Sunday, January 22, 2012

Keeping the home fires burning.

We had a cold snap last week. It wasn't that bad, in fact, we have had it pretty good this year, but there were a couple of frosty days where the temperature dipped into the minus high teens and even down to minus thirty with the wind chill. I avoided it at all costs except for the coldest day when I had to work, there was no choice. I managed to stay warm and cozy by finding reasons to put the oven on and staying home as much as possible. Instaed of running to the store, i made do with what was on hand. I didn't make too much, some chili warmed us up, so did some french toast. I thought i was just being a lazy bum staying in my jammies and finding sweaters and slippers and blankies,  but I finallyI realized I have been fighting a cold. So, that has led to less motivation for cooking. What I did today though, was very frugal, and I got to warm up the kitchen at the same time. I made homemade bread crumbs. Now, why would a person do that? Well, for one thing, I use them all the time. Whenever I make meatballs or meatloaves or macaroni and cheese that needs a crunchy topping, I need bread crumbs. So, I save all the ends from my bread loaves in the freezer until I have a full "loaf". Then it is time to toast the bread and make the crumbs before my husband comes along and throws them out and tells me I am nuts for saving old bread crusts. He doesn't get me sometimes. That's O.K. The other reason I make my own crumbs is that the bread crumbs at the store are ridiculously expensive. Three dollars for crumbs? It seems crazy to me, especially when I imagine that the process used for making the crumbs is probably exactly the same as what I do in my own kitchen, albeit on a much smaller scale. I remember my instructor in high school drying out the crusts in our school's commercial kitchen, on top of the ovens using the residual heat. He was a very thrifty cook, nothing was ever wasted. That was how he kept costs down and provided healthy and cheap meals for the students. I always remembered the bread crusts and how much bread he saved from going into the garbage can by making his own crumbs and croutons. I didn't think to take a photo of one of my more routine chores, but I thought that being the third week in January a nice austere post on saving more of the staff of life seemed appropriate. The weather is now back to being quite mild and while I am certainly glad for it, a nice drop in the mercury gives me pause to remember to waste not want not and to be truly grateful for the relative ease and comfort we enjoy during the cold winter months. How is your winter going?

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