Monday, September 12, 2011

Thinking Metric in the Kitchen

When I was in elementary school, one of my math books said, "Be Prepared To Think Metric" on the front.  I guess it was probably fourth or fifth grade, and we were taught all of the ins and outs of the Metric System, supposedly preparing us to, in fact, "Think Metric". 

It didn't work.  Americans simply don't think metric.  If I were to say to almost anyone I know that It's 35 degrees Celsius right now, I'd get some blank stares and one "is that cold??"  in response.  No, it isn't cold.  It's about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, actually.  Some have an idea about kilometers, but that's usually because they're runners and have done a 5K.  I guess that sounds better than a 3M.  In general, we might know that a meter is roughly a yard but that's as far as it goes.

 Since I've worked in more than one job that required moving back and forth between metric and imperial in length (2.54 cm = 1 inch) and weight (2.2kg = 1 pound), it's not all that confusing.  But volume is something else completely; I just can't visualize milliliters.  Yet.  Which is why cooking has been a challenge during the past month.  We haven't received our shipment yet, which means we're relying on the meager kitchen supplies we inherited in our apartment or have acquired.  Which means those cheap Ikea measuring cups and free with purchase grocery store measuring spoons have gotten a workout.  Those metric  measuring cups and spoons.  (We're also depending on a set of Ikea knives that are only marginally better than the plastic ones in the drawer, but that's another whine for another day).

After doing our research when we visited here in July, we knew we needed to bring chocolate with us. It's available, but it's expensive.  Some of you may be wondering if it's really that important that we spent time researching chocolate instead of the thousands of other things we might have researched. The answer is, without a doubt, undeniably, YES.  Anyway. we imported Trader Joe's chocolate chips  because we knew we'd need them. And need them we did recently. 

I had a recipe.  I had ingredients. I had a spoon and a pot to serve as my mixing bowl.   I had scratch paper and a calculator.  Yes, I realize that I could have found dozens of recipes online that were ready for my milliliter measurers, but what's the fun in that?  I admit it; math makes me happy.  Or, maybe anything that involves more brain cells than The Itsy Bitsy Spider leaves me feeling a little bit more intelligent. 

So, cookies were baked and enjoyed.  There's still a bit of dough in the freezer, but I doubt it lasts much longer.

While we're talking about baking, take a look at our oven.
Isn't it cute?  Can you tell how tiny it is?  Have you ever used an Easy Bake Oven?  Yeah. About like that.  It measures a tight 14" x 17", and we left most of our pans behind because they're too big.  (See?  We didn't just research chocolate availability when we visited; we measured the oven, too). 

After the cookie experiment, I came across a recipe for homemade pop tarts that I thought AK would enjoy cooking and eating.  So, again armed with my scratch pad and calculator (yay!), we made a batch.  AK was thrilled to be back in the kitchen, and she made a list of all the things we'll cook when our stuff arrives.  Chicken and dumplings are on the top of her list. 

Anyway, we don't have a rolling pin, but we do have these handy glasses and some parchment paper:

AK did most of the rest of the work for these little tarts.  She put the filling on each square:

Incidentally, she's using whortleberry jam.  I thought it was blueberry, but nope.  Whortleberry. Who knew there even was a whortleberry?

She smashed the edges with a fork:

And she enjoyed the fruits of her labor:

These little tarts are yummy, kid friendly , and very easy to make.  We'll definitely make them again soon!

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