Thursday, July 10, 2014


I never thought I'd turn into the kind of person who doesn't know what to do with herself once she stops work. Growing up, I excelled in doing nothing. I spent my school holidays sprawled on my bed reading ... everything, drinking milo and taking the occasional bike ride. I didn't learn an instrument (something I regret now) so I never had to practice anything. On the last day of school, I'd always make this trip to a bookshop or library (sometimes both) and come home staggering under a bag load of books. I'd make milo and settle in for a good long read.

I used to think that having lots of free time was a good thing. But you know something I have learned? I've learned that it's better to spend your time doing and learning things and having some free time in between. That having just endless free time to daydream and read isn't always such a good thing. Or to put it another way, you can really have too much of a good thing.

When I started work, life got so full and I was surprised at how alive I felt. Sometimes, I think I've only been really alive for the last 5-6 years. I worked and after work, there was stuff like dance, dive lessons and church. Then there was meeting Mr Grey and getting married....  It's been a busy and happy set of years.

It's only in the last month or so that I've started having actual free time and while I didn't know what to do with myself at first, I'm now grateful for this time. Mr Grey and I.. well, we're about to embark on several things that will make us insanely, incredibly tired and busy.

I don't know if I'll keep writing here. I know that I'll probably keep posting recipes because it's just easier to have all my recipes in one place online but I don't know if there will be the wherewithal to write.

So much of life is about finding balance. If I had anything I would want to give my kids, it would be this gift of balance. To have free time to explore things and read and daydream. But to also embark on projects and learning things so that when they're old enough, they have skills and interests aplenty.

It's difficult to put into words where I am at the moment; there is the still and silence but at the same time, there are powerful changes taking place as well. It's funny because I want to grasp this time with both hands, hold it close to my heart and treasure it but at the same time, I  fully embrace what comes next because it is so necessary - for me, for Mr Grey and our marriage.

I wanted to write a little bit of it down because I know that I will never be in this place again.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Brown butter blueberry muffins

This is a recipe good enough to have been reproduced on two baking blogs. I used the version from here, primarily because the measurements are British - in grams and cups - thank goodness! Converting a recipe from American measurements to British isn't difficult but if someone has already done the work for you, why reinvent the wheel?

I've tried a couple of blueberry muffin recipes before but this is my favourite so far. It's a bit more trouble than the usual - having to do the crumb topping in Singapore isn't easy unless you have a food processor - but it yields crumbly fragrant muffins liberally studded with jammy fruit.  I promise you, with 250 grams of blueberries in them, you'll get blueberries with every bite. I hate buying "blueberry" muffins from shops only to find that there are maybe two blueberries in the entire muffin. The worst offenders are those that promise blueberries only to give you some kind of reconstituted blueberry jam and flavouring.

The real secret to this recipe is the browned butter. If you've never tried browning butter, please please try it out now. The smell alone makes the whole process worth it. If you don't know how, here is a simple step by step guide with picture. Try it out, because what isn't in the pictures is how it releases this incredibly delicious nutty fragrance that fills the entire house and makes you all happy. Also these muffins keep well too - about 3-4 days in an airtight container?

 Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins

 For the muffin mix:
105g butter
90ml whole milk
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla essence
175g plain flour
170g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
250g blueberries

 Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Put muffin liners in a muffin tin. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Keep heating it over medium heat until it has foamed up and brown bits have appeared and it smells nutty and delicious. Make sure you keep an eye on it as it happens - it takes a while but can burn quickly. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Whisk the egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla together, then add the brown butter and whisk again. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in another bowl and combine. Pour the liquids into the bowl and fold in until just combined. Fold the blueberries in. Spoon out into the muffin cups.

 For the crumble topping:
45g butter
60g flour
80g golden caster sugar

 Measure out all the ingredients into a small bowl. Rub together until you have a crumbly mixture. OR process in a food processor until you have a crumbly mixture. Divide between the muffins. Put into the oven and bake for around 20 minutes, until they are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack for a bit before eating. (Makes 12)

 Note: I used normal castor sugar for the crumble topping and it was fine. If you don't want to specially buy golden castor sugar for this, you can mix in a few teaspoons of brown sugar with normal castor sugar.