In keeping with the theme of frugality I’ve decided to share with you one of my family’s tricks, despite its possibly dire consequences for the cracker industry. Instead of throwing away old stale loaves of French bread (or composting them, although we occasionally do if mold has begun to colonize) we make it into Melba toast.
All you have to is take several day old bread (we’ve found that four or five day old French bread works, but we know for a fact it is baked the day we buy it, this may vary for you) and slice it very thin. We put it on a cookie tray and put it in a very very very low oven for as long as it takes to dry out and become golden. (And if you are as forgetful as my dad you may discover that it is fine even if left over night.) Although this may seem incredibly simple it is a great way to salvage otherwise inedible bread and it is actually better then most crackers (unless you happen to make your crackers fresh also, in which case they may be better).
Although I’m not sure this procedure is exactly in keeping with Escoffier’s original version (he is said to have invented it for the same Australian opera singer which peach melba is named after), it is close enough that when you do it, think not of it as an exercise in frugality, but in keeping with a fine tradition of French cooking.
P.S. In the future our moldy bread may not even make it as far as the compost heap, mom keeps threatening to save it as an emergency antibiotic, just in case the economy collapses and infrastructure breaks down (but remember: do not eat it!).