Crumbs

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I know I’m a slacker and haven’t written anything lately. I’m trying to get through a few things and will hopefully have some energy for writing soon.

This post is for my friend Elizabeth, who checked the site and called me out on my slackerhood (is that a word? I don’t think so—I told you, I don’t have much energy for writing right now).

She sent me a link to a review in the Financial Times of a book on food waste and said the review came with a photo of a dumpster with heels of bread, which she said made her decide she needs to turn the heels of bread her family doesn’t eat into bread crumbs instead of letting them sit in the refrigerator and get stale and moldy.

I’ve compeletely forgotten what I’ve written before, so at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll say that I don’t generally eat a lot of bread because cheap bread isn’t good and good bread isn’t cheap. Tortillas are a much better value, so the sandwich-type things I eat are wraps and quesadillas, and also pita bread which is generally pretty affordable (especially if you live somewhere with a large Middle Eastern population and can get it in an ethnic market).

But I do buy bread occasionally and I keep it in the freezer so I can use it a piece at a time and not have to worry about it going bad before I get to it. You can put it straight from the freezer to the toaster and it will work fine.

Usually I end up with heels and broken pieces in the bag and I just keep those in the freezer until I get around to cleaning things out, then I take them out and tear them into small pieces and put them all together in the blender to make bread crumbs.

I just mix all the different kinds together—whole wheat and 7-grain and french bread and sourdough. Whatever’s in the freezer goes into the blender, which makes for an interesting mix. I put the resulting crumbs in a bag (double-bagged to try to make it as airtight as possible) and stick them back in the freezer, and they’ll eventually start to taste like the freezer, but other than that, they’ll keep pretty much indefinitely.

But that’s only the first step of the process.

You have to actually use them for something for this to do you any good.

You can use them in meatloaf or meatballs, and I also found a recipe for bread crumb muffins in the More-with-Less Cookbook which sounds sort of weird but was surprisingly good.

Crumb Muffins

Preheat oven to 375
Combine in mixing bowl:

1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted margarine or butter
1 cup dry bread crumbs

Stir and set aside
Sift together

1 cup flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder

Fold dry ingredients into liquids. Stir just until all is moistened. Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake 25 minutes.

There’s also a recipe for bread crumb cookies in the Tightwad Gazette, which I haven’t made but sounds like the same idea.

Bread Crumb Cookies

1-1/4 cups flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup melted shortening
2 cups bread crumbs

Sift together dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients and add to dry mixture. Add melted shortening and bread crumbs. Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until done.

Also Marion Cunningham has a really great recipe for spaghetti with bread crumbs in her book Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham (which is one of my favorite cookbooks, even though I already knew how to cook when I bought it).

Spaghetti with Parsley, Garlic, Olive Oil, and Bread Crumbs

4 servings

1 pound spaghetti
2 Tbsp plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup bread crumbs
a few sprigs parsley (to make 1/4 cup chopped)
[NOTE: I use parsley if I have some in the garden, otherwise I leave it out and it's fine]
6 cloves garlic (to make 2 tsp finely chopped)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Begin to cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water.

While the spaghetti cooks, saute the bread crumbs in 2 Tbsp of oil over medium heat until the crumbs are lightly browned (watch carefully so they don’t overcook). Remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.

Chop the parsley. Peel and chop the garlic.

Put the serving bowl and plates into a warm oven to heat.

When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and put into the heated serving bowl, along with the 1/4 cup of olive oil, parsley, garlic, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Toss the noodles to distribute the ingredients evenly.

Sprinkle bread crumbs over all, and serve immediately.

Marion Cunningham says, “If you are worried about the raw garlic, don’t. It gets tempered when it’s tossed with the hot spaghetti.” I don’t mind that because sometimes I have a vampire problem in my kitchen, so it helps with that anyway.

It’s what I eat when I haven’t been able to make it to the store but want to cook something good for dinner.

There’s also a similar recipe in a little cookbook I have called The Goodness of Olive Oil, but it doesn’t include bread crumbs.

Spaghetti with Olive Oil, Garlic and Parsley

1 pound spaghettini or tagliolini
6 Tbsp fruity or extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 dried chilli pepper, crumbled
salt and freshly milled black pepper
generous handful of flat-leaved (Italian) parsley, washed and chopped

Heat plenty of water to a vigorous boil in your largest pot. Add a drop of oil and salt and, when the water returns to a fast boil, add the spaghettini. Stir well and cook about 10 minutes, until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and seasoning. Simmer for a minute, then remove before the garlic burns. Throw in the parsley, which will crackle. When the pasta is ready, drain well and put it into a heated serving bowl. Quickly reheat the oil and pour over the pasta, mixing well. Serve.

So there you have it, three recipes involving something you usually throw out, plus a bonus recipe for good measure.

Waste not, want not.

13 Responses to “Crumbs”


  1. I’ve tried the Bread Crumb Cookie recipe. It’s kind of strange. Edible, somewhat enjoyable, but we haven’t bothered to make it again.

  2. anna Says:

    All my leftover bread goes to the chickens.

  3. Rachell Says:

    I do the same thing, freeze the bread until I need a few slices. The ends are everyone’s favorite part around here though, but thanks for sharing the recipes!

