Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Jordan Challenge -- 3. Learn to Use my Oven

I think most people have irrational fears, but mine are different than other peoples'.  Thanks to an awesome first-year biology TA who forced us to handle them, I like snakes, and after reading Charlotte's Web growing up, I see spiders and the webs they create as miracles of nature.  My attempts at rock climbing have made me see heights as challenges, and put me on a plane -- any place, any size, any weather-- and I'm happy as can be.

On the other hand, there are some fears I always thought I'd grow out of, but since I recently reluctantly came to the conclusion that I am a grown up (and have been for quite a while), I think I'm stuck with them.  The two worst of these are fear of the dark and fear of gas and electrically-powered things catching on fire or exploding.  The latter fear gained a bit of momentum when my friend and former student Jamila had a gas oven blow up in her face here in Amman while she was studying abroad a few years ago. 

Thus, I am quite proud to announce that I have completed the third challenge on my list -- making my Jordanian oven work -- with good results according to my Fulbrighter friends Mike and Cooper, who kindly served as guinea pigs for the resulting oatmeal raisin cookies.  When my landlady showed me how to light the oven (whick needs to be re-ignited each time it's used -- no wasteful pilot lights here), she unconcernedly stuck her hand and a lighted match deep into the depths of a hole that I couldn't even  see.  I invested in one of those lighter wands but still had to take the bottom part of the oven out to see what I was doing.  But, as far as I'm concerned whatever it takes is fine, as long as it means I'm back in the business of cookie baking, and here's the proof that I am.

Despite a few glitches -- golden raisins instead of dark, sub-par vanilla, and about a dozen attempts to get the oven lit -- here they are the official First Cookies I've Baked in Jordan.  Definitely not the last.

Still warm, and ready to be taste-tested by Mike and Cooper.

Chris, Leah, Josh, Siham and Drisk, if you want your Chris Crinkles, Almond Bennetts, Leah Lasches, Maple Hoxies, Siham Surprises, and Lemon Driskies, you know where the kitchen is.  Come on over and I'll bake you some.  And everyone else, if you've ever wanted a cookie named in your honor, this might be your big chance.  Come to Jordan and there might be some cookie-inventing in between hiking through Petra and trying mensaf.

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