. I suppose it's possible that the first 2 houses I remember might not have, since I always took baths as a child, but every house or apartment since about age 8 certainly did. It took me a long time to learn to properly appreciate a good shower (see "resistant to change"), but once I did I never went back. They're SO much faster and more convenient than baths!

Ken, #347: On the occasions when I want milk in my tea, I want whole milk. This only happens when I'm drinking hot tea of the very strong black Indian varieties; until encountering those, I never could understand why people would put milk in their tea at all, being a sugar-and-lemon type myself. But with really strong black tea, it does make a difference.

#350 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 06:02 PM:

Oh, and we bent forward to wash hair in the bathroom sink. Just hunch way over and insert hair manually into near-boiling water, feeding it in and bending over until you can juuuuuuuust feel that your scalp is about to get WOWZA hot. Then stop.

(I used to have quite long hair. Might again, someday, after the beard comes in nicely; I sort of miss braiding it sometimes, though its care is basically a full hobby in terms of time once it gets seriously past my shoulders)

#351 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 06:17 PM:

When we redid the sink in the master bath we gave it one of those faucets with a tall spout, making it easier to get receptacles under it. However, I can't wash my hair there because I'm too tall; I can't get my head close enough to the sink. This is also a problem in the kitchen which is going to remedied Real Soon Now: the counters are at the bog-standard height, which gives me a terrific backache after long cooking sessions because I have to hunch over to do anything on the countertop. Interestingly, the hoosier's counter is even lower.

#352 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 06:51 PM:

Regarding the milk/cream discussion, in the US we have something called "half-and-half" which is, as far as I know, roughly 50% whole milk and 50% cream. (I may be wrong, but this is what I've been told.)

So imagine my confusion the other day when, at the grocery store, I noticed "fat-free half-and-half".

Anyone know anything about this?

#353 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 06:56 PM:

Cassy: Half-and-half was the go-to default choice for coffee whitener, for the grownups around me when I was a kid. Maybe they intend 'half-and-half' to mean 'put this in your coffee'?

"Fat-free non-dairy creamer made with dairy" wouldn't work as a product name.

#354 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 07:37 PM:

joann (345): No, I always leaned forward when washing my hair in the sink. I learned it that way from my mother. ...People really lean backwards to do it? Huh. I never would have thought of that. Now I'm trying--and failing--to picture how that would work.

#355 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 08:56 PM:

Inquisisitive Raven @ 286: Don't know if I've seen "last-chance" fireworks stands, but I've certainly heard of them. The DC case was more striking because the border runs down the middle of the street, providing an opportunity for temporary stands -- a bit like Tuborg brewery, which told us (1964) that their sign is tall/large enough to be seen from Sweden (which they claimed had tighter regulations).

Carrie S @ 295: you mean, like the one involving the inverted-and-carved stalk of broccoli and the two peeled hard-boiled eggs?

Cadbury Moose @ 311: don't knock skim milk; it has probably saved me from circulation problems, since I go through ~3 gallons/week. (I eat butter for a treat, on good bread, but use olive oil for every-day richening.) Taken directly it's a shock -- but it's easy to work down to by topping off a container of whole with 2% until the 2% is empty, then 2 with 1 and 1 with skim. (All of the brands of milk I can remember seeing are available in these four fat levels, but I've done almost no shopping outside of Massachusetts.) As for sourness: I find that skim milk smells off as soon as it tastes off, or even before -- and I have seen texture variations in soured skim milk. (Not recently, because I've become zealous about sell-by dates after a couple of digestive issues.) YMMV....

#356 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 09:26 PM:

Chip @355, regarding "last-chance" fireworks stands, come to Chicago some time, especially in June. Just barely over the border into both Wisconsin and Indiana are HUGE and ubiquitous billboards advertising fireworks. (And, in Wisconsin, cheese. Although the cheese billboards aren't quite so season-dependent..)

#357 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2013, 10:43 PM:

Cassy B @352 re "fat free half-and-half". It could, as Elliott Mason suggests, be used in coffee. It can also be used in some recipes that call for half-and-half.

#358 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 09:09 AM:

Cassy B. @352: "fat-free half-and-half".

I believe this is primarily skim milk thickened with carrageenan. The ingredients lists I've seen usually include some sugar and a pile of little ingredients to adjust the stability and mouthfeel.

So, skim milk that feels kinda-sorta like cream if you put it in coffee.

[Signature removed by request—Idumea Arbacoochee, Duty Gnome]

#359 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 09:10 AM:

Can I ask the moderators to please remove the reflexive signature from my last note?

#360 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 09:44 AM:

Mongoose @ 339 ...
Just measured the washbasin; distractions were provided free of charge by the cat, who obviously wanted to know why I was measuring the washbasin. It (the washbasin, not the cat) is 80 cm high at the rim (31 1/2 inches), with an interior width of 50 cm (19 3/4 inches) and a depth of 17 cm (6 3/4 inches). So it's about the same height as an American model.

Oddly enough, those dimensions are very close to those of a cat I used to have...

#361 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 10:09 AM:

Elliott Mason @348: deep-enough bathtubs.

I decided years ago that if I'm ever remodeling a master bath (and may that day be far away) it will have a Japanese-style tub. Think of a tall, narrow, one-person hot-tub with a bench: perfect for a long soak but sized for a bathroom.

#362 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 10:15 AM:

I grew up drinking whole milk, which I didn't like very much on its own. (It was also raw. You can, albeit with some difficulty, still get raw milk in parts of the UK; the cattle have to be so rigorously tested that I doubt there is any health difference.) When I went to university, I was used to the idea that whole milk was what you put in coffee, so I continued to buy it, but I could now only get pasteurised. I still didn't like it very much on its own, but it was tolerable in coffee. I've never liked my coffee black.

