Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stop Stuffing Your Pants With That Bread, Sicko!

Dear Tricia, I like to make sandwiches. I don't like the ends (heels) of the bread loaf though. What can I do with those slices besides feed the birds or use them to stuff my pants?

Heels don't belong in your pants, they belong in your shoes. So get the bread out of your shorts and keep reading. *Insert mold jokes here. Ewww. Gross.*

The things you can do with heels of bread are all very basic, but come in super handy:

1. Breadcrumbs: Put the heels in a blender to make your own breadcrumbs. You can flavor them with garlic and salt and herbs and I promise you they'll be twice as good as the flavored breadcrumbs that you can buy at the store. Why take the time to make homemade ones, you ask? Go check out my "That's a Spicy Meat-a-Ball... From the Fjords" blog entry for that prized info. It'll also teach you how to score sweet kitchen machinery from your divorcing neighbors. Keep your gourmet homemade breadcrumbs in the freezer and then you'll have them on hand to do things like: bread chicken, top a casserole when you want to eat your feelings, and you can spread them on the floor and make tap dancing noises.

2. Croutons: Cut the heels in squares and fry them up in a pan with hot butter, oil, and salt. Just like your breadcrumbs, you can season these with garlic and herbs and I promise you you'll never buy store-bought croutons again. They're about as addictive as crack. I also saw a recipe online where you toss the bread squares in a packet of ranch dressing powder and bake them into crunchy Ranch flavored croutons. Yum... how very Texan.

3. Grilled Cheese: A grilled cheese sandwich tastes just as good when you use the heels of the bread turned toward the inside of the sandwich. Even a picky 5 year old wouldn't notice the difference. I know this because I tried it out on a picky 5 year old. He was disguised as a 33 year old CPA that I met on eHarmony, but he was a picky 5 year old on the inside.

4. Bread Pudding: Seriously one of the easiest desserts to bake. Ever. In the history of baking. No lie. All you have to do is mix up a bunch of eggs, milk, and sugar and then dump a bunch of old bread in it and throw it in the oven. If you don't believe me, check this out:

Fast and Easy Bread Pudding

4 eggs, beaten
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. milk
1 1/4 c. raisins
4 slices buttered bread

Mix all ingredients well. Put bread slices in oblong pan and pour mixture over the bread. Bake in 350 degree oven until thickened, about 45 minutes.

(Told you so.)

5. The heels of bread can also be easily disguised as French toast. That's my favorite thing to eat for breakfast, so if you come over and make me some French toast out of the heels, I definitely won't complain. Especially if you bring mimosa fixings too.

6. If you're a fan of making old school meatloaf (and you know I am if you've seen my pin up photos), you can put heels of bread in the bottom of the pan to absorb the extra grease. The heels don't look too appetizing when the meatloaf is finished, but hey... they've worked hard for you: give them a break.

7. If you keep brown sugar in your kitchen, you know that it gets hard as a rock after you open the bag. Putting the heel (or a regular slice) of bread in with the sugar will keep it soft as a baby's tushy. You can also do this with an opened bag of marshmallows, and we also know its easier to win a round of Chubby Bunny when the marshmallows are soft.

Now for some things to remember about the heel- if you have ever actually tasted the heel of the loaf, it tastes a lot better than the middle slices. Its usually thinner, but the taste is definitely superior. Its the same reason that muffin tops taste better. The moisture migrates to the ends of the loaf and makes it moister and sweeter. If you want to know the exact science of it, then you're going to have to do some homework: go check out my "Why We Love Muffin Tops" blog. Starch "retrograde" is your fancy food vocabulary word for the day. Try and use it in a sentence.
The other thing to remember about the heels is that they help keep the bread fresh. So don't throw them away until you've used the entire loaf if you want it to stay soft. They're like the Bread Guardian. Remember that next time you dismiss the importance of the heel. And have some respect and keep them out of your pants for pete's sake.

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