We are still at war.

I hate this oven. I really want to just give it a nice kick in the you know what.

I tried to play nice, making only no-bake treats, avoiding anything with baking soda, treating my chocolate cravings with Nutella and bananas; but today, I decided to go to the front lines. It was time to face my enemy. I whipped up an easy batch of peanut butter brownies, guessing here and there because I only have one measuring cup. I was hopeful that if I looked up the exact conversion between Celsius and Fahrenheit I might have a shot at eating these brownies without a spoon. Do you know that 325 F equals 162.778 C? This was super helpful, considering 162.778 isn’t on my European oven dial. In fact, it’s kind of difficult to use anything besides increments of 50 on this oven. The thing is, deep down, I knew my enemy wasn’t really the temperature dial. It was the other one. The one that shall not be named. The stupid one with all the stupid icons.

Despite my anxiety over ruining another batch brownies, I put them in the oven and hoped for the best. I checked them 30 minutes later (as per the recipe) and found them slightly cooked, but mostly still batter. I sat back down and waited another ten minutes.

Ten minutes later, not much had changed.

Ten minutes after that, not much had changed (again).

I was really starting to want a bite of those brownies, so ten minutes later I stuck a knife in and found the middle still completely gooey.

Ten minutes after that I was running out of patience. I decided to turn up the temperature.

Five minutes after that I smelled burnt chocolate (terrible smell), insert [swear word] of your choice.

I was not about to let the oven win that easily, so I pulled them out and scraped off the burnt layer, then shoved them back in the oven. I decided to make a bold move; I changed the other dial. To avoid that awful smell again I checked them frequently over the next ten minutes, but after 80 minutes in that stupid oven I finally called it. Game over.

After all that work I wasn’t about to let them go to waste. I ate 1/4 of the pan with my fork — it was a small victory that I didn’t have to use a spoon, but a victory none the less*. Take that, oven!

I know I get some fat kid points, but before you get too impressed, it was just an 8×8 pan.

*They still weren’t set up enough to send leftovers to Jay’s office. I refuse to embarrass him with anything less than my best… which basically means no one in England will ever taste anything I bake.

The end.


Kitchen 2, Kayla 1

I told you they kind of looked like poop…

When we first got here, baking was not high on my list; I was more worried about just making something edible. But once we settled in, and I started spending more time on Pinterest, I got the itch to make something sweet. For any of you who haven’t heard of this phenomenon sweeping America, Pinterest is a girl’s best friend (next to diamonds, of course) — it has everything — from recipes, to crafts, to fashion. You can even plan your dream wedding before you have a boyfriend. It’s kind of like the wedding board game I had when I was 8, but for grown-ups. Yes, there was such a thing as a wedding board game. Funny, right? I’m actually surprised my Mom let me play with it, being the strong feminist she is… “a girl doesn’t need a boy to make her happy”… which is true, but it’s nice to have one anyway. Must have been a gift… 🙂

Anyway, as I’m drooling over my “food board” on Pinterest a couple Fridays ago I realize that not only do I not have the ingredients to make most of these items, I was pretty much missing every basic baking utensil; I had no measuring cups, no mixing bowl, no muffin tin, no cookie sheet, no 9 x 13 pan, no mixer, no whisk, no spatula… How did someone survive in this place?! Serioussssssly. So I narrowed my search. I needed to bake something. Anything. Luckily, I found some peanut butter oatmeal no-bake cookies that my friend Ellie had pinned. Now, I don’t usually go the no-bake route, they just never seem to be as good as the real thing. But as you can probably tell, I was desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures. These cookies called for six ingredients, a pot and a spoon; that, it seemed, would be all I could handle.

I made myself a short list, I already had half of the ingredients (love when that happens!), and walked to the grocery store. I found organic butter (don’t tell Jay), brown sugar, and few other items in under 15 minutes, possibly my best time yet (I suppose my sugar fix was good motivation). Even though Jay would have grumbled because it wasn’t on my list, I got really excited when I stumbled upon the Nutella. While I would have been happy with any kind of cookie, I really wanted something with chocolate, and Nutella was the answer to my prayers.

