The kitchen scale

I left my kitchen scale out after making bread recently, unwashed, and some else decided to wash it – not just the detachable measuring cup, but the whole thing. Electronics and warm, soapy water don’t go together well. After a few days, it began to work again, but then simply died for good.

So my challenge was to take it apart without breaking any parts, because that’s what I do rather than simply chuck things. I’m curious about how things work, and how they’re put together. Also whether there might be any parts worth saving.

dissected kitchen scale

Despite its apparent simplicity. it was a little tricky –– some well-concealed screws beneath labels and the plastic readout cover. Nothing really useful to save.

I’ve made bagels and pizza dough a couple times since, but I really prefer doing recipes by weight, so have thought about getting another.

I bought this one with points at the Disco supermarket a fe years ago, not thinking about the actual cost. Now I see they sell it at Tienda Inglesa for 40 bucks – yikes!  They also show one for USD 12 at Tienda Inglesa so maybe, just maybe, I can get them to bring one to our local store. I suppose I could try ordering one online but *shudder* that has not gone entirely well for me in Uruguay (think mattress and oven).

Except for socializing at the weekly feria, I find little fun in trying to find and buy things here. But maybe that’s OK, especially when I reflect on the inordinate amount of stuff we accumulated before moving to Mexico — and that was less than three years after moving ourselves across the country, from North Carolina to Nelson, BC Spokane, Washington.

UPDATE: Yes, this does seem like a rather pointless blog entry, but it reminded me to look at Tienda Inglesa, and guess what?

kitchen scale
We’re good to go again!


Opening the wine

We were recently the recipients of a couple of bottles of excellent Swiss white wine (thanks Syd and Gundy!), a Humagne Blanche (fascinating: according to Wikipedia, “the total Swiss plantations of the variety in 2009 stood at 30 hectares (74 acres).” And a bottle of Aigle les Murailles. Both excellent, and mostly unknown outside of Switzerland.

These bottles had corks. I generally do not rue the transition to screw tops for wine, though I admit I don’t completely understand the ecological implications.

So, translate to Uruguay (and notice this has only been a recent issue): a nice Stagnari Chardonnay, produced maybe 45 km (28 miles) away, accompanied by Camembert and blue cheese. Sounds good, eh?

Stagnari Chardonnay - pliers required to remove top
Sorry for the ill-exposed photo 🙁

Well, yeah, except for one thing: can’t unscrew the top because it doesn’t separate from the part below. Hence, we have now as Essential Kitchen Equipment a pair of needle-nosed pliers to tear the top off in, inevitably, a half-dozen or more pieces.

Q: How do you say quality control in Latin America?
A: ¿Qué?



Fried eggs

Shortly after we moved here, the cleaning lady walked by as I was having a couple of fried eggs or breakfast. “Oh, you Americans and your eggs!” she commented.

fried eggs and toast

Which is kind of strange if you’ve spent any time in Uruguay. Here’s the famous chivito:

Uruguayan chivito

And here’s an Uruguayan hamburger (the white stuff isn’t mayonnaise):

Uruguayan hamburger with egg

So it’s fair to say Uruguayans don’t have a problem with fried eggs.

But an obsession?

potato chips, fried egg flavor

Potato chips with fried egg flavor?

I think I’ll pass.

Picture credits: fried eggschivito, hamburger

Christmas bagels

We don’t do anything special for Christmas (except attend our neighbors’ lovely afternoon food fest). I mentioned to my wife that she normally hangs red ornaments on our ficus tree, at least. She reminded me we have a fast-growing puppy who probably find them great fun to attack. Good point.

We’re also not Jewish.

But in the country we came from, bagels are ubiquitous, and in Uruguay they’re nonexistent. Well, except for one place in Montevideo owned by an American. There’s a place called Donut Shop that advertises bagels but makes — well, you decide.

So she asked the food processor and bread-object specialist (that would be me), to make bagels.

First attempt at homemade bagels

Obviously I’m low on the learning curve, but they were delicious with cream cheese, smoked salmon,1 organic tomatoes and red onions.

Plus, always a treat in Uruguay, the taste made us feel we were somewhere else, somewhere one has a choice of tastes. Restaurants are gradually getting better here, offering variety. One nearby puts the old Uruguayan standbys like chivitos and milanesas under the heading, “Lo de Siempre,” the ‘always available’ stuff. I take that as a good sign. But I can still have fun tormenting recent North American arrivals by asking them what’s their favorite Thai restaurant in Uruguay.2


unfortunately from Chile, but that’s all we’ve got

2 I haven’t been, but expect Konichi-Wa Sushi y Asian Gourmet is not really Thai

Patético (“marketing”)

We just bought some fresh mushrooms at Tienda Inglesa. The good news is that, since we moved here, they are usually available. Bad news is that they’re kind of ridiculously expensive — USD $7.50/pound. But they sell side by side with another imported brand that sell for almost 70% more. Have to wonder why anyone would pay that, but hey.

So here’s what we bought:

Mushrooms in supermarket, Uruguay

200 grams! 50 grams free! So we paid for only 150 grams?

Well, no — from the Tienda Inglesa web site:

Fresh mushrooms, Uruguay
Just have to note in passing that no accessories are included, and technical information may vary.

And what did we pay?

Supermarket receipt, Uruguay

94 pesos for 200 grams, as advertised. Yet we somehow got 50 grams free, paying 94 pesos for 200 grams?

Bill Hicks had a routine* in which he said, “If anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself … seriously, though, if you are, do.” I found that a little strong when I first encountered it.

But when I consider that these people are trying to convince me they’re giving me something for free when I pay the same for the same amount that I paid last week — well, thank you, Bill Hicks, and you marketers, kill yourself. Seriously. You’ll be doing your soul, and the rest of us, a favor.

*no link, because being Bill Hicks, it contains considerable profanity, but easy to find.