Contemplations of Love and Appreciation at the Dinner Table

Gratitude for friendship and food, with my dear friend Ginger and our families on a my last trip to Gainesville, FL.

Gratitude for friendship and food, with my dear friend Ginger and our families on a my last trip to Gainesville, FL.

With the Jivamukti Focus of the Month being “the Magic of Cooking”, over the last week I have indeed made a conscious effort to cook with greater global awareness. This has inspired myself, and consequently my family, to practice gratitude now when we sit around the dinner table.

Your culture, background or religion may already do this in the form of prayer or blessing. If so, come to it tonight with renewed vitality and a consciously open heart. If not, here is a simple contemplation that my family have been reciting, with hands held, at the dinner table. We used a variation of it before our silent meals in Costa Rica. Feel free to use it to set up a vibration of deep appreciation and thanks for all you have on your table and in your life:

This food is the gift of the whole universe – the earth, the sky and much hard work. In this food I see the presence of the entire universe supporting my existence.
May we eat in mindfulness to be worthy to receive it.
Beings all over the earth are struggling to live, may we practice so that all have enough to eat. May we transform our minds to learn to eat with moderation.
May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness. We accept this food to realise the path of understanding and love and to live for the benefit of all beings.

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The Magic of Cooking

The magic of cooking

Food is a part of our lives every single day. We not only rely on it for nourishment but also use it to bring people together. We share it with those we love most and look forward to it over Christmas, birthdays and other holidays. Large or small, lavish or ordinary, coming together over a meal is something we all enjoy. Food gives warmth and a sense of celebration that promotes community and union no matter what the gathering.

The act of cooking itself can be very magical – a wholesome meal may appear simple, but this everyday pleasure can help bring your body and mind into peaceful balance if prepared with the right intention. Cooking for others is also a powerful service when done with unconditional love and gratitude. The first step is to enter the kitchen with a clear intention, calm and easy, free from distraction. Never cook when angry or upset!

Next, look at the quality of your ingredients. Using all organic, seasonal and locally grown-ingredients is great, but even making sustainable and ethical choices are a good start. Making the dish vegan to reduce suffering doesn’t hurt either.

Then take a moment of appreciation for all of the effort and time that goes into creating these ingredients by giving thanks to everyone and everything that has helped bring them to your kitchen. For instance, thank Mother Nature for the water, sunlight, soil quality and energy systems that create healthy food in the world today. Thank the farmers and producers for growing and making the ingredients. Thank the factory workers for packing the food. Thank the drivers and pilots for delivering the food to where it needed to be. Thank the market, the retailer, the shopkeeper, the cashier etc. who sold the food to you. Or, to keep it simple, repeat to yourself a few times “I thank everyone and everything that went into the creation of this food”.

Finally, think clearly about whom you are preparing the food for. Are they friends and family or is the meal an offering to those in your community who suffer each day from lack of food? Take an opportunity to see these people clearly and deeply, express real love and friendship in your cooking. Thank them for giving you insight and compassion as well as joy and love in your life.

Gratitude in cooking allows us to become more aware of the preciousness of food and of our family and friends. Remembering that every vegetable, every drop of water, every grain contains the life of our planet and the sun can deepen our relationship with the earth and all species.

This month, I invite you to contemplate and celebrate what the simple act of cooking wholesome food does for your family, community and culture. Feel free to share a recipe or a photo of your favorite dish and see if this practice makes the food taste especially delicious to all that share it!

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Tofu and Vegetables in Indonesian Peanut sauce

Tofu and Vegetables in Indonesian Peanut Sauce

This is what our family refers to as a great little “Buddha Bowl” Dinner for a chilly winter evening!

Ingredients – stir fry

400g extra firm tofu, cut into 2-3 cm squares

1 medium onion, sliced

2 cups broccoli flowerets

2 cups caulifowerets

1 large red capsicum

rice bran and sesame oil mix for frying

Ingredients – Indonesian Peanut sauce

1 red chilli, pounded and finely chopped

2-3 cloves fresh garlic

⅓ cup natural “nothing else added” peanut butter

200mL 100% coconut cream

1 tsp brown sugar

lemon juice to taste

1-2 Tbsp Tamari

water for thinning

Instructions

Frying tofu 1Heat rice bran oil in a wok or large frying pan and sauté onion with 1 clove of garlic. Add all of the remaining vegetables and fry quickly over a high heat, stirring constantly.

