Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Vintage Le Creuset Roasting Pan with Steel Handles

I love finding old Le Creuset pieces out in the wild. I was at a flea market recently, and spotted a beautiful red pan sitting on the edge of a table full of junk.

I immediately recognized the pan as a small enameled cast iron roasting pan that I had lurked on eBay for in the past - it is the perfect size for fitting inside my small countertop oven that I use all the time.

The steel handles on the sides of the pan are characteristic of the older style Le Creuset roasting pan. The generation after this one ditched the handles, and rightfully so, I think! The steel handles seem easy to rust and hard to clean. I would also have a tough time finding them very useful with oven mitts on.

I walked up to the seller, acting very casual, and not even bringing the pan up with me. I asked him how much he wanted for the pan, and said, "Well, that one's made in France. It's a Le Creuset. My wife is French." I was expecting him to want a price higher than what I was willing to pay, when he closed with "I'd like five bucks for it." Music to my ears! Sometimes it pays to just act casual and not say a word.  =)

I hastily handed over my five bucks and collected my bounty. I ended up scrubbing this piece for a good twenty minutes with my trusty tools - lots of dish soap, a scrubber, and a wooden toothpick for the nooks and crannies.

The first thing I made in my pan was a nice, satisfying banana bread!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Vintage Billiards Balls

Hello Readers! Despite my long hiatus, I really am still thrifting. I made a great find this Spring at the Killarney Community Centre flea market. I love these unexpected events because you really have to sift through a bunch of junk to get to some treasure.

I had really low expectations going into this community thrift sale. There were lots of vendors with cheap trinkets like sunglasses and nail clippers for sale, but one interesting booth caught my eye.

There was a fellow selling some old wood and leather goods, and his booth had odd items like huge vintage belt buckles and old toy tins. I was admiring his stuff and having a chat with him. In the meantime, as any seasoned thrifter would do, I started rifling around the boxes he had under his table.

He had a dingy white plastic basket full of these old pool balls! I immediately saw a few that caught my eye - I love that minty green coloured one, and some of the number fonts were just great.

It is likely that some or all of these balls are bakelite... Did you know that in the old days, pool balls were made with ivory? Crazy stuff.

I remembered seeing a basket of old billiards balls at a hipster "curated" vintage shop recently, and nervously asked the flea market vendor how much he wanted for the balls. "Ten bucks for the whole lot, if you like it!" When you get a price like that, you don't haggle; you just get your ten bucks out and try to wipe the big grin off your face.

There ended up being 59 balls in the lot and they cleaned up really nice. I was really happy to pay less than 18¢ per pool ball as I was certainly thinking I'd end up paying more, for fewer balls!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lemon Vinegar Cleaning Spray

So I have seen lots of blog posts and articles about homemade natural household cleaning sprays made of vinegar. First of all, I hate cleaning the house but I most certainly hate the chemical-y smell that lingers when I have to use spray Windex or Lysol.

I read somewhere that one of the common ways we ingest pollutants and harmful chemicals is from overspray onto food prep surfaces, onto food itself, or into the air that we breathe.

I've decided to see if the citrus infused vinegar mixture works as a safer alternate to commercial cleaning products. The concept is that the strong vinegar smell is a bit tough to take, so adding citrus peels helps tame that stench a little bit. The citrus oils then add their own nice smell, and provides some cleaning horsepower as well.

I scored some of these great Improved GEM Jars, made in Canada, at my local thrift. They have an aluminum collar with a glass lid! Embossed! For 25¢ each! I think this is the perfect vessel for a little citrus vinegar project.

I just peeled two lemons, a mandarin orange, and a large navel orange, then poured vinegar over them. The whole mixture is steeping in the fridge, where it will stay for a couple of weeks before I strain it. Then you simply pour into a spray bottle for window cleaning, and wiping down greasy or dirty surfaces. I hope it smells nice and cleans well - has anyone out there tried this before?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sesame Street DIY Birthday Party and Loot Bags!

This past weekend we had a birthday party for my son, who just turned 2! If you are still reading, loyal blog followers, yep, it's been a whole two years since my free time for thrifting took a serious hit. I wanted a nice Sesame Street themed party for the event, but of course, done on a thrifty budget.

I was able to score some amazing deals at Dollar Tree, and found some great DIY ideas out there as well. One of my favourite things was creating these little loot bags with the faces of Cookie Monster and Elmo, his fave characters from Sesame Street. A little construction paper and cardstock, and 50 cent bags from the dollar store, voila!

Speaking of the dollar store, pardon this quick snapshot from inside our car on the way home, but I scored these awesome Elmo-face helium balloons at Dollar Tree - I had to call around to many of the stores locally as they sell out fast! I added some blue foil star balloons to get the Cookie Monster colours in there, but at $1.40 each after taxes, this was great bang-for-buck. They're still full and floating around the house, and we had extras for some of the little kids to take home.

I saw some Sesame Street blowers online that I thought were pretty cool but didn't have time to get them ordered (nor did I want to pay for shipping and all). I found some Pirate themed ones in a package with terrible graphics and cheap cardboard on them. I slipped those off and just added these simple printed tags instead.

It gave the kids something to look for with their name on it, and satisfied the germaphobe in me!

I love the way the bags look all lined up in rows. For the party, we put them up high so they could be seen but not grabbed by the excited kids.

Now I didn't get a chance to take a pic of the goodies inside the bag... Drat I forgot all about this! But the Dollar Tree has a lot of pretty fantastic colouring books, activity books, and flash cards that are all Sesame Street themed! I added some Goldfish crackers, notebooks, and that sort of thing to round out the bags.

I had a great time putting these all together, but I'm really itching to go hunting for cookwares at the thrift now that this task is completed!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Easy No-Knead Bread!

I have been baking up a storm since learning how to make no knead breads at home! It is much faster, easier, and more satisfying than I imagined it to be, and we are baking at least one loaf a week.

Here is what you'll need:

 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour
 1/4 tsp instant yeast
 1-1/2 tsp salt
 1-1/2 cups water

 Mixing bowl
 Spoon or spatula for mixing
 Oven-safe pot with lid

Combine your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and slowly add in the water, combining it enough to make for a shaggy dough with few dry bits left over. It should look something like this:

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or pop the whole works into a grocery bag and tie it up. Let sit at room temperature for 18 hours or so. Note: if you are in a hurry, place the bowl in a warm spot and you can get it down to a 12-hour rise. If you need more time, pop it in the fridge for a few of those hours to slow down the yeast.

When the time is up, the dough should be soft and wet, pulling away from the bowl with these beautiful gluten-y strands! You'll have to flour your hands well, and try to shape the dough into a rough ball and plop it back into the bowl.

At this point, preheat your oven to 450 degrees with a heavy heat proof pot with the lid on. I use a cast iron Le Creuset dutch oven. Let that pot get hot for 15-20 minutes or so, carefully take it out and plop the ball of dough inside. Cover it with the lid and back into the oven for 45 minutes!

I usually try to flour the top of the bread and make some cuts with a serrated knife to make it look nice (it controls the seams where the bread will burst upon baking).

Here's how it looks after 45 minutes. You can then take the lid off and let it cook for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how brown you want the top to be.

Voila! Here's the finished product. Big airy holes, crunchy crust, and I know what all the ingredients are! This is a really good money-saving tip to learn too, as you get delicious fresh artisan breads at home for a small fraction of the price.

I hope you all try this recipe and let me know how it goes. By the way, this easy yeast version is the gateway drug into sourdough bread baking!
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