Sunday, 20 February 2011

Henry's tit bread




This isn't going to be the start of a descent into a lot of baby chat, I promise. I am aware that a lot of you don't have children, or don't want them. Or have them and don't like them and don't want to hear about anyone else's. So I'm wary of mentioning mine.

Just like I'm not going to mention my cleaner ever again. I mentioned my cleaner last time and "Brian" left a comment saying "Why don't you get off your lazy arse and clean your own house like the rest of the real world." [No question mark.]

I'm lucky - I don't get much stuff like that. So at first I deleted the comment and my aim was to forget about it. But it bothered me.

My husband thinks I'm being silly.

"She's not your cleaner," he said, "she's my cleaner. When you had a job you had a cleaner. You haven't got a job anymore but I do. And professional, working people have cleaners - and X is mine. If you want to fire her and do it yourself, I'll pay you. But you'd be so shit at it I'd have to fire you for incompetence and re-hire X. And I don't have the energy for all that."

As die-hard fans of this blog know, my dad is a former Oxford History lecturer and the author of an academic text on Karl Marx (available for purchase here). So if anyone is going to be very bothered by the question of whether or not I am lazy for having a cleaner, it's me.

I rang Dad to ask what he thought about all this, but as it was 8.30am on Sunday morning, he was too busy working to talk. So I texted my sister, The Hamburgler, instead, because she knows all about this stuff, too.

Me: Would Karl Marx believe that my cleaner is oppressed?
The Hamburgler: He wouldn't believe it, he would know it. But he also 'knew' that chairs were 'really' the exploitation of man. Fucking idiot. It's a chair.

I don't know about you, but that made things no clearer for me. I would like to say something like "I'm not going to fire my cleaner, who has her own family to support, just so that people like "Brian" don't think I'm lazy. Because out of my cleaner and "Brian", guess whose good opinion I'd rather have?"

But that's just me being defensive. And I suspect that not wanting to starve their workers was the main self-defence cry of 19th Century mill-owners. "Put them out of work?" they'd cry. "But who, pray, would feed their children?"

I could fire my cleaner and do it all myself. Do I not because I am lazy? I don't think I'm lazy. But maybe I am. My cleaner is great and she would find other work. But I don't think that's the point. I think "Brian"'s point is that he thinks being a cleaner is demeaning. He thinks it's a shit job and that anyone who hires someone to do a shit job is a shitty person. But I don't think being a cleaner is a shit job.

Perhaps what "Brian" would like me to do is ring all X's clients and get her fired from everything, then she would see the light and go to university and become a lawyer. Or a buyer for Topshop, or some other suitable job for a young woman that isn't cleaning people's houses.
 
After a lot of thinking like this, I have come to the conclusion that, on balance, it's just best if I pretend my cleaner doesn't exist.

Anyway, I digress.

As I said, I won't go into the foul details, but I had cause the other day to be brought some "breastfeeing bread" by my friend Henry. It is supposed to... how to put this nicely... help things along. I don't think you need to know any more. Or is coyness extra revolting?

Anyway when he turned up with it I was slightly horrified, as it smells a lot like curry because of the fenugreek seeds in it: fenugreek being the active ingredient in aiding... supply. "Oh God," I thought, "curry bread? This is going to be horrid."

But it wasn't. It was fantastic. I mean really, like, "wow" delicious. It's like a very rich soda bread, only better. Superb with any kind of jam and, I suspect, really nice with baked beans. Definitely excellent with cream cheese and salmon, as I ate it just now.
 
Do not fear: if you don't happen to be breastfeeding, it won't make you spontaneously lactate. And if you find fennel seeds or fenugreek really disgusting leave them out. They are only essential to "nursing mothers" (vomit) but if you're not in that social category and don't like them, don't put them in.

[NB if you ARE breastfeeding and need a bit of help, this does actually work, despite sounding a lot like a load of old hippy cack.]

I must admit to you now that I haven't made this myself, yet. Henry assures me that it is easy and although he's no bullshitter, he is a chef - so his level of competence unevens the playing field a bit.

