I decided to set up as freelance in the same week Jon had his 50th birthday party, and so after an 8-hour cooking marathon, a day of party set-up, the 6-hour event itself, a massive clean-up until 1 a.m., a 6 a.m. start to do 3 hours’ washing up and a lunch do with our two families, I launched into my freelance career completely exhausted.
Nevertheless, because I’m me, I expected to be firing on all cylinders and setting up good working practices from day one – Monday. I continued my usual early morning exercise regime and clocked in at work way before most offices open. I set up a new bank account, worked, shopped, cleaned, did a disappointing amount of writing, went for brisk walks, visited friends, saw my parents, attended daytime church events, gave a friend a lift to the doctor’s, posted on two blogs, volunteered for the Food Bank and did my stint at the Winter Shelter for the homeless.
In the midst of all this, I had technical problems that meant I couldn’t download files, and the following day, my email stopped working. I was very disappointed with myself when I reacted with brain-freezing panic. Impatient with this ridiculous behaviour from an employee, I pushed on, got in technical help and fixed the problems.
I am my new boss, but I am a horrible. I am highly critical and expect the impossible without making allowances for it being my first week, or for the fact that half the things I have had to do are way out of my comfort zone. My previous boss was much nicer.
As a result of having to work for this tyrant; I have been waking up in the early hours thinking of all the things I haven’t achieved. I have been surfing waves of panic. I have felt like punching the next person who asks what it’s like being a Lady of Leisure.
I need to give myself a break. Otherwise I am going to end up firing myself, walking out or having some kind of internal industrial tribunal. I promise to be nicer to myself next week, and to be less of a headless chicken as an employee.
In the meantime – we had a massive amount of bread left over from the party, and I can’t bear to waste anything, so here are some ideas for using it up.
Tasty Ways to Use Up Stale Bread
To make breadcrumbs, place slices of the stale bread on a baking sheet in the oven (or just on the oven shelf) for five or ten minutes until it goes hard right through. Gas Mark 6 seems to be about right. You can then bash it up in a pestle and mortar; put it in a bag, holding the top closed, and bash it with the end of a rolling pin; or whizz it in a blender until it makes fine crumbs. Keep these in a bag in the freezer and grab a handful whenever you need them – you can use them straight from the freezer.
Breadcrumbs are really useful if you like to cook from scratch – add a handful of them to your favourite type of mince, plus herbs, seasoning and a squirt of ketchup, and you can form the resulting mixture into burgers or meatballs. The breadcrumbs help the mixture to hold together and give it a better texture than meat alone.
You can also drizzle a batch of breadcrumbs with olive oil, rub it in with your fingers (as you would rub fat into flour) and sprinkle it on top of macaroni cheese, fish pie or shepherd’s pie. It makes a crunchy, golden topping.
This word alone makes me laugh because of the French and Saunders sketch where a neurotic dinner party hostess forgot to serve croutons and went berserk, shouting ‘CROUTONS!!’ until she scared her guests away. So here’s how I make CROUTONS!!!
Cut the stale bread into small squares, lay them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. I also had rosemary left over from the famous casserole, so I snipped lots of this over them too.
Again, bake in the oven at around Gas Mark 6 for 10 minutes or so (keep an eye – I am always burning them). When they are golden and hard, let them cool down and then keep them in a jar or bag in the fridge. They keep for about a month. They are of course good with soup, but they also make a lovely crisp-type snack. I rarely have any left over for soup. You can also freeze them until needed.