Monday, February 21, 2011

Free Breadcrumbs

This is a photo of my little crumb container from the freezer.  I put random pieces of bread in it, to whirl in the blender when I need bread crumbs.  And I knock the crumbs off the cutting board after I cut bread and put those crumbs in there too. 

I know it seems piddling and crazy.  But that is because I think we have forgotten how our great grandparents did things.  They reduced, reused, and recycled before those acts were named or celebrated.

Recently, Rebecca's mother told me how her grandmother kept a little tin of basting threads.  Basting is like tape for a sewing project:  holds it in place until you can put the real stitches in.  So you rip out the basting threads after the real stitches are in.  It used to be a common practice to save the basting threads and use them over and over.  I pondered this for days, alternately inspired and incredulous.

That kind of saving and reusing used to be the standard; now it's odd. 

The standard now is disposable everything.  Disposable some-things are handy for traveling, yes - but I hate to see groups using paper plates, or worse, styrofoam, because no one wants to wash dishes.  Or disposable diapers because no one wants to wash the dirties.  How far can we really distance ourselves from the physical nature of eating and pooping?  Is this a contributor to our collective lack of purpose and deep uneasiness? Washing dishes is real work for a real event

I want to learn more about how my grandparents and great grandparents handled their material things and work.  I haven't started saving my basting threads because I don't know enough about sewing to really baste anything. . . but I have stopped feeling silly and apologetic for saving the crumbs from the cutting board.

P.S. Shoestring Chic #4 this Thursday!


Tracy said...

I wouldn't be apologizing about those breadcrumbs either. So useful, and especially if the bread is homemade- more flavorful than store bought.

BLD in MT said...

This post really speaks to me. I am a saver and reuser to the point I sometimes feel a bit crazy for it. But it is not us, but our disposable culture, that is so crazy. "Waste not, want not," was burned into my brain at some point. My father's frugality was burned into my brain at another.

I love these little things (basting thread, breadcrumbs, etc) that connect me with the past...and protect the environment and save money at the same time.

Excellent post.

Polly said...

De-lurking to say I love this! I too am a re-user. This post reminded me of my grandmother, born in 1917. I inherited her sewing goodies, & at first was puzzled to find tiny bits of thread carefully re-wound around spools. But she came of age during the Depression, and was always careful to avoid food... & sewing!--waste. Our culture is so disposable, on so many levels,now. But I think it is wise to practice thrift.

Anyhow--found you a few weeks ago & really enjoy your spot here!

Margo said...

Hi Polly!
Glad you're here.

I remarked to Rebecca's mother that of course, her grandmother would save basting threads because she lived through the Great Depression. But in this case, Rebecca's mother said, no, folks just used things carefully, even before the Great Depression. Inspiring!

Anonymous said...

This post reminds me of my great-grandfather, who grew up one of 13 children on a farm in Canada at the turn of the last century. During the spendthrift '80's, he would save up the small leftover amounts in the bottoms of various boxes of cold cereal until he had enough for a bowlful--sort of a home-made trail mix. I have fond memories of watching him sit at the table surrounded by boxes, pouring one and then another and another into his bowl.

Here, I don't save the boxes, but I do roll down the tops of nearly-empty bags and stuff them all into one box together until I've got a good supply. I suppose I should have one of the kids dig out a plastic container and set them to emptying the bags, I'd just never thought of it until your post!


Unknown said...

It's amazing to me the way women saved things to use again.
I like to try things that could be economical. I ask myself if it's efficient: does it save me time, money, effort, etc.
I hope to use what I have to the fullest and leave behind the consumer mentality.

life in this 1880 farmhouse said...

I keep the ends of spoons for sewing on buttons, and mending clothes. Thought that was normal? Guess I'm more frugal then I thought??

Rebecca said...

...."collective lack of purpose and deep uneasiness? "

You found the perfect words to describe our current malaise.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog, Margo. You're right on. I'm glad I'm not the only one who keeps a container of breadcrumbs in the freezer and thinks hard before throwing things in the trash.


Deanna Beth said...

It never would have occurred to me to feel strange about saving the bread crumbs. I haven't brushed the crumbs from the cutting board into a dish, but I always save unwanted crusts or heels of bread for this very purpose. I actually didn't know there were bread crumbs in the store for people to BUY until about a year ago. Interesting. My mother used to take worn out shirts and cut all the buttons off for her button jar when a shirt was headed for the rag bag.

Margo said...

DB, someone else on another blog was posting about saving rubber bands as a frugal thing and I had the same reaction you did about breadcrumbs: you can BUY rubber bands?!

I've started keeping buttons and zippers from clothes that I turn into rags.

Naptime Seamstress said...

I enjoyed this post! I'm a first-time reader. On the topic of breadcrumbs. I have a bag of bread ends in my freezer - to make into bread crumbs or croutons or something. Should I thaw them before I blender them for crumbs?

Margo said...

Welcome, Seamstress! My kids are getting old enough that I can sew even outside naps. Isn't it great?

Now, breadcrumbs: yes, I think you should thaw the bread. One of my friends keeps all her bread scraps in a basket on top of her fridge and just blenders them (love that verb!) when she has a sizeable amount. My bread seems to accumulate more slowly, so I keep it in the freezer - nuke it briefly in the microwave - and blender. But if the bread is damp, it sticks to the blender, so ideally I try to let the bread thaw in the air by itself.

Anna said...

So, true! We toss so much simply because the effort needed to do otherwise is deemed unnecessary.

Weren't all of our grannies so clever and economical?!

Christian - Modobject@Home said...

We've become lazy and comfortable. It's much easier to throw away than to save away, isn't it?! We can learn so much from the generations before us; and we can teach so much (good or bad) to the generations after us.

Anonymous said...

This just makes total sense. So often here in Hong Kong, our bread goes stale or off-tasting insanely quickly... and this is a perfect solution. So often the thrifty way is not only cheaper, but also better and more convenient.