Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pinching Pennies: Bread and Butter

What do you do when a friend or relative insists on giving you bread that is a bit too far past its prime to bother freezing it? The solution for me was to slice it thin and pop it in the dehydrator. A slow oven would probably do as well. So now instead of rather tough bread, I have a supply of crispy melba toast-like slices, good for eating like crackers or dropping in the soup. It can be made into croutons or crumbed for a variety of uses, and stores well at room temperature in a paper bag.

I used some of the crumbs for tuna patties, which are a great way of stretching a can of tuna into several servings. You can do crumbs in a blender or a food processor, but I get good results by putting the bread (or corn flakes, if I'm making meatloaf) into a paper bag and either crushing it by hand or using the rolling pin.

So on to the butter. Once we started learning about things like trans-fats and I realized the nutrition gurus had been lying to us all these years about hydrogenated vegetable shortening and margarine being the healthier choices, I went back to butter. I buy it when it's on sale and usually have a few pounds in the freezer. We don't use a lot, but I do prefer the convenience of the soft-spread variety for uses other than baking. It's easy to make your own soft spread. Just whip together a cup of butter, 1/2 cup canola oil, and 1/2 cup water. Store it in the refrigerator in a covered container.


In case you're wondering how the mouse problem worked out, son Jon took pity on me and removed the partition between the dishwasher and sink area. He then informed me that my theory of mousy access was wrong; there was no possible way they could get in there as the base of the dishwasher was tight against the wall, and in fact they seemed to be coming in on the other side of the sink, in my pan cupboard. He used a flashlight to point out the evidence, back in the dark recesses of the cupboard along the outside wall. Yuck!! So I washed all the pans, vacuumed and disinfected the pan cupboard and under-sink area, and sealed all around the edges with spray foam. This involved lying down on the floor, attempting to crawl into the cupboard, and using my handy-dandy grabber gadget to reach the far corners. It's all sealed and clean now, and the mousetrap that I re-installed under the sink has so far remained untouched. The partition between the pan cupboard and the sink area was loose, and had been sloppily installed in such a way that it couldn't fit tight, so I pulled it out and re-fastened it. End of problem? Only time will tell.

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