It seems a pity that the true identity of the man who invented the electric washing machine may never be known. It is widely reported that the American Alva J. Fisher of the Hurley Machine Company bestowed this magnificent gift to the modern world. But wait! There is controversy in cyberspace! A tight-lipped article points out that a certain Mr Woodrow filed a US patent for an electric washing machine, before Mr Fisher. For shame! How dare Mr Fisher claim credit when really it was Mr Woodrow? Other articles airily state that Louis Goldenberg of New Brunswick was the real creative genius. Or was it none of the above? This article concludes rather curtly that the inventor of the washing machine remains ‘anonymous’.
In researching The Great Electric Washing Machine Scandal (as I like to call it), I came across mention of one William Blackstone of Indiana who in 1874 built - built I say! - a washing machine for his wife. It is dismissed rather sniffily as having been rather big with a dirty lid, but the thought was there wasn’t it? How many modern men are rushing out to build washing machines for their women? Honestly, men of today...
Washing machines arrived in the UK during the 1950s for those lucky families who could afford them. Some were semi-electric with mangle option and then the 1960s arrived and the Hoover ‘Keymatic’ was born. Once this bad boy came on the scene the market never looked back. Fast forward to 2010, and for the price of a small country east of Azerbaijan, I can buy a bad-ass baby that has 150 different washing programmes, is more intelligent than your average school-leaver and has a particularly vigorous spin cycle. Which is - as you bored housewives know - essential when the husband is away.
So why am I wittering on about washing machines? Well, mine has broken. It was a struggle to even say those words out loud. Perhaps only the mother-of-four (or more) can understand the ramifications when this appliance fails to work. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I had trouble sleeping last night and the urge to curl into a foetal ball was strong. To make matters worse I discovered that our current machine is still under guarantee. It sounds great but the earliest that Monsieur Le Grease Monkey can come and look is Friday. Friday!
‘And what...’ I enquired tremulously of the helpline lady, ‘what if he (whisper) Can’t. Fix. It?’
She replied breezily that she was sure he would be able to and if not well then he’d have to send it away for a while. Madame? Madame? Ca va?
'Oui, oui' I croaked, 'juste une petite crise cardiaque rien grave...
I’m buggered aren’t I? We got back from skiing last week and even before this catastrophe the washing was piling up. Now the cellar is looking like the Himalayas and I’m afraid to go down there. Kind friends are demanding my soiled garments and then returning them to me, damp and fragrant, on every school run. I love my kind friends. But I balk at asking others to wash my dirty undies so that means I’m going to have to do (spit) hand washing. Ugh! Where is William Blackstone when you need him? I did text husband to see if he would knock me up a washing machine after work, but it's not looking hopeful. What wouldn’t I give for one of those 50’s washing machines with mangle option right around now. Hell, I'd even just take the mangle...
Anyway, to distract myself from the panic I’ve been eating rather a lot of today’s recipe. It’s full of healthy seeds, fairly healthy dark chocolate, marginally healthy dairy-free margarine and knock-it-out-of-the-park bad for you golden syrup. It’s yummy and will hopefully divert you from the stresses of life in the 21st century. Say a little prayer on Friday for me and Monsieur Le Grease Monkey won’t you?
Chocolate Seed Bars (makes about 24 little bars/chunks)
Seeds are a funny one in this allergic world of ours aren't they? My not-so-allergy-ridden eldest can't go near a sesame seed, but all other seeds seem fine. My most allergic littlest can eat all of these seeds and for this I must be thankful. You have my permission to add whatever seeds you like to this recipe. The chocolatey naughtiness in this recipe is perfect for persuading your kiddies that this is a treat and not really a cunning ploy to get them to eat seeds.
150g ground pumpkin seeds (put them in a blender and grind them)
50g pumpkin seeds (not ground)
25g ground sunflower seeds
150g sunflower seeds (not ground)
3tbsps ground linseeds
75g dried cranberries (or raisins)
130g dark chocolate (check it's dairy and gluten free)
150g dairy free margarine
3tbsps golden syrup (or you could probably use agave nectar)
- This is an uber simple recipe, one of those melt-spread-chill-eat affairs. First line a 29x4x23cm baking tin with baking parchment
- Put the seeds that need to be blended into the blender and blend. Did you see that? Blended, blender, blend. Like a latin verb conjugation
- Over a low heat melt the dark chocolate, dairy-free margarine and golden syrup in a large saucepan
- Then, read this carefully, pour in all the other ingredients and mix together
- Scrape into the baking tin, level off with the back of your wooden spoon and place in the fridge to cool
- When cool, cut into squares/bars/chunks and eat
- If your washing machine has broken, eat more