Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Waste Not

So, I got this cookbook for Christmas called "More-with-Less".   A friend and mentor of mine when I was in college cooked from it all the time, but we were a "Fanny Farmer" cookbook family, so I never thought much again about this cookbook until I read three or four blogs where the individuals used recipes that came from the book.   So I asked for it for Christmas and now this waste not post.

It always really gets to me when I go to dinner parties or gatherings where people throw away perfectly good food!  I watched a friend of mine throw away about a pound of fresh vegetables off of a veggie tray into her trash can.  I tried not to gasp!  Well, after reading this book, I realized how very wasteful I was being myself.  I would buy fresh herbs for a recipe, which would of course, go bad in my fridge after I had used what I needed.  Heels of bread would mold in the bread basket until they weren't even acceptable to feed the chickens.  

At the end of each chapter of More-with-Less is a section called "Gather Up the Fragments".  I have been trying to follow this advice, although I haven't quite grasped how to use the meat scraps.  However, I probably have made about 3 cannisters' worth of perfectly good (better than store-bought) bread crumbs and cubes from my bread scraps.  Can you believe I was just throwing away the stumps of my home-made bread!  For shame! 

I save all of my bread ends, old (but not moldy) bagels, rolls, etc. and throw them in a bag in my freezer.  (This bag is not truly representative as I didn't think to take pictures of my first batch, but you get the idea.)

When I have a good amount saved, I cut any chunks into slices and put them on a cookie tray to toast in the oven. 

Then I put the toast into my food processor.  Some of it comes out a little chunky, and some of it comes out as crumbs.  The chunky pieces I can use for stuffing (which I make maybe once a year.)

Here's my step-mother's grandmother's recipe:  

Kate Larsen's Bread Stuffing 
(this got rave reviews from the cooks in the kitchen at our church Thanksgiving dinner...).

1 large loaf of white or wheat bread- leave out to get stale for about two hours...
OR substitute the leftover bread-end, bread cubes from your freezer! 
Cut into cubes or use as is if small enough.
Place in large bowl and moisten with a little water or broth (enough just to moisten - about 1 - 1 1/2 cups?)
Add to bread:  1 medium onion chopped fine, 1 stalk celery chopped fine, LOTS of fresh Parsley (don't use dried, this is the secret ingredient that makes this fabulous - use the whole bunch!),  6-8 stalks fresh thyme  (dry is fine for this ing. about 1/2 t.),  1 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper, and about 3-4 eggs, enough to make it bind.  Mix well with your hands and stuff it in your turkey/chicken or bake it in a covered dish. 

I use the crumbs for any breaded recipe.

Like Eggplant Parmesan - I made extra and put that in the freezer too.

I have also been drying any leftover herbs that I buy on a nail above my sink and I have been freezing any veggies that are not going to be used in the immediate future....except lettuce, of course.  

Maybe next I can render the fat I cut off of our meats to make my soap?  Nah. 

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