Not too long ago, someone in this house had a birthday. The occasion was just the excuse I needed to break in our not-so-new "combi" oven handed down from the in-laws. Our flat did not come with an oven (which I found odd but is quite common in the Netherlands), so we were grateful for the gift. However, the foreign buttons and functions intimidated me enough to not use the beast for almost 2 months. Thank goodness for birthdays.
After what felt like hours on the internet, I got the basics of the combi down and mustered the confidence to bake the damn cake. But I needed a recipe...back to the interwebs. Within moments, it dawned on me - Dutchies use the metric system, so I would be baking in a convection oven, in celsius and measuring by weight rather than volume. That trifecta was enough to convince me to recognize my handicaps, roll over and go with a cake mix. My domestic ego was bruised, but this cake was for Jan-Pieter, not Pinterest.
I spent 20 minutes in the baking isle at Albert Heijn, searching for something funfetti-esque. Nothing. Looked. Familiar. To make things more exciting, I don't get reception or wifi in the store, so Google was out of the question. Eventually, a friendly looking woman joined me in the isle. I used my best Dutch to politely inquire if she spoke English. She did! And she helped me select the most special and delicious cake mix.
I rushed home and pre-heat the oven, to find a minor (major) problem: 140 degrees was missing. I gambled and set the oven to 160. Then this happened:
I wanted to cry and JP would be home in 2 hours. But I didn't give up and instead jumped back on my bike, bought more cake mix, then called my mom. She offered some helpful baking tips, which I applied and didn't burn the cake!
I'm now 90% comfortable with the combi and look forward to sharing some of my recipes soon.
Moral of the story: even the simplest tasks can become an all day challenge as an expat, Dutch people are friendly and combi ovens were sent to earth by Satan.
I'd love to hear some of your debacles is baking, expat baking or every day tasks as an expat gone a rye. Comment or pop me an email!