recipe

Cookies of Childhood

By Maggie Wiggen, age 15 I make these cookies for our Sangha in Juneau, Alaska. I always use organic ingredients except for baking powder and soda, which I have never seen in organic forms, and sea salt, because the oceans are hard to regulate. I choose sea salt,  because the process by which the salt is gathered is less detrimental to the environment than mining rock salt, which can cause erosion and habitat destruction. You can substitute all whole wheat flour or all unbleached flour if you like, and any additions that make you feel good.

1/3 cup of soft tofu 1/3 cup canol a oil (unrefined is preferred) 1/4 cup concentrated fruit juice (any kind except citrus) 1 Tbsp. of vanilla extract 1/2 cup Sucanat or Florida Crystals 1/4 cup agave nectar 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup unbleached white wheat flour 2 cups rolled oats 1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder (Rumford is good) 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. sea salt 2 cups vegan chocolate chips (Tropical Source or Sunspire) 1 cup chopped walnuts

In a small bowl, blend the flours, soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Wash the tofu, then blend in a mixer or food processor until creamy. Tum to low, and add the oil, fruit juice concentrate, vanilla, and Sucanat. Mix until Sucanat dissolves somewhat, then add agave nectar. Mix about one more minute until well blended. Add the oats and the flour mixture. Blend two minutes. Fold in the chocolate chips and the walnuts. Drop good-sized tablespoons full of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies well with your hand or a spoon. The cookies will not spread during baking.

Bake 11-15 minutes at 350 degrees F, rotating cookie sheet every 3 or 4 minutes. For a softer cookie, coolon a flat surface. If you prefer crunchy, coolon a metal cooling rack. Enjoy the fruits of your labor with friends.

mb24-Cookies

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Peanut Butter Balls

Children’s Exercise on Interbeing By Terry Masters

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This activity can take one or two days, depending on the ages and interests of the children and how much time you have. Note: What you might say is in boldface. The answers to questions in parenthesis are the answers our children gave us.

Materials Peanut butter Dried Oatmeal Honey Sunflower seeds Any or all of these: cinnamon, raisins, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, dried date pieces, chopped almonds Big bowl Cookie sheets and/or trays Napkin for each person being served Refrigerator (optional)

Wash Your Hands

Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, has taught us two little poems to say when we wash our hands.

If children can read, one might read the gatha as the other turns on the water and washes her hands. If children cannot read, the guide can read the gatha while the children wash their hands.

Turning on the Water Water flows from high in the mountains. Water runs deep in the Earth. Miraculously, water comes to us, And sustains all life. Washing your Hands Water flows over these hands. May I use them skillfully to preserve our precious planet.

Prepare the Peanut Butter Balls

Combine all ingredients—the amounts are determined by the number of balls you want to make, how much of the various ingredients you have and how much you like each of the ingredi­ents. Add the dry oatmeal to thicken, the honey to make it thinner.

Taste to see if they’re delicious. Add more ingredients if you like.

When the dough is just right, pinch off a piece and roll it between your hands until it forms a ball about one half inch in diameter. (Wet hands to keep the dough from sticking.) Children might like to invent a gatha for doing this!

Place Each Ball on a Cookie Sheet

When all of the dough has been formed into balls, put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator to chill until served. The snacks can sit for a week in the refrigerator if covered.

Discussion

Can you see a cloud in our peanut butter balls? Can you see a big truck? If you look deeply, you can see them both…. and everything else as well! Let me help you look. What is peanut butter made of?

(peanuts)

Where do peanuts come from?

(plants)

What do peanut plants need to grow?

(air, water, soil, light)

Where does the peanut plant get the water it needs to grow?

(rain)

Where does rain come from?

(clouds)

Aha! So that means there are clouds in our peanut butter balls, right? We could not have peanut butter balls if we did not have clouds, could we? I can also see a big truck in our peanut butter balls. Do you see it, now, too?

Can you explain how it got there?

(Accept all responses that show interbeing, e.g., “Trucks have to bring the nuts from the farm to the grocery store”.)

What else do you see in our peanut butter balls?

(This should be a very lively discussion! There is, of course, nothing that is not in the peanut butter balls, so all answers are “right”! Our children said, “I see Brazil because the cocoa that our chocolate chips are made from comes from there.” “I see the sunshine because sunflowers need sun.” Continue the discussion until someone realizes that everything is in everything; that the all is in the one.)

We saw a cloud and a big truck and a lot of other things in our peanut butter balls. Can we see ourselves in our peanut butter balls?

(Invite children to explain. “I’m in the peanut butter balls because I made them.” “I’m in the peanut butter balls because I’m in the sun and the sun is in them!”)

Can we also see the cloud and big truck in ourselves? Why? (“Yes, because they are in the peanut butter balls, and I am in the peanut butter balls; we are all in each other!” “I looked up at a cloud, so it is in me.” “I saw a truck once!”)

Why is it important to know that everything is a part of everything else? Why do we need to be able to see the cloud and big truck and all those other things, including ourselves, in our peanut butter balls and in ourselves?

(“So that we will remember to take care of all things.” “So we don’t feel lonely.”)

NOTE: You may want to complete this activity the next time you meet with the children. If so, cover and store the peanut butter balls in the refrigerator until you meet again. (They’ll be less sticky when they’re chilled.) You might want to review the previous discussion, using different examples, as a way of introducing the second day’s activity.

