CJ’s Punk Housewife Tip #1: Homemade Grape Nuts

Am I a punk?

Hell no, not by any punk standard anyway. No tattoos, no piercings, I change my clothes almost every week, and I live in a house with just one family. My life looks purty damn square to the punk eye.

But, by housewife standards, I like to think I can edge into the punk category. Which is a relief to my mind.

I’ve been meaning to start a series of Punk Housewife Tips, and my most recent, most brilliant discovery yet simply begged me to finally get to it! Enter Tip #1: Turning stale homemade wheat bread into breakfast cereal!

Not sure what finally knocked it through my thick head, but at some point I realized that Grape Nuts (much loved by My Man, but rarely purchased ‘cuz I’m a DIYer doncha know, and we eat homemade granola round here) are just toasted wheat bread crumbs. It started as a suspicion that seemed to simple to be true. But then my suspicion turned into a hunch, and then my hunch turned into an experiment, and my experiment was a success!

I don’t know about you, but we actually don’t eat that much bread around here. Typical scenario: I make 2 loaves. We finish off half of the first loaf while it’s still hot, the other half over the next day or two. The second loaf, at three days old is starting to sound less desirable (homemade whole wheat doesn’t stand the test of time very well). We eat a slice here and there and a week later there’s 3/4 of a loaf going moldy. Sure I make french toast, bread pudding, stuffing, bread crumbs for gratins, breading, meatballs, etc, etc. But a good use for stale whole wheat bread is never amiss.

I’m still monkeying with the recipe, but here’s the basics:

Homemade Grape Nits

(that’s what we always called ’em)

Take your half-eaten stale loaf of homemade whole wheat bread, cut the mold off around the corners, and crumble it with your hands into a big bowl. If it’s a regular recipe whole wheat and truly stale, it should crumble easily. (If it’s a long rise type recipe, with a gluey-er structure, you might have to throw the slices into a food processor). Crumble the pieces very small, grape nut sized. For every 2 cups of crumbs mix in a spare 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon honey. This makes an authentically not sweet cereal. If you want it to be sweet, add another Tablespoon honey or sugar (I think the caramelly flavor of Rapadura sugar would be perfect, it sure makes good tasting granola). Stir thoroughly to ensure every crumb is moistened. Spread the Nits evenly onto a greased cookie sheet, not too thick in the event you are doing a large batch. Bake at 275 F for 20-60 minutes, however long it takes to turn a medium brown all over. If the edges are browning too fast, stir them toward the middle and spread the blondies to the edge.

The browning is important, don’t skimp. It took me years of granola making to discover just how important it is. Toasted grains have an entirely different flavor– richer, nuttier, caramelly, complex, more. When you throw sugar or honey into the mix, you’re making a little actual caramel, which also enhances the crunch. But do be careful, it goes from brown to black kind of fast, so watch closely toward the end.

When nicely browned turn the oven off, but leave the pan in to continue drying out. Allow to cool completely to room temperature, pour into a large jar or bag and keep well sealed so that the Nits stay crunchy.

Bonus Tip!!! Cut an old (clean) milk jug like so for a DIY granola/grape nit funnel! Otherwise your kitchen floor will feel like a pebbly beach. Trust me.

Like the real thing, you can’t just pour the milk on and eat straight away or you’ll get a headache. You have to give the milk a few minutes to begin absorbing, but not too long, lest it become sodden. There’s a magical sweet spot there.

Now if I were a real punk, I wouldn’t have a food processor, and the oven in our anarchy squat house wouldn’t work because the gas was turned off. I would feed my leftover bread to my housemate’s stray looking pit bull instead. But that would all be a moot point since I’d be eating dumpstered fruit loops for breakfast anyway.

11 thoughts on “CJ’s Punk Housewife Tip #1: Homemade Grape Nuts

  1. Looks interesting. May try, but seldom have stale bread. My solution is to always make one of the loaves into something else. My recipe makes 2 loaves of honey wheat and one is formed as usual and put in pan to rise. Other half of dough becomes either a 17″ pizza crust or 2 9″ round pans of sweet rolls (just took 1 loaf of bread and 2 pans pecan rolls out of oven) or 1 11×15 sheet of soft breadsticks. Or make into burger buns or dinner rolls or calzone crusts stuffed with all the leftover vegetables and cheese.

  2. When i bake, I always make extra bread – usually 2 kinds for variety. Then I leave out what i think we can eat in, say, 4 days. The rest I pre-slice, insert neatly into a double bag, and freeze.

    Since there are only two of us, I have to freeze to economize on time and to make sure i am not tempted to overeat the bread that will end up on my waistline.

    Last bake, I did a tasty whole wheat country sourdough with fresh herbs and green garlic from the garden. It tasted like pizza! I also did an enriched Vienna style white loaf with loads of pureed arugula from the garden. Green, nutty, tasty!

    My wife takes out a slice from the freezer each morning and makes toast with butter or jam. You can also pop slices into the microwave for a short time and – boom – just like fresh bread and usable for sandwiches.

    Just a suggestion for those who don’t want to have to find ways to use stale bread.

    1. i used to bake 6 loaves at a time and freeze as per your description. it works perfectly fine, but i realized over time that i just like fresh bread better…

    2. I wish I could try all different kinds of bread, but my children are so stuck on what I make. The recipe was from the Red Star Yeast cookbook and I have used it for at least 20 years. My oldest daughter was going to end of year potluck and between work and class had no time, so she packed up a fresh loaf of my bread and bottle of honey, jar of peanut butter and jar of my grape jam in a nice basket with cutting board and knife (all also mine) and she said it was a hit.

      I do make a couple loaves of rye in the fall for Oktoberfest time.

      Has anyone heard of “chop bread”? My daughter wants me to make it. She had it somewhere and described it as the dough appeared to have been chopped, mixed with cheese and vegetables and seasonings then dumped on a baking sheet and baked. Rather free form if I understand correctly. Thought I would experiment.

  3. That’s a great idea which I will try as we cannot even seem to finish one loaf of homemade bread before it gets stale. I am still laughing at “Grape Nits” though because here in the UK we refer to head lice as nits! I think the nits are actually the eggs of the head lice. Not really the image you want to think of when eating your morning cereal!

  4. You just described all my friends. But they lean toward more fresh food than dumpstered. I however, am the dumpy middle-aged (42 is middle aged right) poser that lives next door. No piercings or tats for me. Your grape nuts recipe looks good to me, but I’ve never really gotten into baking bread. Just cheesecake. You are such a great DIYer.

    1. oh julie, that’s what is suspected. i was even thinking of you as i wrote. but i just bet you are not a poser. i just bet you are the real deal, and too busy being the real deal to put on the whole punk show.
      i just bet.

  5. I’m still not entirely sure what a Grape Nut / Nit is, but I am ever so glad that I found your blog via Mama Mogantosh’s lovely place. I enjoyed your thoughtful interview with her very much and come over immediately to check you out for myself.

    Very lovely indeed. x

  6. EPIC! I have bags and bags of the butt of breads in my freezer because I just cannot throw anything food related away! I am going to try this ASAP.

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