Now I like my tofu steamed, whereas my daughters only eat it fried – so I do half of each. Tofu SquaresI find it’s great to shallow fry the tofu in a combination of rice bran oil (good for high temperature frying) and sesame oil (for delicious flavour).

 

To prepare the sauce, fry 1-2 cloves of garlic in a little oil and mix together with the chilli. Add peanut butter, coconut cream and brown sugar and stir until blended. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, tamari and if necessary, more water to the desired sauce consistency.Indonesian Peanut Sauce

Divide tofu and vegetables into 4 bowls. Drizzle the peanut sauce over to cover the vegetables and serve with either steamed rice or, as in the photo above, quinoa.

Serves 2 big people and 2 little people.

 

 

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A Matter of Perspective – how you see others reveals how you others see you.

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In my last post I touched on how we often confuse our true identity with one that depends on our external appearances, to the things we have learned about ourselves through personal experiences, or to judgements made by others that we have internalised. We compare our past self and our future self to how we see ourselves now – this is our perception of ourselves.

How you see yourself, how others see you and how you perceive others see you may be an accurate representation of your self-image – but these perceptions may not necessarily be true. For example, you may think a particular person is confident, organised and assertive. Some people may agree with this, while others may view them as arrogant, bossy and obsessive. This is an example of how one’s perception can cloud someone’s true identity.

When we can fine tune both our own self-perception and our perception of others, we can then gain understanding as to why it is people treat us certain ways and effect our behaviours. Often we assume that someone’s actions towards us are based on the kind of person they are, when in actual fact there’s other situational factors influencing them. When we can consider the circumstances for another person’s behaviour, we lessen our judgment of others, and hence deepen our compassion and kindness.

To become more in tune with other people and even other things and circumstances around you is a profound spiritual practice. Moreover, contemplating our own perceptions of others is important because how we perceive others has great influence on our own happiness. A study in 2010 at Wake Forest University* strongly suggested that your own perceptions of others reveals a lot about your own personality. The study showed a strong correlation between seeing others in a positive light and our own positive traits, as well as how satisfied we are with our life and how well-liked we are by others. The researchers discovered particularly strong associations between positively judging others and how enthusiastic, happy, kind-hearted, courteous, emotionally stable and capable a person describes oneself and is described by others. On the other hand, viewing others negatively correlated with negative personality traits and a greater incidence of depression.

So the way I see it, the more we can open up our perceptions and perspectives (i.e – the more we can put ourselves in the shoes of another) the less we’ll get caught up in our own little confusion and suffering that arises from misunderstanding. We’ll move from feeling separateness to experiencing oneness. In doing so, we’ll expand our own happiness and cultivate self worth and the sense of who we truly are – our identity.

 

*Perceiver effects as projective tests: What your perceptions of others say about you. Wood, Dustin; Harms, Peter; Vazire, Simine. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 99(1), Jul 2010, 174-190.

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“I actually don’t know who I am” – Identity and the realised Self

Costa Rica Sunset

Tat twam asiThat thou art, or, you are That.
Chandogya Upanishad

Who am I? Why am I here?

From the moment we are born, we are thrust into a world consumed with identity. You are given a name and described based on how you look, where you live, where you got your education, what you do, your possessions, where you’ve been, who you associate with, what you like to listen to, read, watch, eat, drink, wear etc. etc. etc. We can also fall into the false belief that we are our current circumstances, our present life situation. You just need to look at social media to see how much of our individual identity is based on how we like to fit in, how we would like others to perceive us. That our identity can be summed up in our own Facebook status update, or worse, in the update of a bullying troll. When we continue to identify with our “small self”, it only increases our sense of separation from others. This can lead to feelings of isolation and belief that that’s all there is.

