Tuesday, November 28, 2006

D'oh!

Homemade breadcrumbs are the best. They sure beat those cardboard cans of sawdust from the megamart.
You can make them in the blender from fresh or stale bread — sometimes only fresh (or day-old) will do. And you'll know you're using a nice bread to make them from. Grind them to whatever size suits your needs, from hearty pebbles to delicate specks.
Obviously you can spread them over a casserole (macaroni and cheese!) and place dots of butter here and there before baking.
You can also toast them in a little pan with some butter (stir occasionally and watch for burning) in the oven, and then sprinkle them lightly over something.
Certainly they are good for coating foods you plan to pan fry.
Best of all, they're free, if you've got spare bread.
I don't claim to have been making my own breadcrumbs my whole life, but I've been doing it for at least a decade now. You'd think I'd have learned something about the procedure in all that time, but no. It was always
Tear up bread into chunks.
Put into blender, a small batch at a time.
Pulse, and watch in frustration as the bread pulverizes into different-sized particles.
Sigh. Dump crumbs into a bowl and pick out the large chunks, which go back into the blender. Pick, pick, pickety pick. Bozo.
Leave finer crumbs in the bowl.
Repeat.
You're laughing now. I know. I have no idea why it didn't occur to me to separate the crumbs in a saner, more efficient way.
The other day, though, I just sort of automatically picked up my sieve with the perfect-sized holes, and shook the crumbs through it, into a waiting bowl. Whatever was too big to pass through got reblendered. Easy. Unfrustrating. Fast.
The only bad thing about it was how stupid I felt about being stupid for so long.
What kitchen-efficiency discoveries have you made? Do they involve gadgets? Techniques? Were they so obvious you wanted to smack your forehead with a mackerel once you figured them out?

16 comments:

Kevin said...

CC,
Never occurred to me either (although I just put up with the assorted sizes) but that's a great idea.

johng said...

Well the good news is that you seem to make breadcrumbs often enough to remember this. On the job, I frequently find myself doing a task for a while before I figure out a better way of doing it -- which is fine until I realize that I had already figured out that better way 6 months ago and then forgotten about it the next time the task was required. The solution, I have decided, is to start tattooing myself with clues like the lead character in "Memento".

kudzu said...

All my life I had loved peeling apples the way my grandfather did, in one long unbroken spiral. Lately my hands have been less agile, my peels less perfect. It dawned on me that my new vegetable parer (the one I can use on tomatoes) would work to peel things vertically and quickly. The poetry in motion is gone but I'm more comfortable and the job's a cinch.

Dagny said...

I like to use breadcrumbs to make a stuffing for pork roast.

I am also proud that this past weekend I was able to successfully poach eggs -- without a fancy, schmancy poacher.

Speaking of eggs, I have been meaning to say thank you to Cranky. I have followed his directions for boiled eggs faithfully and no longer get the green ring.

cookiecrumb said...

Kevin: Old dog, new trick! I'd love to hear some of your midlife discoveries.

JohnG: Oh, assuming I'll remember this next time. (I've actually taken to writing things down on stickie notes, which I then lose.)

Kudzu: I'm assuming that your "D'oh!" moment was when you realized you could use a different instrument -- or that you could give up a beloved technique. (If you come back, tell us about the tomato peeler!)

Dagny: I saw the picture of your poached eggs. Could not believe them! Plump, beautiful. (Cranky says thanks backatcha. Maybe that was your "D'oh" moment, learning how to hard cook an egg at last.)

Kate said...

I love making my own breadcrumbs, and will use whatever is on hand and stale to make it happen. Sometimes this is very frustrating as I can make masterful pans of it with lovely odds and ends that can never be repeated. The best batch was with sundried tomato crackers that had gone stale. Those crumbs were like manna. In this venture of course, I deal with the frustration of those bigger vs. smaller pieces. I love your idea and will use that in the future.

kudzu said...

Well, Cooks, the "d'oh" moment related to both method and instrument. I use a Messermeister peeler (which is not only for tomatoes but is good enough to be able to remove their peels without damagine them). And I peel the apples vertically, top to bottom, quickly and easily. No more long spirals, except for when I am peeling only one piece of fruit.

Stacie said...

hee hee hee! Using a lime juicer that has been in the drawer for so long that I don't know where it came from or who brought it here. The thing is magic!

drbiggles said...

Yeah, I try. But I eat my bread though. So, then I go to find some crackers, but I eat a lot of those too. Especially schmeared with peanut butter. It's then I dig in to other odd things. Such as Mama's rye crackers, corn flakes or whatever else comes remotely close. Then sometimes it's off to uncooked oatmeal instead.

Time for my nap!

Biggles

cookiecrumb said...

Stacie: Is it one of those wooden reamers? Or one of those odd aluminum screw-in things that do seem to work? Hee hee.

Biggles: If you didn't finish all the bread, and managed to grind some into crumbs... You can freeze them! They be fresh.

Anonymous said...

Great tip! I never knew how to grind homemade breadcrumbs into perfectly-sized and uniform pieces. I tried unsuccessfully pre-toasting and pre-freezing the bread, but I think this Cookie Crumb-Colander Tip is going to be the best process yet!

cookiecrumb said...

PE: Huh. I thought I was the last person on earth to figure this out.

Stacie said...

the lime juicer is metal, and you put 1/2 a limein it, and close the hinged thingy over it and squeeze. The juice comes out of the holes on one side. The kids use it for playdo to make hair? It is dual purpose, so it stays!!

cookiecrumb said...

Stacie: Oh, that kind! Yeah, I can see it in my head. So it's good? I gotta get one. Yes. (For play-doh hair.)

s'kat said...

cc- I am floored by your utter brilliance. Seriously! I could never get it quite right.

Anonymous said...

I have always made my own breadcrumbs and whenever I have the oven on I pop in any stale bread to crisp and then grind and keep in air tight jar. I quite like the differing sizes but do regrind any that are too large.