An Estate Sale Like No Other.

We went to an estate sale this past weekend and it turned into something of an obsession for me.

As we pulled up to the old house, we noticed that the outside had been neglected for quite some time. The yard looked like the Swamp of Sadness from The Neverending Story. As we pulled around to the back, we realized the house was much bigger than our initial impression. 

We started in the garage. Eric was looking through all the boring man-stuff and I told him I was heading inside. Only I didn't make it past the garage threshold because the narrow makeshift hallway looked like something out of a haunted house. I waited till Eric was done and we made our entrance together.

Off of the hallway was a small indoor shed that looked like it was mainly used for gardening supplies. There were vines growing through the cracks in the roof. It looked like something from Flowers in the Attic or American Horror Story. Up till this point, the house wasn't exactly very inviting feeling. However, I'm a sucker for a good vintage deal, so we pushed forward.

We rounded the corner and were immediately met with a stairway. There was a built-in lift chair and it was obvious that this estate sale was because of an older person's passing.

The upstairs consisted of one large bedroom and one large bathroom. The bathroom had double sinks, a built in closet space, and a door that seemed to lead to nowhere, but actually opened up to a small patio space built on the first story roof.

There wasn't too much of interest to us in the bedroom. A pair of super cool boots that probably would have cost $200 at Aldo or Urban Outfitters, but were too small for Eric. Lots of old computer pieces and floppy disks. I also came across an old file folder that contained the quit claim deed for the house that Benjamin Bachman had signed in 1940-something. It showed that he was in the Navy and was a bachelor at the time of purchase.

Downstairs, the first room we walked into was the kitchen. It was huge. And pink.

With all of the narrow hallways and creepy upstairs doors and pink kitchens, it felt like we were in the Winchester Mystery House. (I don't know if you can see, but the kitchen cupboards had pink flowery fabric in the panels.)

The kitchen sink

There were lots of dish sets. I would have loved to have snatched some of these up, especially the pink set, but we didn't really need them, nor do we have the space for them.

The rooms were stocked full of years of treasures. I could walk in a room, look around, leave, come back and find all new items that had been unearthed by fellow shoppers. As I paid more attention to things, I noticed the "haunted" feeling of the house was slowly going away. Instead, I felt more like I was in a house that I had known all of my life. It was like being at a grandparents' house.

I learned that Ben Bachman married a woman named Marjorie.

And that Marjorie played the organ at church for many years.

This is all sheet music

Ben had worked as an engineer at the local naval base. He was very much into building things- like the whole second story of his house- and had attached most of the bookcases in the house to the walls. (It was very earthquake-proof.) Every room had speakers built into the walls.

There were definitely a few interesting things there, like the cord closet...

And these old bottles (you could barely make out the old naval pharmacy address on one)...

And there were some sad things, like newspaper cutouts...

And a pair of glasses buried in a hatbox of old crochet pieces...

But mostly, it was just quick glimpses into the life of a loving, Christian family that had once lived in this house. 

Recipes taped in the kitchen cupboards

(Katie- I thought of you when I saw these. 
By the time I came back into the room, they were both gone.)

Clothing patterns

The original Elf on a Shelf

We ended up buying a few records, the black typewriter from the photo above, a cookie sheet for mini bundt cakes, and two index card boxes full of handwritten recipes. I can't wait to see what family-approved recipes I've just inherited. 

Upon paying for our loot, I struck up a conversation with the woman who was managing the estate sale. She told us that Ben had purchased this house right when he got out of the Navy. He and Marjorie ended up having six children, hence the considerably large kitchen and add-ons. More recently, it was just Ben and his granddaughter living in the house. She was his caretaker. The way the woman described the house upon their arrival sounded something akin to hoarders (minus the filth). In the weeks leading up to the sale, the family came in and cleared out all of the photos and sentimental items. (There was lots of emptied out photo albums left behind. It seemed sad and ghostlike.) Just knowing the amount of cool stuff that was left behind, I can't even imagine what kind of stuff the family took with them. Apparently, it was truckloads full.

In the short amount of time that we were at the house (a couple of hours), I felt like I'd learn so much about these people. It seemed like there had been such a happy family living there, it was almost a shame to leave. 

When we got home, I did some Googling on Ben Bachman. It turns out his son became a captain in the air force and flew a stealth fighter in a local air show. Marjorie had passed away sometime before 2006. 

Ben was born and raised in California. He graduated from UC Berkeley and had participated in the invasion of Normandy, as well as the battle of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. 

In the end, he was surrounded by his family when he passed away peacefully at home. 

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What are Your Conditional Foods?