I got back to the flat and I realized I had forgotten the vanilla. Crap. There was no time to go back, so I went ahead and got a little creative. Here’s what I did (just in case any of you end up in a place with no measuring cups, no mixing bowl, no muffin tin, no cookie sheet, no 9 x 13 pan, no mixer, no whisk, no spatula):

3 C Oatmeal

4 T Peanut Butter

1 T Nutella

Dash of Cinnamon

2 C Brown Sugar

1/2 C Milk

1/4 C Butter (also known as 57 grams here… it’s super helpful that it comes in 50 g chunks… not)

Put the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and set aside (or a pot, if that’s all you have). Cook brown sugar, milk and butter until it comes to a rapid boil — allow to boil for one minute. Pour mixture over oats and stir. Pour onto foil or wax paper.

Beware: it looks little bit like poop, but tastes delicious! They hit the spot. In fact, even Jay said they were good. I win. Kayla 1 Kitchen 0

I got a little cocky after my good luck with those cookies. The following week I thought it would be a good idea to make a half batch with the leftover ingredients and add some ripe bananas. Terrible idea. Three problems: 1) Halving the batch without measuring cups proved to be more difficult than I originally thought 2) I didn’t compensate enough with the dry ingredients to account for the bananas. 3) The bananas were too ripe — it was more like a mushy banana cookie with a little chocolate and peanut butter, rather than the other way around. We ate them with a fork for awhile, then I decided to just chalk it up as a loss. Rats. Kayla 1 Kitchen 1

Last weekend we were invited to play volleyball/picnic in the park with the Spikeopaths (a local volleyball club). The invite mentioned bringing a dish to share and I love a good potluck. Once again, I scanned pinterest for a recipe that would require very little utensils and ingredients. I finally decided on box brownies, marshmallows and chocolate frosting. I figured it would be hard to mess box brownies up. And they would be super tasty. But…

After 40 minutes of baking in a small glass dish I pulled out the brownies, checked them with a fork, and decided they had to be done. I worried I had overcooked them and fell asleep cursing myself for it. How was I going to dazzle my new mates with burnt brownies?

The next morning I got up and made the chocolate frosting. Yum. I usually try to hold off eating chocolate before 11 AM, but I couldn’t help myself. The buttery, chocolatey goodness was just too much to resist — I was covered in chocolate after licking both spoons and the pot clean. After that I patted myself on the back for the great self-control, then we packed up and left for the park. After a 20 minute walk and 20 minutes wandering in the park we finally found our group. Sidenote: we were on time and they were late. The English haven’t proved to be all that prompt. Once I set the brownies down I realized the frosting had melted in the heat. It had been so crappy for so many days that it didn’t cross my mind that it would be hot enough for anything to melt. Considering it was almost lunch time, and I had already broken my no chocolate before 11 rule, I decided to cut into the brownies. It was really for everyone’s benefit; once one piece is gone it’s like giving permission for everyone else to dig in, right? Well… I dug in, but to my dismay the brownies were stuck to the foil (I had used foil to avoid cleaning the dish by hand. I know. Super lazy.). Hoping that maybe it was just the corner that I would have issues with I continued to dig.


Pretty sure the sun didn’t melt my brownies back into brownie batter.

Pretty sure no one is going to eat these.

But geez, they still taste really, really good.


How embarassing. How could I mess up box brownies? Ugh.

All this chocolate goodness will go to waste. What ashame.

Now I’m just angry.

Kitchen 2, Kayla 1

We will meet again.

*BTW for you chocolate lovers out there I did not let them all go to waste. I probably ate 2/3 of the pan before I made myself throw them away. Yes, it took a lot of willpower. Brownie batter is damn good.