For example, take dried foods. This is a preservation method that may well have come about from the need to consume things that had gone dry. Their moisture being gone, it became necessary to put it back so that the softer and more fragile palates (like infants and the elderly) could eat them without breaking their teeth.
I will in later posts deal more with dried foods, but for now, I'll deal mostly with a practical application of otherwise "wasted" food, stale bread.
Bread is such an ancient staple of human life that it is often referred to as "the staff of life." It is a common tread across most cultures, from the nomadic to the most civilized. There are archaeological evidence of primitive bread making dating back thirty thousand years, with more definite evidence turning up with the rise of civilization with the spread of agriculture and grain harvesting about ten thousand years ago. The varieties are mind boggling: Germany is considered to be the top bread culture, with up to five hundred types of basic breads, with one thousand rolls and pastries! Them Krauts sure know their dough.
But what we need to consider is how to make use of bread that's just a little too old to be eaten as-is. If you need to make your bread last, chances are that you're keeping it in the fridge. While this may prevent the growth of molds, it does speed up the staling process (which has nothing to do with moisture evaporation is is more a chemical process involving the starches), which makes the bread a little less enticing. For all intents and purpose, I am using actual bread loaves, not sliced bread; its not that you cant use sliced bread, its just not that great of a base to work with. It is also produced in such a way that the staling process is already slower so that its less likely to be used that way.
So what are we going to do with that stale bread, huh? We're going to learn an old technique that the French call pain perdu that you may know more readily as French toast or bread pudding.
So what is this two-way thing? We're going to understand the basic technique and look at making it both a sweet and savory preparation. Once that you understand the principle you'll be able to easily play with your ingredients and come up with your own signature variations.
The great thing about this technique is that its incredibly flexible and actually pretty fast to prepare. I used to get that going in the morning before going to work. You don't need big fancy gadgets and you can even cook this in your toaster oven if you're making a small preparation.
Prepared ahead of time is large enough quantity and you have either lunches or breakfast for the whole week. Its easy to scale up or down, and will make use of things that would have gone to waste otherwise and that you most likely have lying around already.
Bread pudding: simple can easily be delicious!