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Almost hot enough to bake cookies in car
Jason Campbell places chocolate cookie dough on the dashboard of his improvised solar oven as Thursdays air temperature climbed to 108 degrees. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

“It’s going to be hot” they said.
“It’s going to break records” they said.
And, as somebody who avoids going outside of air conditioned dwellings at absolutely all costs during the hot summer months – somebody that thinks that 85 is too hot, and that 104 is actually hot enough to melt the flesh off of my tired bones – this last week has been a little bit of a, challenge we’ll say, for me.
So, trying to take advantage of Mother Nature’s cruel wrath and the fact the high in Manteca ended up hitting 108 degrees Thursday, I figured I could at least get something out of this scorching oven of a place I call home.
I was going to bake cookies.
Now, if you know me at all, you know that I’ve lost a great deal of weight in recent years – mainly by watching my diet. There was a time in my life when I would simply go into Save Mart after work and polish off the tub of chocolate chip cookies I always bought by the following morning.
And on a recent fishing trip where the decadence is a big draw of why people go, I passed on dessert every single night.
But I told myself that if I can somehow manage to get these cookies to bake in my car, I would eat them because – obviously. My new Jeep can do many things that I didn’t think it could do, but baking cookies certainly wasn’t one of them.
Here’s how it went down:
I went to Save Mart and bought prepackaged cookie dough, thinking that if anything was going to cook it would surely be the processed stuff that don’t take any effort at all to prepare. I assure you this had nothing to do with laziness.
I came into the office, readied the cooking sheet that I borrowed from my mother, laid a towel down across my dashboard and placed the cookies inside – using a digital thermometer to register an interior temperature of 114.6 degrees.
Not hot enough to bake, but awfully hot.
After closing the doors and heading back into the office, I sat at and waited for 10 minutes to pass so that I could go and check the temperature and see if the car had heated up at all. In that short amount of time, the inside of the car was 131 degrees, while the temperature was hovering above 106 degrees outside shortly after 4 p.m.
After repeating this 10-minute exercise twice more, I learned that the thermometer stops functioning at 152 degrees – the temperature inside my car – and the oil within the cookies sweats out when you slowly heat them up to a baking temperature.
I figured I would give it another hour to see if anything would take, giving myself some time to finish up some other work, and then check to see if I had just wasted my time.
As you can probably tell, this didn’t work out the way I expected it to. But it wasn’t a total loss. Just like when I tried to fry eggs on the sidewalk a few years ago, the cookies began to bake – there were pockets of crust and their form shifted – but it just wasn’t hot enough to finish the job that I had set out to finish.
But, it was definitely was too hot, especially when I climbed into the car to take pictures for Bulletin photographer Hime Romero, to leave a small child or an animal inside of the car without the engine running and air conditioning blowing directly on them.
If I had left my animal, instead of my cookie dough, in the car, it wouldn’t have taken long before the 150-degree heat began to literally cook my furry friend – who would become despondent and instantly lethargic and began breathing fast, shallow breaths.
This heat is expected to last through the weekend, so it’s important to point out that if you’re taking your dog or your child anywhere during the day, don’t ever turn the car off and leave them alone for just a quick second. Within 10 minutes the temperature jumped up almost 20 degrees, and 15 minutes after that it was more than 40 degrees warmer than what I started at.
If you see a child or an animal that appear to be in distress, it is perfectly legal in California now to smash out the window of the car to rescue either, just as long as you call law enforcement first and notify them of what it is that you’re doing.
There are stipulations to this new law – you must ensure there is no other method of entry, you must act in good faith believing that the person or animal is in danger, you must use no more force than is necessary to enter the car (you can’t break all of the windows) and you must remain nearby with the animal or the child until law enforcement arrives. It would also be prudent to make sure that the vehicle is not running and the AC isn’t blasting.
But whatever you do, don’t smash out the windows of a car to get to the cookies that are baking on the dashboard.
Odds are, they aren’t very good.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.