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How to make breadcrumbs

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The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook

(Read caption) Making your breadcrumbs is easy: Simply toast bread in the oven until dry and brittle, and then reduce them to crumbs with a mortar and pestle or a food processor.

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When I bake banana bread, I’m so eager to slice the end off and chomp down that barely five minutes passes from oven to mouth. And I have my red, sore fingers to prove it. Sweet and chewy on one side, and thick and crusty on the other, the ends are definitely prime real estate on a freshly-baked loaf of banana bread. Plus, with only two of them, they are all the more alluring!

But somehow the same doesn’t hold true for store-bought bread. I can never bring myself to eat spongy Oroweat ends or even the heel of a freshly-baked baguette (they scrape the roof of my mouth). And it’s not that I’m averse to crusts either. I eat them, especially since I don’t condone my toddler not eating them. I usually end up throwing the ends out which makes my conscience prickle with guilt. (Darn those starving African children.)

Well, my husband came up with one solution: strategically face the brown ends inward when making grilled cheese sandwiches. Brilliant no?  I’ll happily eat it because I can’t t tell where the ends are! But grilled cheese sandwiches are my husband’s forte and he – ahem – doesn’t cook all that much.

Recently, I was struck by a memory. I recalled trays of stale bread, including the ends, left out in the sun to dry. No, they weren’t meant for the birds. They were destined to become breadcrumbs.  At that time and place, you couldn’t buy breadcrumbs at the store and my mum made her own to coat her risoles and kroket. Once the bread slices were sufficiently dry, she would break them up and pound them in her giant stone mortar until they turned to a fine, crumbly dust.

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