Anyway, here goes. This is copied word for word out of the first Leon cookbook - this is where my 100wpm touch-typing comes in handy - which is why there isn't any swearing in it.

Makes a 1kg loaf

soft butter
330g strong wholemeal spelt flour
170g strong white flour
5g fast-acting easy-blend dried yeast
2 tsp crushed sea salt
1 tsp aniseeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds - ground
4-g pumpkin seeds
40g sunflower seeds
2.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
300ml warm water
15g extra sunflower and pumpkin seeds for the top
40g pine nuts

Smear a 1 kg loaf tin with butter. Mix all the dry ingredients (except the pine nuts and seeds for the top) together in a bowl large enough to knead the dough in. Add the oil, then the water, stirring until the mixture sticks together. Knead in the bowl for just a few minutes until smooth. You can add a little flour if it is too sticky, but remember the maxim - wetter is better. It doesn't matter if a little sticks to your hands.

Shape, then put into the tin. Cut a pattern in deep gashes on the top and sprinkle the reserved seeds into the gashes; slighty push the pine nuts into the surface and sprinkle a little extra spelt flour (or bran if you have some to hand) all over.

Put the tin into a large plastic bag that can be tucked under the tin to leave the loaf enclosed with plenty of air. Leave until the dough has doubled in size. This will take about 2-2.5 hours in a warm kitchen.
Bake in a preheated oven at 230C for 20 mins then turn down to 200C for another 20 minutes.

39 comments:

  1. why would anyone NOT want a cleaner...? I see them like magic elves... they come into your home when you're not there... clean... and then when you come home the place you left like a dump has been magically transformed... when we first moved into our cottage our cleaner used to leave little gifts for us, such as rugs and paintings and nik-naks because she thought we didn't have enough stuff to make it look like a 'home'... bless

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  2. But surely people hire cleaners because it's a shit job they don't want to do themselves? There's an inherent acknowledgment in the transaction that what a cleaner does is a bit shitty (and this is a discreet distinction from saying cleaners have a shit job that means they have no worth. Which is what I think you were implying 'Brian' was thinking.)

    I'm not being bitchy, just saying. Maybe I am a bit jealous though, because you see I'm one of those working professionals (a teacher. My husband's a hack, but like a work-a-day reporter, not all famous and talented like your hubby) and we just can't justify the cost of a cleaner. So our house is often left uncleaned. Or we have to give up a good deal of the weekend to clean it. It's boring and yes, frankly, a shit job.

    I'd totally get a cleaner if it didn't seem such an extravagance for us and I'd have no problem in shrugging off my left-wing guilts (but then, as a teacher in an inner-London comp I probably have a fair few lefty credits to spend.) I'd count myself lucky if I were you.

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  3. Who gives a shit about Brian? I'd love a cleaner and would definitely get one if I could afford it! Sounds like jealousy to me! Xx

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  4. I literally want to be you. Your writing is excellent.

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  5. Why worry about B's comments.
    My mother has a cleaner - we've all flown the nest. My sister has a cleaner and she works away from home Mon-frid.
    I don't have one and live with two children and a husband (who has a mental block where things live in the kitchen but can tell me never ending facts about useless info...)
    I don't wear particularly muddy boots when I visit either mother or sister out of badness. In a short while you will not bother a hoot. Spend your time doing interesting things like you blog about instead of worrying.
    The bread sound interesting.

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  6. I have 2 conflicting thoughts to this.

    1) having a cleaner is on the same spectrum as paying someone else to do something for you be it having your shopping delivered because you're too lazy to carry heavy stuff up to your 3rd floor flat, or eating shop bought bread because you don't have the time/skill/inclination to make your own. Everyones different and falls in different places on this spectrum at different times.

    2) fuck Brian - why do people feel the need to post rude messages?? Why waste your time and piss people off who you don't know.

    And 3) don't sweat the small stuff. In my book if something makes life easier and you can afford it you should do it.

    Don't stop the baby stuff on my account. Tell Giles that too. In fact you sd both have a column in the sat times weekend bit - like what Tom Sykes used to have but funny.

