delivery “service” ?

We’re having a glorious day here in Lake Woe-be-gone, my home town. The temps are above freezing for the first time all month (which means we just blew a bunch of records for “worst January ever”). I ran errands this morning sans hat and gloves. Yippee! And now I’ve got two loaves of bread in various states of baking/rising down in my kitchen and sitting in a sunny window in the dining room.

Of course, an improvement in the weather means that something else has to tick me off. Today it is both UPS (unhelpful package sorcerers) AND the USPS (united society of poor service). This week we heard all kinds of whining from the United States Postal Service about how they were going broke (who decided they should be a separate, non-governmental, profit-making business?? ) and might only deliver mail 5 days a week. I was a bit surprised by this because I rarely get mail more than 5 days a week (even when I’m expecting something) and often my mail arrives after 7 pm. So I’m thinking how can they cut back even more? Then this morning I go to mail a package at the Post Office and learn that the new “rules” at the postal service forbid the “customer service” people from uttering the words “Parcel Post”. In fact, unless you specifically ASK for it, they are not even supposed to offer you anything cheaper than Priority Mail. I AM NOT KIDDING OR EXAGGERATING! The person at the counter told me this is the new policy when I asked why they were stamping my package “Standard Mail” instead of the old “Parcel Post”. SO, unless somebody knows that there is a cheaper rate, they will get charged the Priority Rate (which in my experience rarely arrives in the specified 2-days). One more way to sock it to people who are either new to the country and/or too young to remember when the postal service was quick, reliable, and relatively inexpensive. Of course, now that they aren’t really an arm of the US government, there probably isn’t much we can do about any of this . . . except rant.

At least I’ve been able to train my local USPS postal delivery person NOT to leave packages sitting on my front steps … where they are likely to either disappear and/or fall down the steps when I try to open the door to retrieve them. They actually ring the bell and see if I am home and/or leave the package between the storm and main doors and/or put the package on the back steps.

UPS is another ball of wax (spit?) all together . . . They’ve left packages labeled “Perishable” out in the sun on a 90° day and out in the snow on a -40° day. Once they even hid the box under some shrubs, where I just happened to find it (though it was fairly well hidden). When they do bother to ring the bell, you get about 2 seconds to get to the door, otherwise they leave (with your package if it required a signature). Yesterday I returned home from some shopping to find an “InfoNotice” indicating that they had tried to deliver my package from King Arthur Flour (though of course the source was not identified on the note, I just happened to know this package was on its way) and that they would try again on Monday (no more specific time indicated, though the form provides 4 time-frames) and that a signature is required. Not wanting my flour to sit in some bug-infested warehouse all weekend, I called the toll free number to see if I could just go pick up the package somewhere. I was told that if I were to make this request, someone would call me back in an hour or so (it was already 4:30pm) and tell me what time I had to go pick up the package. Lord knows WHERE in the WORLD the person I was speaking to was located. All I know is there was no way for me to call the local warehouse directly and speak to a human being to figure out what my options were. SO, my flour sits in the warehouse, I have to wait home all day on Monday for the package, and I just learned that the other three items in my order are being shipped IN THREE SEPARATE PACKAGES . . . so I get to go through this run-around all week.

These two incidents top off a month in which every time I had to contact “customer service” of any sort, I was basically given no service at all beyond . . . “see our website” (where I had already looked) or “we’re sorry, but we don’t know why that happened and there’s nothing you can do to prevent that from happening again” or “here’s an answer which reveals that I didn’t actually read/hear your actual question”. Mostly it just seems that the folks doing “customer service” really don’t know anything about the systems/products they are providing “service” for . . . they’ve just been given scripts to read and/or send via email.

Okay, enough ranting. Time to go take homemade bread out of the oven. At least I know THAT will be good!

Moving On

I’m sure Mudpie would understand that I must displace the news about her with a great baseball announcement:

Cubs recall Murton from Triple-A

Yippee! The red-head is back.

In other news, I’ve been doing lots of bread baking in the past week. Three recipes from Rose’s Bread Bible. First I tried making the Semolina Torpedo, but the Semolina I have is the type for pasta and, despite what you might read on the internet, trying to grind it into a fine flour using a food processor does not work. So that loaf shrunk up. Edible, but not very good. Then I made both Cracked Wheat Bread and Flaxseed Bread. Both turned out great! Excellent sandwich breads.

Interested cooks will also notice that I’ve added a few other recipes to the Recipe Index and Pages lists. If you try them out, let me know how they turn out. Tomorrow I’m testing out my Pad Thai recipe. I finally wrote up my consolidation of about eight different pad thai recipes. Once I give it the kitchen test (and make any necessary changes), I’ll post that here as well.