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Using Up Dry Bread is a Crummy Job

14 years ago

Once again, something to share from the newsletter:

While I do pride myself on knowing how to stretch a buck, I must at the same time admit that I do not live a perfectly frugal life. I was much better at it when squeezing every drop out of every dollar was necessary for survival. But in the ensuing years, our financial situation has improved and that makes it easy to relax and to stop being quite so resolute.

My goal in 2008 is to cut out as much waste as possibleto sharply hone my frugal edge. Take bread for example. One day over the holidaysÂI swear this is trueÂI quickly tidied the kitchen, tossed out the last of a loaf of dried out bread and dashed off to the market to buy none other than breadcrumbs. It was on my way home that it hit me like a ton of bricks. What am I doing?! Even I know that the first ingredient in breadcrumbs is dried bread.

But there are other uses for dry bread, too. Let me say that dried bread will never hit the garbage can in my house again. Ever. I have a container in the freezer where I will accumulate any type of bread for future use: Bread pudding, stuffing and French toast, for starters.

To make breadcrumbs you need to start with bread that is dry. It should be hard. If itÂs not dry enough, place the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan in a 200 F oven until you have achieved dryness. Allow to cool. Place dried bread in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbs appear in the size you desire. There you go. Breadcrumbs cost way too much when purchased in the store.

Seasoned Breadcrumbs

4 cups plain breadcrumbs (about 12 slices of dried bread will make four cups of crumbs)

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano or Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Store in the freezer in a zip-type bag or other airtight container.

Okay, I have one more recipe that at first you might think cannot possible work. But it does. You really do need stale bread to make this delicious tomato soup.

Tomato and Bread Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

4 cups stale white bread, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic

1 chopped onion

2 12-ounce cans diced tomatoes

6 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Stir the pepper flakes into the oil and add the bread cubes.

Cook the bread cubes until lightly brown. Remove bread cubes to paper towels or a paper grocery bag to drain, reserving the oil in the stockpot. Pour another 2 tablespoons olive oil into the stockpot. Cook the garlic and onion in the oil until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, basil and drained bread cubes; cook about 10 minutes. Add the broth, parsley, and Parmesan cheese to the tomato mixture; bring to a boil. Red uce heat to low and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

Garnish with basil before serving. Servings: 8.

And remember, if the bread has become so stale it truly is not suitable for human consumption, there are always the birds!

Try your homemade breadcrumbs in some of MaryÂs other favorite recipes:

The Ultimate Comfort Food in Four Acts

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