Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Method to My Madness (and Fish)

My refridgerator has some weird stuff in it, lately. Besides a whole shelf in the door devoted to grains (whole red wheat flour, ground flax seed, wheat germ, vital wheat gluten), there is also a shelf for stuff I never plan to eat (used coffee grounds, cracked eggshells, veggie scraps). The grains I use for breads. The used stuff is for the garden; grounds for the berry bushes and acid-loving plants, eggshells as a general soil amendment, and veggie scraps for the bunnies and ultimately for manure.

Between these two categories of unusual fridge contents is the little container of crumbs. I used to buy breadcrumbs (Italian-style, of course) which I used in meatballs, meatloaves, on fish*, etc. Since I've started baking my own bread, it's only natural for me to save the ample amount of crumbs. Weird? Maybe, but have you ever sliced up a loaf of fresh bread? There is a LOT left over.

Lately I've been topping my sandwich bread with a mixture of oats, flax, and wheat germ. A lot of it falls off when I slice.

I usually leave the crumbs to dry out a bit for a few hours on the cutting board. Just ask my husband and babysitter how upset I've gotten over them trying to clean up the kitchen.

When they're dry, I scoop them up and put them in an airtight container in the fridge until I'm ready to use them.

Usually there are enough crumbs from just one loaf to make dinner. Now, I'm sure lot's of people have been doing this for years and are rolling their eyes at me and my newbie homemaking status, but this is just how I use them.

I add some melted butter, some fresh or dried herbs (above is fresh basil from the garden), and a little garlic and salt & pepper. I like to top fish* fillets and then bake.

The result is a crunchy topping that actually has a more complex flavor and texture than store-bought crumbs because of the mix of grains. And even with the butter, this is a massively more healthy and tasty alternative to fried fish dishes.

*Mom, I know you're shocked about the fish. Yes, for a good 24ish years I wouldn't touch the stuff with a ten-foot pole. But I can't deny that the stuff is actually GOOD for me, and after a few dishes with salmon and tilapia, I realized I could stand the stuff. Then I was introduced to sushi and halibut**, and realized they are super tasty. Baby steps.

**The above-pictured is halibut, which I found at Walmart in the frozen fish section. It's a brand (Fishin) that actually adverstises it's sustainability efforts which are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and the fact that the fish are caught wild and not farmed. AND Walmart often puts them on sale: two 3-packs for $7. In my house that's 3 meals for around $1.17 per plate (including the free bread crumbs and free veggies from the backyard to complete the meal). Fishin also sells Wild Salmon and Tilapia at my local Wallyworld.


  1. Okay....why didn't I think of this? Thanks so much for posting it! I'll be saving my breadcrumbs henceforth. I bet it'd make a killer meatloaf, too!

    I'm experimenting with another soft bread recipe from the Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes far, so good. We may need to get you the recipe.

  2. Also, please blog about this radish/taco thing you've got goin' on...I've always hesitated to plant radishes because I don't know how to eat them!

  3. I hope the new bread works! I just baked the last of my dough, so I'm ready for a new recipe to try!

    The radish/taco thing was told to me by good friends who live in Durham, NC. They're foodies that frequent the little hole-in-the-wall joints for authentic food, particularly authentic Latino food. Apparently the way tacos are done there is meat, onions, cilantro, and sliced radishes on a soft corn tortilla. The radishes give an awesome crunch and balance the cilantro, plus we added tomatoes and shredded cheese...mmmmm!