Thursday, October 28, 2010

Customer Service is Lacking

Saturday we headed into town to pick up a few things including tarps. When the TSC first came to town it was the best place to get decent, heavy duty tarps for a good price. For some reason the last 6 months the TSC has gone from a farm store to trying to compete with Canadian Tire. We needed a farm store, instead we get a clone of our local not so great Canadian Tire.

Since TSC didn't have the size or strength tarps we needed, we decided to stop at CT to see if they, on the absolute off chance, had any heavy duty tarps. They didn't but they did have tarps on sale. Not great tarps but cheap. We head for the tarp aisle to find that they haven't bothered to actually stock the tarps that are on sale. They have a lot of the really crappy expensive tarps on the shelf but none of the ones on sale.

We're not the only people looking for these tarps so a stock person is contacted. Boy is he pissed that he has to come out and do any work. OF course the first thing he does is go through the pile of incorrect size tarps as if we, the customer, were to stupid to check there first. He finally gets out his inventory checker and declares yes there are some in the back, then he huffs off to check for them.

Ten minutes later he comes out with 1 tarp for us and another for the other customer. We tell him we need two more. God, if looks could kill. Another ten minutes and a different, younger man, comes out with 8 of the correct size tarps and stocks the shelf, after giving us the other two we needed. Which means that for a 3 day weekend sale they now have a grand total of 6 tarps on the shelf.

While looking for ice trays we over heard another stock person telling another customer that they didn't have any of another sale item in stock. Who's brilliant idea is it to put something on sale that you either don't have in stock or have a very low number in stock. I think it is a form of bait and switch. Put something on sale and hope the customer buys a different, higher priced item, when it turns out there is none of the sale items in stock.

Somebody, somewhere, must think this is a great way to promote sales. I think it is cheap, lousy, and considering the attitude of the stock people a really poor idea. I just hope it back fires and these companies finally wake up and start offering good customer service.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sushi

PeterC loves sushi. Loves it! Unfortunately, there is no place within 100 km to get sushi. So I decided as a "Hey it's Fall and I love you" present I would learn how to make sushi. I did some Internet research and found out it is a lot easier than I thought it would be. Great! I made a shopping list and headed for the store.

Luckily, the local Food Basics carries all of the makings for sushi, except sushi rice go figure. I bought the roasted seaweed sheets, bean sprouts, sunflower sprouts, kohlrabi in place of the daikon radish, some fake crab meat, and three kinds of fish - snapper, halibut, and a marlin steak. Everything else I already had in the pantry. It turns out it is a good thing I like most Chinese food and keep the basics on hand.

PeterC was absolutely excited about the sushi and was on hand to help me make it, sampling bits of this and that to help me get the flavours right. I'm not a fish person and he wasn't willing to eat raw fish that wasn't fresh off the boat, which I can't blame him, so we cooked all the fish except a very tiny amount of snapper which I left raw.

To make sushi, you will need:
5 Roasted Seaweed sheets
1 cp Long grain rice - steamed and allowed to cool to room temperature
1/2 cp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
Spicy Mayonnaise - if you want it for your fish
1 carrot - either shredded or cut into match sticks
1/2 English cucumber - sliced paper thin
1/2 Kohlrabi or daikon radish - sliced paper thin
1/2 cp bean sprouts
1/2 cp sunflower sprouts
Fish of choice - Canned tuna, fake crab, any mild flavoured steamed fish, or even make the sushi vegetarian

You can make the spicy mayo if you have garlic chili sauce, mayo, and soy sauce. Mix 1/2 cp mayo, 1 Tbsp chili sauce (more if you like it really spicy), and 2 Tbsp soy sauce.

1) Mix sugar, vinegar, and salt in a small sauce pan and heat only until sugar dissolves. Let it cool.
2) Once liquid is cool mix well with cooked rice.
3) Lay out 1 sheet of seaweed and spread a thin layer of rice starting at the edge closest to you. Leave 1.5 inches of seaweed exposed at the far edge. The rice is sticky so wet your hands to prevent it from sticking.
4) Spread a thin layer of mayo on the rice if desired.
5) This if the fun bit. At 1 inch from close edge place a 1 inch wide layer of vegetable, a layer of meat, and more vegetables in any combination you like. Make sure not to put a huge amount in but a thin layer of anything you want in a 1" wide x the width of the sheet area.
6) Use your fingers to hold the filling in place and roll the seaweed up into a tight tube. Slightly wet the exposed seaweed just before you get to it and roll the tube right to the edge. The wet seaweed will stick to itself keeping everything in.
7) Set the tube aside while you make more tubes repeating the process above.
8) Slice each tube into 5-7 rolls. Rolls should be about 1" thick.
9) Serve with soy sauce and wasabi paste on the side.

