Second Life for Stale Bread
The idea and recipe below are great ways to turn stale bread and week old dry donuts into something yummier than its original purpose. You may want to skip my narration this week as it has a more somber tone as the ability to have stale bread is something some people literally die wanting. The motivation behind my narration this week is a combination of growing up being a thrifty cook and a recent reminder from my mom to be thankful for everything I have.
Our dinning room table is more than a place to gather for meals. Fresh bread, tomatoes, and apples can be found there as well as a bowl of treats, a pile of “homework” and sometimes my purse. We probably do less eating at our table as we do talking. Our dinning room table is a social place. We gather around it to talk about our day, get chores done, as well as to see what is new and yummy.
Sadly our dining room table also collects things. With our busy schedules we do eat less there as a family and more as individuals. As such one end of our table collects pastries and breakfast items.
At least once a week I go through the items on our table to make sure they are not stale or moldy. About a week after going apple picking with my family in October I was handling this task when I found two very dry apple fritters. I was about to throw them away when I sat down and had a good long think.
My mom and I had recently been talking about the state of affairs around the world in connection to how things were when she was a child. Technology has changed so much but things like hunger and starvation not so much…
As a child living on a US base in Morocco my mom witnessed the local children eating out of their garbage because they did not have food. My grandmother already thought she was a savvy and thrifty cook as she grew up during the great depression. She saved her bacon fat and used drippings to make gravy. When it came to removing meat from bones to get the most out of a meal my grandmother was meticulous. So any food scraps that got thrown away were not much of anything but there were still children digging for them trying to make a meal out of next to nothing from their trash.
Whether you can or can’t imagine this scene let me tell you it has stuck with my mom through her whole life. When asked about her life in Morocco she will tell you how amazing it was. In the same breath she will also tell you about the abject poverty she saw and what we (Americans) take for granted. Something else she will tell you is how she did a lot of growing up while she lived in Africa.
After my mother, her sisters and my grandmother witnessed children eating out of their garbage they were determined to find out what they could do. My grandmother spoke to the children and their parents asking them to knock on their door instead of eating out of the garbage.
What my grandmother decided to do was create scrap bags that could be picked up at her back door. Everything was separated out from used coffee grounds to potato peels she decided not to fry up. Sometimes, rarely, it also involved stale bread. It may have shocked them that the very tiny food waste they had could still be used for someone else’s meal but it also opened their eyes as to what true poverty was.
As a child when my mother would tell me to eat my food because there were children in the world starving she knew first hand. If I would “hmmm and haw” she would share her experience. I know this sounds extreme but it helped shape me into a socially conscious person because I would ask her about the homeless in our country. Since I was a young child we would participate in programs that fed the homeless and collected much needed items to create Christmas shoebox gifts…
After I had my good long think I said a pray for those who don’t have much, thanked God for what my family has, and decided the stale apple fritters maybe had a second life in them after all.
If you want to learn more about giving your meals and stale bread a second life just do so cautiously and consciously. Taking week old stale bread and turning it into bread pudding is much safer then trying to give a week old pot-roast new life. Some food MUST be thrown away. Some things are way too moldy and gross to even contemplate something other than the garbage bin.
Reading this may spark thoughts and ideas about socially conscious eating. There is no one good definition to what this movement means. For most people it is about knowing where your food comes from or the impact it has on the environment. For our family it is about having a LARGER view of life from being thankful for what we have to making an effort to cut down on our carbon footprint or attempting to reign in excessive consumerism.
So what did I do with my week old apple fritters?
I made fritter toast of course! Sometimes my family likes a little “crunch” with their ice cream dessert. I sliced my fritters thin enough to toast and lightly toasted each slice. While the fritters were toasting I pulled out my already made deconstructed apple pie. I heated enough for three servings, gave each bowl a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice-cream and added the fritter toast, sprinkled on powdered sugar and topped off with caramel sauce.
Using the week old apple fritters this way was a success!
My mom’s favorite recipe for stale bread is:
Bread Pudding and Brandy Sauce
2 c. sugar
4 cups low fat milk
2 tbsp. vanilla
1 loaf/French baguette (enough stale bread to fill rectangular baking dish)
½ cup raisins
1 tablespoon powdered cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon powdered clove
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon coriander
Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs until creamy. Add vanilla, spices, and milk. Cut the bread into pieces. Add bread to mixture and let soak, about 5 minutes, until soft. Fold in raisins.
Grease 9×13-inch pan. Pour mixture into pan. Cook in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes.
NOTE: For softer raisins pre-soak raisins in boiling water for five to ten minutes. Drain liquid and fold in raisins to the pudding.
1 stick butter
1 c. confectioners sugar
1 oz. brandy
On low heat, melt butter. Once melted add 1 cup of confectioners sugar mixing thoroughly. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp before adding the brandy. Suggested use: The sauce will harden like royal icing as it cools. Poor entire mixture over the bread pudding within 20 minutes of bread pudding being removed from oven.