Oh crumbs! Don’t feed the ducks.

I confessed on my homepage that I have never, ever made bread and butter pudding out of my stale bread.  I may come across as domestically challenged, but actually I’m fairly competent when it comes to cooking and using up left-overs, I just don’t like bread and butter pudding that much, or puddings in general to be honest. 

(The Man from Salford suffers mightily as a result of this, if you can think of some easy pudding recipes for him to try his hand at, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.  He likes cheese cakey things best.)

We are not horribly profligate with bread, we usually manage to eat most of it before staleness sets in.  In the name of entertaining small people, something I do quite a lot, stale bread from our house is usually thrown to the ducks.  Apparently, however, there is a whole host of reasons why you should not do this. 

don't feed the ducks!

Feeding bread to the ducks is the equivalent of filling your children up on junk food, the ducks fail to eat healthier fare and their general health and longevity suffers as a result.  Bread left in the water can cause the growth of algal blooms, and bread which sinks to the bottom becomes a breeding ground for botulism, guaranteed to leave your average waterfowl feeling as sick as a parrot.  Wild bird populations become dependent on human handouts and fail to teach their young how to fend for themselves, no more wild birds!  And finally, I have it on good information, (thanks Jo!) that in overfed duck populations, a greater number of male birds are hatched.  The poor lady ducks have a really  hard time of it fending off the amorous attentions of over-eager batchelor drakes.

We know from the Hansel and Gretel experience that bread crumbs don’t make for reliable sat navs, so what to do with them?  Well, I’ll share our three favourite stalebread recipes;

The Man from Salford’s Favourite – Spicy Salmon Fishcakes  (enough to feed The Man from Salford, Me and Goldilocks or four normal people.)

  • Four thick slices of stale wholemeal bread
  • 400g can of salmon or freshly cooked fillet
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • One medium egg
  • Juice of half a lemon and its rind grated
  • A generous handful of  chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
  • Any other seasoning you fancy!
  • Flour (any kind) for dusting

Put the bread in a processor and whizz, add the rest of the ingredients and whizz again until thoroughly mixed.  On a floured surface form mixture into patties about 2cm thick.  Brush with a little olive oil and fry or grill on each side for about 5minutes.  Serve with pitta breads, salad, chutneys and yoghurt.

Goldilocks’ favourite – Herby Chicken Nuggets (feeds Goldilocks and one of her friends, can be scaled up for further friends.)

  • One large free-range chicken fillet
  • One free-range egg whisked with a fork
  • Breadcrumbs from two wholemeal knob ends
  • A mixture of herbs for seasoning
  • Flour for dusting

Dice the chicken into roughly 1inch dice and dust with flour.  Spread breadcrumbs out on a plate, mix in a little seasalt, black pepper, dried thyme and dried basil, a teaspoon of paprika (whatever you fancy, but for Goldilocks this is ‘just right!’) Dip the floured chicken cubes in the whisked egg and then coat in breadcrumb mix.  Bake on a tray greased with olive oil, (drizzle a little extra over the cubes) in oven for twenty minutes at gas 7 or 225 degrees.  Turn over half way through cooking time.  I always cut the plumpest nugget in half to check it’s cooked before serving with copious amounts of tomato ketchup. 

My Favourite – Spaghetti al Breadcrumb (enough to feed me!)

This is a Nigel Slater recipe from his book Appetite: So What Do You Want to Eat Today?  It is still one of my all time favourite books and everyone shoud have it.  The recipe sounds a bit weird but you really do have to try it to appreciate it.  It is not quantity specific, just use what you have, make sure your breadcrumbs aren’t over-whizzed, different sized crumbs make for a better dish.

Cook a ‘you sized’ portion of spaghetti in well salted boiling water. Meanwhile fry some pancetta or smokey bacon pieces in a pan, when your spaghetti is nearly done, add the breadcrumbs to the bacon and brown, it only takes seconds.  Drain your spaghetti, mix in bacon and breadcrumbs and add a generous handful of chopped flat leafed parsley. Yum, yum,yum,yum,yum. 

Send in your stale bread recipes and save a duck today!   No stale bread? Well let them eat cake as someone once said, send in a cakey-puddingy recipe to save The Man from Salford.

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4 comments to Oh crumbs! Don’t feed the ducks.

  • Paola White

    Panzanella (Italian bread salad)

    Use Italian type bread (like ciabatta) and leave it to go stale. Tear it up in pieces and soak for a few minuted in water. Squeeze the bread thoroughly (if not it will be too soggy) and crumble it, but not too finely,into a bowl. Add tomatoes cut into chunks, celery and cucumber cut into slices or chunks as you prefer, olives, basil (and other herbs if you like) then season well with salt and pepper as well with a vinaigrette and mix well. It’s very much a “as you like” dish – you could add some salad like rocket or any other vegetable you think might be suitable as well some mozzarella. Oh,forgot to say: it’s much nicer if eaten outdoors in the sun but that’s a bit more difficult to arrange!

  • Paola White

    Chocolate bread pudding

    This is one my mother used to make. Soak your stale bread in milk, squeeze well then add a couple of beaten eggs, cocoa powder, sugar, sultanas, any nuts you may have in the cupboard, mix well and bake in a greased baking tin. Sorry can’t give quantities, oven temperatures or cooking time but I’m sure you’ll manage!!

  • Paola White

    Artichoke bread pudding

    another of my mother’s recipes.

    Soak bread in a mixture of water and milk, squeeze but leaving the bread quite moist and mix together with eggs, salt, pepper, a sprinkling of nutmeg and some chopped parsley.. Grease a baking dish and spoon out a layer of the mixture, cover with slices of artichokes, add another layer of bread mixture until you’ve used up all ingredients ending with a layer of bread. Bake for about 30 minutes (sorry… could be more or maybe less but I’m sure you’ll know when it’s cooked!

  • goo

    Thanks Paola, I can tell you are a good Italian!

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