Blueberry Crumble Muffin

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I finally got down to bake from Keiko Ishida's recipe book "Okashi" after so many months! Since I have limited time in between attending to baby's needs, chose a simple recipe to start off.

Having tried store-bought blueberry muffin pre-mix (such as Betty Crokers) before, I'm definitely keen to see the difference between muffins made from scratch. Recipe is easy to follow with relatively basic ingredients that I already have in my shelf except for blueberries.

As usual, there is always a sense of anticipation during the baking process :) As my kitchen timer sounded off, I rushed to the oven and was pleased to see that the muffins turned out pretty nicely, just like the photo in the book :)
Taste-wise? Definitely win store-bought premix hands down! The crumble was crispy, the cake was tender and moist with delightful bursts of blueberries in every bite. The muffin was not too sweet as well probably due to light brown sugar used. Scrumptious!!! Muffin remains tender the next day, but preferably warm it up in the oven for a while as it's really best served warm.


Blueberry Crumble Muffin
Makes 6 (my muffin cases are smaller, so I can yield 8)

Ingredients

Crumble Topping

  • 20g Unsalted butter, softened
  • 20 Caster Sugar
  • 20g Cake Flour
  • 10g Ground Almonds
Muffins

  • 120g Cake Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 100g Fresh Blueberries
  • 50g Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 40g Brown Sugar
  • 30g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 60g Cold Fresh Milk
Steps
  1. To make crumble topping, combine ingredients in a bowl and mix with fingers until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Chill in fridge until use.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Prepare muffin cases in muffin tray.
  3. Sift flour and baking powder twice. Set aside 18 blueberries.
  4. Beat butter with mixer until soft and fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until well-combined.
  5. Add 1/3 of flour mixture and fold in with spatula. Add 1/2 of milk and continue to fold batter gently. Add another 1/3 flour mixture and fold in, followed by the remaining milk. Add remaining flour mixture and fold through, but do not over-mix. Add remaining blueberries and fold in gently.
  6. Line muffin tray with muffin paper cases. Spoon batter into cases until about 3/4 full. Divide the 18 blueberries mong each muffin, then sprinkle crumble topping over.
  7. Bake for about 25-30 mins, or until muffins have a springy texture when pressed gently.
  8. Leave muffins to cool on a wire rack. They are best served warm, and consumed the day they are baked or the day after. If not consuming immediately, store in airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days, freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Really like this recipe as quantity of 6 is good enough for home consumption; can always double the ingredients if need to bake a bigger batch.
Next up, I'm keen to try the Earl Grey Tea Pound Cake as I love earl grey tea! Till then :)

Craving for Banana Muffin

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I have a craving for banana muffin recently.

In fact, even bigger craving for Jemput Jemput Pisang or I know it as 'Kueh Bomb'. Basically mashed banana with flour, sugar and egg, shaped like a ball and deep fried to darkish brown. I think it is also called Kuih Kodok or Cucur Pisang in Malaysia? Found several recipes on the net and seems really easy to make at home.

Anyways, I figured it would be sinful to eat too much calorie-laden deep fried food, so I decide to settle for the less guilty banana muffin. I could bake and eat them over a few days as breakfast and snack :p
Found a quick and easy recipe from The Little Teochew's blog, perfect since it would only take less than an hour, just nice to squeeze in between my baby's feeding and nap time.

Followed her recipe, except that I cut down sugar by 30g and did not do the crumb topping as I ran out of brown sugar.
My muffin cups were smaller so I could yield around 13 pieces of muffins whereas hers 10.

As the muffins were baking in the oven, rich aroma of banana filled the house and I was drooling in anticipation! After the muffins were done, couldn't wait for it to cool down and munched on one immediately :d~~ Yummy, it was soooo good. Moist and tender with richness of banana... I could polish a few at one go. The muffins tasted nice even when cooled, but best served warm. Go ahead, try it!

Chicken & Cheese Mini 'Pizza'

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Don't really know what to call this? I call it the Chicken & Cheese Mini 'Pizza' coz some of the base ingredients are those of pizza but instead of pizza dough, I used Pave Pain.