Then I had a bad stomach upset, which is rare for me. While I was recovering from that, I discovered I couldn't stand whole milk even in coffee, so I bought some semi-skimmed, which turned out to be fine. A few years later, rinse and repeat, but now I found I couldn't even stand semi-skimmed, so I switched to skimmed, and that is what I've been drinking ever since.

It seems I don't tolerate milk fat very well, and every time something goes wrong with my digestive system, that problem ratchets up a notch. The milk thing is not a worry - I'm just thankful there is skimmed - but it is a bit of a nuisance with regard to cheese. I really like cheese, but I have to watch how much of it I eat.

Parmesan is a good compromise. You can get lots of lovely cheese flavour from very little actual cheese.

#363 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 11:43 AM:

Mary Aileen #354:

Leaning back works if you have a helper, but I'm damned if I know how you'd do it otherwise. It just sounded as though some other posters had somehow figured out how.

(And don't get me started on even trying to wash hair in the shower! I do not see how it can be done without serious soap-in-the-eyes.)

#364 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 11:45 AM:

Elliott #348:

I wish I'd known your mom's hot-water trick back in the day. I actually do bit of that for recalcitrant pieces, but not the full deal, and not super-hot water.

#365 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 12:11 PM:

joann @ #363,

Usually in a shower the water isn't coming directly from above, so it's easy to have the water hit your body but not your head/hair selectively.

So when I shower, I wet my hair under the shower thoroughly, back out of the water spray, apply soap/shampoo to my hair (usually with eyes closed, I'll admit), and then to rinse I'll stick my face into the water stream so the initial part of the rinse flows the soap away from my eyes.

In general, I don't find it a problem too much.

#366 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 12:58 PM:

Having an intense dislike of having water splash my face, I didn't understand the "put your face in the shower to rinse shampoo off the back of your head" thing for years. I still back in to the shower spray to rinse my hair.

#367 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 01:48 PM:

Lin Daniel (366): I still back in to the shower spray to rinse my hair.

That's what I like to do/have always done. Unfortunately, my new apartment has a small, square shower without enough room to stand on the proper side of the water for that. So I have to lean over a little to keep the water from splashing directly on my face. It works, but not very well.

#368 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 01:52 PM:

joann @345: This sounds like I am the only person ever to lean forward when washing my hair, whether at the sink or in the tub.

Nope. Me, too. (Though I don't wash my hair in the tub unless I'm washing the rest of me, too.)

Elliott Mason @348: deep-enough bathtubs.

Nor yet long-enough. Aside from the implications for floor-plan, it occurs to me that a tub-full of water big enough to immerse oneself in is probably heavy enough to require more structural support than standard condo or tract housing would likely supply. Cf: waterbeds.

But, oh, to be able to sink you're whole body in a warm bath....

& @350: though its care is basically a full hobby in terms of time once it gets seriously past my shoulders

??? My hair ranges from bra-line to waist-length, and I've never understood the "extra work" part. Lather-and-scrub at the start of a shower, repeat again after soaping body, rinse the whole business. Brush quickly in the am prior to braiding (2 mins, tops), then give another brush (maybe) before bed. The one time I had short hair, I found it to be much harder to deal with. Plus, if I want my neck bare, I just pile all my hair on the top of my head and clip it. Sometimes it will need extra de-tangling after drying from a shower, but a touch of body-oil mostly handles that.

I found short hair to be far more of a hassle, personally. And bangs? Never ever ever again....

joann @363: (And don't get me started on even trying to wash hair in the shower! I do not see how it can be done without serious soap-in-the-eyes.)

The trick is to wash your face last. As long as my face is relatively dry, I can squeegee off any runnels of suds before they're a problem. Once my face is wet, all bets are off.

Once I start rinsing, the problem usually takes care of itself.

#369 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 02:09 PM:

Ken Brown: And those of us who find full-fat too rich and skimmed too tasteless and want something in between.

Lee @349: I think showers were widely adopted in the USA before they were widespread in the UK.

And I'm finding it difficult to work out how anyone finds it difficult to wash hair in the shower... Which just goes to show that we're all different. (Wet hair. Move forward slightly so shower water is directed on back not head. Lather. Move backward again while slightly tipping head backwards so soapy water mostly goes down back rather than face, keeping eyes closed to avoid getting any soapy water into eyes if it does drain forwards (and there's handy water available to rinse any suds off the face if necessary anyway). If using conditioner, repeat process. What part of this is difficult?) Washing my hair in the sink... Well, I've done it when I had to, using a jug to pour water over my head, but it's slower, messier and much more likely to result with water and shampoo in my eyes.

#370 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 02:38 PM:

joann, #363: To wash my hair in the shower, I face the back of the tub (away from the shower head) and back into the spray until my hair is completely wet. Then I step forward out of the spray to wash it (my head is tilted back a bit during the process), back in again to rinse, forward to apply conditioner. Because I like to leave the conditioner in for a while, I use that time to wash the rest of me, then rinse the conditioner out of my hair. Never any problem with soap in the eyes.

Jacque, #368: more structural support than standard condo or tract housing would likely supply. Cf: waterbeds

Depends a lot on how old it is, I would think. I had a king-sized waterbed on the second floor of my condo in Nashville for years without any problems, but that was quite new construction (as in, I was the first owner). I'm not sure I'd have the nerve to try that with something built in the 1950s.

