How have things been in your world these past two months?
You may have wondered what was going on in mine after I dropped off the face of the planet, unannounced. But I was around, very much so, and missing you too. Life just got in the way and to make a long story short, I didn't have much time to come up with fabulous new eats in the kitchen good enough to share with you.
So finally, here's something fabulous: my whole-wheat sandwich buns.
I wanted to come back with a bread recipe because I know those are the ones many of you love. Besides, I love the idea of baking, and inspiring others to bake. So what if it's summer? You don't have to sit next to the oven while the bread bakes, and what are exhaust fans for? And trust me, once you've eaten these buns wrapped around grilled veggie burgers and some grilled veggies, you will be more than happy you made them.
Before I delve into the recipe, I wanted to give you an update on the health adventures of Lucy, my big old German Shepherd mix who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma over two years ago.
Lucy's inspired many of you dog parents who have dealt with similar diagnoses for their beloved animals. Over the years you've written to ask for advice, or just share your stories of heartbreak and hope.
In May this year, two years and two months after her diagnosis, Lucy went to the oncologist for what was supposed to be a landmark checkup: the doctor had told us that if she was found to be free of cancer two years after her diagnosis and treatment, she was officially cancer-free.
She was. Her lungs were spotless with no signs of cancerous nodules, and, the vet told us, she looked great. We broke out the champagne, but our joy wasn't to last. Within less than a month of that visit, Lucy started to limp again, this time on her surviving back leg. It can't be the big C, I told Desi, afraid of even saying the word out loud. Hadn't the vets just declared her cancer-free? It's likely hip dysplasia, and that can be operated upon, can't it?
It wasn't. It was indeed the osteosarcoma. This time amputation to get the cancer out of her body was not an option because she's already tripawed. Worse, X-rays showed that the nodules had indeed migrated to her lungs this time, putting the cancer in an advanced category.
Lucy started radiation therapy yesterday. It's palliative, meaning it will not cure her, nor increase her life span. All it will do is mask the pain so she can be a little more comfortable as she winds down. Three to six months is what we have, the doctors have told us.
All the vets who see her tell us that Lucy's is a rare case. Most dogs don't make it past six months after an osteosarcoma diagnosis, but Lucy's held it off for two years and four months. A miracle dog. But if that's supposed to make us feel good, it doesn't. We know we are lucky to have had Lucy with us for these last few years, and grateful for them, but that doesn't prepare us for the time she won't be with us anymore. For now, we are fighting and hoping along with Lucy. As always, please keep her in your thoughts.
Now here's my recipe for these Whole-Wheat Garlic and Herb Sandwich Buns, perfect to slap those veggie burgers on, hot off the grill.
(Loosely based on this recipe)
1 1/2 cups warm water (not hot)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
For the garlic and herb mix, mix together in a small bowl:
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry thme
1 tsp dry rosemary
Mix the yeast, water and sugar. Stir and let it stand at least five minutes or until the yeast starts to froth and multiply.
Add the flours and salt. With your hands, or using a stand mixer set to low speed, knead until you have a sticky dough, around 6 minutes. If the dough is too soft, add some more bread flour.
Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turning over once to coat with the oil, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. In my summer kitchen this took just around 45 minutes.
Punch the dough down and, on a lightly oiled surface, roll it into a rectangle about 8 inches by 12 inches.
Spread the garlic and herb mixture evenly on the rectangle, then, starting with the short side, roll the dough into a log (as you would for a jelly roll or cinnamon bun or parotta).
Using a sharp knife or a pair of scissors, cut the log into 1-inch lengths. You should have eight pieces.
Place each of the rolls on a lightly oiled baking sheet, pressing each down into a circle. Place them at least two inches apart.
Cover loosely and let them rise for another hour until they are nice and puffed up.
I brushed the tops of mine with a mixture of egg replacement powder and soymilk to give them a glossy finish, and then I sprinkled the top with sesame seeds. You can use poppy seeds too, or leave the seeds and egg-replacer wash out altogether.
Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 minutes. The rolls will be golden brown.
Let them cool for about 10 minutes, then remove to a rack and let them cool thoroughly.