  4. Sharon Says:

    Other good things with the heels:
    *Pizza bread–soft bread side up, spread with tomato sauce or thinly sliced tomatoes, sprinkle with grated parmesan or romano. Toast or bake.
    *Cut into cubes and make croutons.
    *Tomato bread salad. This is especially good with italian, french or sourdough that’s a day or two old. Here’s an example of a fairly classic recipe, but it’s also good with just bread and vine ripe tomatoes.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/panzanella-tuscan-bread-and-tomato-salad-recipe/index.html

    For people who would like good frugal artisan bread, but don’t have much time the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book is good. They also have a new one out with additional recipes that I haven’t seen.

    http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

    One nice thing about having the dough in therefrigerator and baking it as needed is that you can bake it into whatever shapes you need that day (loaf, sub, roll, flatbread, etc).

    If you use your own sourdough starter to eliminate the cost of yeast, you can have a good basic loaf of bread for the cost of 3 cups of flour, a tablespoon of oil, a bit of sugar or honey, and salt. If the ingredients are on sale, the loaf might cost as little as .25. If you use olive oil, and various add ins, it might run more in the .50 to 1.00 range per loaf.

  5. Sharon Says:

    I’ve been meaning to ask one other thing. I would have sent it to your email since it really doesn’t go here, but I can’t remember which posts or articles have your email address.

    Have you or some of your local friends considered having a 50 Cent Pot Luck where everyone’s dish has 50 cents worth of ingredients or less? I think it would be a lot of fun to share in the creativity of discovering the delicious and diverse dishes that could be made for 50 cents. This time of year, people would probably want to use some things from their garden. To level the playing field, they could count the produce from the garden as costing whatever the best local sale price is.

    Alternatively, it could be a $1 Pot Luck and people could come prepared to swap and take home the leftovers for a second meal.


  6. I’ve actually made the breadcrumb cookies a few times and they are great! I don’t eat much bread either so I don’t end up with many bread crumbs. Thanks for the recipes though, the spaghetti sounds awesome!


  7. I am going to try the cookie recipe. No one will eat the ends of the bread in our hose but every one ill eat cookies.

  8. Sharon Says:

    This is a repeat of an earlier post that’s hung up due to web addresses being included in it. I’ll try and post this one so it doesn’t read as web addresses. Anybody who wants to see the recipe please close up the spaces and change dot to . as needed for the address to work. When you get a chance to moderate them, please take this version out and leave the clickable one.

    Other good things with the heels:
    *Pizza bread–soft bread side up, spread with tomato sauce or thinly sliced tomatoes, sprinkle with grated parmesan or romano. Toast or bake.
    *Cut into cubes and make croutons.
    *Tomato bread salad. This is especially good with italian, french or sourdough that’s a day or two old. Here’s an example of a fairly classic recipe, but it’s also good with just bread and vine ripe tomatoes.
    www dot foodnetwork dot com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/panzanella-tuscan-bread-and-tomato-salad-recipe/index dot html

    For people who would like good frugal artisan bread, but don’t have much time the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book is good. They also have a new one out with additional recipes that I haven’t seen www dot artisanbreadinfive dot com/
    One nice thing about having the dough in therefrigerator and baking it as needed is that you can bake it into whatever shapes you need that day (loaf, sub, roll, flatbread, etc).

    If you use your own sourdough starter to eliminate the cost of yeast, you can have a good basic loaf of bread for the cost of 3 cups of flour, a tablespoon of oil, a bit of sugar or honey, and salt. If the ingredients are on sale, the loaf might cost as little as .25. If you use olive oil, and various add ins, it might run more in the .50 to 1.00 range per loaf.

  9. Annie G Says:

    I buy my bread from a bakery outlet. I usually get 4 loaves of Oroweat (aka Arnolds) Double Fiber bread for $4. Good bread at a good price, and it’s almost always “overbakes”, not old bread as people often think.


  10. [...] with this binder, if I can bring myself to go to Costco before the coupon expires on August 2. Crumbs @ Less is Enough – I’m not especially diligent about saving leftover bread to make [...]

  11. lessisenough Says:

    Sorry for the comments getting hung up. I checked to see if anyone commented shortly after I put up my post then forgot to check in again for rest of the week.

    I think a potluck with a price limit could be fun, though I have to say I’m a little biased against potlucks because I feel like there’s always so much leftovers, and usually no one wants to take anything home with them. If you have 10 people coming to a potluck and they all bring enough food for 10 people, you end up with food for 100 people. It always feels very wasteful to me, and a little bit ridiculous. Also I feel like you get a really weird combination of food. Though I think that’s what some people like about them, a little bit of everything.

    But I do like the idea of people being creative and sharing what they did, so I think that is a great idea.

  12. Elizabeth Says:

    Thanks for the recipes. Before I logged on and saw this, I turned my bread heels into French toast. No one cares about eating the heel if it’s covered in egg and maple syrup!

  13. lessisenough Says:

    In a similar vein, another great option for stale bread is bread pudding.

    I once brought home a biscuit from Foster’s and forgot about it in a bag on the counter and it dried out and if I were a normal person I would have just thrown it out but of course I’m not so I didn’t. I broke it into pieces and covered it with an egg/milk/sugar mixture and baked it up. Those Foster’s biscuits are like half butter and the drier the bread the better, because it absorbs more liquid, so it was really the best bread pudding I’ve ever had.

    I’ll post a recipe for that soon.


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