Jan 1 2011

new year's resolutions [day 219]

I don’t have any resolutions for the new year.  I’m doing the no shopping challenge, I’m getting a lot of things done in my house and I’m doing most of the things I want/need to be doing.  One thing I do want to change is my cooking habits.  Cooking is not fun for me, but I’m trying to be better about cooking more and eating out less.

I upgraded my kitchen this week so I have more counter space and I bought the final piece of Le Creuset cookware to complete my collection.  Yes, all of it was used.

I found an island for my kitchen on craigslist.  I’ve been thinking about doing this for about a year now, but the island has to be on wheels and a very specific size to fit in my kitchen.  Color is no problem, as I can redesign it.  I needed something solid so I can tile the top of it.  After looking at islands, I think this one retails for around $150-$200.  I paid $60.  Here it is after the makeover.

The drawers are on the other side.  I have the tile to do the top, but I didn’t have the setting materials or grout, so I decided to do an artistic treatment and collage artwork on the top.  It’s a great thing to do to recycle and reuse books or magazines.  It’s easy to do, just use spray glue for the artwork, layer it until you’re happy with it and paint a couple coats of clear acrylic over it.  It’s very durable, as I have a bathroom floor done this way.

The next item I purchased (Merry Christmas to me) was from eBay.  It’s the final piece to my Le Creuset cookware.  I bought a steamer insert 6 years ago and the guy at the store told me it would work with a pot I already had.  It didn’t.  So this was not an impulse buy, as I’ve been planning to buy this for a while.  Why?  Let’s just say my MacGyver steamer rig didn’t work out so well.  It steamed great, but it took about 3 hours to clean up and luckily didn’t ruin my stove.  It was pricey, but it works into the no retail thing.  $188 including shipping.  This pot retails new for $315 and you can’t kill this stuff, it will be passed on to your grandkids.

I didn’t pay a lot for most of my pieces.  I got my first one at the thrift store for $4.  I got a set for free with my AMEX points.  All of the others were eBay or factory seconds, and I got their coupon calendar, so I paid next to nothing.

I guess I really didn’t need any of this stuff, but it’s all used and because I was not in a hurry, I found exactly what I wanted and for a good price.  Value might be a better word.  Happy new year.

Sep 5 2010

what is that smell? [day 102]

Although most of my ideas are pretty good and most of them work well, occasionally I implement one that doesn’t work.  In my recent cooking efforts, I needed to steam some seafood.  I have awesome Le Creuset cookware, and a steamer insert, but I don’t have the right size pan for it.  I know what you’re thinking… that stuff is expensive!  My first piece was $4 at a thrift store.  I fell in love with it and got a set for free with my credit card points.  I bought a few other pieces on eBay and from the Le Creuset outlet store.  I’ve had it for a long time, and this stuff will last for generations if you take good care of it.  At the outlet, it would still cost $150 for the pot I need, so I decided to improvise.

I placed the steamer inside a pan that was too big, using metal chopsticks inside the holes to hold it up in the pan.  It did okay steaming the food, but not great since most of the steam and water was coming out the sides.

Today, being a few days later, my kitchen smells awful.  I took out the trash, took out the recycling, washed the dishes, put lemon rinds in the disposal, sprayed Lysol in the trash can, scrubbed the counters… you get the picture.  Still smells.  Where is it coming from?  Between the creative steaming and my earlier boil-over on the stovetop, there was nasty water under my burners.  I have one of those Jenaire ranges with attachments, so it has an nice little tub under the burners to collect liquids.  Oh!!  It was bad!  (photo was after cleaning it)

I got it all cleaned up.  Next steaming escapade?  I will have to find a used 5.5 Le Creuset piece for a screaming deal or use the burner on my outdoor grill.  Being cheap, or frugal as some like to say, I’ll probably just cook outside.  :)

Okay, here’s a little bonus. This is how I shop or find things I want or need. Excluding the tile on the wall, everything in the photo was $4.