One of my favorite things to do with friends here is to cook. I like it both ways: them teaching me how to make dumplings or some other  dish, and me teaching them how to make traditional Western food. When it’s my turn to teach, that usually ends up meaning we bake. This is good for several reasons. I love cookies. My friends know that I’m American and they expect me to love sweets so I’m just fitting into the (typical and pudgy) mold. And, of course, it is so fun to see how shocked they are at the amount of sugar we use in every single recipe. Although they use sugar when they cook, at the most it’s usually a spoonful or so for flavoring.

Sarah came over to help that afternoon. We chose Snickerdoodles–not only are they yummy, but they have a little “decoration” via the cinnamon-sugar coating that gets added at the last moment.

Meticulous. I love the precision with which my friends always mix up the dough. When I tell them to add flour little by little…. the flour is then added and perfectly mixed in minute portions.

Most of them have never seen an oven, so although I didn’t get a photo of it, it’s not at all uncommon for my friends to stand transfixed in front of the oven for the entire 10-15 minute baking process. They love watching the dough rise and the baked goods brown. I assume it’s a little like baking with a small child who’s seeing the world with fresh eyes…. everything is new and astounding. Which means it is much more fun for me.

They’re finished! And soooo pretty.

Time for the final step: scooping the cookies off the tray.

After we finished the cookies I sent my friends home with the first baked goods they’d ever made. One minor hesitation: apparently their dorm suffers from a rat infestation. (Shudder. These girls both have top bunks but apparently their bottom-bunking roommates are regularly woken at night as the creatures run across their faces!) Hope the cookies make it to their roommates before the four-legged creepers get them!

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