    Xxx


    PS love the baby stuff - don't stop on my account. -a bit like

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  7. God I'd kill for a cleaner! I keep reading things about how hoovering burns more calories than a 20 minute run etc (Though I may have read this in the newspaper I invent in my head to supply me with facts like 'hoovering burns more calories than a 20 minute run' and 'KitKats actually have more nutritional value than salad') I don't care. It's so fucking boring.
    We've got to a point in our house where my mother actually smeared something on the big mirror in the living room just to make her clean it. The smudge was there for three weeks. A cleaner would be wonderful.

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  8. For purely personal reasons if you have to choose between a bit of light dusting and this blog PLEASE choose the blog.

    I love your take on the recipes and the bits you write about Kitty.

    At the end of the day if you can pay for a cleaner, go for it. Mine makes my life so much better and I would have loved to have had one when I was in the bleary eyed first few weeks of motherhood.

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  9. Brian only said that because he wishes he could hire a cleaner.

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  10. "professional, working people have cleaners"

    Well, some do, but as Kate's already pointed out, many don't, and depending on one's definition of "professional" it could be legitimate to state that a cleaner is a professional, working person. However, if your cleaner has a cleaner then things begin to resemble the situation in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. When the Cat in the Hat takes off his hat, Little Cat A is revealed, and when he takes off his hat, one can see Little Cat B and so on. I wouldn't employ them as cleaners, though. Their cleaning methods are rather unorthodox and alarming.

    "I think "Brian"'s point is that he thinks being a cleaner is demeaning. He thinks it's a shit job and that anyone who hires someone to do a shit job is a shitty person. But I don't think being a cleaner is a shit job."

    There's nothing inherently demeaning about being one of the "workers by hand" rather than "by brain," so whether the job is "demeaning" presumably depends on the working conditions. I came across this article about cleaners a while ago, and it raised some interesting issues.

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  11. I read the title of this post and thought "This post couldn't POSSIBLY be about THOSE kinds of tits." I am glad to find out I was wrong, even if it is about ensuring the "supply" coming forth from, well, your breasts by using bread. Curry bread.

    Oh, and Brian is an idiot. I am willing to bet he is a sad little human being who pounds angrily on his keyboard at bloggers while surrounded by mountains and valleys made up of half-empty pizza boxes and Coke bottles. He is actually just jealous that you have a cleaner and his lazy ass is forced to decompose amongst the litter of his life.

    Personally, I am a lazy tart that would definitely hire a cleaner if I could afford it.

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  12. People like Brian drive me nuts!!
    What gives them the right to dictate how other people should conduct their lives? We all prioritise the things we enjoy doing most & if you can afford a cleaner it allows you spend more time doing nicer things. What is so wrong about that?
    This post really struck a chord with me because personally, I really enjoy cleaning & housework. I also enjoy cooking everything from scratch. Many people think that makes me, I quote, "weird" or "sad". Again, what gives them the right to judge?
    Comments like that tend to upset me alot & I end up spending (wasting) days afterwards arguing it out with them in my head because I don't have the balls to tell them at the time where to stick their opinions.
    Similarly, at a party recently, two quite overweight women kept baiting me (bitchily) about being slim. I ended up getting really flustered & embarrassed & almost apologised for having to work hard at staying slim. When actually what I wanted to say is "if you two didn't clear the party food like a pair of locusts & put down the forks & get out for a walk then you might not feel the need to attack me". But of course I chickened out.

    It's a shame you deleted Brians comment actually. I'm sure we would all have enjoyed annihilating him if we'd seen it & it might have actually taught him a lesson in manners.

    I love the recipe for the bread & look forward to trying it out. Thanks Esther.

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  13. You make having babies sound like a fun rollercoaster ride of 'Look what I can do! If I eat this special bread...'

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  14. Well, it seems like you have plenty of support here, but I'm adding mine! I am totally wanting a cleaner, but having just got my first (actually quite reasonably paid but it still feels like not enough) job after university I'm still struggling about justifying what is essential and non-essential spending. I totally think the money is worth trading for the two hours I spent scrubbing the essential areas of my house yesterday, not to mention not having to breathe cleaning products. Who cares if that's lazy. My best friend had a cleaner for her and her bf while they were students because their house was such a pit without it. I welcomed her cleaner, it made trips to the bathroom more pleasant. Please don't fret about horrid people, and their horrid comments, there are plenty of us 'Esther fans' out here who couldn't care less whether you're lazy/slovenly/obsessively clean, we just love your writing!

