winter warmth and blueberries

I carried a warm bundle up the stairs last night, negotiating creaking steps carefully in the dark.  From the kitchen, I could hear the gentle swoosh of the dishwasher, and, if I listened more closely, the deeper, distant mutter of the heater.  As I deposited my warm bundle of love in bed, tucking the blankets over it, it sloshed a bit.  Settling myself in, I kneaded my toes against its warmth.  I’ve fallen in love, late in life, with a Hot Water Bottle.

Seriously, where have you been all my life, Hot Water Bottle?  When I think of all the popsicle-toe nights I, (and consequentially Big Friend), have endured, I weep a little inside.  For a mere $5 and the sacrifice of an upcycled wool sweater, I now have this lovely bundle to look forward to spooning each night:

Winter warmth is nothing to take lightly.  After all, it’s not everyone who gets to listen to the murmur of a heater each night.  And when the sky deposits a dependable dusting of snow each day (I love a good ol’ Pittsburgh winter!), that white blanket outside demands a counterattack of fireplace and hot cocoa.

A week ago, I was inspired by this post from Nourishing Days on Six Ways to Heat Your Home While Making Breakfast.  I love me a good breakfast, and not only are Shannon’s suggested recipes easy and healthy, they’re delicious enough to tempt me into extricating my toes from hot water bottle heaven to pad downstairs on cold floors to rev up the oven.  (Baked Apples, Baked Squash Pudding, Oatmeal Pancakes?  Come on!)  The post is also a great reminder on how the tactile elements of food can nourish and appetize our souls.  (Watch out, Hot Water Bottle.  You may have competition from some Baked Apples.)

In an effort to spread winter warmth and cheer today (no, you can’t borrow Hot Water Bottle), allow me to share my mother-in-law’s recipe for Blueberry Baked Oatmeal.  One of our favorite weekend breakfasts, Baked Oatmeal is healthy, hearty, and wholesome.  This particular recipe incorporates blueberries, a welcomed one-two sucker punch of anti-oxidants and taste bud appeal.

I’ve adapted the recipe to include a grain soaking step.  Oatmeal, like all whole grains, contains phytic acid in the bran of the grain, and this acid is bad news since it blocks absorption of key vitamins and minerals.  Soaking the grain overnight breaks down the phytic acid, and, as a triple bonus, makes cooking the oatmeal much quicker and results in smooth, creamy porridge as the end result.  For a more in-depth discussion on why soaking grains is important, let me point you to Passionate Homemaking’s dissertation.

Serve Blueberry Baked Oatmeal warm from the oven, with or without milk, but please don’t skimp on manganese- and zinc-power house maple syrup before serving!

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

3 cups rolled oats

3-4 cups water (enough to cover oats)

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 Tbsp acid medium (kefir, whey, or plain yogurt)

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup whole milk (preferably raw milk or low-temp pasteurized)

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup (generous) blueberries

1/2 cup raisins

{To prepare baked oatmeal by skipping the grain soaking method, omit the water, acid medium, and whole wheat and begin preparation with step 3.}

1.  24 hours before serving, put the oats and whole wheat flour in a mixing bowl and cover with water.  Add acid medium.  Stir gently.  Place out of the way and remain undisturbed to allow phytic acid to break down over the 24 hour wait period.  (Sometimes I skimp on this step and opt for a 12 hour soak cycle.)

2. Rinse soaked oats in a colander.

3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4.  In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

5. Stir in oats, blueberries (I use frozen through the winter and fresh in the summer), and raisins.

6.  Pour in greased 8x 12 baking dish.  Spread evenly through pan.

7.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve with milk or, if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, homemade vanilla ice cream.

If you’re planning on treating tummy and toes with some winter warmth, let me point you in the direction of these great DIY posts on how to felt a sweater and make a hot water bottle cover.  If serving Blueberry Baked Oatmeal to kids, consider dressing up the table with these whimsical French bowls from Baby Cie.


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5 Comments

  1. Anna said:

    OK…I need both the hot water bottle AND the blueberry oatmeal!! Both might just change my life (at least for the remaining 4 months of winter…)

    January 5, 2011
    Reply
  2. Jo said:

    Wow! What a great post. And when I think of all the wool garments I have accidentally felted over the years, I am forlorn at the lost creations that could have been but never were! Love the two websites about felting and and the one with great recipes for breakfast. And thanks for the baked oatmeal one–delicious!!

    January 5, 2011
    Reply
  3. Kris said:

    Yummy! With all of the right stuff and you have to have the real maple syrup and coconut oil!
    Thanks for sharing!

    January 6, 2011
    Reply
  4. Good post!

    Sounds like a great recipe. I’m going to try it. Happy Weekend!
    -FringeGirl

    January 7, 2011
    Reply
  5. Kara said:

    I cannot emphasize enough how much we love our hot water bottle with homemade cover! On a typical day it is shuffled between all family members, warming cribs for naps and thereby easing the transition from arms to bed (why-oh-why didn’t we think of this sooner?!), and spending the night warming my icy cold toes. It is my most beloved and frequently used Christmas gift! Love it!

    January 10, 2011
    Reply

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