Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Floury words

I went into Smart N Final this morning to pick up my 50# sack of flour. The price is quite a bit higher than Costco, but still lower than what I’d pay at the supermarket and lower than prices I’ve seen online elsewhere.

I’m irked, but hey. It is what it is, I’m nearly out and frankly Costco is not showing me any love around “when, exactly” they will have more flour and besides – it’s entirely likely that I’ll find the price that high when Costco next has flour to sell me. Smart N Final tends to be within a couple bucks plus or minus of Costco (usually plus, frankly) so I’m not going to storm out in a huff over it.

I wrestled the 50# sack into the cart, eyed the remaining few sacks on the shelf in a moment of “what if people are still being this crazy in four to six weeks when I’ll need more?” and decided eh – it may go up, but honestly I don’t want to futz around with more than the one big old sack. I have nowhere safe to keep it and don’t really feel nervous enough to start stockpiling.

Besides. Costco did still have 50# sacks of bread flour – bread accounting for over half the flour I use, and those 50# sacks still priced at before-panic levels, I’m starting to think that maybe I’ll just toodle on back over there and grab me a sack of bread flour. While it is annoying to keep two separate flour sources, it will be worth doing to keep my bread costs down. I’m starting to bake at least every other day, which occasional bursts to every single day – I hadn’t even washed the bread pans yet when we ran out today! Geesh!!

I know somebody is wondering what the difference really is: bread flour has more gluten, barley flour and added potassium bromate and/or vitamin C in it – gluten being what gives the dough that ‘smooth, elastic’ texture, it makes wonderful bread and other ‘kneaded’ items like pizza dough, but it can make your cookies, muffins, pie crusts and other things where the instructions say something like ‘add dry ingredients and mix just until blended chewy in a bad kind of way. “All purpose” can be used for, duh, all purposes – but bread flour makes a lousy pie crust.

Anyway, I went on up to the register with my one big old sack of flour and a box of candy to refresh the ‘reward’ bin. As the flour was scanned, a manager-type walked over and said, “Excuse me, but are you a restaurant owner?”

“Nope,” I replied cheerfully. “Just a home baker.”

“Well,” he said brusquely. “I’m not sure if you’re aware that flour has a shelf life. It does. And if you’re not going to use this much flour in a timely fashion…”

About this point, naturally, I was laughing so hard I had to lean heavily on the check-writing platform to keep from melting right onto the flour.

“Dude!” I blurted out. (This is California. We call each other ‘dude’ quite frequently.) “I just wrote a ranting essay about that! Seriously!”

He stared at me for a minute.

“So…you’d actually USE all that?”

“Within six weeks at the most. Probably more like four, the way things are going around my place right now. I make two loaves of bread every other day, my friend, and we shall not touch on how many dozens of cookies, and pot pies, and biscuits, and of course now that we’re getting fresh fruit again there will be pies, and…”

“I’m available for adoption,” he interjected quickly.

“Me too!” chirped up the child young lady at the register. I actually thought about bringing her home and feeding her because seriously – she was probably a size 000. There are pixies bigger than this child young lady.

I wrestled the bag into the back of the van, wondered out loud whether or not I really wanted to get the bread flour, stared at my recipe showing that I’d just paid $22.99 for a sack that cost me $14.49 five weeks ago, and puttered right on over to Costco.

When I got there, they had some rice in stock. The 50# sacks were already gone. The 25# pound bags were going fast. The policy was that they would sell you rice based on your prior buying history.

Being out of rice, I did grab myself a bag. At the register, they didn’t bat an eye over my one (1) 25# bag. It should last me a good eight months, since honestly we’re more partial to mashed spuds around here than rice for our cheap carbs.

Meanwhile, two registers over, a shrill voice was demanding to see the Manager’s Manager because she didn’t care that she had only bought one 25# bag in the last two years, she needed six bags now.


It is going to be a long, long year, isn’t it.


Science PhD Mom said...

All right Tama, I have to tell you I baked your current favorite bread recipe today, and Oh. MY. Why have I been buying that crap they sell in stores masquerading as bread?? I had to stop myself from eating half a loaf before my DH got home. YUMMMMMMMMMMM! So thank you for sharing.

And, uh, yeah, it's going to be more than a little eye-rolling when you hear (inevitably) about folks throwing out useless, weevil-infested flour and moldy used-to-be-flour lumpen masses. I am surprised at how much more I want to bake when I have enough flour on hand to not worry about having enough for routine commitments of food which I usually satisfy with baked goods. I could get into this bread baking and other baked goodness thing, yes indeedy I could. Have a good naan recipe?

Yarnhog said...

See? This is just one more justification for eating out. A lot.

PipneyJane said...

You have my sympathies. I mentioned our trip to Wing Yip in my blog earlier in the week. The cheapest rice they had was 10kg for £13 - more than double what we paid last time we stocked up. But we bought 20kg anyway, since rice prices will keep rising. It will last us the best part of a year.

I know our diet isn't typical for a "white British" family, since we eat more curries and Chinese style meals than most. However, I do wonder what the average "Mrs America" will do with her 25lb of rice.

- Pam

Lydee said...

I used to bake everyday or so before I went back to work full time. Now I'm off in the summers, and I"m wondering what the price of flour will be. No use stockpiling it now when I won't use it until mid june. Crazy, crazy!

Anonymous said...

I'm available for adoption too! I'll even help with the cooking!

Also a fantastic way to use up that fresh fruit is cobbler, but my family uses a biscuit like topping. REALLY good and easy!

Let me know if you are interested in the recipe (or if you think your readers might be) cuz . . .yum!

Rena said...

Dude!!!!!!!!!! Like, I've totally had your pie once, and it's like... totally AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!

PipneyJane said...

Caitlin, I'd love your cobbler recipe.