Spinach, Sundried Tomato, Cheddar and Oat Loaf and a cheer for Barack Obama


Yes finally there’s a political leader with more to him than just talk. Coming from a country which still clings on to a relic left behind by its erstwhile colonial rulers who back in the day were known for their prudishness, I’m ashamed to say that we in India still largely follow many of the laws laid down by the British who ruled us more than a century ago. And even though the British themselves have evolved and moved on with the times, we haven’t kept pace. One of those archaic laws is the one that criminalises homosexuality, making it an offence punishable with imprisonment. That this law exists, even though it’s largely on paper, is often used by greedy cops to extort money from young men seen roaming together or sitting in close proximity, whether straight or gay, or by parents of gay men or women who refuse to bow to extreme societal pressure by getting married to persons of the opposite sex and chose to come out instead. A 2 judge bench of the High Court in Delhi sought to decriminalise section 377 of the Indian Penal Code a couple of years ago, a step in the right direction. But the law still exists in the statute books as of date. The matter now before the Supreme Court of India, with various individuals and religious organisations coming together in opposition.

Which brings me to North Carolina’s anti gay marriage stance and the Constitutional Amendment which effectively denies any and all legal rights to same-sex couples, and the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, sticking his neck out in an election year and making clear his support for equal rights to all people, including marriage for same-sex couples.

Whether it was Joe Biden’s earlier endorsement of the same which compelled him to take a stand as some may say, or whether he as a father of two young children growing up in a world which sees hatred and bigotry growing by the day, chose to lead by example rather than sit atop a fence, Barack Obama came good and stood up to be counted.

Jesus, I believe my dear Mr. Obama, would certainly approve.

To all those right wing red-necks who believe that Jesus was western, white, and vindictive, I’d simple like to point out that they are wrong. Jesus came from the Middle East, was probably olive-skinned and had dark brown hair, was born and died Jewish. There is no record of him celebrating his birthday, though he faithfully celebrated the Passover in keeping with his Jewish roots, and to all accounts he was forgiving, kind and loving. A man who didn’t cast stones, embraced ‘harlots’ and ate at everyone’s table. Yes, I am a Christian, and that is the Jesus I believe in.

And continuing with all things wholesome… here’s my bread for this week… A Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato, Cheddar and Oat Loaf

I haven’t baked a loaf of bread in a while and I seem to have developed a fondness for bread which is chock-full of things that are… good for ya!

This is a pretty dense loaf and I was worried that all the water in the bread, including whatever was in the spinach (though I did squeeze it out dry) may cause the loaf to collapse, but it held its own and I was quite pleased with the end result.

I would ideally have preferred to use Feta in this recipe instead of the Cheddar cheese I ended up using, but I couldn’t find any on the day, so…

Here are the ingredients –

Step 1 –

3/4 cup instant oats

1/2 cup AP flour

1 cup hot water

1 teaspoon salt

(Mix these ingredients well and leave standing for 20 minutes)

Step 2 –

1 cup + washed and finely chopped spinach

3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes (bottled in olive oil and garlic)

3 tablespoons EVOO

1/3 cup grated Cheddar

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

Step 3 –

15gm fresh yeast

3/4 cup warm water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

3 1/2 cups AP flour + extra for dusting, kneading etc

3 tablespoons instant oats for topping

1 egg mixed with a tablespoon of milk (for brushing over the loaf)

Activate the yeast and add to the Oat mixture (from Step 1).

Slowly add in the AP flour, a little at a time, mixing well as you go. Finally add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, cheese and the EVOO and mix well, so that the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the dough. Knead for about 10 minutes until a smooth dough forms.

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, and cover with cling film or a damp towel. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Mine more than doubled in 1 1/2 hour.

Knead the dough again on a well floured surface, shape into a loaf and place it into the loaf pan. I pinched the top a little bit. I still had a little bit of dough left, enough to make 4 Buns.

Allow the dough to rise again for an hour, slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife, brush on the egg-wash and sprinkle on some instant oats. Preheat your oven for 20 mins at 230° C. Once the oven is hot, reduce the temperature to 200°C, place the loaf in the centre of the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.  Let the Loaf cool in the pan before turning it out on to a wire mesh to cool completely. Slice into it only when the bread has cooled thoroughly (about 40minutes to n hour after you take it out of the oven).

The buns I baked at 230°C for 25 minutes.

This bread makes a great sandwich with some ham and cheese. And is a wonderful accompaniment to a big bowl of soup or a delicate stew.

Have a wonderful and enlightened weekend! 🙂