If there’s one thing that always manages to relax and calm me, it’s being in my kitchen baking or cooking. And when I am traveling around for work I do my best to get comfortable in foreign kitchens as well, which is always its own little adventure.
While I was taking my TEFL course in Tournan-En-Brie, France I baked a Honey Apple Pie with Thyme for my classmates. It was my first time using a French oven and having to convert measurements from English to Metric.
I didn’t have a rolling pin either, but hell, I was in France so there were plenty of wine bottles around! I just wrapped it in some cellophane and was in business!
While teaching for American Village in Le Bourríde, France I baked chocolate chip cookies for my co-workers and the camp staff. In this instance I was given permission by our site owner to use their huge kitchen where got to use an awesome industrial-sized convection oven. It was amazing, I had over 40 cookies baking all at the same time, what a dream. And while brown sugar doesn’t exist in most French grocery stores and baking chocolate comes only in bars and not chips, I managed. I omitted the brown sugar and employed the skillful hands of fellow ESL teacher, Ariel, to chop up chocolate.
And here in Kerinci, Sumatra, Indonesia, my newest challenge is baking in my little jungle abode with my newly purchased oven. It’s about the size of an Easy Bake Oven and can cook about 9 cookies at a time. Thankfully my aunt provided me with collapsable baking cups though so this time I can use my recipes without the hazards of converting measurements.
No matter where I am or the challenges encountered in the kitchen—somewhere between cups of wheat flour and teaspoons of vanilla I find peace. And on a rainy day in the jungle, with a half-completed roof to worry about, baking some sugar cookies was just what I needed to feel at home. I took them into work this morning and they were gone by morning break so I think my fellow teachers enjoyed eating them as much as I enjoyed baking them.
Pictured above is some avocado juice with chocolate syrup and some sweet rice ball porridge called bubur candil. I purchased both from the students at school for a fundraiser. I am completely amazed by the avocado/chocolate combination, surprisingly refreshing and delicious. And the porridge has a glutenous texture that has a great combination of sweet and savory with its coconut milk and coconut sugar topping.
My next project is to attempt some traditional Indonesian dishes and desserts. I’ve discovered this amazing site, Merry’s Kitchen of Indonesian Cuisine, and look forward to seeing what I can make with it’s English-friendly recipes. While I teach my students English, for now I think I’ll continue to learn about Indonesia through its food!