Conversion

 
Starting a new life is refreshing. Although it may seem difficult to let go of things that you’ve held on to for many years, it can also feel liberating to be rid of those possessions. Some things will be replaced. Others, you will realize, weren’t necessary to begin with.
 
When moving from the United States of America to almost any other country, the change to the metric system is a necessity. Although students are taught to use centimeters and kilograms in math and science classes, metric in realia is limited to parenthesis on packaging, with perhaps the exception of 2-liter bottles of pop. Several years ago, my mom gave me a refrigerator magnet that is a reference for calculating basic measurements.  However, conversion sometimes involves more than following a formula.
 
Bogota is located about 8600 ft above sea level.  Travelers will immediately notice the difference by at least an increased heart rate and labored breathing if not out-and-out altitude sickness. During the days that you are adjusting, you can enjoy the inexpensive breads at your local panederia. But what do you do on a chilly day, when it would be nice to turn on the oven and bake? 
 
I learned from another website a little bit about High Altitude Baking.
Apparently the lower air pressure produces more air bubbles in the batter, thes causing a faster rate in rising.  In the oven, the liquid evaporates faster and the remaining ingredients are too concentrated. The website explained that the sugar doesn’t set and that you will end up with a gooey mess.
 
So. What do you do?
 
Here are 4 suggestions:
 
Reduce baking powder: for each 1 t  reduce by 1/4 t
 
Reduce sugar: for each cup reduce by 1 to 3 T
 
Increase liquid: for each cup increase by 3 to 4 T
 
Increase oven temperature: + 25 degrees F
 
 
We’ve been looking at the various tiendas and restaurantes in our barrio as well as along the way to ISSO, the school where we are being trained in TEFL/TESL. One of the places that catch our eyes are pizza shops. The toppings are a bit less familiar that what you might see in the states. Yesterday I had the right ingredients to make my own chicken-jalapeno pizza, so I googled for a recipe for high-altitude pizza crust. I don’t know that it is much different at all.
 
1 c warm 2% milk
1/2 t honey or sugar
1 T yeast
1/4 c flour
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 – 1 c flour
Italian herbs (optional)
additional flour as needed
 
Dissolve the honey and yeast in the warm milk. Stir in 1/4 c flour and olive oil. Add 1/2 c flour and herbs. Continue adding flour 1/2 c at a time until it is not too sticky to handle. Knead the dough for several minutes, then allow it to rise in a greased bowl for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a pan with olive oil and sprinkle it with corn meal. Stretch your dough to fit the pan and then prick the surface with a fork.  I like to bake the crust by itself and flip it before adding the toppings, inorder to assure that no part of it will be soggy. So, first bake the crust in a preheated 425*F oven for about 7 minutes. Next, add your favorite sauce and toppings. Bake until  cheese melts and vegetables are at your preferred texture, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes more.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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