Sunday, February 19, 2012

Quick rye bread

It's always been my tendency to lie to doctors, as if good health consisted only of the ability to fool them.
"Are you hearing any unusual sounds or voices?" the doctor asked.
"Help us, oh God it hurts," the boxes of cotton screamed.
"Not exactly," I said.
-Denis Johnson, Jesus' Son.

I never go to the doctor, but I did recently, reluctantly go to a dermatologist for him to look at a strange, circular red rash that had been bothering me since the beginning of the year.  Of course, as soon as I made the appointment, it immediately began to clear up. After testing my skin, he found out that it was nothing worse than dermatitis, caused by an allergic reaction to something. But he's not an allergist, so he just knew I was irritated.  By something.

 He clearly regarded me as one of those neurotic women who go to the doctor when afflicted by a hangnail and I left, feeling vaguely irritated within, although no longer without, as if I had been taken in by all of the Internet health websites that say, "if it doesn't clear up within four weeks, have a professional take a look at it."

 I have to say, I've only said to myself once in my life, "thank goodness I went to the doctor," and that was after getting antibiotics for an ear infection.

Whenever I go to the doctor, regardless of how dissatisfied I am with the treatment or lack thereof, I always feel a sense of relief, as if I've gotten away with something. I skip out of the office. From the doctor's perspective, my appointment is a mundane occurrence in his or her workday. In my mind, as I flee, I'm like Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man, Jack Nicholson from One Flew Over the Cuckoos' Nest and Girl, Interrupted (the book, not the crappy film version) combined. I vaguely remember as a child feeling that doctors were friendly people with lollypops on their desk, but that's since been replaced with the cinematic memory of Laurence Oliver looking at Hoffman saying: "Is it safe?"

I'm sure pediatricians no longer have candy dishes in their offices. I do complain about my childhood all of the time, but I'm glad I lived when banks and doctors would give you lollypops and they used to have machines that dispensed stickers and dangerously small plastic toys near the supermarket registers.

Anyway, the rash is gone, and whatever cased the spontaneous reaction, it wasn't food-related so at least that's a good thing.  Perhaps I just naturally break out in spontaneous irritation. That's how I tend to feel in yoga class.

Is it possible to like what yoga does for your body but not like the culture of yoga, as it is practiced in the United States?  Sometimes, the upbeat rhetoric, combined with the subtext of "your inability to get into a handstand has nothing to do with your weak chicken arms and everything to do with your refusal to wear cute Lululemon clothing, smile, and get regular pedicures" really irritates me as well.  I mean, I get the fact that I have weak chicken arms is rooted in the fact that I had an overprotected childhood and did very little physical activity until my twenties, and even then I've only started doing upper body stuff in the past year or so.  So there is a mental-emotional fear component to it all in that sense because I bet I'd be much more physically confident if I had lived a different, healthier kind of life. On the other hand, if I had started working out seriously in my teens yet retained my love of dry, British humor versus sunny, vague New Age platitudes, I bet I could still look quite a bit more Enlightened upside down. Without turning my frown upside down. And don't even get me started on a post-yoga comment someone made about my feet.  I run everyday, so me getting a pedicure is like trying to cure beach erosion with a spoon. It's a miracle that I have any toenails at all.

This is another quick rye bread, a riff on another rye bread I posted on Cookie Madness. I upped the fiber content a bit, since I made it for my father on Valentine's Day and he needs it.  I gave Valentines this year, but received none.  Even this was irritating, since my father told me when I gave him the bread that he thought it was a stupid commercial holiday (primarily because it involves men giving presents to women, presumably, since he's perfectly delighted to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, which involves, in his view, women cooking for men while they watch football). But he really liked the bread.

Fortunately, March Madness is coming and that always makes our relationship very, very warm until the end of the tournament, since we talk about that instead of argue about inconsequential things.  I'm still doing yoga and--who knows--maybe the studio will have a March Madness tournament and the conversation will be about that, instead?  At least it wouldn't get me in trouble.

