Saturday, February 26, 2011

Old Friends, New Friends, and a Departed Friend

Everyone treats friends differently. People who are more outgoing and sociable make new friends easily and have plenty of friends around them. I never am such a person. I'm anything but outgoing, to the point of even being labelled as anti-social. When I was younger, I couldn't understand why I am alone most of the time while others around me are always out having fun with different groups of friends. As I grow older, I accepted the fact that I'm just not that kind of person who will take the initiative to make new friends or make an effort to keep old friends. I no longer envy people with many friends because I know I can still live my life happily by engaging in activies I enjoy by myself. But I am thankful that I still have a group of close friends whom I know I can turn to if I'm feeling down.

I look forward to every baking session with my friends. I'm so glad that once again, MY has initiated this session, and invited 2 of her friends whom I've never met before. So yeah...I did make 2 new friends today...LOL. Today's agenda: macarons (requested by MY herself), matcha muffins and chiffon cake (requested by MY and WK) and Nutella cupcakes (requested by D).

Today's macarons didn't turn out well. The feet on the first batch was too short and we burnt the second batch, which had taller feet. Now I can confirm that it is indeed important to air-dry the shells before baking. But still, we had fun and will probably try again.

MY used her expensive matcha to bake these matcha muffins. I like the blend of matcha and chocolate chips here. The matcha is not too strong and the cake is soft. The recipe for these muffins came from WK who got the recipe for free from a matcha shop in Tokyo, near the Tsukiji market. I've posted the recipe below (with some modifications in phrasing) for anyone who is interested.

Next up is the Nutella version of  last week's peanut butter cupcakes. Our dear greedy SM added too much Nutella which resulted in the unsightly surface. Nevertheless, it tasted great although it's too sweet.

Since we had extra time, we made a matcha chiffon cake. Although the rest of us gave this a thumbs-up, I'm not very satisfied because there is a slight dense layer at the bottom, as usual.

Matcha-chocolate muffins:

Ingredients (makes 6):
90 g flour
10 g matcha powder
100 g butter at room temperature
100 g sugar
2 eggs
50 g chopped dark chocolate (we used chocolate chips)
1 tbsp milk
Vanilla extract

  1. Sift flour and matcha powder together
  2. Cream butter and sugar until pale.
  3. Add beatened eggs a little at a time and mix well.
  4. Add chocolate, milk and vanilla.
  5. Add flour mixture and mix with a spatula
  6. Spoon batter into cups and bake at 170 deg C for 15 mins.

    The next final part of this post has no relation to baking whatsoever. It is a tribute to a friend of mine. Read it only if you are extremely patient :).

      Dear XD,

      It's been 14 years since we first known each other as classmates in secondary school. I knew who you were even before we spoke to each other because you are the school pastor's son. But I always forget this fact on most occasions because you are not who I expected you to be. I thought you would be a person who would openly talk about your faith and at the same time kept a low profile since the whole school knew your dad. I couldn't be more wrong. I'm thankful that you have never tried to preach to me or even mentioned anything about your faith. You are such an amicable and outgoing person, you are friends to everybody, whether it's the cool guy from the next class, the prettiest girl in school or the unattractive nerd like me.

      You know that I didn't enjoy secondary school as much as you did. But I have to admit, one of the best things in secondary school was sitting next to you for 2 years. You have brought much joy and laughter during classes and your smile never failed to lighten up the atmosphere, especially when we were tense and stressed out for the 'O' Levels. Even though it's been more than 10 years, I still remember one conversation between us where you told me that Iceland actually has a lot of greenery and Greenland actually has a lot of ice. LOL.

      Then we graduated and we went to different JCs. But I remember we did meet up again for a squash-and-badminton session with the others. Soon after, you left for Australia. I know you missed your friends here, even to the point of doing up a class sitting plan and emailing it to all of us. (Some years later you asked me if I still had that plan, but unfortunately it was in my old PC which I had chucked away.) You came back to Singapore about 2 years later to serve NS. I once saw you at the MRT station in your army uniform, but being me, I didn't say "hi "to you. After your NS, you went back to Australia for university studies. During that time, we did contact each other once or twice via MSN, talking about our university life and life in general.

      It was 6 years after the squash-and-badminton session that we met again. That was on 14th February 2007. I can still remember the events on that day vividly. I came to lab early because there was a group lunch with my boss. I logged on to MSN as usual, and you sent me a message asking if I was on campus. I said yes, and you asked if I could bring you around my campus. Apparently, you were back in Singapore for your annual visit. Of course, I would love to catch up with you again after all these years. After my group lunch, you SMSed me to say that you were at the lift lobby near my lab. I remember the first thing I said when I saw you was: "Wow! You haven't changed after all these years!". We chatted a bit then I brought you to see my lab and there you met my senior AM and we 3 had a short chat. After that we went to the canteen where you bought a bowl of dessert (grass jelly or some sort along that line) and you said you missed such local fare. After some catching up, you said you've got more visiting to do. There was a slight drizzle, so we walked briskly to bus stop. We chatted more until the bus came. You got on the bus and we said goodbye. That was the last time I ever saw you or talked to you.

      4 years later, on 24th February 2011, you left us. I was heavy-hearted when I saw those messages left on your FB wall. I could roughly guess what happened. I saw your graduation pictures on your FB last year and I was shocked by your thinning hair and frail frame. And as usual, being me, I didn't probe further. I did check on your FB photos once in a while and was glad to see your usual bubbly self. But things weren't too good recently. It was quiet and then the bad news came. It was after some nosing around on your brother's FB wall that I can confirm you were diagnosed with cancer in December 2008.

      XD, even though I haven't been a good friend to you, I always feel at ease talking to you, like you are someone I know very well. I'm very sure every single person who has spoken to you feels the same way too. I will always remember you, especially your trademark small eyes that become little slits when you flash your toothy smile. I hope you are happy where you are now, away from the pain and suffering that this world has brought to you. You will be greatly missed.

      P.S. You may not have remembered this little promise, but if I ever do get married, I'll let you know.

      The girl who sat on your left in 3G/ 4G

      Old faded pictures of Class 4G, 2000


      1. what a spread of cakes and macarons! its fun being around ppl with the same passion!

        I'm sorry about the lose of your friend, i know that feeling, keep him in your heart, that very corner for the happy memories...

      2. Hey Jess,
        Yeah, it's really fun to share the same hobby with friends. Double the enjoyment! =D

        As we get older, we will face more of such depressing news. I've come to accept that this is...well, life, the transient nature of life.

      3. there's so many nice bake there. DELICIOUS (:

        im sorry to read about that and it actually remind me of my friend's experience which is extrememly saddening or rather depressing. but im sure he'll always live in your heart and memories will never fade.

      4. i teared a little when i read your letter - it's simple, yet the little anecdotes that you've written lets me know that this was a friend you treasured :)

      5. Hey Jasmine,
        Baking with friends always makes the food taste better than when baking alone. LOL!
        Thanks for reading the super long tribute. Yes, it is extremely depressing...especially for his family. I cannot imagine how they are feeling right now.

        Hi Janine,
        Thanks for reading the long tribute.
        I never knew I had this much memories of him in the "archive section" of my brain. More often than not, it is only when you lost something or someone then will you go searching for things in the "archive section". In any case, I am still thankful I have him somewhere in my memories. =)

      6. A beautiful dedication to your late friend. Cherish the moments in your heart, it will stay forever. Nice bakes.

      7. Hey Edith,
        Thanks for dropping by and taking time to read this long post! Yeah, I'll have him somewhere in my memories. =)