Stale Bread, what to do with it

The smell of fresh baked bread may make a grown man fall to his knees, begging for a slice and showering you with praises.

Can you just smell it?

That same bread that brought you accolades will, within about 72 hours, become a stale leftover, pushed aside and forgotten. IF it lasts that long and isn’t devoured. Day old bread. Not very appealing.

I am going to share some recipes for what to do with stale bread. That is if it is not molding. You really can’t do anything but toss it into the trash if it is molding.

I am going to go out on a limb and assume you do not have chickens to feed it to either.

Now before I get started I wanted to mention that the very fact that the bread CAN get stale or moldy is part of its, um, charm. Sort of. What I mean is that stale and moldy bread is evidence that it is REAL FOOD! Real food gets old, moldy or stale. Food stuffed with preservatives does not. One of my most blatant in-your-face examples of this is flour tortillas. Regular flour tortillas I buy at the regular ol’ supermarket sit on the counter for days and weeks sometimes before getting either stale or sometimes even moldy. On the other hand, flour tortillas bought from Trader Joes, (or Mothers Market or Whole Foods, etc.,) sitting on the counter, can get moldy pretty quick, sometimes before I even have a chance to use them. If bugs or mold do not like you food, chances are it’s not real good for you either.

But of course we don’t like stale and moldy food, do we? Nope. This is why, since the agrarian age people have spent most of their waking days either planting, watering, feeding, harvesting, preserving, cooking, storing or eating their food. It was pretty much a full  time job. And if you were not at the growing end of things, you were working a job so you could buy the fruits of others labors.

We think we have cheated this system in the last 50 years or so. We have let others do so many things to our food in order to break us of this system and now most of us, a vast majority of us, do not know how to barely cook our food let alone preserve it, let alone harvest it or raise or grow it.

I kind of like not being a slave to the system.  But we are finding the price of being “set free’ is getting to be pretty steep. So now, as we know, the trend is more toward hunting again, for real food, learning to cook it, raise it, preserve it. All this in the comfort of still living in a metropolitan area.

Oh-oh, I think I have gotten off on a tangent. Sorry, where was I? Stale bread.

Okay.

Stale white bread, french bread, garlic-rosemary-potato bread and so on:

  1. French toast. Especially wonderful with cinnamon raisin swirl bread. Not so much the garlic breads.
  2. Croutons. I just watched the Pioneer Woman on Food Network make croutons in a skillet (cast iron of course) for the Cesar Salad she was making. So I tried it with some leftover bits of the garlic-rosemary-potato bread I had baked last Saturday. (today is Tuesday, almost 72 hours). It turned out wonderful. Here is the link to see how she made the whole salad.  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/caesar-salad-recipe/index.html. But basically I just tossed the cubed bread in a hot skillet with olive oil. Since the bread already has garlic, I didn’t add any more, but easily could have. I tossed and browned for maybe 10 minutes and there it was, ready for tonight’s salad. It is also easy to bake in the oven. Heres how:

Turn the oven on to 300 degrees.

Cut your stale bread into 1″ cubes. Heat either some olive oil or some butter in a skillet. How much depends on how much bread you are using. Start with about 1/4 cup. Add some garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Toss in the cubes. Toss-toss-toss!

Lay them on a baking sheet, maybe with parchment paper first, and bake for 15 minutes. Pull out of the oven and toss some more, then bake another 15 minutes. Let cool and bag up or use right away for your soup or salads. Easy-breezy.

3. Bread pudding.There are many wonderful, amazing recipes these days for bread pudding. I have found many recipes from the “just a pinch” recipe club, the Pioneer Woman, Barefoot Contessa and so on. Here is a link to Ree at the Pioneer Woman site:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/bread_pudding_f/

Now my mother says she has a great recipe complete with rum sauce. I will not only write up a post and share the recipe with you, but I will…wait for it…MAKE it, take pictures and download them so you can at least lick the screen. I am not a huge fan of bread pudding, not eating it growing up. But have had some pretty marvelous examples of it as an adult. I am willing to make some, especially if I use some cinnamon raisin swirl bread I have in my freezer. Which brings me to the last thing I have on this short list of things to do with stale bread…

4. Freeze it BEFORE it gets stale. I know several people who buy my loaves, take it home, slice it and freeze portions of it, all double wrapped. I like to keep my mom in homemade bread too, but she uses so little. I freeze bits of sliced potato bread, Challah, raisin, garlic, whatever, wrap it up and she keeps it in her freezer.  (Oh, lets not forget sourdough too.) Then she just pulls out what she needs for that day and it is 95% as fresh as when it went in. Some people can tell that 5% difference, some can’t or don’t care. Oh, I just thought of another…

5) Garlic bread. If it’s not toooo stale, you lay slices on your broiler. Butter the side facing up. Add garlic salt, Parmesan and maybe some Italian seasoning. Or use olive oil instead of butter. Or both… Pop into the hot broiler for just a minute or two. This is NOT the time to walk over and check your email. Stay close, stay prepared. It cooks fast.

6) I keep thinking of new things. This is along the garlic bread line. I lightly toast a slice of “day old” bread. Spread some mayonnaise over it, then garlic powder and cheese of choice, usually a mix of cheddar and whatever is in my fridge. I pop this in our little toaster oven and broil it nicely. Youngest son loves this stuff for an after school snack or with lunch.

7) Break up old bread in a bowl and pour some milk, coconut oil, olive oil or what have you over it and give it to the dog. Our Jack is a simple dog, with simple pleasures. At night we make up a mess of food for him. Usually some hamburger, slightly heated in a skillet, sometimes with an egg thrown in, if we are egg-rich, or some coconut oil and sometimes I will break up some stale bread to soak up the oil and goodness in the pan. I scoop this out into his doggy dish along with a small scoop of kibble. He barks his grace and snarfs it down.

8) now you tell me. What are some other ideas to do with non-moldy, somewhat stale homemade bread?

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