After the discussion, the children might like to practice serving each other before offering the snacks to the adult Sangha. They will need to know how and why to bow. A suggested way of serving follows.

Serve the Peanut Butter Balls

To serve the snacks, either place the peanut butter balls on pretty trays, or use the cookie sheets. Here is how we served our adult Sangha: Our grown-up friends are sitting in a big circle. There are places for us to sit, too. We enter the circle with our trays of peanut butter balls. We each go to a grown-up and kneel, placing our tray on the floor before him. We smile, put our hands together in the form of a flower and bow to the grown-up. The grown-up returns our bow, then chooses a snack and puts it on his napkin. We smile and bow to each other again. Then we stand and go to another grown-up until all the grown-ups have been served. We put a snack in front of the places where we kids will sit, too. Then we join the grown-ups sitting in the circle. The bell master invites the bell and we all enjoy our snacks together.

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No-Bake Prison Brownies

By Ricky mb44-Nobake1

Ingredients

20-24 cookies (any small chocolate cookie with a vanilla or chocolate icing in the middle, such as Oreo, Chocolate Crème, or Double Fudge) 1 Hershey Bar (plain or with almonds) Chocolate syrup

Preparation

  1. Separate the icing from the middle of the cookies and put it in a small bowl. You will need it later.
  2. In a mixing bowl crush the cookies as finely as possible.
  3. In the same mixing bowl break the Hershey Bar into small pieces. Stir the candy bar and cookies together.
  4. Add chocolate syrup (a little bit at a time) to the mixture and stir evenly. To thoroughly blend contents, use a spoon and press the mixture down into the bowl. There should be enough chocolate syrup so that when you roll the mixture into a ball it holds together without being too wet.
  5. With the mixture rolled into a ball, form the brownie into a small cereal bowl.
  6. Set the bowl on a fluorescent light or another warm surface for 2-3 hours. This will heat the brownie and melt the chocolate chunks inside.
  7. Take the cookie icing and add a small amount of warm water (about a teaspoon) and stir thoroughly. You want the consistency of cake frosting. Spread evenly on top of the brownie.
  8. Enjoy!

Brownie Meditation

Let’s enjoy our brownie together.

Pick up the bowl and hold it in your hands. Take a nice long look at your brownie and smile. Take your time, we’re in no hurry.

Notice the color and texture of the icing. Smell it and notice the sweetness.

Now, cut out a small piece, or use a spoon and scoop out a little bite. Again, look at it and notice the colors and texture.

Do you see the chunks of chocolate inside? Let’s think about the chocolate for a minute.

Think about the cocoa beans that were used to make it. Maybe they grew in Brazil or Columbia. Think how the sun shined down on them, and the rain fell to help them grow. The earth nourished them from the roots so the beans would be just right.

Consider the farmer who picked the beans. He or she has a family and a village of people who know him, who know her, and because we have received these cocoa beans, we’re connected to them, too.

Imagine the boat that delivered the beans. Maybe they came by truck. Consider the driver. I wonder what his name was, what her name was.

What about the gas and oil the boat or truck used? Perhaps it came from Iraq or Saudi Arabia. That’s halfway around the planet from where we’re sitting right now.

Let’s think about the processing plant where the chocolate was made, and all the people who work there. Think about the sugar that was added to make the chocolate sweet and the milk from a cow somewhere.

Even the scientists who invented the preservatives to keep our cookies fresh in the package — they’re involved in this whole process, too.

It’s as if the entire cosmos has come together to provide us with this brownie that we’re enjoying. It was all done for our pleasure. We are connected to everything and everyone in this vast universe in which we exist. Let’s thank them all and smile.

Now, let’s take a bite. Just let it sit in our mouth for a few seconds before we begin to chew. Notice how our mouth begins to water as it receives the bite of brownie. Do you taste the chocolate or the icing first? Slowly begin to chew and notice how all the flavors blend together for our enjoyment. We can’t help but be grateful.

Continue to chew slowly until it completely dissolves, and then swallow.

As we take another bite, let’s wish happiness for ourselves. Let’s think about our body as it digests our brownie. Let’s thank our body for all the miracles that take place inside it every second of every day.

When we take our next bite, let’s offer it to all beings everywhere throughout this world and beyond. Let’s wish them all peace and happiness. We can continue to feel the interconnectedness and to hold that loving-kindness in our heart as we go about the rest of our day.

Truly, life is a precious gift. Deep bows to all.

Submitted by Terry Masters, True Action and Virtue, from Austin, Texas, where she leads a sangha at the Lockhart Community Justice Center. She writes, “Ricky is famous in the prison for his Prison Brownies. He brought some to our meditation the other day and I offered Thây’s eating meditation. I suggested he share the recipe. So the next week he brought the recipe — and the meditation he wrote.”

“Ricky experimented for years with the ingredients and the procedure for preparing and ‘cooking’ the brownies. The ingredients are hard to come by. Each prison has a concession; prisoners can work to earn a little bit of money at the prison — things like sweeping or cleaning the toilets — or their families can send them a little money. Inmates then must earn the right to visit the concession, which in some prisons is open only from 3 to 4 a.m. Ricky purchases all the ingredients for his brownies at the concession. He ‘cooks’ the brownies on the fluorescent lamp in his cell because that is, of course, his only source of heat. He says he adds love with each ingredient, with each step of the preparation. Then he shares generously.”

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