On Sunday the high was supposed to be 40 here. But that was Celsius, and in Fahrenheit that means 104. It was hot. So what would you do on such a hot afternoon? I made chocolate chip cookies. Sunday night was the determined night for me to make an American meal for my family here. The menu: sloppy joes on French bread, generic Pringles, oranges cut in quarters, cucumbers, and chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were the most interesting, so let me tell you about those. It was 2:30. Time to start making dinner, since I didn’t know when exactly it should be done or how long it would take. Cookies first. Where do you make cookies? On the floor of the front porch, of course! Luckily, my host family had made a cake the weekend before so I knew where baking was done. I didn’t have any brown sugar, so white sugar made due for both kinds. I also didn’t have any vanilla, but I had been able to buy “vanilla sugar.” It looked like sugar and smelled like vanilla. I guess they put the vanilla flavoring in the sugar? I added two packets. With the help of a few girls we had that stirred into the butter (well, more like margarine) in no time. Then it was time to crack the eggs. I had been told in missionary training to crack your eggs into a separate bowl, just in case they were bad. But I wasn’t expecting what I found when I cracked those eggs. They were hard-boiled! I thought that I had just bought 2 eggs, but I guess I had bought 2 hard-boiled eggs. That meant that it was snack time, then off to the “boutique” down the block to try again. Those eggs were raw and good. Hooray! Baking soda was another problem. I had gone to the store to get some and accidently came home with baking powder (it was all I could find anyway, I think, besides yeast). But after an e-mail home and a quick google search there, I found out that you can still make chocolate chip cookies with baking powder instead of baking soda. Good to know! The last ingredient was the chocolate chips, brought with me from the US. But I decided to make a few cookies before adding the chocolate chips, since some people here have said that they don’t like chocolate. Now I didn’t have any cookie sheets. I later realized there was a 13X9 pan, but I wasn’t allowed to use it (sometimes the 7 year old can tell me what I am and am not allowed to do without being able to tell me why). So instead I found an 8X8 pan and a slightly bigger one, too. I spread a bit of margarine on the bottom, and voila – makeshift cookie sheets. The chocolate chips also proved to be a bit of a challenge. Remember – we’re making these cookies outside and it’s 104 degrees out. Yup, they started to melt. The first few cookies with the chocolate chips were chocolate chip cookies. The ones after that were more chocolate kind-of-chip cookies. After cookie dough is made you’re supposed to bake it (after a few tastes to make sure it’s ok!). My host family here does have an oven, so that helped. It’s a gas oven, but you need to light it with a match. The only one who knew how to do that was my host mom, who was taking a nap. That meant break time until naptime was over. Then she lit the oven for us and it was time to bake. But there was no temperature gauge on the oven and I had no idea how hot it was. I also wasn’t supposed to wait for it to preheat (it would use up too much gas). Surprisingly, the cookies seemed to take about the same amount of time to bake as in the US (but then again, I had no clock or timer, so I’m not really sure). An interesting part was that when I’d check on them to see if they were done yet, I noticed that in the bottom of the oven there was a lizard. I imagine that he was a dead lizard, since he stayed there through the whole baking process. I bet that when you clean your ovens you don’t usually have to worry about dead lizards! After the first batch was done we had to remove the cookies and put new ones in the same pans. That takes a bit more time with the help of girls who have never made cookies before but want to help (and taste-test, too). But then I was told that we had to hurry, since otherwise the oven was using too much gas with nothing cooking. So the rest of the cookies became cookie bars, and that’s basically all that was left by the time dinner rolled around. Chocolate kind-of chip cookie bars. Not quite chocolate chip cookies, but close enough. 🙂 It was rather nice on Sunday, feeling like I was a useful member of society. After all, I was the only one who knew the recipe for the cookies!