Friday, October 19, 2012

Kitchenless Cooking

Warning: I got sick. I'm fussing. Sorry.

When I got back from break I wasn't feeling very well. Sore throat, slight fever, headache, and a funny rash on my hands and feet were the only systems; the internet informed me I had Hand-Foot-Mouth disease. Turns out it's usually pediatric and harmless, albeit somewhat miserable to go through. It's also very contagious. I made the mistake of indicating I felt sick to my contact teacher when I went into school on Tuesday (the not-workday I wrote of previously) and she insisted that I go to a doctor and procure a note that said if I could or could not come to work.

Is this normal in the US? I've lived my entire life thus far in school, where a parent's note or an email to the professor was really all we needed if we got sick. I rarely got sick anyways, so this usually wasn't a problem. But I had to make a same-day appointment with a doctor (I don't have an official German primary care doctor, being not-German) and get the appropriate note. The doctor declared that I could not go to school for a week (next Wednesday) and wrote me a prescription for some homeopathic powder to put on my rash. I kid you not. This is apparently not uncommon in Germany: most doctors and pharmacies use a range of homeopathic treatments as well as more conventional medications. I haven't found any study on if this is better than the US systems, which does no such thing.

The two paragraphs of whining there are the introduction to today's foolery. I'm stuck in my room and bored, so I decided to bake something. I like baking - it's stress-relieving, fun, and produces delicious edibles! It makes me happy. The problem is, as the title suggests, I don't have a kitchen.

This is my kitchen.
 As you can see from the picture, I'm lacking an oven, toaster oven, microwave, or crockpot. I do have a hot water kettle and a two-burner hotplate, both through the generosity of my landlady, and both serve me very well. I can make soup, stir fry, sandwiches, and tea - 95% of my typical diet anyways. When it comes to baking, though, a stovetop doesn't usually do it.

So I went to the internet and found a recipe for no-bake cookies without peanut butter. Why without peanut butter? Because Europe doesn't have it. Sadface. I love peanut butter.

I got my ingredients (sugar, butter, chocolate, milk, oats) and checked my recipe, only to remember that baking requires measurements. I also don't have measuring cups. I really need to find a permanent place to live soon. Happily, I've been eating a fair amount of yogurt since coming to Germany, and so I had several empty yogurt containers. A little internet checking and voila! Vague yogurt-to-cups measurement conversion.

US to yogurt baking conversions
With that bit of problem-solving out of the way, it was time to start baking! First I arranged all the ingredients and eyeballed my yogurt measurements to make sure they sort of seemed to agree with my idea of a cup. They did.

All the ingredients, plus the measuring cup there on the left.
I actually need two yogurts of sugar, but there you go.
Yogurt #4 of oats.
So, I boiled everything up, added in the oats, and mixed it all together. With my trusty metal spoon I dropped small clumps of the mixture on to aluminum foil.

They seem a little liquidy...
Tangential paragraph: see the bottle in the upper right-hand corner there? That's Federweißer (ß = ss) and I wrote about it before. It's a drink also called "New Wine" and made by fermenting grapes for only a few days to a week, so it's still very sweet and not very alcoholic. Since I generally dislike alcohol this is perfect for me and I got a bottle. Only problem is, because the busily fermenting yeast is still in there, it's a little carbonated. Unlike soft drinks, where the carbonation comes from a finite amount of commercially-produced carbon dioxide that has been forced into the liquid, Federweißer still has yeast in it constantly producing carbon dioxide. As a result it cannot be stored in a sealed container because the build-up of carbonation would cause it to explode, so all Federweißer bottles have a hole in them. I knew this but totally forgot and tried to carry it home with me on its side in my bag, causing it to slosh all over my arm and left side. As a result, I smelled strongly of alcohol on the bus ride home and probably made all the Germans think I was a wino. Goody.

Back to the baking - as I write this I'm waiting for the cookies to set and hoping that they'll become solid after an hour or so, as my recipe indicates they should. Then I can bring some to my upstairs neighbors, who have both been very kind to me and deserve baked goods. Fingers crossed. Actually, fun German fact: the German version of crossing your fingers is "pressing the thumb," so you might say "we're keeping our thumbs pressed for you" or something similar.

So, fingers crossed and thumbs pressed.


  1. I am a huge lover of no bakes and actually had never heard of making them with peanut butter until relatively recently. I'm guessing your cookies did not set up,even with your thumbs pressed, because you should have used 1/2 cup milk instead. Regardless, they are sugary chocolate goodness even when they don't properly hope you enjoyed your yogurt cup measured, not baked in a kitchen, yummy goodies :-). And glad you are getting over your sickness well.

  2. You are so right! They did not set but are now living in my refrigerator and ready to be eaten with a spoon whenever I want something sweet.