Sort of Wordless Not-Wednesday: Merry Christmas to Me!

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Lodge Combo Cooker
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Tartine Bread
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Tartine Bread
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summary: Because of the continued success of making Chad Robertson’s Tartine bread risen with Jane Mason natural starter (wheat), look at what I got for Christmas – a Lodge cast-iron Combo-Cooker!!; cast-iron might be heavy but it’s the best no-stick pan; these pans are not just for camping; makes for best oven-spring; a Sort of Wordless Not-Wednesday post

T did a fair amount of shopping around to find the best price for a cast iron combo cooker to give to me for Christmas. He discovered that the price for a combo cooker was significantly lower at Bass Pro than at anywhere else. The closest Bass Pro shop (as far as we could tell) is about a 30 minute highway drive from us.

As it happens, I drive right by the shop every week when I’m headed north for a weekly rehearsal so I volunteered to pick up whatever it was he had purchased. Not really understanding that it was a Christmas present for me.

On a Wednesday or Thursday, he arranged with a Bass Pro camping department employee to put the item on hold for him, giving his name, spelling it several times because it’s not the easiest name in the world, chatting and laughing about it and double and triple checking that it was okay for me to go to the Camping section to pick up the package the following weekend and that all I’d have to do was give the employee our name. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

Well. I had no idea how big Bass Pro is. Nor did I realize that it is located in a giant shopping mall. Nor did I pay attention to the fact that I was going to the store on the Sunday after American Thanksgiving, ie: Black Friday sale time – or something like that. It took me 10 minutes to find a parking spot….

Then when I got inside, it took me ages to find the Camping section. I hiked through the aisles in search of the Camping desk. Nope. No Camping desk to be seen. So I headed over to the nearby Fishing desk that was prominently visible. I walked up to the desk, where the only people were me and the 50ish year-old fit-looking man behind the desk. I said hello to him, continuing that I was trying to find the Camping desk. He replied, “This isn’t it.”

Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:

me: [dryly] I can see that [smiling and gesturing upward to the fishing sign] and I can see that Camping is over there [gesturing back toward the camping area] But I cannot find the desk, nor can I find a Camping employee.

he: The desk is by the back packs.

me: Thank you. [heading back to Camping to wander around the backpack area and fail entirely to find a desk OR an employee so returning to the fishing desk] Excuse me, but I cannot find the Camping desk. Does it look like this desk with a glass top and shelves?

he: No.

me: [trying not to grind my teeth] Is it the same size as this desk?

he: No.

me: Does it have a cash register?

he: No.

me: [taking a breath before speaking] Can you describe the desk in detail? …I guess you may have deduced that I’ve never been to this shop before.

he: Yes. It’s hard to find. It’s very small. …Oh look! There’s the Camping employee in green. Ask him for help.

I raced over, gave the fellow our name and he said he’d have to go into the back to get the package. We established that he might be gone for about 10 minutes. (Good thing I always leave plenty of time to get to my rehearsal!) As I waited, I wandered around some more and FINALLY found the camping desk that is indeed ridiculously small. There was no cash register.

And I waited. And waited. At last the man in green returned empty handed, saying, “what was your name again?”

You’d be proud of me. I neither shrieked, hit him, nor started laughing hysterically. I repeated our name (that NOBODY else in the world has) and he said he couldn’t find anything for me. A higher-up employee arrived to confirm that there was nothing on hold for me. He asked when the order had been made, that he didn’t remember putting that name down or receiving the order. When I told him it was Wednesday, he looked pained and said, “Where did you get the idea that you could put something on hold for more than 24 hours? That’s impossible.” No amount of saying that it had been a Bass Pro employee on the phone made a whit of difference.

I phoned home. I found out what I was supposed to be picking up. The higher up employee said, “They’re here on the shelf. How many do you need?” I grabbed one. He disappeared and because I’m a glutton for punishment, I headed back to the fishing desk because I KNEW there was a cash register there.

And the idiot behind the desk pretended I hadn’t walke up as he showed a fellow a fishing rod. I interrupted him in mid-spiel and asked if I could pay for this now because I was really pressed for time.

he: Yes. As soon as I finish here. I’ll be about 15 minutes.

me: [staring at the man looking at the fishing rod and wondering why he didn't say anything along the lines of "go ahead, ring up the item, I can look at this other rod and reel in the meantime"] I’m really under the wire here. Where is there another cash register?

he: They’re everywhere. There are several at every entrance.

me: [doing nothing to hide my frustration] I have no idea where the entrance is now.

he: Where did you park?

me: By the big front doors where there are canoes

He vaguely pointed me in what turned out to be the right direction and immediately went back to the deaf-mute customer looking at rods and reels.

Quickly finding the main entrance and a very pleasant cashier, the rest of the transaction went well. And I’m happy to report that I got to my rehearsal in time.

Was all of it worth the huge saving? Categorically, yes. (Have I sent any comments to Bass Pro about my experience shopping at their store? Not yet. And now, it’s probably too late. But. Take a tip from me: if you’re pressed for time, don’t even think about shopping at Bass Pro on the weekend after American Thanksgiving. And stay away from the Fishing desk.)

Combo Cooker

Baking Method
Preheat the cast-iron frying pans when turning on the oven to 425F. Drop the shaped and risen bread onto a piece of parchment paper. Lift the bread on the parchment paper into the deeper hot cast-iron pan, cover with the overturned shallow cast-iron pan, immediately turning the oven down to 400F, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the shallow cast-iron pan (wear oven mitts!!) and bake for a further 30 minutes at 400F until the crust is a deep golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when knocked on the bottom.


2 responses to “Sort of Wordless Not-Wednesday: Merry Christmas to Me!

  1. Karen

    That sounds just awful. You were so patient. I’ve never been in a Bass Pro shop as they are not around here, but I’ll think of you every time I pass one! Congratulations on your new pan!!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      I’m not really patient at all, Karen. But I was pretty sure that screaming and throwing a fit at the Fishing fool who was being so proudly and intensely rude would do nothing but make him even more unhelpful and supercilious than he already was. So. Call me manipulative rather than patient.

      I’m happy to say that all the other employees treated me like an equal citizen. And all the other customers I saw looked happy as clams….

      We will go back to Bass Pro, but only if we have LOTS of time. And perhaps we’ll seek out the man at the Fishing desk and get him all excited as we ask to see fancy rod and fancy reel after fancy rod and fancy reel. Won’t it be thrilling as he gets out the most expensive fancy rod and fancy reel, to say, “Hmmm. We’ll have to think about this. We’ll come back another time.” But. If another actual customer comes along who looks to be on a mission and in a hurry, we’ll make a big point of telling the employee that he should take care of that person right now.


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