Bargain-hunter or Pseudovulture?

I’m not exactly sure how estate sales became a staple of my weekend routine. Rummaging through another person’s belongings in search of potential items to purchase may seem akin to vulture-like activity to some, but I generally do not feel guilty during this process. In most cases, a company is hired to sell household items at a discount when someone has died or moved into a nursing home.

At these sales, it seems like I normally purchase items from two categories, books and cookware. I’m not exactly sure why I buy so many books, but the cause probably stems from watching Jeopardy frequently and my introverted personality. History and foreign countries seem to be my favorite topics, and I have certainly become a bona fide armchair traveler for these reasons.

My accumulation of cooking products started innocently enough when I found a large multi-quart chili/soup pot at a sale. This pot was definitely an upgrade from my smaller ones as it is able to hold a larger volume of  contents and makes cooking homemade soups more realistic. Some of my next buys included a lettuce spinner and a large, wooden cutting board. I never really thought a lettuce spinner was a critical part of making a salad, but I think it does help eliminate that sogginess factor.

Up next was a Crock-Pot. I’m not exactly sure how I’ve managed to make it this far in life without relying heavily on this device. I am all about maximizing results while minimizing work, and this machine definitely fits the bill. Letting a piece of meat and some vegetables cook unattended for ten hours is definitely a winning proposition.

I then managed to progress to a KitchenAid stand mixer. Having never previously baked homemade bread products, this purchase was a slight gamble, but I do come from a long line of home bakers. My initial excitement of the $50 purchase was dampened a little when light brown fluid started leaking from the mixer attachment holder, but this problem was, thankfully, short-lived. I’m still not exactly sure what the liquid was, but I’m hoping it was harmless. Zucchini bread, banana bread, and pizza crust have been some of my better creations to this point.

I’m not sure what my next find will be, but I will definitely be keeping my eyes open. Maybe one of those crème-brulle torches… now that would be cool!


The Discount Meat Freezer

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.

Cooking Napoleon Dynamyte

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.

Cooking Hamburger

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.

Cooking Bacon

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.

Cooking Butter

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?