Monday, February 7, 2011

Waste Not

I cannot stand wasting food.  Maybe it was drilled into me at Sixth Grade Camp, where if we left even a scrap of edible food on our plates, points were deducted from our cabin (all the cabins were in competition, you see).  Maybe it's just something that got passed down to me from grandparents who were born into the Great Depression.  Either way, unless it is growing mold, or so past its expiration date that not even I can justify using it, I have a very hard time tossing food.

When I do finally toss it, I try to keep as much as possible out of the trash.  Our compost is full of inedible fruit and vegetable scraps, and the birds in the front yard have gotten an old potato and a quarter of a sliced apple that never got eaten.  Onion tops, carrot peelings and the tops of celery all become stock for soup.  But a new challenge has recently arisen:

Bread.

My boyfriend buys bread whenever he goes to the store.  He's decided he's not a big fan of sandwich bread (which keeps almost forever if you keep it in the fridge); he likes the artisan breads.  You know, the kind that go stale in two days.  The kind that you need to make into something, like sandwiches or croutons, before they become so hard they'd smash your bones if they fell on your foot.

So, I've been making lots of sandwiches, and lots of salads with croutons.  But the two of us just can't seem to make our way through the end of the bread before the dreaded staleness sets in.

That's why I've resorted to a freezer bag of bread ends.  It looks like this:


And ends up like this, with the aid of my beloved food processor:


I once tried to make homemade bread crumbs in the blender.  It worked, but not before I started to fear that the blender was going to spontaneously burst into flames.  So I'd recommend using the food processor.

I used to scoff at homemade bread crumbs.  Especially for things like meatball recipes, which, it has been my experience, actually work better with the very fine texture of store bought.  But for recipes like this delectable cauliflower dish, or on the tops of homemade macaroni and cheese, they truly make all the difference.  Once I've turned that freezer bag of bread into bread crumbs, I put the crumbs in a Tupperware and throw them back in the freezer, where they are ready whenever I may need them.

The moral of this little post is to waste not.  Turn that trash into treasure!  Or something cliched like that.  But whatever you do, eat some homemade breadcrumbs, golden and crunchy with salt and butter.  You won't regret it.

5 comments:

  1. Great idea Katherine! Phil and I freeze bread scraps too. We're a little more anal retentive about it though: homemade bread goes in one freezer bag to make croutons, and the store-bought/lower quality stuff like hamburger buns goes into another for bread crumbs.

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  2. How do you decide when to throw out the sandwich bread? I've quit buying it because I use it so infrequently, but I would rather keep it around. I usually end up throwing it out, even when it looks okay, because I get paranoid...

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  3. Hey Mo - Wow! That's dedication! I really need to start making my own bread, it is the one thing I've never really had the guts to try.

    Girl on the Left - I always keep sandwich bread in the fridge - if it has been there more than a couple of weeks I usually toss it in the freezer to become breadcrumbs. But I really don't use it all that much anymore either, though it would make life easier when making lunch for the boyfriend. :)

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  4. I should have said this in the post, but I highly recommend nuking the bread for about twenty seconds in the microwave, so it isn't completely rock hard when you throw it in the food processor.

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  5. Better late than never . . . Other yummy uses for stale bread are stuffing and bread pudding.

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