Yoga teaches us that even in this lifetime a person can shift their identification with their small self – the jivan, to the enlightened, cosmic Self – the atman. There are many practices to help bring about this shift such as chanting, meditation, or studying uplifting texts – the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and Autobiography of a Yogi all speak about clarity to see beyond “otherness”. You can go to Yoga class where you can be present in the moment and practice acting consciously, rather than unconsciously, which often causes regret, guilt or more attachment. If you’ve ever been to a Satsang, or a gathering of a group of people who are all interested in enlightenment, chances are you would have worn white clothing. Wearing white represents purification of the Self. Personally, I feel it is a profound feeling to attend Satsang; Wearing white removes all of the illusion we get caught up in, so all that is left is the true nature of those around you – everybody is truly beautiful!

My teacher, Sharon Gannon, talks of other easy ways to realise the eternal Self, practices we can do everyday. She explains “becoming comfortable in our own skin, with who we are as a person, with our relationships with others and the experiences of our life. No one can escape their destiny. A person must acknowledge the karmic seeds they have planted in the past and when they come to fruition do their best to work through the ripening process.” What this means is to acknowledge what you have done in the past but act in this moment to work through it and create the happiness you wish to see. Strive to become more “other-centred”. Practice compassion, kindness and forgiveness because taking care of others shifts the focus from yourself. When you have more concern for the joy and wellbeing of others you no longer seek blame or look to complain as your obsession with yourself decreases. Love surrounds you. It’s said then that you no longer see “otherness” but just the oneness of Divine Love, your true identity.

Andrea's Group Teacher_Training

Silly snaps

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Jivamukti Yoga is finally here in Adelaide!

Yoga in Garden of the Gods

Namaste everyone,

I’ve been quiet for the last 10 weeks because I’ve been in Costa Rica in Jivamukti training mode, then in the US in family holiday mode but – woohoo – I’m back and finally have some time to myself (although the work I need to catch up on just at home is only the beginning!). So here is a taste of what I’ll be up to over the next few weeks:

Over at my website I will be adding lots of new updates, particularly concerning the introduction of Jivmaukti Yoga to the class schedule, as well posts with a little bit of something for everyone – from delicious vegan recipes to the tenets of Jivamukti Yoga and other Yogic studies.

Permanent Jivamukti classes will be implemented on the timetable next term. Until then, I’ll be introducing a little taste of Jivamukti Yoga in all of my teachings.

Announcing the new 4-week Jivamukti Yoga Basics course!

This is a series of classes looking at the fundamentals of the physical practice. Importantly, this series is suitable for beginners, but open to all levels of practitioner interested in furthering their physical practice. You can read all about it here. So tell your friends and lets get everyone who is searching for something a little different in their Yoga practice on-board!

Upon the completion of the course we’ll have Adelaide’s first Go Yoga Jivamukti masterclass and celebrate! Email your enquiries and I’ll keep you posted on more details.

Now I’m calling all Bhakti Yogis! Are you interested in a weekly Meditation class (incorporating Yoga philosophical teachings, mantra and chanting)? Or would you go even further to say you’d like some extra “me time” to indulge in a weekend of nurturing food, Yoga asana practice, meditation (both still and moving), as well as time off for your own self enquiry? 

I’m looking to start a weekly meditation class at Go Yoga as well as hosting a weekend Go Yoga and wellness retreat. Enquire now if either of these look appealing to you!

I have found a lovely spot called the Lokananda Retreat Centre at Point Pass. The weekend retreat will also include free time to rest or to explore the gorgeous terrain and hiking of Point Pass. I’d love to hold the retreat when the weather gets warmer around late November early December, so email me ASAP to reserve your place!

In the meantime head on over to the class timetable page where you’ll find an updated class schedule and sign up for a class today 🙂

Much love,

Jackie

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Tips For Establishing A Home Yoga Practice

go yoga jackie 03

What you are about to read may seem counter-productive and controversial coming from a small Yoga business owner: I believe that a consistent home practice is essential to establishing a sincere yogic attitude and lifestyle. Now having said that, you can trust that I know first-hand how difficult a consistent personal practice can be to maintain.