Last night at dinner, Eric and I were talking about foods that we sometimes like. The guidelines were that it must be a food that you typically eat "like this," but not "like this."

For example...

Eric's List
I like raw mushrooms, but not cooked ones.
I like raw onions, but not cooked ones.
I like guacamole, but not avocado by itself.
I like tomato with other things (like on a hamburger), but not by itself.

My List
I like salmon, but I don't eat sushi or lox
I like hot FRESH french fries, but won't eat cold or reheated ones.
I like freshly cooked meat, but refuse to eat it if it's been reheated.
I like peanut butter when it's in an Uncrustable, but not in any other form.

Do you have any conditional foods? What are they?

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Recipe: Enchilada Casserole

According to the website where I found this recipe, this meal is technically called Mexican Lasagna. However, in my house, we call it Enchilada Casserole because that's actually what it tastes like. And besides, Mexican Lasagna sounds gross.

Adapted from this recipe on myrecipes.com

1/2 lb mild pork sausage
1/2 lb ground beef
15 oz can black beans, drained
2/3 cup canned diced tomato with green chiles
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can Cream of Celery soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
15 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
4 chives, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Avocado, chopped
Sour cream

1. Cook sausage and ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until meat is crumbly and no longer pink.

2. Stir in beans, canned tomatoes, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated.

3. In a separate saucepan, combine soups and enchilada sauce. Cook until thoroughly heated.

4. Spoon a small amount of the sauce into the bottom of a lightly greased 13x9 baking dish; top with six tortillas so that the bottom of the dish is evenly covered. Spoon half of the beef mixture, then half of the sauce onto the tortillas; sprinkle with half of the Cheddar cheese. Top with six tortillas and repeat the same layering process; meat, sauce, cheese. Final layer should be the three remaining tortillas, placed right down the middle. Sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.

5. Bake at 350F (176 C) for 30 minutes. Let dish sit for 5 minutes before serving.

6. Serve and top with desired toppings; fresh tomato, chives, cilantro, sour cream, and avocado.

I know the thought of those creamy canned soups in Mexican food seems unappetizing and wrong, but trust me when I say that this dish blew our minds. Eric, my mom, and I were all pleasantly shocked as we scraped up every last bite from our plates. It's an all-in-one and easy to throw together. It does require several oddball ingredients that I wouldn't normally have on-hand, but it was totally worth it and honestly tasted like an awesome entree you'd get at a legitimate Mexican restaurant. I'd recommend this recipe for your next get-together because it seems like a crowd-pleaser (as long as your crowd likes Mexican food) and it makes a lot, probably about 8-10 servings.

Also, MAKE SURE TO TOP WITH SOUR CREAM AND AVOCADO (if you're into that sort of thing). The meal itself has a little spice to it, so the creaminess of the sour cream and avocado are a perfect balance.

UPDATE: We just ate the leftovers from this meal (which was originally made several weeks ago and had been stored in the freezer) and it held up like it was freshly made. Just reheat in the oven at 400F (204C) for about 20 minutes, or until hot throughout.

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Crock Pot Loaded-Baked-Potato Soup

Just in case you haven't carbo-loaded enough during this blessed season, I thought I'd throw in a solid contender for potato recipe of the year.

While looking through search results for "potato+crock pot" the other day, I decided to give this recipe a shot since the user photos actually looked appetizing, and not like horse slop. I already had over half of the ingredients in my kitchen and the directions only involved 3 steps. I'll basically try any recipe if it meets these two requirements.

Crock Pot Loaded-Baked-Potato Soup
Adapted from this recipe on food.com

5 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 large white onion, chopped
29 fl oz chicken broth (or two cans)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup butter
2.5 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup half and half (or cream)
1 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Cheddar cheese
Sour cream

1. Combine potatoes, onion, chicken broth, garlic, butter, salt, and pepper in crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Before cooking

After cooking

2. Cook bacon. Chop into bite-sized pieces once cooled.

3. Mash crock pot mixture until potatoes are coarsely chopped, or until soup is thickened to your liking.

Your mouth will be watering for applesauce because that's what it will look like

4. Stir in cheese and half and half.

5. Serve and top with desired toppings.

We saved time by prepping the potatoes the night before and just stored them in cold water in the fridge overnight. The onions could probably also be chopped the night before, but just make sure to double bag those fools, otherwise your whole fridge is going to stink like Cool Ranch Doritos.

This recipe was super easy and yielded a crock pot full of hearty comfort food. Easy enough to prepare on a workday and fills your house with the scent of potato goodness.

NOTE: This soup doesn't reheat very well. It basically turns into a bowl of thick potato mush, and that was even after thinning it out with a little more half and half. Mark my words; this one is best when fresh.

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