July 09, 2012

A Yellow Post, A Beautiful Memory, and A Fond Farewell to Barbara

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Barbara had been a good and true friend of mine on/offline that I dearly loved. Her passing on 29 June hit me hard. I found it's quite hard to believe she's now gone. This is the second biggest loss I have ever felt since the loss of my father last year, both lost battle of cancer. She had become one of important people in my life, and losing her has never been easy. 

She had offered me a genuine friendship since we first met. I never knew she had put me on a 'very prominent' person in her life until Bryan broke the news of her passing. She wanted me to know that she regarded me as a true friend until the end of her time. This has saddened me deeper, as I would never be able to tell her how grateful I was to have a friend like she was and how much I loved and admired her.

Since I saw her on a local magazine and made a contact with her first time sometime in 2005, I had grown fond of her. She was so bubbly that it seemed we had been friends for a good long years before. 

This was taken at the Halal Bihalal, sometime in 2006 when we first met in Auckland.
We chatted about food and blog the whole time. 

I met her first time on the occasion of Halal Bihalal (Indonesian Muslims gathering that usually is held after Eid el Fitr) where I invited her to join us in Auckland (Apparently, Barbara wrote it here and I wrote it here). There was nothing else we chatted about but food and blog. We had enjoyed Indonesian meals that day and she sampled my Negro African Tart squares.

This was taken in September 2006, when Barbara and Bryan had come down to our farm and lunched with us.
I remember she asked me about how to cook such fluffy rice.
She also loved my lemon cake that she mentioned it several times on her blog.
Another time she went down with husband Bryan was in January 2007, where she sampled fresh fruits from our orchard. She wrote on her blog that when she ate the peach, she had to stand over the kitchen sink as the juice was dribbling her chin.

On one occasion, one day in July 2007, Barbara baked and brought these Matcha cookies for my daughter's birthday. She loved my sourdough bread as she kept saying as they were 'fresh and homey'. She also sampled my Damson Plum cheese and Apple Cider Cheese, which she loved and then she took some home.

Barbara's Matcha Cookies she baked to contribute on my daughter's birthday in July 2007.
Before she and family moved to Australia in 2008, we had had another luncheon date at our family's old good friends' river cottage on the side of Waikato river one day in a sunny November 2007. It was whitebaiting season, so we had a chance to watch Ralph Dwen did the fishing and gave my children experience more of Kiwi adventure. Barbara brought her potato foccacia that she baked for Daring Bakers that Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups was hosted that month (you can see some photos Barb took during whitebaiting by clicking the link) which was really nice. We all enjoyed Sue's whitebait fritters which the fish were freshly caught and tasted so sweet. Bryan loved to have a chance to taste my green swiss roll and Greek shortbreads on the occasion. It was just a wonderful time. Apparently, it was the last time I ever saw Barbara again.

This was taken back in November 2007, the last day I met her and Bryan before they moved back to Brisbane, Australia. We went whitebaiting at our close friend's whitebaiting post on the Waikato river in Te Kohanga.
She was sorting out whitebaits from other baby fish with my children.
I knew Barbara as a brave lady and had a strong will to live her life one day to be cancer-free. On one occasion once we were together, she bent down to pick some French beans in my garden and softly said "If I am finally gone, I don't mind. I have had a good life, good friends, and good family." I got a sudden pang and had to bend lower to hide my tears. She had accepted that cancer might kill her one day, but for now, she would just battle as hard as she could.

On many emails we so very often sent to each other, she once told me that the tumors on her lungs had been growing again and she had to be ready for a series of chemo again. For days she had to live with semolina porridge and joked that she could share it with my baby daughter. One time, she gave me an update when she went to the surgeon that she had to have these tumors removed, and I just couldn't sleep thinking of her, until she wrote to me that she was recovering. 

Could you imagine that Barb had been battling her cancer since 2004, and she had to go through scan which she wasn't allowed to eat for a certain time, had to go through chemo sessions which was not only once or twice, and had to go through surgeries at a number of times, not to mention had to deal with the after-chemo impacts that somehow made her tastebuds gone numb for quite some time? She was one strong lady, she was! 

That she in the end lost a battle against this monster, it must be understandable. There's no drugs to prove strong enough to kill cancer, not that I know of. But she is pain-free now. And may God give her the best place in heaven, for she was a wonderful lady and had a heart of gold that she still thought of her friends and other people before she departed. 

Her last request is if you can kindly give donation to the "Colon Cancer Research". Rest easy, Barb.

On the occasion to remember her presence on the blogging world and in the special place in our lives, I join in the long-loved Monthly Mingle event, originated by the famous Meeta Wolff of What's for Lunch, Honey? and this month A Taste of Yellow theme is hosted by Jeanne of Cook Sister to pay a tribute to our late Barbara Joan Harris of Winos and Foodies

Lemon Tapioca Pudding with Crushed Raspberries and Lemon Shortbread-1

I made Lemon Tapioca Pudding with Crushed Raspberries and Lemon Shortbreads. It's basically tapioca pearls soaked in clean water for 6 hours, since I use small pearls, discard the water and then cooked the pearls in half portion of milk and fresh cream and zest of two lemons, and sugar to sweeten. Towards the end of cooking, I whisk an egg yolk which tempered by two tablespoons of tapioca mixture, then added to the pan, mix well. Lastly, I poured in 2 tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, mix well. Remove and cool.

Lemon Tapioca Pudding with Crushed Raspberries and Lemon Shortbread

I quite like adding lemon curd on the bottom of the dish, spoon the pudding over, and topped with crushed raspberries. This curd adds an extra note of lemon when scooped out, mixed with not-too-sweet pudding and sour raspberry crushed, I like this combination.

Lemon Tapioca Pudding with Crushed Raspberries and Lemon Shortbread-2

The lemon shortbread is just a complement if you like something crunchy to company the whole soft dessert. I was thinking to make sesame cigars, but didn't have time to do it. 

Cheers Barb!