We’re learning a new practice. Compassion practice, but of a particular nature. Designed to be done together, done extensively and done in repetition over several days. We flipped from hours of organization to hours of spiritual apprenticeship. It’s a rich transition.
During tonight’s study session of the text, Lama Puntso nut-shelled our objective like this,
“What allows us to receive blessing? It is the opening of the heart .”
For us, as Tibetan Buddhists, there are prayers, there are offerings, there are drums and candles and mantras recited many times and times again. There is the sense, the history, and the community of this practice. It is the story in its integrity that works. To take the enlightenment of the Buddha as example and train ourselves in the same nature, that of wisdom and understanding.
It’s a complex story, but one that works. I have seen it in myself and in those around me. There is kindness here, and understanding that grows and grows. And at its base is this: to learn to see clearly and to open. Which is what blessing is after all, a connection with our own nature, which is fundamentally clear and open, just currently a bit confused.
One of the fundamental tenets of Tibetan Buddhist practice is generosity. In that spirit, all ceremonies include offerings and one of the general propositions for life is to train ourselves to dedicate every experience of well-being for the benefit of all.
This pumpkin seed brittle is made for that. The spices are subtle; they add a richness, a mysterious depth that beguiles without inspiring thoughts about curry or the like. The salt balances perfectly the caramel and the totality of crunchy complex flavor engenders the wish to share with others and spread the goodness around, as far and wide as we can imagine. It will be on the offering plates in the temple tomorrow and is well worth putting on your plate too.
Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Seed Brittle
For the pumpkin seeds:
Seeds from two pumpkins (about 1 ½ – 2 cups, 250 grams)
1 teaspoon (5 mL) canola oil
½ teaspoon (3 grams) sea salt
¼ teaspoon (2 grams) ground cumin
¼ teaspoon (2 grams) smoked paprika
For the caramel:
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
butter, for greasing the pan
Preheat oven to 350˚ F (180˚ C). Toss pumpkin seeds with oil, salt, cumin, and paprika. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake for twenty to thirty minutes, until completely dry and golden brown all over. Transfer to a metal bowl and set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with butter.
In a wide bottom saucepan, stir together sugar and water. Use a pastry brush to drip water down the sides of the pot, washing any stray sugar crystals into the mix. Boil on high heat, swirling the pot to stir gently, for about ten minutes. When the mixture is golden brown and smells like caramel, pour directly into the bowl of pumpkin seeds. Stir with a heatproof spatula and pour directly onto the buttered parchment sheet. Spread to cover the sheet and allow to cool thirty minutes. When completely cool, break into bite-sized pieces and offer to all beings, or at least those in proximity to share!