I'm responsible for little Byrd's post-knee-surgery physical therapy. For the first week, it involved icing her knees, which she wasn't thrilled about. But since then it's involved warm compresses, massages, and gentle exercises. Essentially, my dog is getting the spa treatment. My roommate can't hold back her laughter when she walks in on me caressing Byrd's little shaved-bare-bottom.
Today I thought I'd mix it up a little bit. My post-surgery info said that Byrd might enjoy light swimming to exercise her knees. The bath tub looked like the perfect size; she's only 8 pounds, after all. Maybe she'd love it.
Reality check: Byrd does not love swimming. She is terrified of swimming. The bathtub is not the perfect size. Her thrashing requires at least a lake-sized body of water, and preferably an ocean. After about 10 minutes of trying in vain to convince her that swimming was a jolly pastime that she was bred for, for goodness' sake, my bathroom, my nightgown, my dog, and my spirits were all soaked.
Both of us ended up on the balcony, soaking wet, shivering, and snuggling for warmth and reassurance. I needed reassurance that I wasn't the worst mother ever. She needed reassurance that she was, indeed, on dry land and not drowning.
Pups can be wonderful for reassurance, comfort, warmth . . . they love you even when you've just tossed them in a bathtub (disclaimer: there was no actual tossing involved, and I held onto her the whole time, despite what her sheer panic might imply). Another amazing summer comfort (and one that I sure wish I still had on hand after that bathtub fiasco) is a hearty fruit-n-nut quickbread. Fruity quickbreads are a favorite of mine when slathered with butter or maybe even torn up over a bowl of fresh oatmeal. Mmm, banana nut bread, delicious pumpkin bread, or in this case . . . blueberry bread!
I made this bread awhile back for a bake sale, but kept a slice to enjoy myself. I accidentally underbaked one loaf (and secretly enjoyed the doughy gooeyness), but once perfectly baked, the bread has a fantastic, moist crumb. It's full of plump blueberries, nuts, and oats. It inspired me so much, I wrote a poem (what, you don't write sonnets about your food?):
Bush awkward, lopsided with purple fruit –
Bountiful harvest sprung from tired roots.
Rapt is the quiet bird who nestles thus
beneath the branches, feathers plush and fluffed,
beak sky-stained with the blood of nature's yield,
breast full of warm air drawn from o'er the field
in which I lie with you now, and we too
consume, until aching, handfuls of blue.
Later half the basket will find its way,
indoors and in the fading light of day,
into batter, the oven, between teeth,
I'll steal your crumbs for my oatmeal, a thief
willing to be caught, bird in a briar,
hands bright blue, stained now, and throat on fire.
Karly at Buns In My Oven has posted a healthier version of this bread that substitutes some apple sauce and lowers the sugar, if you're interested! I went all out for maximum enjoyment. Serve this in a bowl with a splash of cream or ice cream for a lovely, fresh summer dessert, or bake up a loaf for breakfast!
Blueberry Walnut Bread
Recipe by: Adapted from Betty Crocker
Yields: one loaf
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed and drained)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom only of 8- or 9-inch loaf pan.
2. In large bowl, mix brown sugar, milk, oil and eggs with spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients except blueberries and nuts; beat 30 seconds. Fold in blueberries and nuts. Pour into pan. Sprinkle with additional oats if desired.
3. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (NOTE: this took about 55 minutes or even a little longer for me). Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.