Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting Old Sucks, Episode 1

This is the first installment in my occasional new series entitled "Getting Old Sucks." 

Or, explorations in my frequent incidents of blistering humiliation. 

Let me open this one by reminding you that a measuring cup measures liquid volume

As opposed to actual weight. 

There's a difference.  

Big one, turns out.  

To wit: 

I  was ordering seasonings one day a while back and doing so online.  I discovered Penzey's a few years ago you see, and once one experiences the superior taste of Tellicherry peppercorns there's simply no going back to Cains or even McCormick.

Since I used freshly ground pepper every. single. day.  I generally order the peppercorns by the pound.  Yes, that's a lot of pepper.  But I stick it in the freezer, and it's usually gone in six months. It so happened that on this particular day I was in need of various and sundry other seasonings as well.  

So in an effort to save on shipping and be all efficient, I took a mental inventory of my spice drawer, concluded I required basil and oregano, clicked to those sections of the website and was confronted with the following choices of volume to purchase: .2 ounces, .4 ounces, .7 ounces, 1 ounce, 4 ounces, and 8 ounces. 

I was a bit confounded.  Since I was ordering the stuff online, I wanted to get more than I actually needed.  This was in an effort to assure myself that I am capable of planning and organization. The problem was I couldn't quite visualise what .7 ounces of basil looked like, therefore how much herb I would actually be receiving. 

At this point, you would think that I would have gone to my spice drawer, which was literally 7 steps from where I was sitting at the time, taken out the empty basil bottle that lived there*, consulted it for the perfect visual reference (read: read the damn "Net WT" section of the bottle) 

and proceeded accordingly. 

Instead I  just tried to guess. 

Because that's much more accurate. 

And before I go any further, let me just say this: I've bought seasonings in bulk in the past. Many, many times. I KNOW that herbs and whatnot are sold by weight. I do. However on this particular day, the flawless logic working in my 40+ year-old brain told me that I needed to consider the visual of a measuring cup when making my selection.  Therefore, .2 ounces was like, 6 flakes of each herb, .7 ounces was perhaps a 1/2 teaspoon full, 2 ounces = 1/4 of a cup, 4 ounces = 1/2 a cup and 8 ounces = 1 cup.  

Clearly I didn't need a whole cup of basil or oregano. I mean, I do cook a lot of pasta wicked carb meals, but let's be real. An entire cup would last, like, foreverBut two ounces, or a quarter of a cup, just didn't seem like quite enough. So I cut it in half and arrived at what seemed like a perfectly reasonable amount of basil and oregano to order: Four ounces, or 1/2 cup, would surely be the sensible amount for each herb. 

So I placed my order.  1 pound  of peppercorns, 4 ounces of oregano, 4 ounces of basil, and a few other items. 

Fast forward five days, when a box roughly the  size of a refrigerator arrived on my front porch.

What the hell?  I ordered peppercorns and some Italian herbs, for the love of  Pete,  not the entire catalogue. 

I fished out what I thought was 4 ounces of basil. Wow, I thought.  This is a lot of basil.  Surely I don't need quite this much?  

Imagine my surprise when I dug out not one, not two, but three other bags of basil just like the one pictured above.  

Man, I thought.  Someone in the ordering department fouled up and BIG time.  They sent me 4 times the amount of basil I ordered....  

Then I looked at the bags closer: 

That's right. What I initially thought was one 4-ounce bag of basil was, in actuality, 1 1-ounce bag of basil.  

And then it hit me. Five days too late.

They actually weigh the stuff out on a scale and then bag it. 

You know what? 

Dried basil doesn't weigh that much at all.

Want a visual of what one ounce of basil looks like in a measuring cup?  Bear in mind, I thought I was ordering a total of 1/2 of a CUP of basil.  Cuz, you know, 4 ounces is 4 ounces.  

It turns out 1 ounce of basil = 1 1/4 cup, or 6 liquid ounces. 
I am now the proud owner of five cups of basil and roughly four cups of oregano. Which is enough to season all the pasta in Italy for at least a month.   

Guess what my mother's getting for Christmas? 

*I really do buy in bulk all the time and save my small containers for spice drawer storage. The rest gets tucked in the freezer.


Carolyn said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I order things from mail order catelogues and they always end up being WAY smaller than I imagined. But apparently, it's not just me.

Tanya said...

Oh, Carolyn. You made my day.

Yogesh Kumar said...

Hi my name is yogesh kumar. I like this blog website.I say thanks to that person who made this

Baysage said...

Great story. But if you think this is getting old, you're in for a real shock, dear. Mom and I just decided that each of us forgets something at least semi-important every single day. And this will get worse. . . . Great!

mareneli said...

We love Penzey's. We order all the time. Next time we should order together if it will save us on shipping. On second thought... maybe not. ;-)