  • First, boil some chicken fillet, then shred them. Season with some olive oil and freshly cracked peppercorn (or blackpepper or mixed herbs like rosemary, thyme - up to individual's preference).
  • Slice the Pave Pain (or any rustic/country loaf) into 1/2 inch slices. Once again, thickness depends on individual's preference.
  • Spread some pasta sauce onto the Pave Pain.
  • Lay the shredded chicken onto the pasta sauce.
  • Top generously with grated cheese. For convenience, I got a ready pack of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan blend from Cold Storage.
  • Toast the pizza in oven (around 160 - 180 degree celsius) for about 10 mins or until some of the cheese turn golden brown.
It's really easy to put together, just assemble ingredients available in the kitchen/fridge like chicken, tuna etc, pop them into the oven for 10 mins, and there you have, a hot and crispy 'pizza', perfect for a lazy Sunday Brunch :)

Steamed Bun 篜的做面包

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Bought a Chinese recipe book "篜的做面包" (loosely translated as Steamed Bun) recently. The recipes are by a Japanese author and then translated/published in Taiwan. Was curious when I bought the book as I wonder how bread could be steamed, coz "面包" is supposedly bread.

After looking at the ingredients and baking the basic master recipe, I realised it is more of bun/cake than bread, maybe something like steamed sponge cake/bun?

Anyways, ingredients and steps are really very simple.

Ingredients
(5 buns - 7cm by 5cm muffin cup size)
  • 1 egg
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (I use low fat milk)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Steps
  • Sift cake flour and baking powder together, set aside.
  • Beat egg and caster sugar using hand whisk, until smooth and runny consistency.
  • Add milk and mix well, then add vegetable oil.
  • Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients thoroughly.
  • Fill the muffin cups with batter, around 3/4 filled.
  • Steam the bun for 10 to 15 mins. Bun is ready when toothpick inserted comes out clean. *Wrap the cover of the steamer/steaming pot with cotton cloth to prevent water vapour from dripping into the batter.
The steamed bun tastes simple, with subtle hint of egg, not too sweet. But texture not as soft and fluffy as I imagine. Probably I didn't mix/beat the batter well enough?


This is just the basic recipe, with variations of the sweet - orange, banana chocolate... and savoury like tomato and cheese, tuna and egg. I wonder how do those taste like? Well, got to try to find out. Till then.

Pregnancy, delivery and confinement

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It's March already! On calendar it seems like a long time since the birth of my baby but he is just but 7 weeks old. The irony is, 7 weeks is nonetheless long to me since I'm total breastfeeding and each day is counted by 24hrs. Well, have to keep reminding myself that this is just the beginning and there would be so many more 24hrs and 7 weeks to go. Over the past few weeks, there were moments where I would doubt my ability as a mother and sometimes in denial mode wishing everything would revert to what it used to be. I guess I'm really not used to the loss of freedom after enjoying 7 years of couplehood (hubby felt the same way too). Our time is no longer ours and everything revolves around the baby. Having said that, since we made our decision to try for a baby and we got it, we have to accept this responsibility and do our best in this new role as parents.

The past 9-10 months seems so surreal, the pregnancy, delivery to confinement, and yet the real challenge really begins with the arrival of the baby.


Pregnancy

All along we didn't think we would like to have a baby since we enjoy the DINK lifestyle, travelling and playing as often as we liked. When I hit 31 we somehow decided to try for a baby and if we don't have one when I reach 35 (associated high risks), so be it. There, I got pregnant the year before (2008) but it was an ectopic pregnancy. Rested for quite a few months (also due to busy work schedule) and tried again early 2009. Yep and was pregnant in Apr 09.

Was fortunate that I didn't have morning sickness, just fatigue. Thought it was going to be a breeze and got complacent. Ate whatever I fancied and disregarded the facts that I have family history of diabetes and high blood pressure, above 30 and slightly overweight. At the 5th month check-up, failed the routine test, had to go for Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) and tested positive for gestational diabetes. To keep blood sugars in check, was put on a special meal plan which restricted sugars and carbo/starch and light exercise regime; otherwise there would be serious complications affecting the foetus. Was naturally upset about this condition and my moods flunctuated along with my blood sugar readings. Thankfully for hubby who was really supportive and encouraging for the remaining months of the pregnancy.


Delivery

At week 32, the gynae told us that I was supposed to be induced at 38 weeks, we were quite taken aback since it wasn't mentioned before. But due to implications of gestational diabetes and hypertension, it was the best option for both mother and baby. At the same time, we felt rather relieved that there was a date to look forward to, rather than waiting for it to happen. We could start planning everything already!

