“You’re not allowed to eat the ends of bread loaves!” I hear from the other room.
“You’re not allowed to throw out good food. It’s baal tashchit!” another voice responds.
“The ends of bread don’t count as food,” the first voice replies.
“That’s ridiculous! It is food!”
“It makes you forget everything you learned!” The first voice is now shrill. “You’ll fail out of college!”
I recall a conversation from twelve years ago. My college flatmates are arguing again. The fight ends in a truce. “Fine, you throw out the ends of your bread, and I’ll keep mine.”
Bread-eaters all seem to be divided into two camps: those who eat the ends of loaves and those who don’t. In my family, the bread heels get wrapped up and tossed into the freezer until I make stuffing, french toast, or challah kugel.
My mother says when she was a child she always had to eat whatever she was served. “You don’t like Lima beans? Eat them anyways. There are starving children in Africa.” Unfortunately, we don’t have to go as far as Africa to find starving children.
Another food that is often overlooked, which I included in this kugel, is celery leaves. I used to throw them out. On one shopping trip a few years ago, I was standing in front of the refrigerated produce when a lady started rummaging through all the celery, which had all the leaves removed. “What happened to the leaves?” she asked me. “Did they retire?” At that point, I didn’t understand why she wanted celery leaves since I would just throw them out, but recently my celery has had big, beautiful, bright green leaves, and I don’t want to waste them. One bunch went into turkey neck soup, another into this kugel. When cooked, celery leaves taste very similar to spinach, and they are much cheaper.
The following challah kugel recipe can be used to stuff a whole chicken, as well, if the eggs are reduced to two.
Savory Challah Kugel Recipe
Makes 1 small pan (12 servings)
4 cups bite-size bread pieces
1 tsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cups celery leaves, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme, rosemary, or other herb of choice
Grated cheese (optional)
- Tear bread into bite-size pieces. Place in large bowl.
- Pour enough boiling water over bread to soak it.
- Saute chopped onion and carrot in oil until the onion is translucent and the carrot soft, about five minutes.
- Add celery leaves, parsley, salt, pepper, and herbs of choice. Saute another minute.
- Add vegetables to bread and mix it all into a mush.
- Add eggs, mixing after each one. You don’t want the eggs to sit on the hot mixture very long so they won’t start cooking.
- If making this dish dairy, you could sprinkle grated cheese on top before baking.
- Bake at 180C/350F for about 45 minutes.