#371 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 04:17 PM:

Carol, #149:
Kathleen on Fashion Incubator points out that if a company *does* discover the Ls or XLs are what they sell the most of, it’s more efficient to move everything up a notch and make the M a size larger. She spends a lot of time arguing against the term “vanity sizing,” on the grounds that the industry isn’t actually trying to *trick* anyone into thinking they’re smaller than they are – they don’t care enough for anyone’s vanity to do that.

Jacque, #332:
Anybody else here old enough to remember "I just washed my hair and I can't do a thing with it"?
I came to understand that when I began washing my hair every few days rather than daily. It becomes noticeably easier to style once it has a day or two of oil in it. I still can’t quite manage to be one of the “no-poo” people who *never* shampoo their hair, just wash it with water and the occasional vinegar rinse, or the “co-washing” people who use conditioner only.

#372 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:04 PM:

To Jacque @368, in re long hair being extra work: First off, Your Hair May Vary. :-> Mine is of the coarse (each shaft thick and fairly stiff for human hair), curly (spirals at about an inch radius), dense (very closely rooted on my head: if you part my hair and pull you can see scalp -- just) sort. It does not have 'body' so much as 'muscles,' which it uses to resist restraint. Those cheap half-cylindrical plastic headbands? When my head was still small enough to wear them, they only lasted a few days of use before snapping in half from the strain.

So. My hair is a Speshul Snowflake (and so is yours! Just a different one, probably).

I find my hair is a lot of work to care for when it is not either Too Short To Make Trouble (in practice, less than about 2") or Long Enough For A Ponytail. The middle ground is a treacherous 6-9mo of growing out and taking great care to not need to be seen in public Looking Good, because it's going to do whatever it dam'well pleases unless I goop the crap out of it with product that has to be washed out every day. Which then means I'm WASHING it every day … and therein lies the story, as Aahz used to say.

It took me a good long while to realize my hair really, really doesn't react well to being 'clean' by modern standards. When it's shoulder-length or longer, if I shampoo it with an ordinary, well-regarded shampoo brand and then condition it as directed on the accompanying bottle, I will have about a week and a half of unmanageable, frizzy, tangly, nasty, doesn't-look-good hair. I was aided in my learning by hanging out on The Long Hair Site, which doesn't seem to be around anymore (they had convenient zone numbers for describing how long long hair is!), and by reading hair books aimed at black girls who want to stop relaxing (especially by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner, she's really readable and includes good info like "what all that technobabble in shampoo ingredients means." This was in the mid-90s, when there weren't just convenient wikis to go to to define things.

If I shower it out with ONLY hot water about once a week (which is how often I bathe for the most part; more if I specifically need it for Got Dirty reasons), and 'shampoo' it with conditioner once a month or so, it eventually works itself into a state of being nearly Shampoo Commercial Hair. Which, because it's MY hair, also refuses to stay behind my shoulders on its own; one head-turn means it's all up in front acting like a cheerful Labrador ("Hi! Whatcha doin'? Can I see? Is that FOOD! YAAAAAY FOOOOOOOD! Oooh, wind. I LIKE wind!"). So I learned to restrain it in ways that look not too unlike modernly-acceptable office hairdos, mostly involving braiding or twining, because OH MY BOB it can break out of restraint like nobody's business, and if I put product in it I have to wash it out within a day or two or it gets gross. So I restrain it with itself, and with firm hair elastics when I must; bobby pins are too much work for me and lead to near-instant tangles, unfortunately; they'd be really useful if they would only work. The real trick is hairdos where it's yanked back nice and firm and has no room to argue with me, but doesn't LOOK like it's under imprisonment; it looks loose and nice. Style points! :->

My fave was the braid-or-twine-down-sides, join-at-nape-to-make-braid thing, because I could do that once and have a hairdo for several days, until it loosened up enough I couldn't just jam it all back in, and so needed to brush it out again and start over from zero. Basically I figured out ways to structure my life so I had to brush out my hair as few times as possible because HOBOB that's a job: sectioning it, pre-detangling with fingers to see if there are any land mines in it, combing carefully (while keeping the rest of the mass from Labrador-ing into it and tangling), and then continuing around my head in an orderly fashion before giving the whole thing some quality-control strokes at the end.

I gave up on most styles that you see in magazines, because they require fussing-with at least three times a day and wow do I have other things to do with my time. Likewise I gave up on any haircuts/styling-with-scissors that aren't "it's all the same length at the bottom" because it always grows out funny, and as fast as my hair grows, would require maintenance cuts every 3-5 weeks or so: see also, better things to do with my time.

I've gone through periods of trying to have some long enough to play around with while making most of it GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE. Now I try to keep it all nice and short because I haven't got the spoons to parent AND keep track of my hair (plus, if I put effort into 'cute hair' I get called ma'am even more than otherwise). I cut it myself with a set of trimmers, and go short enough that the cut will 'last' 2-3 months, but long enough not to make me look like a new recruit going through boot camp. Luckily, my hair is densely-rooted enough that I can go quite short before it becomes, um, visibly pink. :->

The 'short enough not to misbehave' length is complicated, for me, by the fact that my hair's curl-ness points in all directions of the compass, often against each other, so I have two distinct cowlicks on the back of my head when my hair is between about 1.5-8" or so. Once it's long enough it will all hang down (or I can restrain it down), but in between, once the sides get long enough to curl downwards and the top starts curling up, I get these devil-horn things near the back of the top of my head that are really visible -- out come the clippers, sigh.

Bangs do definitely need a touch-up trim regularly. I cut Beka's myself, and (compounded by her squirming) try to cut them shortish initially (but not so short, I hope, as to give her a five-head) so they have room to grow; she usually doesn't complain about their length or agree to another trim until the bang-tips are nearly touching her lower eyelashes.

