Houses in China don’t have ovens. Well, let me rephrase that: typical Chinese houses in Shanghai don’t have ovens. I’m sure the Western styled houses on the big compounds that dot the city have gorgeously big ones with a thousand different settings and that don’t produce a ton of smoke everytime its turned on (unlike the oven in our student house in Loughborough). Then again, I’m sure these kitchens are also equipped with luxuries like a dish washer and a stove with more than 2 gaspits. In all honesty though, we got lucky with our little kitchen in our little Chinese flat. I’ve been told that it’s bigger than the average kitchen here, and it has everything we need. A stove, microwave, lots of cupboards, and a powerful tap… The tap isn’t connected to the boiler so it has no hot water, but hey: it saves electricity! And dishes are just as clean after being washed in cold water, right..? Ehm, yes.
But back to the no oven thing. It was a bit of a problem, seeing as I have a slight love for baking. And for eating baked goods. So when my flatmate said she had seen a toaster oven on sale at the Wallmart near Fudan, I got really excited. After staring at the little machine for a while and excitedly muttering that an ‘oven really is a necessity’ and ‘would be used daily’, we bought one. We brought it home and gave it a prime spot on out kitchen counter: right next to the rice-cooker and teapot (other necessities, of course, we live in China!).
I decided that our little toaster oven could only be welcomed into the real world of baking with one of my favorite recipes from Smitten Kitchen. She calls them ‘crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies’, but I’d simply settle for: perfect cookies. Perhaps because I love chocolate. Or maybe because they’re a success everytime I make them for other people. I’ve baked them twice in the past 2 weeks, and after teasing my new classmates about their deliciousness, they insisted I make a batch and bring them to Fudan with me. They bought me chocolate, and so here I am! Standing in my Chinese kitchen in front of my already well-used oven. My day cannot get any better.
Well, maybe after I try a couple… Yum yum.