It’s amazing how two months in a city that I’m already a resident in, with my sister who I’ve known all my life, can feel so wonderfully long yet also so incredibly short.
Valerie finally flew back to Singapore last Friday night, after two months of visiting me in Buenos Aires. I never imagined I’d feel this way, but Argentina’s capital city feels strangely empty without her.
Having her here was probably one of the closest experiences we’ve ever shared as sisters. We spent so much time strolling up and down the cobbled streets of this city, that now when I walk on the same roads we’d trodden on together before, I feel like she’s still in Buenos Aires. When the bus I’m on passes by a restaurant we’d eaten at, a wave of nostalgia floods over me.
I miss my sister already.
During her trip here, what made her stay special wasn’t the fact that we’d traveled a lot, but the fact that we did completely normal, non-touristy things.
In fact, she’d spent much of stay at the stables with the horses, her passion for the horses being the one reason her eyes would light up. When she wasn’t off in the province riding horses and having lessons with Adrian and Miriam, we’d explore the city, usually by foot, discovering nooks and crannies even I hadn’t known to exist.
And mostly, we lived like the locals, enjoying the apartment that we rented, I cooking our meals and she enjoying crime shows on cable TV. Plopped on the couch with Val watching “Criminal Minds” or “CSI”, it was sisterly bonding at its prime, and I’ve never felt closer to Val than now.
One of those days, Val had a craving for chocolate, and because I’d been dreaming of trying a new recipe I’d seen online that called for chocolate chips, it was the perfect combination.
It was a Saturday afternoon I remember, after she’d just returned to the apartment from horse riding, and was stretched out on the couch, watching a series.
I took out butter, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla extract and chocolate chips, and laid them on the kitchen counter. When the chilled butter had softened to room temperature, the right texture for the batter, I started off by mixing it with sugar, repeating the movements until the mixture became light and creamy, after which I beat in two eggs and vanilla extract. Sifting the flour and baking powder with a pinch of salt, I then added the flour mixture to the butter mixture, ending up with a thick yellow batter.
Eventually, when all that was left to do was to fold in the chocolate chips, I did just that with my clean bare hands, until the chips were all homogeneously spread out. Dropping the batter by teaspoon onto my baking tray, I later pushed the tray into the warm oven, and patiently waited by the oven window for the cookies to be done.
The secret in this recipe is to use room temperature butter – which leads to thick batter and hence thick cookies.
These were thick and chewy, different from the flat and crunchy cookies that tend to be the result of using melted butter. They were big and large and substantial, similar to scones in size and look.
And as I’m feeling the washes of homesickness and the occasional sadness, I slow down, lift up my hands, and give thanks.
I give thanks for amazing friends like Jinhua who have been concerned and checking up on me, for a wonderful sister whose love is felt both near and far, and for family who no one can ever take away from me.
My friend Shanna dropped me a short but sweet email the other day, which ended almost as soon as it began. Still, it was crisp and to the point, and her lovely note rang like a clear bell on a bright sunny day – “Hope today brings lots of hope and joy“.
Thank you dear Shanna, for reminding me that my hands are full.
And I will give thanks, and be grateful, because God is good.
1) 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
2) 1 teaspoon of baking soda
3) 115g of butter, room temperature
4) 1 teaspoon of salt (if you use unsalted butter)
5) 1 1/2 cups of sugar
6) 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
7) 2 eggs
8) 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1) Mix the room temperature butter with the sugar, until you get a light and fluffy mixture
2) Add in the eggs and the vanilla extract, mixing it well
3) Mix flour with baking soda and salt, and add it to the butter mixture, until you get a homogenous batter
4) Fold in the chocolate chips with your hands until the chips are evenly distributed
5) Pre-heat oven to 175 deg cel
6) Drop batter by teaspoon onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray
7) Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until golden brown
8) Allow cookies to cool completely before serving with a glass of cold milk