chocolate / cookies / easy to make / rum / sweets / vegan

love people, use things

hippie karma & vegan cookies

photo 1 (4)I’m always wary when things are going too well; I never get that lucky.  Something comically disastrous is just waiting to happen when the going is good, and it always does.  The reverse is true too: just when that bully Fate steals my lunch money, yet again, someone reaches out and buys me a sandwich.

I started thinking about this a few weeks ago, the way people always seem to be there for you when you need them – though not always who you were expecting.  After posting Sober Sunday: Unicorns do Exist on Facebook, a guy that I had gone with on three dates with in 2008 messaged me to tell me to keep my chin up.

We hadn’t spoken really since those dates aside from a social media comment or like here or there.  I was not only touched that my word vomit outranked a Buzzfeed quiz on his list of things to do while not doing work, but that he took a moment to say so. My opinion of him, (smart, charming, nice), would not have been altered by the absence of comment, so his effort to say “Go get ’em, tiger!” was an unexpected act of kindness.

Acts of kindness don’t need to be big or obvious to be impactful. Small things – reconnecting with an old friend, a conversation with a stranger, homemade quiche and a bottle of wine shared with four women you admire, an invitation for a Sunday morning bike ride, that apartment in LA that always has a guest room ready for you, a virtual high five for flashing your first v4 from a climbing buddy who moved away, (you don’t need to know what that last one means but it means I am awesome), create…goodwill? Gratitude? Are examples universal uncertainty enacted? Hippie karma? Luck? I wasn’t able to articulate what the lesson was and then I stumbled across this article while on a Greyhound bus departing Atlantic City (another blog post for another time).

“Love people, use things.”

The author was arguing that happiness does indeed come from our relationship to one another but not our status with one another, a state of being that “requires the courage to repudiate pride and the strength to love others — family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, God and even strangers and enemies. Only deny love to things that actually are objects. The practice that achieves this is charity. Few things are as liberating as giving away to others that which we hold dear.”

Sartre famously wrote “hell is other people”, but so is happiness.

As kids, we use relationships to build status.  We define “friend” versus “not friend” because we’re slaves to our pleasure centers and can’t quite articulate the difference between needs and wants.  It’s why we all relate to Mean Girls; we’ve all been one and been victim of one.  As we get older, our world spreads wide open and those people in lockstep with us suddenly diverge: passions shift, jobs change, distances grow.  At 22, I was going to be an actress and never leave NYC because all my best friends were here.  Now my best friends are spread across multiple states, countries and hemispheres, the only acting I do is pretending to be chipper in client meetings, and I’m now thinking a cabin in the woods with canyons to climb and a place to raise bees sounds pretty delicious. Things change.

Which is why you don’t just write people off; you never know when someone is positively going to affect change on your life.  If we continue to pick who is and who is not allowed in the inner circle, we might suddenly find ourselves alone. So instead of an iron ring, why not make the circle of trust a cell membrane, where water molecules flow in and out in an effort to achieve balance?  Be semi-permeable and deny passage to no one.

That guy and I never got to date #4 – I don’t quite remember why – but I can guess that in order not to appear shy/nervous/admit a certain fragility, I came off as disinterested.  I could have shut him out after that.  Unfriended.  Deleted.  Carried around hurt or rejection or regret of misunderstanding.  Tell him not to contact me.  But if I had, he wouldn’t have been able to permeate a sad day with that unexpected act of kindness.  Even if that’s the last of our fleeting interactions, at that moment, I was filled with gratitude for having met this person.

I never bake vegan, but in the spirit of not closing myself off to what could be a positive experience, and knowing some folks who might appreciate cookies with a conscience, I decided to try these and, of course, add booze.  Mexican hot chocolate cookies are easy to make, addictively delicious and according to my mother who found the original recipe, hearty enough to mail to Afghanistan, as vegan cookies are not readily available to my sister and her boyfriend living in Kabul. But mostly, they don’t take much effort, and they are exceedingly kind.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Based on the original recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  Makes about 24-30 cookies.

For the topping:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teas ground cinnamon

For the cookies:

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk (Or your preferred non-dairy milk)
  • 1 teas vanilla extract
  • 2 teas rum
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teas baking soda
  • 1/4 teas salt
  • 1/2 teas cinnamon
  • 1/2 teas cayenne

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the topping ingredients together on a flat plate or shallow bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together oil,  sugar, syrup, milk, vanilla and rum until combined Mix in extracts.

Fold in flour mixture dough is pliable ad you can scoop a walnut-sized amount with a spoon (it may be a little soft but should be able to be shaped once you coat it in the topping).

Drop a walnut sized amount into sugar topping, roll into a ball and flatten on cookie sheet into roughly 1 1/2-2 inch discs (they’ll spread a little).  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store in an air-tight container for up to one week, or however long it takes mail to get to Afghanistan.



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