I can still remember the cut of meat that started it all, a pound of marginal beef brisket a few days from its expiration date. While I did not realize it at the time, this discount meat freezer would become the source for many future purchases and lead to a newfound hobby and pastime, cooking.
I do not remember much about the brisket recipe except it required orange juice, barbecue sauce, an onion, and was required to bake in the oven for multiple hours. I’m pretty sure I ate the whole thing, so it must not have been that bad.
One of my next projects was a piece of meat called a London broil. I thought the name was interesting, so I decided to make the purchase and see what happened. It turns out this was not one of my better efforts for a number of reasons. Probably the first sign that something was wrong was the smoke billowing from the oven minutes after I placed the meat in there. Broiling was an entirely new concept for me , and I quickly learned this high-temperature cooking style was not as easy as it sounded. In the end, my London broil was about the consistency of old leather and probably tasked like this as well.
I discovered my next recipe in a Men’s Health magazine, and it was literally called “muscle chili.” With a name like this, I figured there were few things that could go wrong. In fact, this recipe was really up my alley… chopping a few vegetables, browning some meat, and then mixing it all together and allowing everything to cook unattended for a period of time. I’m not sure if this dish has quite lived up to its name, but nevertheless, it is still a solid, relatively easy, and hearty recipe.
Overall, my experiences with these discount meats have been okay. I’m not really sure if the small monetary savings outweigh the potential for mild cases of gastroenteritis or other food-borne illnesses that may accompany these meat products, but I guess life is all about calculated risks, right?
As I approach the one year mark of starting Crossfit, I thought I would reflect on my time spent inside the box. Overall, my experience has been good as I have definitely become stronger and improved my general level of athletic conditioning. Some examples of this improvement are a new maximum bench press of 195 pounds and a new maximum deadlift of 275 pounds. I don’t think I have necessarily been working to increase these specific numbers; I would attribute most of the improvement to putting in the effort during the daily workouts.
I have also recently invested in a couple of tools with the hope that these would help improve my performance in certain areas. One of these is a subscription to Box Life magazine. This magazine usually has some pretty good tips for improving certain lifts, and the athlete profiles are also pretty good. I’ve also been tempted to buy the Normatec Pulse Recovery System from their advertisements, but I’m afraid spending $1,600 on this device cannot be justified in my case.
I also bought some gymnastics grips to prevent rips and tears during workouts with high numbers of repititions of pull-ups or extensive barbell work. Maybe I’ve gone soft with this purchase, but I am just not a fan of missing workouts due to these annoying tears which can easily be prevented.
I also bought one of the SR-1 speed jump ropes. I was always amazed when other people would do such high numbers of double unders with ease; I now realize they were probably using one of these speed ropes. This rope is definitely good for a quick workout when traveling or when access to a gym is not available. However, I probably should have heeded the manufacturer’s warning of not using the rope on a paved surface as the metal wire on mine is now exposed.
So I decided to visit the Antique Alley Arkansas Antique Show this past weekend. Basically, this event consisted of about two hundred antiques dealers in a convention center with booths of various items for sale. The criteria at this particular event stipulated that over eighty-five percent of the items for sale must have been made before 1950. After paying the five dollar entrance fee and recieving my ultraviolet admission stamp, I proceeded to peruse the various wares for sale. It didn’t take long for me to realize this event was probably aimed towards an older generation than the millenial one to which I belong… I think my first clue was the sock hop music blaring from the loud speaker overhead. Nonetheless, I managed to find a few booths with some interesting advertising and collectible items.
While I did not buy anything at this convention, I have bought a couple pieces from estate sales recently. I think one of my favorite finds so far is this fairly large Dazy Churn and Manufacturing Company butter churn. Judging from my brief internet research, it looks like these can sell for anywhere from $150 to $250. Based in St. Louis, this company produced kitchen products in the first half of the twentieth century; other items they made include juicers, knife sharpeners, and smaller versions of a butter churn. This one looks to be in pretty good condition; either it was never used or maybe I bought a reproduction. Nonetheless, definitely an interesting find with some unique history. Now all I need is a few quarts of heavy whipping cream, and I can be making industrial-sized portions of butter in no time!
Another purchase I like is this Bertels Can Company popcorn tin. Based in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, this company produced tins with various college, company, and decorative designs until they were acquired by the Independent Can Company a few years ago. This piece is not in perfect condition with rust in a few places, but I think $5 was a pretty good bargain.