Her hair is densely-rooted on her head and opinionated against restraint like mine, but fine and almost-straight like her Daddy's family, which is a whole different kettle of hair problems than I ever learned to handle. Time to retrain! I find it really amusing that holding her upside down by the hips and swishing her around vigorously actually does a good job of detangling her hair when it's long. This is completely alien to my own tangle experiences …

#373 ::: Elliott Mason got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:04 PM:

For posting a lot of links. They're all cromulent, I promise, and I checked on preview that they work ...

#374 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:25 PM:

I actively enjoy having warm-to-hot water running over my face. I rarely have sinus headaches anymore, but it used to be something I did to relieve them, and I still find it pleasant.

#375 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 06:53 PM:

Elliott Mason @372: It does not have 'body' so much as 'muscles,' which it uses to resist restraint.

*Snorfl!* Uh yeah, okay. I can see where that would be a problem. My hair, contrariwise, requires significant technology to impose a curl, which will only persist for an hour or so, unless heavily shellacked.

acting like a cheerful Labrador ("Hi! Whatcha doin'? Can I see? Is that FOOD! YAAAAAY FOOOOOOOD! Oooh, wind. I LIKE wind!").

::strangled giggling noises:: (I am at work.)

The real trick

Oh yes. Now I can see the hair type better. Yeah, I can imagine that would be a challenge. It has that look that says it really really would like to felt, given half a chance. Had a boyfriend with hair like that (though not so thick). I had way too much fun brushing it, and it was gorgeous when all smoothed out. But yeah: it took a good half-hour to get there.

long enough to play with

This reminds me of my dad's hair. Early on (for me) he tended to the Eisenhower '50s flat-top, but later on, he let the top get longish, because he found a barber who could deal with it. He had a wave like yours, plus a conspicuous widow's-peak. He once reported the following conversation from the next barber's chair: Customer (pointing at my dad): "Can you give me a haircut like that?" Barber: "Sure. Bring me a head of hair like that."

Now I try to keep it all nice and short because I haven't got the spoons to parent AND keep track of my hair

My high school buddy Patti had Crystal Gayle-style hair, that would just grow and grow and grow, given half a chance. (She had a pretty scary routine to maintain it, though, which resulted in a braid that, down by her waist, was as big around as my wrist.) It was down by her ankles when she got pregnant the first time. She cut it, because she decided she could deal with the hair, or a kid, but not both.

my hair's curl-ness points in all directions of the compass

So you're an Abyssinian?

#376 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 09:28 PM:

My hair is long, but it's the kind of long that begins with lazy and doesn't really change. I have tried to not use shampoo for a couple weeks, but I do not have the patience to look and feel terrible for longer than that just to see if I will later look and feel amazing. Plus, I had to wear it back for most of that time, and it's not like my particular scraped-back strictness is good for my hair either. And I have never been emotionally resilient enough to learn more than simple hairstyles. See also: lazy.

#377 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 11:47 PM:

Ohdearghods, Elliott, I look in a mirror and see hair just like yours. Mine is currently short, as I found that long hair and lots of travel did not go together well. It looked like a drab frizzy haystack. Then I realized that my graying hair looked better in short curls than long haystack. So short it will be for a while longer.

My hair sheds hairpins, breaks hair clips, breaks plastic headbands but holds tightly to the pieces, and sneers at goop, gel, or hairspray. For my high school prom, I told the hairdresser that the only way to keep my hair in place was to glue it. He took me at my word. When I later took the decorations out, and cut the rubberband off, the top of head hairdo with curls just sorta sagged. I had to wash it to get all the gunk out.

My mother sent me a Sunday full color cartoon. I don't remember the strip name. The young lady washed her hair, gooped her hair, did all sorts of things to get a smooth pony tail, walked out the door. All you could see was her face and the word SPROING. The next frame showed her, a thought balloon saying "I hate humidity", and her nice smooth pony tail now a big fuzzy ball.

I stopped arguing with my hair years ago. It was an exercise in frustration.

#378 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 01:54 AM:

Jacque @ 332
Well, yes. Those backaches are why I stopped. I think I didn't ever pick up leaning forward because I either ended up with water up my nose or ponds forming on the counter to either side of the sink.

Elliott @ 372
Sympathies - my sister has similar hair and a sensitive scalp. I remember helping her un-matt her hair after showers and how it refused to be braided - ponytails required lacquering with hairspray to keep in place.

My hair is thick and opinionated but only very wavy - it calms down significantly when it's long and I like having it out of my face, but the weight of it also gives me headaches past a certain length. Right now, it is in at about six inches and I am having to re-learn how to relate to it in ways that are significantly less controlling.

#379 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 06:23 AM:

My hair has been various different lengths at different times, and is currently short (very short at the back, a bit longer on top, because I have found from bitter experience that if I cut it too short on top there is always a bit that goes SPROING in the manner of Agatha Heterodyne).

It's thick. It's densely rooted. It is dead straight, which means that when it's long I have to find some way to give it extra body. It doesn't do styles; it does gravity, and, as previously mentioned, occasionally SPROING. I think I have inherited it wholesale from my father, a suspicion confirmed by the age at which I started going grey. I now have obvious grey streaks at the temples, of which I am ridiculously proud because I think they look most distinguished. *grin*

It does "long" quite happily, because all it really has to do is sit there, and if I perm it like Kevin Keegan, the perm rapidly settles down to "just enough wave to give some body" rather than "is it a mongoose or a poodle?". It also does "short" quite happily for the same reason. What it does not do is "mid-length". Elliott, I can totally relate to your labrador metaphor; if my hair is anywhere around shoulder length, it does exactly the same thing. When it's longer, it has enough weight to stay reasonably well put, and when it's shorter there's not enough of it to go berserk.