Hint to blog readers:  Don't bring up the fact you don't believe in astrology and/or the principles of Ayurvedic nutrition after a yoga class.

Quick Rye Bread 


2 cups rye flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon flaxseed
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1 large beaten egg


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan
2. Sift flours, salt, baking powder and soda, flaxseed together.
3. Combine butter, yogurt, honey. Slowly spoon dry mixture into wet mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

This bread is particularly good if you cut it in the center, like a cake round and layer it with cheese and other toppings, cutting it like a wedge 'sandwich.' (For a visual of how to do this, see my Cookie Madness post). 


  1. I've always hated doctors. I don't go to doctors, if I do, there is something seriously wrong. This has occurred once in the last 30 years, and it took me like 10 years to finally admit that something was wrong :).
    The reasons you state about Yoga are probably why I could never be part of any kind of public exercise class. I find that I am typically not of the same ideology as the people around me. I mean honestly, I'm a single 30 year old straight videogame geek male, who bakes and if he could, would listen to Sarah McLachlan and Michael Buble 24/7 :). We don't really have a support group :).
    I need to bake more bread, I love rye bread and yours seems so easy. I suppose since you posted this again (albeit here) you're really trying to tell me something :).

  2. @Adam--I know exactly what you mean! Pretty much, if I don't have pus hanging off of my throat, I try to hobble through (with the exception of dentist visits and getting my contact lenses--I do go religiously then, but they don't count since I don't have to remove my clothes).

    I've sort of resigned myself that I don't fit into the 'cultures' of most of my areas of interest--from yoga, to horseback riding, to running to baking. In a way that's good, because it has probably made me more open-minded and tolerant, and fortunately I have hair to spare on the occasions I'm tempted to tear it from my skull!

    This rye bread is a little different from the one I posted on Anna's blog--I used a higher concentration of rye flour and added flaxseed, since one or two of the posters found the original a bit sweet.

  3. I've never tried rye bread.

    Def. try the kashi crispy treats. They've got protein, fiber, and no HFCS. Love!

  4. I try not to go to the doctor either. The last time I had a routine check-up was about five or six years ago. My insurance paid for preventative care visits at 100%, but when the bill came, the doctor had charged me for two visits on the same day, one of which was subject to my deductible. When I called them to inform them of the error, they said that they had to charge me for an additional visit because my doctor and I had discussed something "medical," which falls outside of what they consider preventative care. Which, what? They said I could appeal the charge, which I did, but the result was that they put the same stupid explanation in writing and I still had to pay the bill.

  5. @Flurious--I hate to sound like someone who is a million years old, but your anecdote pretty much sums up everything that I think is wrong with the American medical system. I'm still praying I don't get a strange bill from the dermatologist, saying that because he touched me on my left rather than my right shoulder, the treatment isn't covered.

    @The Blonde Duck--you've never had rye bread? Wow! I guess it must be a regional thing. Growing up in the Northeast, it's considered an essential vehicle for pastrami and corned beef consumption.

  6. Wow, insurance coverage for a dermatologist? Swoon... I don't necessarily enjoy doctor visits but I swear if I ever have another job with health coverage, I am going on a medical spree. Then again by the time that happens I may qualify for Medicare...

  7. @MD--don't swoon--I have to buy my own insurance out-of-pocket and it only covers dermatological visits for medically necessary reasons (unsexy stuff like rashes, skin cancer screenings and so forth).

  8. Yeah, self insuring sucks. But all I have is catastrophic "hit by a bus" insurance so outpatient doctor visits seem almost decadent by comparison. Of course, the fact that I'd say that means we live in a messed-up world.

  9. @MD--can you get insured by becoming a member of the Freelancer's Union in NYC? They advertise on WNYC (public radio) quite a bit. I'd actually prefer to pay all of my medical expenses out of pocket (it would be cheaper that way) but I have what I have 'just in case.' It's so screwed up to have to worry so much about the costs of healthcare period.