    This bread looks awesome, my bf would love it... would you mind asking Henry if he thinks I could make it in my bread maker? Unless you think my bread maker is opressed, of course! ;)

    I'd love to pretend that I'm going to do it by hand but in reality, I might do so once to show willing, but I'm mostly interested in things I can leave the machine to do!

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  15. "Brian" is an arse. Why not have a cleaner? My partner, cat and I live in a 2 bed flat and I still want a cleaner. In fact I have told him (my partner that is, not the cat) that when we move into a house I am definitely getting one. He thinks it's silly and a waste of money but frankly he couldn't be more wrong. Enjoy your cleaner, and your baby, and your lovely husband :-)

    x

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  16. I hate those kind of comments. Terribly sorry you've received one. I always pretend to myself that I don't care - while actually composing vicious put-downs, deleting my blog, weeping down the phone to my mother (etc.) The other day I got "/slow clap/ Who do you think you're trying to impress?" - which was particularly galling for being correctly punctuated.

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  17. The only reason 'Brian' would say something like that is out of jealousy.

    Everyone, EVERYONE, in the world would have a cleaner if they could. I mean, who wouldn't and why not? Cleaning your own home can be soul-destroying.

    Take the stick out of your arse 'Brian'. Cleaners are hardly a revolutionary idea; people have had them since time began. Why be so affronted by it in the 21st Century?

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  18. EW,

    When I read about your cleaner, I thought... hmm she lives in a lovely house in a lovely part of London, and she's married to a gorgeous man, with a beautiful baby, with plenty of money.. AND a cleaner. Sigh. That's what I thought- sigh... I was jealous. I don't have a nice house, husband, and baby, and really the cleaner was just another thing I don't have.

    So we don't all have cleaners...I bet Brian also doesn't have red hair, big tits and an English degree, but that doesn't mean you'd have nothing in common with each other does it?


    Please talk about your baby, your personal observations are what makes this blog different, and entertaining. Why would you not talk about the hugest thing in your life?

    Also, any pictures of Giles in the shower are very welcome (joke!!)

    Elizabeth
    x

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  19. 1) Would have been interested to try this while breastfeeding. Looks and sounds tasty.

    2) At risk of repeating what *everyone* above has been saying, why is anyone bothered that you have a cleaner?! Seriously, people like Brian need to stop worrying what is happening in the home of (and I'm assuming here) someone he doesn't even know.

    3) My partner's mum told me to eat lots of her lentil bake whilst breastfeeding. TMI alert: the milk did look like Jersey milk, so I must have been doing something right...

    4) More baby chat, please!

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  20. I'm neither breastfeeding nor have a cleaner, (we tried on but she wasn't very good [with the cleaning not breastfeeding]) but I do love the Leon cookbook so will be giving this a go. Maybe it will be good with marmite..

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  21. Titbread is good with everything. I just had some with taramasalata. Marmite would be great too. Also, honey.

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  22. I'm not breastfeeding and I can't afford a cleaner but am so fearful of Brian that I'm employing one forthwith. Esther, Recipe rifling lady, you're a dream. I could read you for days, well actually I do.
    x x x

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  23. I love the half-full Medela pump bottle in the photo. Nice touch :)

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  24. I laughed out loud at Elizabeths comment, thanks for that Elizabeth, I agree fully with everything you said!!
    Keep your fantastc blog coming Esther & sod the begrudgers.

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  25. Oh my- have just discovered your blog and am literally KICKING myself for missing out on all this fun. Now there goes my morning while I trawl the archives. As for the cleaner; the day we left ours behind in Sydney was a very sad one. Am trying to clean our flat here in London. I really am. But I'm terrible. I think I should be fired.

