Double Anniversary And Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

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Tomorrow is my birthday, which marks twenty-five years that I’ve been on this earth. And Monday was my Dhagpo anniversary, which marks one year since I arrived in this magical corner of the Dordogne.

Birthdays are good for a lot of things—taking oneself to the symphony, eating midnight cake with best friends, exploring ancient caves in distant lands. I guess I’ve had some pretty stellar birthdays. Tomorrow I get to make lunch for my favorite wily old Tibetan, meditate with the Buddha’s relics, and eat cake with my Dhagpo family. The goodness of my life takes my breath away.

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Which reminds me of another thing birthdays are good for: taking stock and giving thanks. What have I done in this year of my life? Moved a few thousand miles around the world; fallen in love; accepted responsibility; faced heartache; realized dreams. I’ve become a part of something bigger than myself, for which I am ready to give my all and teach my heart to open.

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Which is no easy thing. I told a friend yesterday that when I really look and let myself feel, beneath the quotidian flotsam, I always have the sense that my heart is broken. He said, “A broken heart is an open heart.” I chided him for inexcusable cliché. He laughed me off and said, “Fine, but it’s true.” And damn it all, but it is true.

I’d like to heal my heart, to sew up all the cracks and feel better once and for all. But a heart with no cracks lets nothing in. And feeling fine is a fixed affair, while the world is not a fixed place.  So, okay world, thank you for breaking my heart. With change, and beauty, with terrifying uncertainty, and ear-ringing possibility, with everything that I cannot determine, and to which I can only open.

I’m in for another year. Let’s do this thing.

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I mentioned cake, but that’s for tomorrow and so there are no pictures yet. For now I give you cookies, because who doesn’t like cookies and plus these had people raving. If you think it is both distastefully wholesome and rather uninventive to add oatmeal to peanut butter cookies, I understand. I thought so too. I only did it because I wanted to use up some oats on the same day I needed to stave off a possible too-much-peanut-butter-and-jelly-by-the-spoonful catastrophe.  Fortunately, it turns out the result is much greater than the sum of its parts. Two familiar flavors with two awesome textures meet up for homey, toothy, utter satisfaction.

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Recipe…

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To Reunite (And Not Without Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies)

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This weekend marks the pause between two weeks of giant planning meetings at Dhagpo. The “Réunions d’automnes,” or autumn meetings, as it were. I’ve never enjoyed PowerPoint presentations so much as this last week. But when you fill a room with diverse, yet likeminded people devoted to a shared cause, and then spend three days straight, six hours a day, talking about how to further that cause…even PowerPoint takes on some vigor and joy. It also makes me giggle to see a room full of professional, well-educated people discussing infrastructure and finances, all the while sitting on the floor. With cushions, of course, but still. There’s a certain inherent humility there.IMG_2252

Is it dopey that I gush about management and organization? It blows my mind that I want to. To be so enamored of a place, of a vision, of a community, that I’m interested in PowerPoint and excited about Excel. Math makes me cringe, and yet I’m looking forward to reviewing the budget. I want to know everything about how this place works. I want to help it work. What are the blood and bones of building inspiration?

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That is what this community means to me. To be grounded and lifted at the same time. To talk about how the bills get paid, how the flowers get arranged, whether we’re really going to have lentils twice a week for the rest of our lives. If we’re doing our best, if we can do better, if we’re happy, if we need help. To be honest, to be supportive, to be critical when needed and with kindness.

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And then to exhale and let it all go for a moment. To sit under the stars and share a glass of something warming, toast a marshmallow over a candle, eat oatmeal cookies, and revel in the wonder of good people, good times, and good work.

These are my favorite twist on oatmeal raisins cookies. I typically make them at Christmas time, but we had a little regional dinner party, where everyone brought something from their neck of the woods, and it felt like the right time to break out the bag of cranberries I toted back from the States. This cookie dough is fairly simple and versatile. Bake them right after mixing for lacier cookies, or refrigerate for a couple hours to have thicker, chewier cookies. Bake for a few minutes more or less to have soft cookies or crispy edges or crispy cookies. Either way, you will have the perfect balance of toasty cinnamon, tangy cranberries, rich chocolate, with all the oat-y, caramel-y goodness of the traditional American “koo-kie” (as the French say).

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