I was growing in Poland in a family which had an incredible respect for food. Nothing was wasted. My great grandma would always kiss a piece of bread if it accidentally fell in the floor. We would feed the animals with table scraps. We were passing leftovers to the families, where there was not enough food. It was happening because my great grandma and grandma were raising their children as single mothers, and they remembered the days when there was nothing in the house to feed the family When I first worked at Camp Courage North in Minnesota and I saw how much food was wasted I cried thinking how many Polish children that food would feed. Recently, I found a beautiful article in Herb Companion for March 2012 (I am really behind with my readings), which will be a great motto for Thanksgiving for all of us in this beautiful country which recently went through so many difficulties, leaving people homeless and hungry. Here are few excerpts from the article:
“Most countries and cultures that consume bread put its dry leftovers to good use. In the Middle East, breads like pita and lavash are added to salads. Matzo, crushed into a fine crumb, is an acceptable replacement for matzo meal when preparing matzo ball soup. In Europe, Spain’s tapas bars serve the ubiquitous Pan Catalan, or dry bread rubbed with a fresh tomato. Italy, too, finds frugal reuse of bread. Panzanella salad and ribollita and pappa al pomodoro soup all benefit from the added bulk of bread. The French added eggs and milk to stale bread to create French toast, while the British
have their baked bread-and-butter puddings. Their seasonal summer pudding wouldn’t hold up as well without slightly stale white bread acting as a spongy vessel for sweet and juicy red currants and berries.”
“I love to look back on the lessons from history, especially when they teach us what not to repeat. Sometimes, though, they prompt us to reflect on the good and remind us of a simpler time when something like a loaf of bread was sacred and considered a valuable commodity, not discarded like waste. One loaf provided several meals’ worth of sustenance. Even when my cupboards are plentiful, I try to never forget the times when they weren’t using all my bread scraps in recipes is my way of honoring history and food itself.”
Here is a great after Thanksgiving recipe of a soup, using leftover bread. Since this holiday is all about meat, vegetarian meal will be a welcome meal.
Vegetarian Ribollita Soup
Traditionally, ribollita is prepared with pancetta or another cured pork product. To lighten the recipe, I removed the pork and find it just as satisfying. This recipe uses prepared vegetable stock. Commercial vegetable stock often contains large amounts of sodium, so either use a trusted brand or taste prior to using in this recipe. Add slat to soup as needed. SERVES 6 TO 8.
1 can cannellini beans
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 ½ cups finely chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed, plus 1 garlic clove, bruised with the back of chef’s knife
2 cups crushed tomatoes
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
4 cups finely chopped Tuscan kale
8 ½ inch slices day-old Italian loaf bread Pecorino Romano cheese, for topping.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!!
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