I had been determined to make chocolate cookies for a good two weeks before I stopped being lazy and began to look for ingredients. Despite having made chocolate chip cookies numerous times, I do not have the recipe memorized, so I found the basic Toll House recipe online and got to work finding finding what I needed. The basics, flour, sugar, egg, and butter was not a problem. It was the brown sugar that was impossible to find. Once I came to the conclusion that I would not need to actually find much, I spent about a week looking for brown sugar in various markets. No luck. Then I remembered I would have to find vanilla. Luckily, another volunteer had already needed to find vanilla and had found it. It is easily available in markets, but as a powder, not a liquid, so that made things interesting.
As well as finding the ingredients, I had to figure out if the oven worked. I asked my host mother if “ I could cook with the oven”. Her response was, “No, it is for frying”. Since it used as storage for frying pans, I assumed this meant that it did not work, but I asked another way. I then asked if it worked, and she said yes, “for frying”. So I believe it was a communication and language issue rather than the oven not working and was going to give it a try. If I had to pan fry the cookies, so be it, I was going to make some cookies.
Finally the day I had set aside to bake cookies arrived. I had told my host mother in advance and she had said of course, but on the day she said that I could not. She gave some obscure reason and I had to wait until the next day. It seemed as if all was against me baking cookies.
The next day, baking commenced. My host mother was thouroughly confused as she came in to find be bashing a chocolate bar with a hammer. She suggested that I shave the chocolate and I smiled and shook my head. They aren’t called Chocolate Shaved Cookies. Because I was unable to find brown sugar, I nearly doubled the amount of regular sugar and added honey. As I was adding the dry together, I realized that there was more sugar than flour. Uh oh, I had made a mistake with my conversions. That is were I winged it. Once the dough was about the right consistency and close to the correct flavor I got out a pan and made it ready for the cookies. I then went to my host mother and asked her how to turn the oven on. I should probably mention that the oven knob just has the numbers one through eight on it. No temperatures Celsius or otherwise. Just one through eight. So my host mother grabs a match, turns the knob to five, lights the match and drops it in. Gas oven. Open flame at the bottom. I then put my pan in the oven and hope for the best.
Within two minutes the bottom is burned and the top is raw. We quickly adjust, but they cannot be salvaged. The second tray we put in on one and then it takes about 20 minutes for them to bake.
After all the shenanigans surrounding the cookies, they turned out not so bad. My host mother also later said I had been a good house-wife that day. Vemi. I am not sure I want to be a good house-wife!