This 101 comes from HOMEGROWN member Cynthia, an Ohioan with a knack for creative reuse. Check out her post on apple processing then find more ways to avoid tossing stuff in the trash on her blog, A Life Beyond Money. Thanks, Cynthia, and keep the brainstorms flowing!
I love a good loaf of artisan bread, either made from scratch or purchased at my favorite local bakery. But since this bread isn't packed with all sorts of gross preservatives, it can get stale quickly. Given the higher cost of good bread, if I buy it, or the loving hours it requires if I bake it, I don't want to let a single crumb go to waste. Fortunately, there are a ton of delicious dishes that work best with slightly stale bread.
1. French toast is a common way to use stale bread, but that doesn't mean it isn't wonderful. Beat together 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Coat each side of the bread with the egg mixture and fry in a skillet. To serve, top with butter and syrup. For a truly decadent breakfast, add a pinch of brown sugar and sprinkle with berries or toasted walnuts.
2. Bread pudding is a favorite in my household. It is decadent fresh out of the oven or cold from the refrigerator over the next couple of days. When I have company, I like to make it for dessert. As soon as it comes out of the oven, I portion individual servings into bowls and top each with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. To make bread pudding, tear your stale bread into bite-sized pieces until you have 4 cups. Heat 2 cups milk or half and half with 1/4 cup butter. Mix with the bread; add 1/2 cup sugar (brown or white), 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and a bit of vanilla extract. Bake at 375 degrees until the pudding is set in the middle. You can add raisins or other dried fruit, if you like.
3. Toad in a hole (also known as eggs in a basket) is a fun breakfast I used to make as a kid. Cut a circle out of the center of a slice of bread. Butter one side of the bread and brown lightly in a pan. Crack an egg into the hole and cook until set.
4. Croutons are great for snacking or for adding to soups and salads. My quick and easy recipe is to cut bread into cubes and toss with just enough Italian dressing to coat. Spread on a sheet pan and sprinkle with the herbs of your choice. Bake at 350 degrees, until the croutons are browned on all sides.
5. Bread crumbs are useful to have on hand for topping casseroles or for coating chicken. Just toast thin slices of bread, toss into the blender, and pulse until the crumbs are finely processed.
6. Garlic toast is a delicious side for pasta or soup. Simply butter your stale bread and sprinkle with garlic salt. Place under the broiler until browned. Voila!
Got another use for stale bread? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling! Don’t have any bread on hand? Find step-by-step tips on baking your own in the Bread Making 101 or get wild—seriously wild—and capture your own sourdough starter with the Catching Wild Levain 101. You can always find more things to cook, preserve, make, craft, plant, grow, and toast in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.
PHOTO: SARAH SULLIVAN