Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sick Day Solution

I am home from work today, sick with a freak cold. Well, I think it's a cold, but one of my colleagues diagnosed me, probably more accurately, with a case of hubris. Greg often gives me grief for having a "weak constitution," but frankly, I think that is patently false. Sure, my stomach felt like it was going to explode during the bar exam, but heck, that's not sickness, just a sign I care, right? And yes, I can't read in cars or trains because I apparently never outgrew motion sickness.

But consider these facts: I haven't had a cold in over two years. This summer, after continuous contact with a co-worker who ended up having swine flu, I didn't even get a sniffle. Heck, I've never even gotten a flu shot, and whenever I've worked in offices where everyone but me got a flu shot, everyone got sick - except for me.

So, um, after rereading that last paragraph, yes, the karma police definitely decided my number was up, and they are giving it to me good. And they are giving it to me with an extra dose of ugh, because Greg is out of town for business, which means I can't even get any of that awesome husband pampering which he rocks out when I'm sick. I am pleased to report, though, that I have two fluffy RNs who have decided the best way to care for Mommy is with snuggling. I can get behind that.

As I'm laying in bed, I can't help but daydream about a snack that would make me feel better, and then the answer became clear: the healing power of a warm loaf of freshly baked bread. Of course, this loaf of bread is only going to be a daydream until I feel better, but I'm convinced the next time someone is sick that I can cure what ails them with some fresh bread, and maybe some homemade soup for dipping the bread.

I found the base for this recipe at Spoof (, and it definitely supplied me with what I needed to mess around and make me happy. The one big thing you're probably wondering about? Agave nectar. This has popped up in some of my recipes, and I'm happy to shout its praises. In the vegan community, agave nectar is considered a wonderful replacement for honey; it has the same sweetness as honey, but since it is plant-sourced, you can completely avoid the arguments over whether honey is okay for vegans to eat. In addition, though, agave nectar is an excellent sweetener to use for diabetics. For reasons I don't quite understand, agave nectar does not cause blood sugar to spike, which is an obvious concern for diabetics. In addition, since it comes from a natural source, you don't have to worry about any potential chemical issues from sugar replacements that are created in factories and labs. You can keep it in the pantry so it's ready to use, and I go to it again and again. If you give it a shot, leave me a comment and let me know if you like it!

"Honey" Whole Wheat Bread
Yields: one loaf

2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. warm water (should feel warmish hot when you touch it, but you should be able to bear touching it for 10 seconds without scalding yourself)
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. flour
1/4 c. agave nectar
1/4 c. vegetable, corn, or canola oil
1/4 c. soy milk
1/4 c. ground flax seeds

1) Proof the yeast: mix the yeast, sugar, and water together and let sit for 10 minutes.
2) In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Once the yeast is proofed, mix it in until mostly combined (will likely be very tacky).
3) On a floured surface, knead the ingredients 5-7 minutes. The mixture will feel smooth but the dough will resist a bit when you poke it. That's how you know it's done. At any rate, I wouldn't knead the dough for more than 7 minutes.
4) Place the dough in an greased (I spray with cooking spray) bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise for an hour. The dough should roughly double in size.
5) After an hour, knead the dough once or twice, then placed in a greased (again, I use cooking spray) loaf pan, spreading the dough into a loaf in the pan. Cover again and let rise for about an hour.
6) Bake for 40-60 minutes in a 350 degree oven. You will know the bread is ready because if you "knock" the middle of it, it will sound hollow (be careful - the bread is HOT).
7) Remove from pan and EAT! Cut with a serrated knife, otherwise the bread will fall apart. Lacking a decent knife? Then let it cool all the way and then cut it.

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