Homemade Croutons

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While growing up we were taught to have a healthy respect for bread.

Bread never went into the garbage no matter how small the leftover piece or how old it was. There was always a way to incorporate it into a future meal and usually ended up as bread crumbs or rustic Bruschetta.

As well, a loaf of bread was never allowed to be upside down and if it ever ended up that way  was quickly turned upright. To this day I still upright any loaf of bread which has somehow found itself topsy-turvy!   I can gratefully say that while growing up and to this day we have never experienced a shortage of bread at our table.

My mother on the other hand  lived through the last world war and has a very different story to tell. The food stamps issued afforded the family a strictly regulated amount of 150 grams of bread per person per day.   The familiar white, crusty bread they were accustomed to disappeared from their table and was replaced with bread made with corn flour or whole meal grain.  This new bread was probably the healthier choice but to many including my mother a 10 year old little girl seemed cruel punishment.

Many tears were shed over this unfamiliar bread.   She fondly remembers her older brother who during that time worked on the docks unloading goods from the American and British ships.  He  occasionally managed to slip a few slices of soft, white bread into his shirt to bring home to her.  I can imagine the look on her face when those slices of bread emerged from his shirt!    I call it true brotherly love!

Bread was the least of her problems during those years.  Barely escaping with their lives and just the clothes on their back after their home was shelled and destroyed must have been a traumatic experience.  My grandmother, a resourceful woman made sure her little handkerchief filled with any money or jewelry was easily accessible at the first sound of an air raid siren. This little bundle would become their starting over fund after realizing they had lost everything.

Most of my leftover pieces of bread end up in a basket until super dry then processed into bread crumbs but today I came across a bag of bread ends in the freezer. I’m sure I had plans on using them at some point but they had been there for a while and the time had come to use them up.    Not suitable for making bread crumbs the three different types of bread with three different textures needed to be re-purposed in a different way and croutons quickly came to mind.

I chose a simple recipe using simple ingredients which turned out some very tasty croutons. Of course it did help that some of the leftover pieces were cheddar bread, Stromboli ends and sour dough roasted garlic bread.   Besides an absolutely delicious addition to a crisp romaine salad these croutons make a tasty, crunchy snack alternative!

Bread…let’s not take it for granted!

Homemade Croutons
day old bread or left over bread
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
sprinkle of red pepper and oregano

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut bread into cubes or similar size pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle bread with olive oil.
  4. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, mix well
  5. Spread bread pieces onto a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until golden.

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Notes, Tips and Suggestions

  • Other ingredients like grated cheese and favourite dried herbs make great additions.
  • Pieces of bread need not be uniformly cut, rustic is great!
  • A mix of different types of bread makes every bite interestingly different.
  • These delicious morsels are addictive and hard to stop sampling .  They may never make it to the salad.
  • Wish I had more old bread!
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3 thoughts on “Homemade Croutons

  1. Rose says:

    I loved your comment! I too remember that bread was very respected it never went into the garbage. We would have crusty bread softened with warm milk sprinkled with sugar for breakfast. Instead of ‘as good as gold’ it was ‘as good as bread’ or ‘buono come il pane’.

    Like

  2. Sarah says:

    What a wonderful glimpse into your history, Ma! And thank-you for another inspiring idea – how to use up leftover bread so it doesn’t go to waste! So good.

    Like

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