Monday, February 10, 2014

Hoarder's Casserole

My friend and neighbor, Doreen, and I had a fine time this past fall. We stopped in frequently to the hoarder's house. For all the years that I've lived here, we have known that the little guy around the corner and down the hill a bit was a hoarder. He had a camper outside his home that was stuffed so full of just stuff that he couldn't have gotten into it, much less driven it. It sat unmoving on its flat tires outside his equally filled home, literally for years.

Then, one day he just moved away, leaving the house untouched and filled to the brim. The story is that he gave the house to a friend, lock, stock, and barrel. There are various rumors about where he went, but the upshot is that his house was sold to a contractor who plans to flip it, but the contractor refused to empty it of the contents, which were literally stacked floor to ceiling inside and in the back garden.

So, the sellers had weeks and weeks of yard sales to empty the house. They kept a bunch of the most expensive items for sale on e-Bay, but we were free to roam around the rest of the house and garden at our own considerable risk, buying for a song whatever we found to tickle our fancies.

Doreen and I gleefully went down there several times, and each time we came back with some filthy treasure or other. We got so we recognized the "regulars" and eagerly examined their finds, as well as showing off our own. It was like the weirdest imaginable block party. The garden was amazing - like an archaeological dig where we unearthed (literally) all kinds of things from ceramic turtles to a pedal boat. The story is that the hoarder actually lived for five years in that back yard, as he could no longer get into his house.

Back there, I discovered a painted porcelain monkey about 18" tall that I found completely buried in a pile of leaves but for the round top of his head. Also, a spirit house for my garden, a white oval plate shaped like a fried egg complete with raised yellow yolk, a blue glass vase for my cousin Jan, a 2-foot plastic chocolate Easter bunny, a classic bentwood side chair, and various other sundries. I think I spent a grand total of about $30.

Everything I bought from that house came home to a thorough washing and a dousing with bleach - the house was in unbelievably nasty shape.  Of course, the long-suffering neighbors were delighted to see it all go, and they can't wait for the contractor to begin work.

Probably my most useful find in the hoarder's house was a small, old Pyrex glass casserole dish, just about 6" oval, the perfect size for the two of us. When I had a lamb London broil roast one day last week, I used the casserole to hold a kind of shepherd's pie that I made with the leftover lamb. The filling isn't the part I want to tell you about, it's the topping.

I had purchased a small kabocha squash that week and had the idea to roast the squash along with the lamb, just to be efficient with my oven. When I went to assemble the shepherd's pie, I wondered how it would be with a mashed squash topping rather than the usual potato. So, I treated the squash much like I would mashed potatoes (a little milk and butter, salt and pepper, all mashed together, then whipped with a fork) and topped the casserole before sliding it into the oven.

The squash browned in little peaks and the bright yellow color was a bonus. My Beloved approved heartily, saying that he loved the lighter, tastier squash on top and, despite my Irish ancestors, I have to agree.

I wish the hoarder well - he has provided his neighbors with several weeks of entertainment and amazement. Who knows, wherever he is, maybe he's busy filling up another house with more dubious treasures.


Anonymous jann said...

If he is out there, he is most certainly continuing his hoarding ways.
You did get some great treasures though, so enjoy.

Monday, February 10, 2014  
Blogger Greg said...

I love a treasure find!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Jann, they are certainly quirky treasures, but fun.

Greg, me, too. We had a marvelous time going down there every couple of days to see what new stuff had "surfaced" in the meantime.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014  
Blogger Katie Zeller said...

I want to go through his house!!! How fun - grubby, but fun.
The French tend to leave stuff in their houses when they sell. Our first house in the Vendee had outbuilding packed with all sorts of this - from and old dental chair on down. Like the casserole, too.

Friday, February 14, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Katie, it was, as you say, grubby - but glorious fun!

Friday, February 14, 2014  

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