I also cut it myself, because moneyless, but fortunately I'm both reasonably good at this and not inclined to worry about any odd imperfections. Anyone who worries about hair is probably far too busy worrying about their own to notice mine.

#380 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 08:35 AM:

KayTei: I am having to re-learn how to relate to it in ways that are significantly less controlling.

I just put that there so I could admire it some more.

My own hair is mostly straight and heavy. It will behave nicely in a braid or ponytail (though it's rather brittle, so ponytails make bits break off at about jaw-length), but right now I have it just short of shoulder length, where the cowlicks express themselves as not-quite-curls and it has lots of "body".

When I got it cut to this length (from just short of waist-length, which is as long as it ever gets), an employee of the hair salon walked past the chair I was in, looked at the greying ratty mess on the floor and said, "WHAT is THAT??" Which at least made me feel a little better about not donating to Locks of Love this time.

#381 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 10:32 AM:

Mongoose, #379: Anyone who worries about hair is probably far too busy worrying about their own to notice mine.

QFT. Most people -- especially strangers on the street -- don't pay nearly as much attention to us as we tend to think they do.

On the hair issue, mine has always been extremely thick until the past few years -- I think I'm developing some menopause-related thinning, but fortunately I was starting from a point where it's going to take a long time to become noticeable! It's neither extremely coarse nor extremely fine; I mostly keep it all one length, but I'm now stuck with bangs because they won't grow back out past jaw-length. OTOH, that does make it easier to maintain my artificial streak -- I'd be completely white if I didn't have it dyed, but I leave a bit at the front natural. It's been a lot of lengths over the years; at the moment it's bra-strap length and I'm not going to try for any longer because it becomes a pain to take care of. Mostly I wear it in a ponytail during hot weather, and loose during cold; sometimes I'll do something interesting with a hair-thingie (of which I have a huge collection) for special occasions. I do not use "product" except rinse-out conditioner) because I don't like the way it makes my hair feel, although there have been a couple of exceptions to that for costuming purposes. The idea of having a hairstyle that takes more than brushing-out to achieve in the morning is alien weirdness to me.

#382 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 02:33 PM:

Reading hair comments reminded me that my mother refers to my short, curly hair as a steel wool pad. I wet it in the morning to subdue it. My gauge for cutting it is when I start frightening myself in the morning.

#383 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2013, 08:43 PM:

Jacque @ 368: re bangs: my wife tried to <crude approximation>grow out the leading edge of her hair</crude approximation> several years ago, and gave up when all she got was ~bangs. (IIRC, the wind on the Yorkshire hills was the final straw; she didn't even wait the ~3 days until we'd be home before cutting back.) Before she gave up, a friend advised her "Hair clips are your friends. Staple guns, no matter how enticingly they call to you, are not."

#384 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 01:35 PM:

Oh how I hate modern bath depths. They're all based on the idea that only kids take baths, so the overflow depth is designed so you don't drown your kids by accident. Something appallingly low like 9".

Yes, you can buy baths with real depths, but most of them are too large for the small space that the installed bath comes in, so you have to renovate the room, not just replace a fixture.

I haven't had a bath in years because it's not worth it.

P.S. I really really love detachable shower heads and think everyone should have them, particularly if you're in someplace as crazy as our last apartment, which had the shower heads installed all of 5'5" off the ground. *I* can't fit under that; I can't imagine what somebody taller had to do.

#385 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 04:31 PM:

re 384: Don't even get me started on this. You would think that with the mean adult male American height of 5' 10" the standard would be to put the shower head higher, but I find myself doing the Shampoo Limbo all too often.

#386 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 04:33 PM:

B.Durbin: God, yes. The house I grew up in had a free-standing claw-foot tub. The overflow was set high enough to permit a chest-deep soak, and the tub was long enough for me to stretch my legs out completely even at my (modest) adult height. I can't stand what passes for "bathtubs" in my current house, hotel rooms, etc.

#387 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 05:28 PM:

(Modern bathtubs and their low overflow height)

I blame the elves who drink Safe Tea for this. (Because Elfin Safe Tea is so very important in these litigious times.)

#388 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 06:04 PM:

Heh. Back in college, I tried to grow my hair out ¹, but it didn't work too well, because it's wavy, and tended to flip outward, and looked particularly silly when combined with my male pattern baldness. Comparing notes with my sister indicated that it would need to be at least shoulder length before it would hang down properly, so I eventually gave up and started keeping it short.

¹ inspired by the various long-haired hackers and hippies I knew.

#389 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 09:04 PM:

Dave Harmon @388, I keep trying to convince my husband to grow his hair out, but he gets frustrated when it gets long enough to blow into his eyes and has it cut again. I agree it's an annoying stage, but he's not willing to stick with it long enough to make a ponytail possible....

#390 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 09:14 PM:

Unless you count toast, and instant coffee on Sunday morning (not worth brewing a pot before heading for the airport), I am DONE WITH COOKING for the year. DONE!

The last two containers of gift fudge are waiting on the corner, next to the Chinese takeout menu.

#391 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 09:45 PM:

WRT baths and such - I would love to have a big bathtub. I wouldn't necessarily take a bath a lot -- showers are quicker -- but there are times when a good long soak would be wonderful. I've often thought about putting in a hot tub on the patio just for that reason.