I did find out through this experience that even if I make the rolls vegetarian with no fish in them, I can't eat them. The seaweed puts me right off but then I'm not a big sea food kind of person. The rolls are very pretty to look at though and I can see serving a mix of vegetarian and spicy, cooked fish sushi as an appetizer or part of an hors d'oeuvres table at a party.

The best part was PeterC loved them and even though he couldn't eat anywhere near as many as he said he could, he was more than willing to eat the leftovers the next day for lunch and again for supper. I even made him a bunch for his lunch on Monday for worked and he really enjoyed them then too. He liked them so much he is willing to keep the fixings on hand for those days when he starts craving sushi, though I expect that won't be for a couple more weeks yet.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chickens are cats with feathers

We had chickens when I was a kid but, like most farm kids, they were just one more chore on a long list of never ending chores. As I grew up I learned to appreciate the subtle personalities and character traits that each animal has. Now that I have chickens again I can truly appreciate them, and their quirks.

We were working in the yard this weekend and as usual the chickens were under foot. While watching them I came to realize that chickens are cats with feathers. Here is my top ten reasons for thinking of chickens as cats with feathers.

10 - Chickens are very independent. They want to be petted when they want to be petted not when you want to pet them.

9 - Chickens are picky eaters. They want food but only certain kinds of food and it never seems to be the same from day to day. One day they want crumble, another day greens, and another they will only eat bird seed.

8 - Chickens like to stalk small birds, rodents, and toads. More than one mouse carcass has turned up in the coop and most of the toads in our yard are missing toes.

7 - Chickens will always choose to lay their eggs in a shrub rather than the really warm, nice, dry, and safe nest box we made for them. We found 10 eggs under clippings from the hedge while working this weekend.

6 - Chickens like to dust bath exactly where they should not be, namely my herb bed. I'm going to have to do a lot of replanting next spring.

5 - Chickens can't stand having a fenced off area. If it is fenced off they absolutely must be inside it if I want them out or outside it if I want them in.

4 - Chickens are demanding of your food. If you are eating something then it must be theirs, even if it is something you know they don't like they want it anyway and will take any means needed to get it away from you. That includes tripping you, jumping up and taking it from you, or squawking pathetically until you give them a taste.

3 - Chickens are constantly changing the pecking order, in other words bickering. Chickens that were snuggled together yesterday will be picking on each other today.

2 - Chickens love to sleep in the sun, or if we have a bonfire going as close to the fire pit as they can possibly squeeze.

1 - Chickens are always under foot.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Beans, Beans, and More Beans

I've been a tad lazy this week getting my latest post done. Actually I've been pretty lazy about everything this week. This past weekend was good and we got a lot of wood split and stacked, and I got 2/3 rd of the cranberry beans picked. But Monday started out with me waking up late and it has pretty much been going down hill from there.

I did manage to get the last of the cranberry beans picked. I still have to wait for the leaves to fall off the scarlet runners before I can pick them. That is going to take some effort and require the extension ladder. We planted the scarlet runners so they could climb the old antenna tower next the the house. With the weather they did really well and reached to the top peak of the house, a good 20 ft in the air. Even though it will be hard to pick them I liked how they covered up the tower and made it pretty with red blooms and large green leaves.

September was the wettest month ever here at Sparrow Haven. Fall is generally a wet time for us but it doesn't normally start until the middle of October or even November. This year it started early. The remnants of several tropical storms have only added more rain to the mix. In fact another remnant is going through today and tonight. On top of that, it is a little cool today, cool enough that a small fire has been built in the wood stove to take off the chill and the damp.

The garden is done for the year, with the exception of picking the runner beans. Once they are picked and shucked I will be canning them for the coming winter. Last year I filled quart jars with beans and topped with boiling water before processing them in the pressure canner. This year I am going to hot pack the beans. They'll be cooked in boiling water for 3-5 minutes before the jars are filled with the beans and the water, and then processed in the canner.

With the last two years worth of beans stored I think we will be eating a lot of beans this winter. It is just as well that I managed to make 15 pints of green tomato relish. It is the best stuff in the world for eating with a pot of beans and hot chunks of cornbread. Pretty tame food but filling and nutritious, what more could you ask for.