At week 36, was 2cm dilated which according to gynae, good sign for smooth natural delivery.

So came 15 Jan, checked in the hospital very early in the morning. The nurse checked my vitals, monitored fetal heartbeat, made preparations and all. At 8+, went into the delivery suite and started the drip to induce labour. Around 9.30am, the senior nurse asked me if I wanted epidural as the doctor was on his round. If I didn't take it then, he might not be available immediately the next few hours and I could actually opt for lowest dosage. Initially I was quite adamant about not having epidural, but after hearing the nurse's advice, decided to just go for it in case I really couldn't stand the pain later on. Anyway, since I wasn't in any pain at that point, I was in good position and right frame of mind to administer the 'happidural'. I had to assume a curve position. The sensation was quite weird, no pain for the injection since there was local anesthesia. It felt like somethine being hammered into my spine though.

By the time the epidural injection was completed, it was close to 10.30am and my gynae came by to check on me. I was 4cm dilated and she broke my waters. For the next 2hrs, quite uneventful... could feel the contractions but was manageable. But by around 1pm, couldn't stand the contraction pain and asked to increase dosage for the epidural. Thank goodness I decided to go for it. By 2.30pm, I was fully dilated and ready to push. By then, was quite numb already so just push when the midwives asked me to. It sure was tough, no wonder they call it labour. By around 3.30pm, could already see the baby's head crowning and the midwives quickly informed the gynae. But she was busy elsewhere and I think I waited some 30-45mins for her. Was quite unhappy over the wait but there wasn't a choice, was there? The midwives called her a few times already. She came in around 4+, and I gave one final push (with episiotomy), baby was delivered! Finally!

By the time I was stitched up, baby was already cleaned and handed to me to initiate suckling and bonding as I requested for total breastfeeding. Thereafter, I was pushed to my ward. Over the next 2 days of stay, baby would be brought to me for breastfeeding periodically. For daytime, he could room in with me and night time I could request the nurses to bring him back to the nursery so that I could catch some sleep. The service rendered by the nurses were really top notch and that made my stay at the hospital quite pleasant.

By 3rd day, was really to discharge as baby was given green light to go home!

Confinement

Now, to the start of my confinement. Nobody forewarn me that confinement was going to be tough! Had engaged a confinement lady from Malaysia since it is a norm (supposedly necessity) to have an experienced helper to nurse the mother to good health (the body is weakened after labour and delivery) and take care of baby as well.

But seriously, is confinement or having a confinement lady really necessary? Yes, I believe in lots of rest especially the initial period after labour, but once the mummy is ready and well rested, she should be able to continue her daily life be it 10 days or 30 days, depending on individual.

Initially I thought that it was a good idea (coz of the above reason) but after a week or so, I realised that having a stranger in my house literally taking control over my life and even invading into my personal space is so not my nature. Felt loss of privacy and freedom and hated the restrictions and someone checking me out all the time (even when I was doing personal stuff like internet shopping, home massage and breastfeeding).

Towards the end of 2 weeks, I couldn't handle the stress of confinement and having a confinement lady anymore and to save myself from slipping into depression, decided to end the confinement in 3 weeks. Thereafter, although it was a handful to take care of the baby due to my inexperience, I felt so much more at peace and happier.

Talking about confinement practices, there are some restrictions which I'm doubtful about the rationale. The practices are said to pass down for generations; are they really practical in our modern times and environment context given that we live in the tropics with such high humidity and not to mention the temperature has risen over the years. I was practically sweating all the time due to the practices! Are we following practices blindly just because the ancestors did so?

These are the practices to follow:

  • Can only drink warm red date herbal drink, no water.
  • Must sit down to eat and drink, cannot stand.
  • Must wash face and hands with cool boiled water.
  • Must use warm herbal water to wipe body or bath. Wipe body daily, bath only once a week. Start to wash hair after 10 days, thereafter once a week, must blow dry immediately.
  • Must wear slippers, cannot barefoot.
  • Eat food cooked with lots of ginger and sesame.
  • Drink tonic soup before bed time 2nd week onwards.
  • Cannot help baby change nappy or bath coz cannot touch tap water.

Well, it was a not so positive experience and if I have known, would probably engage day time confinement lady or do confinement on my own and follow some of the practices selectively.

Anyways, like I said, this is just the beginning. Will try to share some of the challenges taking care of the baby slowly... that is another story altogether.