Perhaps you have a loaf of old cheddar bread sitting on your counter in a ziplock bag, right next to the economy bag of dog rawhides and the box of coffee-filters-that-are-the-wrong-size (anyone need any size 4 unbleached filters?):
Perhaps you bought this bread on a whim when you tasted a sample in the bakery section of your food co-op or grocery store. Perhaps you promptly forgot about it. And perhaps it now has a consistency rather like this:
What to do with this bread? You already have a place to live, so you don’t actually need to use it to build shelter. But it hasn’t begun to grow fuzz yet, and you spent three whole dollars on it, so you hate to throw it away.
Culinate’s got some ideas about what to do. So does Real Simple. WikiHow tells me that I can turn old bread into flowers, but even after I read the article, I still didn’t understand what in the world they were talking about (a photo, guys. Paste a photo. Without it, you’re talking nonsense). Me? I decided to make a Cheddar Bread Pudding. Not a desserty bread pudding, mind you. An entree. A one-dish dinner sort of entree.
Here’s what I did:
Stale cheddar bread, about half a smallish loaf
Bunch of vegetables (in my case, broccoli and chard), chopped
2 cups milk or milk alternative (I did half whole cows milk, half rice milk)
Quarter tablespoon dried thyme
Few shakes o’ dill
Kosher sea salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (if you’re making this with plain-old bread, not cheddar bread, I’d add a quarter-cup more).
(that’s a 2-cup pyrex measuring cup, filled to the tippy top, at least 2.5 cups worth, possibly more).
Set aside the remaining bread for bread crumbs, or freeze it for the next time you make this meal. Or, if you’re like me, you can forget about it until the bread does start growing fuzzy things, at which point you throw it out.
Meanwhile, stir up the eggs:
And steam your veggies (what quantity of veggies, you ask? About this many):
Add your two 2 cups of milk, plus your 1 cup of grated cheese to the eggs, then mix in your steamed-but-not-dripping veggies, as well as your bread crumbs, and your spices. Stir it all up, until the bread is all wet:
Pour into your baking pan, and bake until you can insert a fork into the middle and it comes out clean. For me, this was about 23 minutes:
Isn’t it pretty? But more important: doesn’t placing it on that plaid dishtowel just make it look like I’m a farm wife of sorts? Like I’ve got it all together in a modern-day Ma Ingalls kind of way? Don’t you just want to come over and sit on my front porch rocker and watch my kids play merrily in the yard? Don’t I just seem like I’d serve you homemade lemonade on a tray? And that I’d already have casually placed fresh flowers from the garden on that tray?
Ah, what a dishtowel can do.
Perhaps not, but you never know.
But how does this recipe taste? Overall, it was a hit. Very quiche-like, but with a lighter, more souffle-like consistency. Tasty, though I hadn’t added enough salt before baking, so we all had to sprinkle some more on the actual meal. Blair especially loved it. Which is funny, because he actually doesn’t care for quiche (I’ll refrain from the Real Man jokes at this point). After we added all the extra salt (and yes, we use Kosher sea salt, because it brings out happy flavors way more than table salt does I swear it does), he volunteered “Hey, this is really good.” And the kids ate the vegetables without comment. And it was very Waste-Not, so it allowed me to feel both frugal and morally superior to the Me That Might Have Thrown That Same Loaf of Bread Away. That is, until I had to throw out the remaining half-loaf. But never mind that.
And for just a few moments, through the lens of my camera, I got to feel like a really good, Caroline Ingalls-worthy farm wife. That alone is worth it, friends. That alone is worth it.