Home on the range

Bread in season

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Waste is bad. I know. It's wasteful, it's bad for the environment and it's bad for the soul. People who waste are bad. I know this because it's a lesson my mom teaches, ceaselessly.

Do not recycle that cardboard tube; save it for an art project. Do not uproot that wayward seedling; transplant it. Do not throw out that tablespoon of yogurt; wrap it and freeze it and stir it into a sauce, later. Perhaps years later.

Such thrifty household management is surely right. And yet, I resist. I like to bundle up yesterday's news. Clean slate, fresh start and all. I find perverse satisfaction in straightening up, cleaning out, organizing. And the corollary: tossing.

There may be people who manage both — to waste not and clutter not. But I think there's only one: Mom.

I try. I have a closetful of cardboard tubes awaiting the craft project. I have a frozen stash of leek greens, awaiting soup duty. And when faced with old bread or cold weather, I make bread salad.

Not that Mom would approve. Tomatoes aren't in season. Cucumbers aren't in season. Imagine if she knew that sometimes I make day-old bread salad with (don't look, Mom!) fresh bread.

Bread salad

Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 15 minutes
Serves: 4-6

For salad:
2 pints grape tomatoes, at room temperature, halved on the diagonal
1 cucumber, halved the long way and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch squares
1 roasted red pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
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