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  26. 'You haven't got a job anymore but I do.'
    Err, excuse me, but has he forgotten about Kitty? Anyone with a new baby shouldn't be made to feel guilty about having a cleaner, they should be handed out like Child Trust Fund certificates.

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  27. Ahh, who gives a rats arse what the "Brians" of this world think! Just concentrate on the lovely Kitty and making lots of milk. Don't underestimate the importance of enough rest and drinking plenty of fluids either!

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  28. I AM a cleaner; I don't think it's a shit job; and I only work for people who don't think it's a shit job either.

    If this doesn't make sense to you, then I wouldn't want to clean your house!

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  29. Basically, as long as your cleaner gets paid a decent amount (i.e. can make a decent living and can feed the family, etc) then who cares if you have one. It's only a problem in economies that are unequal, where people do jobs like cleaning for ridiculous wages because they don't have another option. In that case, employing cleaners at exploitative salaries means you are perpetuating the system and should not be surprised come the revolution. As a South African at the more comfortable end of the disastrous economic model we have going here I have spent ages thinking about cleaners and why I feel so uncomfortable with hiring one when it is essentially job creation, and this is what I always end up with. I can't afford to pay a cleaner what I consider to be a living wage, so even though I probably could afford the going rate for a cleaner, I would not be able to face myself knowing I paid someone that little to do a hard day's work on my behalf. So, back to square one. As far as I am concerned, in your case it probably counts as job creation and not exploitation.

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  30. Marx would probably not be the person to consult on the subject of cleaners. He got his one pregnant.

    By employing your cleaner, you're providing her with regular work and a decent amount of money. There's no shame in that - neither for you nor for her.

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  31. Oh Fuck everyone who is jealous. I have a cleaner and I love him. yes, I have a MALE CLEANER people. In fact I'm sure he is an illegal immigrant and possibly a child but WHATEVER.

    People like 'Brian' and also, sorry to say the second commentator on here, Kate, can fuck off as far as I'm concerned. Im so sick of middle class lefty have-nots. Leave Esther alone you miserable little people.

    I worked as a cleaner throughout University and didn't think it was a shit job at all, and now I earn lots and lots of money, much more than primary school teachers in Inner city schools (Being happy has always appealed to me more than being an earnest martyr) I have my own cleaner.

    There will always be people who have less than you and always people who have more. FACT. The key to happiness I have always believe, is to treat everyone with respect and compassion. I don;t always manage it (see above rant) but I try.

    Esther I think you are awesomely great. And I also have an academic Marxist for a father (although no longer a Marxist as he has a house in France and one in UK). Oh God, more GUILT.... Not.

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  32. I was actually a bit relieved to read this post, because I was blogging the other day and got an anonymous comment saying the post on my totally unknown blog was drivel! Seriously:

    Biutiful Film Review

    Sorry Brian's so spazzy, but I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who motivates people to leave nasty comments rather than just going to frenetically check their email or something.

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  33. Huh HEM! Just like to point out that our father is not a Marxist.

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  34. Bollocks to Brian! I struggled on for years without a cleaner & now I have one I have more time for shopping, facials & staring blankly into space. Happy days indeed. And as for Kate? Well as a teacher I should think she doesn't have a cleaner. Teachers are never at work so she should have plenty of time to clean. I don't have a cleaner because I m too lazy to do it myself or because housework is beneath me its because God steadfastedly refuses to add an extra 12 hours to every day. By the way I love the blog x

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  35. I'm breastfeeding and I have a cleaner. And I make all my own bread.

    Just wanted to say that.

    (Plus: LOOK, now you've made Brian famous.)

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  36. I had a cleaner after I had an operation, I just felt sorry for her as she was more unfit that I was. I went back to doing it myself (or not usually) I wonder why Brian reads your blog, he must be one of those people who read things just so they can be nasty, like those people who live in France and write to the English newspapers slagging off Britain. I love your blog and Kitty.

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  37. Brian's a shit. Probably a cheap shit who can't afford a cleaner. I'd have a bloody cleaner if I could afford it. Instead, I have a mess. Ah well.

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  38. "Brian" should fuck off and you should keep the cleaner. And don't feel bad. Voila! Pig x

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