And about hair -- I had gotten in the habit of shampooing every morning even though it made my hair blow every which way. So I'm trying now to skip shampooing every day. My hair is quite thick and it does look better on the days I skip the shampoo.

I didn't really start showering every day until I got to my 30's. But we've been conditioned so much by Madison Avenue that we don't realize that the average person doesn't really do that much to get dirty in the course of the day. Alas, I'm thoroughly habituated now, and I don't feel right until my morning shower.

#392 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 10:03 PM:

At the Home Hotel in Lava Hot Springs, ID, the hot side of the tub faucet connects directly to the springs, and a lot of the rooms have double-sized tubs. Number Three child took three baths in 24 hours.

#393 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 10:03 PM:

When we redid the bathroom, the contractor kitbashed two different showers to get the shower head positioned usefully, far enough out and far enough up for real people. It's a handheld shower mounted to the longer projection pipe of a standard type. This is his standard shower deployment, and he said he's not seen the equivalent in one package.

#394 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2013, 11:32 PM:

Lila, #386: For Otakon, we somehow ended up in a hotel room that had a whirlpool tub. It was much deeper than a standard tub, and I think somewhat longer as well. If we ever win the lottery, I'm going to have one installed in our front bathroom. I like outdoor hot tubs, but from friends who have them, I know that they're every bit as much work to maintain as a swimming pool. The whirlpool tub seems like a reasonable compromise.

#395 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2013, 10:54 AM:

Just going to place a white pebble on the grass to mark my place and tiptoe away for a while ...

#396 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 02:55 PM:

B. Durbin @ 384 ...
Oh how I hate modern bath depths. They're all based on the idea that only kids take baths, so the overflow depth is designed so you don't drown your kids by accident. Something appallingly low like 9".

A cheesy trick that can get a bit more depth -- reverse the overflow, so that the intake is on the top. You obviously need to make sure things are properly sealed around the overflow, but thats's a small price to pay.

#397 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 06:23 PM:

Still wouldn't get enough depth when I need it, and by that I mean pregnant. That was when I missed a real bath the most.

#398 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 06:45 PM:

Lee @ 150, I am bookmarking your page because of the first four designs that show up, I want three. ***evil laugh***

Also, I've been on a reading rather than posting jag for a while--is everyone having a pleasant holiday season so far? I hope so, and for those who aren't, I hope things improve as soon as possible.

#399 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2013, 06:54 PM:

#398: Well, I missed my morning flight back east because the van never showed up.

I got so bored, waiting around the house for a red eye flight, that I baked a small batch of brownies. Sprinkled confectioner's sugar on them, then sprinkled a half each with red and green sugar.

They should be cool enough by the time I'm ready to leave to wrap up and use as stocking stuffers. Or bring to a get-together at my sister's in-laws.

A sign of my boredom: I'm watching the utterly execrable Dudley Moore vehicle, "Santa Claus: The Movie." I have never been able to watch this without falling asleep. I figure that after viewing it things can only go uphill from here.

#400 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 09:50 PM:

A convenient device available at bath stuff stores is a plastic cover that suction-cups over the tub drain, raising the overflow depth by about 8". They don't entirely stop the water from draining out, but slow it down enough to take a decently deep bath.

The all-too-common low shower heights are apparently following the assumption that women don't want to get their permed hairdos wet by washing them every day, so the water comes out at shoulder height instead to let them avoid this. I'm currently visiting my mom, whose guest room shower was designed by somebody who assumed adult men did want to wash their hair, so it's pleasantly high. There are extenders you can get to raise shower height, which screw on in various ways and tend to leak after a while, but I've found them worth putting up with.

#401 ::: Roy G. Ovrebo ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 10:50 AM:

I suppose my bathroom has the best of both worlds then. Good deep bathtub, showerhead on a rail for height and angle adjustment.

A shower is a good way to get clean, but you can't really take a book (and a drink) with you...

#403 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 11:34 AM:

re: Jacque to Roy

With a really long lab-equipment-type straw?

And its own folding work station?

#404 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 12:54 PM:

Carol: That's the spirit!

#405 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 12:57 PM:

Say, this just prompted an inspiration: For those of us who like baths plus showers, but live in semi-deserts so would prefer to conserve water:

I wonder how hard it would be to engineer a recycling fountain spray fed by the bathwater (with perhaps added, as-needed heating). Hm.... Have to think about this....

#406 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 01:25 PM:

I used to have a module that replaced the top of my toilet tank that routed (clean) water through a faucet (no control) to wash your hands. The next flush would be with only-slightly-gray water.

Amazing how many people were squicky, thinking it was somehow from the bowl.

Not sure about using it for hair-washing. Lots of flushes and COLD water. /tongue from cheek

#407 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 02:16 PM:

On a couple of memorable occasions, I have taken a sports bottle full of margarita into the shower with me.

Carol Kimball, I remember seeing that toilet-top faucet in a catalog, and I have to ask, did you get soap residue on the inside of the toilet bowl?

#408 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 02:28 PM:

On the subject of Shower Limbo, look for "adjustable shower arm" or "swan neck shower arm" and you'll find solutions. This is not, of course, helpful in hotel rooms, unless you're prepared to travel with a wrench.

Friends of mine have a splendidly long claw foot tub in their upstairs bathroom. Indeed, it's a mystery as to how it ever got up there, unless the old house was built around it. Of course, the denizens of the house are on the short side, and can't enjoy it. When immersed, neither is tall enough for their feet to reach the other end when their head is resting comfortably for reading.

#409 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 02:41 PM:

Re: soap residue in bowl

Never noticed it. If anything, it might have aided in bowl cleaning?

