I've had the same experience with flea markets that I have with yard sales. In fact, there's a seasonal, open-air flea market just a mile up the road from where I live, and it seems pretty popular, but the one or two times that I've gone there, most of what they were selling seemed too much like what I find at places like the dollar store - none of which I need or want, and none of which is very high quality stuff.
So, when the indoor flea market opened up in a neighboring community, we simply scoffed and drove on by without a second glance.
Well, actually, there was a second glance ... or two.
And then, we started enjoying some shopping excursions to Goodwill at which we found some particularly cool items.
We decided to give the indoor flea market a chance.
When we first walked into the building, we were confronted with shelves and shelves of DVDs and used tapes or CDs. Not intersted.
Then, we passed by table after table of trinkets and stuffed toys and what were obviously mass-produced tourist-trap kinds of items. Really not interested.
I was beginning to think that this flea market was little more than some combination of a used DVD/CD store and one of those odd-lots discount stores, in which they purchase discontinued items from larger department stores and sell them at a discount.
Then, Deus Ex Machina found a table with old hand tools, and while he browsed the tools, I walked off into another room and saw an old banjo. Now, things were starting to get interesting. And there was a really cool, old sewing basket, and I might have gotten a little giddy over seeing one of those old 45's cases, like my parents used to have ... full of old 45's. There were even a couple of those old portable phonograph players. Ah! That brought back a memory or two.
Then, we walked into the treasure room, way in the back of the building and the thought saved the best for last echoed through my mind. For the prepper looking for old fashioned hand tools, it was truly the Pharoah's tomb. We found food grinders of all sorts, an old cast iron stock pot (sans the lid, but still in usable shape), every sort of jar and bottle you could imagine, and an unopened bottle of wine with Elvis Presley's label ... which I did not get :).
The piece de resistance, however, was this:
It's a chaffing dish - all copper, except for the pan that holds the food, which is stainless steel. I've talked before about low energy cooking, and the first thing most people think about is camp fires, then grills or gas-powered camp stoves, and if they're lucky, they have a woodstove. The thing is, for just making food hot, just heating things up (like canned beans, for instance, or slow cooking rice, perhaps, or warming up a pot of soup), all we need is a candle, which is what the chaffing dish uses as a heat source - a simple tea light.
I think it's the coolest thing ever. I've been planning to build a hobostove with my girls, but this dish is, basically, that, only prettier.
For most, I think a chaffing dish is a luxury sort of cooking utensil. It's something one might find in a home where dinner parties are often hosted, but I don't think we should relegate such a useful tool to special occasions. In fact, I think, when it comes to just needing to make food warm, we really ought be thinking of these very simple cooking vessels as our regular cooking tools, and saving our heavy-duty appliances for special occasions, or when something really needs to be "cooked."
What I'm wondering, though, is if I could use the stand with other pans. Maybe I could even use my chaffing dish for cooking simple foods that don't need a lot of heat, like eggs ... or fried hotdogs ;).
Edited to add: I found this awesome instruction/cookbook for using chafing dishes - complete with a few recipes :).
In keeping with the ideas of innovation and sustainability, today's giveaway is a subscription to Backhome Magazine, in which you're sure to find a lot of other really awesome ideas, including creative approaches to cooking ;).
If you're interested in a subscription to Backhome Magazine, please leave a comment :). The winner will be announced on March 6.
AND THE WINNER IS ...The winner of the Brita water filter is Bellen. Congratulations, and please leave a comment with the address to which you would like the filter sent. I won't publish your address.