Progress and Disorder

This is a personal record – I haven’t written in over 2 months, and I even contemplated blog senescence or retirement. But then I remembered how incredibly happy blogging makes me, so once again, I had to return to my stage and pour my heart out on these pages until they runneth over. Some of my long pent up emotions are best left to diffuse on the webosphere. It’s very therapeutic.

The last two months have brought on a deluge of headaches. I’ve learned a few things about both house hunting and marriage planning, and would like to think that I’ve wizened up a bit. Firstly, if you aren’t constantly arguing with your partner, then I am positive you are doing something wrong. Whether it’s about white or silver linens, town home vs. detached single family home, or guest list, or how to most efficiently tabulate committed wedding expenditures in Excel – it’s almost impossible not to argue. We’ve bid on about half a dozen homes at this point and have been vastly outbid (the Bay Area real estate market is out of control), so you can imagine how many arguments we’ve suffered through at this point. The fact of the matter is, you have two people with vastly different backgrounds, and you expect them to harmoniously have the same expectations and visions and priorities – ha. Good luck! And while these differences in opinion scare me sometimes, I’ve learned (and still learning) that it’s not about the differences themselves, but how we choose to deal with those differences and move along. I didn’t ever think I could compromise or let go, but I’m (slowly) learning.

Lovely flowers in our garden…

Flowers

Of course, all this arguing naturally leads to some tension, which is quite difficult to diffuse if you are always with your partner. If anything, frequent contact exacerbates the situation. The best remedy is make sure to have some breathing room to let that tension subside. This takes many forms – i.e. a good venting session with your best girlfriend or a bar session with the boys – both options allow an individual to gain the needed affirmation and acknowledgement that sometimes is lacking in long-term relationships. It’s healthy, I swear. Just yesterday, I caught up with my college girlfriend for FOUR hours (thanks and I love you N!), and it felt SO GOOD just to have a lot of my feelings validated. I felt terrible for having said or thought things about my fiance and this relationship in general, but it’s great that others feel the same way from time to time. It just goes to show that no relationship is perfect, and that relationships are a constant work in progress.

Also with about 11 months to go until show time, we’ve completed most aspects of wedding planning, with only the invitations and musicians left to be decided. Not too shabby, right? As a management consultant and future bride, I highly recommend starting early, being proactive and decisive, and carefully scrutinizing each vendor so you have your dream team on your dream day. Good vendors will make or break your wedding planning and big day experience.

I will share more tactical home buying and marriage planning advice in the future, but wanted to get these two observations off my chest first. Despite the above, we’ve managed to make quite a bit of progress. We successfully completed our engagement photo session. Thanks to the wonderful Tyler Vu Photography who is a magician of light and composition, we were able to capture some amazing shots. Just one preview here:

Pier

I’ve been having a strange blueberry craving, and stumbled on the most delicious berries at the market recently. Perfectly plump and non-bruised little things that burst with tangy and sweet juice when you bite into them. Here are my current favorite recipes. And yes, PLEASE use fresh berries – they are essential!

Muffin


“To Die For” Blueberry Muffins
Source: AllRecipes
This recipe yield a beautiful muffin – the topping is so good, I decided to carry it over into the Ina Garten Crumbcake recipe below as well. This recipe yields a delicate cake – moist, fluffy, not dense at all. Seriously, 6,000+ reviews can’t be wrong, right?

Ingredients
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c fresh blueberries

Topping:
1/2 c white sugar
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c butter, cubed
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2-4 tbs old fashion oats

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and line muffin tin with muffin liners. I bought these lovely muffin liners from Daiso that allowed for a taller muffin – I would recommend doing that or using an extra large muffin tin.

In a bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, egg, milk, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry just until incorporated. Try not to over mix or you’ll end up with an elastic-y and overly gluten-y muffin. Cover the blueberries with a tablespoon of flour and mix/shake to distribute. Gently fold the blueberries into the muffin batter, without breaking any of the berries. You do not want a purple streaked batter. Set aside.

In a separate bowl or even a small food processor, mix together the topping ingredients and blitz or break down the butter until small pieces the size of peas remain. I added nutmeg for scent and oats for texture to the original recipe.

Tin

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 to the top, then generously spoon the crumb mixture on top. Place in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and inside is completely dry. Enjoy.

Broken


Ina Garten Blueberry Crumbcake
Source: FoodNetwork
I’ve made this before, but wanted to revisit as it’s just soo goood. This recipe is ever so slightly denser than the above muffin recipe, which is a good thing for a crumb cake. The cake nestles each individual blueberry in place and bakes up to have nice crispy top and good browned edges. This cake is durable and yet not too heavy thanks to the fluffiness from the sour cream and all that lemon zest. You can’t miss this one.

Ingredients
6 tbs unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2/3 c sour cream
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c fresh blueberries, tossed in 1-2 tbs flour

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and butter (or PAM) a 8″ square pan. I prefer my crumbcakes on the thicker side and thus prefer a small pan.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla, lemon zest and sour cream. The wet ingredients may look a bit curdled, but that is absolutely normal.

In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. By hand and with a spatula, fold in the flour-coated blueberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread it out evenly. Top with your favorite crumb coating – I used the one from above “To Die For” recipe. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool and serve. Enjoy.

Split

I make up for my absence with a long entry. Hope you enjoyed – it’s great to be back. Look out for new reviews, recipes, and general life updates and musings in the near future.

AnhD

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This entry was posted in Baked Goods, Rants, Thoughts, Musings, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

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