It would have been liquid rather than bar, though it had a soap dish molded in with drain hole (into the tank).

It did make me realize how much water I wasted using the sink, running it to get the chill off.

#410 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 03:19 PM:

My old molded plastic one became obsolete with the shift to the smaller-tank toilets. If anyone finds a current version, please post. For now, there's an Instructables version.

#411 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 03:24 PM:

Most homes in Hawaii, like this one, have miniscule shower stalls. I haven't lived in a place where I could take a bath since my teens. My wife and I are talking longingly about completely remodeling the main bathroom when we can afford it to add a full-sized bathtub + shower combination, ideally with an old claw-foot tub but realistically whatever we can get installed.

I have improved the showers in the last two places I lived by replacing the standard shower head with a hand-held shower spray which fits in a sliding grip on a vertical bar - this kind of thing. (No specific product endorsement implied!)

That completely solves the "shower limbo" and height problem, as you can both adjust it to suit, and is especially helpful when you have small children. They're really superior all around to the standard shower head, and generally easy to install yourself.

#412 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 03:47 PM:

I loved my handheld showerhead, and made a point of taking it along with me from my last apartment (replacing the so-so fixed showerhead that had been there when I moved in and had made a point of not throwing out when I put the handheld in)... but it wasn't a good match with the shower in my current place. The 1936 plumbing has two sets of hot and cold taps - one set for the tub faucet and one for the shower - and you can't really get fine control of the water pressure in the shower by those taps, not the way you can with a modern single-lever design where clock-position is for temperature and angle-from-wall is for volume. The result was that, even on the gentlest spray setting, the handheld showerhead delivered a too-ferocious spray. The showerhead that was already in place wasn't so great either, as it was a low-flow job that delivered a cloudy mist rather than anything that felt like water.

I wound up getting a fixed showerhead with a knob that adjusted the spray volume, rather than having several patterns built in, and adjusted it to a comfortable volume. I haven't measured how high the thing is, but I'm 5'4", and the tallest person who regularly uses the shower is 5'7", so none of us has noticed any problems with where the spray hits us. In fact, the extra height from the handheld-in-bracket made the spray hit us right in the face when it was in the bracket, so overall the fixed head is an improvement.

#413 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 04:28 PM:

I just received a freebie low-flow showerhead from our power company. I'll be interested to see how it works. The two failure modes I've encountered with "low-flow" heads are: needle spray that you really don't want to let hit your nipples, and useless-dribble. I require to have the soap completely rinsed off my body, which seems to require volume. But we'll see. Friend of mine in Boston had one that I liked a lot, with the added bonus of a switch so I could kill the water flow completely while lathering.

#414 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 04:44 PM:

While I can be enthusiastic about the length and depth of old tubs, I am currently living with an old clawfoot tub and I wish I weren't.

When your cat decides to crawl under the tub to urk up a hairball, the tub loses its charm rapidly.

#415 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 05:20 PM:

fidelio You could always fence in the undercarriage, like my friend did with her subwoofer. (Seems the weasels just loved chewing on the cone.)

#416 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 07:16 PM:

Jacqueline @#413

I am surprised that those shower stop devices haven’t been mandated, as they are proven water savers.

#417 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 07:37 PM:

Henry Troup @416: Jacqueline

GAHHHAAAHAH!! DON'T CALL ME THAT!!! (Cowers in a corner, has a case of the Twitching Horrors.)* Whenever I hear that, I flash back to my mother trying, in her sickly sweet way, to wheedle something out of me.***

I am surprised that those shower stop devices haven’t been mandated, as they are proven water savers.

They may be. They almost certainly are on new construction. But my place, um, somewhat predates, you know, the environmental movement.

::twitch:: ;-)

* Okay, I'm exaggerating for effect. But yeah.**

** Why does exaggerate have two Gs? By that spelling, the second syllable should rhyme with "gag." English-e. She makes-e no sense.

*** That reminds me, I need to go club our new management company over the head about that.

#418 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 08:07 PM:

Clifton @ 411: When/if you remodel, make sure to acquire a clawfoot tub with all 4 feet. I've been told that they are sometimes sold with a missing foot or two, and that finding a match is impossible—there wasn't any standardization.

And, on a completely unrelated topic, I've got bits of Christmas music ear-worming me. The most common has been a snippet of Good King Wenceslas, the phrase:
Bring me flesh and bring me wine,
Bring me figgy pudding.

I find my brain is putting a lot of relish into that "flesh", rather like a zombie movie. The whole song is more vivid to me since I read Hild. (Note that Hild is zombie-free.)

#419 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 08:13 PM:

I have a high-pressure, low-flow shower head. It does this by mixing in a lot of air in some way that I don't fully understand. Seems to work really well.

Also it's a detachable with a hose, which is convenient for aiming a good stream of water right where you want it. It has settings from blast to sprinkle to dribble, of which I use only blast.

#420 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 08:34 PM:

Other than aesthetics, what is the advantage of a claw-foot tub? It seems to me that I'd want a tub that was surrounded by insulation, not raised off the floor with air freely circulating around it.

#421 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 08:49 PM:

Back when they weren't standard equipment (they were add-ins), that was how they all were built. Put a cabinet surround on one, and it looks very modern - outside of needing a step to get into it!

#422 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 08:50 PM:

janetl@418: Perhaps that's earworming you because it's a bit off (at least from the way I learned it):

Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither...

I know I'll get stuck on something when it's not quite right.

#423 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2013, 10:30 PM:

Jacque terribly sorry, tablet autocorrect, and I didn’t spot it.

#424 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 12:58 AM:

Henry: Bad tablet! No biscuit! :-)

Thanks, Henry. As mentioned, I am, um, unreasonable on the subject. No harm done.

#425 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 11:29 PM:

Buddha Buck (#420) The advantage of a claw foot tub is that it's easier to step into and out of (yes, I have extensive experience with both kinds). And if you want it insulated, there's no reason you can't put insulation around and under it.

#426 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 11:35 PM:

Jacque @#424 The really distressing thing is that I am used to defending my name from being turned into Harry, Hank, and the like. And then my device betrays both of us!

#427 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2013, 11:59 PM:

Jacque: I have never heard of a shower stop, and this should TOTALLY be a thing (speaking as somebody whose pipes have always been far from the heater, and therefore a PITA to adjust to the correct temperature.) Set it up, turn off to lather (or find the thing you forgot to bring into the bathroom), come back to perfectly-adjusted water... oh yeah.

#428 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 01:33 AM:

B. Durbin: I have never heard of a shower stop, and this should TOTALLY be a thing

Oh yeah, it's definitely a thing. In any number of different configurations. Add-on separately, built-in. In removable-with-hose, in wall-mounted. Google: shower head on off switch. There are probably better search strings, but this'll get you started.

What!? On the way to searching for the above, I tripped over this. I mean, Foxtrot, of the seriously Tangoed Whiskey? Well, I suppose for the person who has everything.... (I wonder if the graph-eq compensates for the shower noise?)

#429 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 09:35 AM:

Jacque #417: Why does exaggerate have two Gs? By that spelling, the second syllable should rhyme with "gag." English-e. She makes-e no sense.

I think I pronounce it as "ex-ag-jer-ate", though the hard G is admittedly inconspicuous.

#430 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 10:01 AM:

re 428: If I had one of those, it would be programmed with an endless loop of the Flying Dutchman and Victory at Sea overtures.

#431 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 04:43 PM:

C. Wingate: *snort!*

#432 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 09:11 PM:

Music isn't all a showerhead can do—how about colors?

#433 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2013, 10:09 PM:

Boy, one could have one's own little private disco. With suds!

#434 ::: RHD ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2014, 11:17 PM:

The conversation seems to have shifted to shower heads, but I feel compelled to add: the co-op near my house did a total "reset" over a year ago, and I still go to the old places for stuff. So, any grocery managers who might stumble upon this thread, don't reset! Also, my German friends and family universally mock popovers as being typical "sweet" American breakfast food, yet happily eat Nutella daily. It is a mystery. (No, I don't put sugar of any sort in popovers, that's barbaric.)

#435 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 06:45 PM:

If we're returning to the original topic, I visited a Dutch supermarket over the weekend. Unfortunately my brother actually wanted to get the shopping done so I didn't have time to investigate where the sugar was.

#436 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2014, 10:54 PM:

I noticed that the low-carb foods are in the same aisle as "desserts" in one local grocery store, which makes me wonder what the intent is.
1) To provide a "healthy" alternative to people about to impulse-purchase desserts?
2) To torment people on low-carb diets who happen to be miserable on said diets?
3) To tempt dieting shoppers to impulse-buy "real" desserts?
(Probably a combination of 1 and 3, but my mind immediately flashed to 2 in the store)

#437 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:03 AM:

estelendur, #436: Are those low-carb foods sugar-free / artificially sweetened? If they are, then it might make sense to put them with the full-sugar desserts and just have one "dessert aisle". (As opposed to a desert isle.)

In most of the stores I've checked, low-carb bars are lumped with "sports energy bars" (which are not at all the same thing, so you have to read the labels carefully to know which ones you want), and are generally near the toiletries and OTC pharmaceuticals. And then there are my favorite gluten-free bars (not quite as low-carb, but acceptable) which are over in the "breakfast foods" aisle with the cereal, Pop-Tarts, donuts, and granola bars.

#438 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 05:09 AM:

Bring me flesh and bring me wine,
Bring me figgy pudding.

Hither, page, and stand by me,
If thou know'st what's good for thee.

#439 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 07:52 AM:

"Good King Sauerkraut looked out
On his feets uneven
Whilst the snew lay roundabout
Nine, ten, and eleeven!"

-The immortal Walt Kelly.

#440 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 12:09 PM:

And lo, I have found where the Velveeta is kept. It lives with exactly the same stuff as in the other store (mass-market grated cheeses, Cheez Whiz); the difference is that for some weird reason, this store decided that none of those really required refrigeration, so they're out next to the tinned tomatoes or some such, instead of being in a cold case by the hot dogs and pepperoni.

#441 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 12:41 PM:

I never met that last line before. But Pogo had this:
'Snew? What's snew?'
'Nothing. What's new with you?'

#442 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 01:59 PM:

I remember it as "where the snew lay round about/ackerchoo acheivin'". But the folk process may have had its way...

#443 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2014, 02:33 PM:

'all kerchoo achievin'

And then the lines about snew...
(I think that was the bats' part.)

#444 ::: kabuli chickpeas ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 04:52 AM:

Absolutely agree with you even I faces same problems when I am living in foreign country.

Very intersting article thanks for sharing!

#445 ::: Dave Harmon sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 07:50 AM:

Usual markers for spam -- I wanted to check VAB, but apparently that's still broken.

#446 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 10:29 AM:

Dave: There were mutterings on Twitter about having a look at the VAB problem. I imagine it'll take some concentrated gnomage.

#447 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 10:29 AM:

Dave: There were mutterings on Twitter about having a look at the VAB problem. I imagine it'll take some concentrated gnomage.

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