Just over seven years ago when my twins were born I was overloaded, running on empty and just keeping my head above water to see the next day. Unable to roll out my mat, it felt like every aspect of my life got more difficult and looking back, it was not surprising that I ultimately fell apart.

When I finally sought the support of my family instead of trying to “do it all”, I prioritized time to start practicing Yoga daily in my small study. With regular Yoga practice established in my personal life, I soon realized that life was no longer a struggle.

To commit to practice, I deliberately made Yoga another thing on my daily “must-do” list. Everyone around me appreciated and respected this as an important outlet for me to function in my strongest, most vital, compassionate and happiest self. This enabled me to let go of guilt associated with not being able “to do it all”.

Establishing my yoga practice was also not a struggle. Waking up before everyone else in the house came naturally – I was not waking suddenly or in a panic to crying or sick babies, I was waking more peacefully to the sanctuary of my mat…meaning I could deal with whatever the rest the day had in store for me with more confidence and grace.

If naturally gravitating to your mat at home is not coming easily, here are some quick tips that have helped me in my home practice of vinyasa and restorative Yoga:

1: Choose a convenient time. I practice Yoga first thing in the morning as I find the intention sets me up for the workings of day. It may also kick start your vitality, make you more productive and keep your energy levels up. If yoga practice doesn’t happen for you in the morning, don’t let it be an excuse to skip it. You can choose another time that is more convenient – before lunch or early evenings. I’ll often practice before dinner on Monday nights when my husband gets home from work (I just hand-pass him the kid’s homework and bath routine J). Yoga at these times can also be a good way to refresh the mind and release stress collected during the day.

2: Concentrate on a set sequence of poses everyday for a given time frame. Practicing the same poses every time you roll out your mat for a while is a powerful way to keep consistent with your practice. This repetition offers you a clear vantage point from which to watch yourself grow and change. You don’t have to think about what pose you want to do next, so instead you can focus on your breath, the root and abdominal locks (bandhas) and your focus point (drishti). This takes you into a deeper meditative and focused place, so that you will step off your mat feeling more present and peaceful.

3: Set a minimum amount of practice for yourself each day. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, make yourself a promise that you will do your 10 minutes. Alternatively, your minimum practice could be 5-10 breaths in 5-10 of your favourite restorative poses (cat and cow, downward facing dog, standing forward bend, seated spinal twist, gentle lunges and tabletop are great examples). Even 5 rounds of sun salutations is practice enough to invigorate the body. Each of these options can be your practice right there and if you can do more then think of it as a bonus gift to yourself! If you start small but practice everyday then you’ll find it’s not a burden but an automatic and enjoyable habit. You’ll be more likely to stick with your commitment and feel positive about your practice rather than guilty if you don’t have much time or vitality that day. *Importantly, it’s better to practice 10 minutes of yoga at least once in your busy everyday rather than wait for the magical time when you have 90 minutes to set aside for the full pranayama, asana, meditation and relaxation sequence. No doubt that time will never come so do what works for you right now.

4: Respect your body. Only practice intense yoga postures if you have time after a sufficient warm up. This is essential to minimize the risk of straining your muscles and joints. Be gentle on your body, especially if you do not have a lot of time. If you try to rush through the sequence of poses by doing them faster or pushing beyond your own body’s limits, it will not bring faster results. It will only make the practice more difficult and painful, meaning you’ll be less likely to continue.

5: Create a sanctuary for your practice. Reserve a specific room in your home that is specifically for your practice, or even just a quiet space large enough to roll out your mat. When you are on your mat, you are in your own little yoga shrine. Like most yoga students, I’ve also created a little “altar” in my study with meaningful photos, trinkets and relics to mark my sacred space for intentional practice. If you share a house with others, kindly communicate with them the importance of uninterrupted practice time and space. Over the years my young daughters have come to respect that sometimes mummy needs time on her yoga mat and most questions, help and yes, even “dobbing” can wait another 10 minutes.

6: Prioritize your practice. When you practice, make practice your sole focus. Turn off your phone and your computer, try not to roll out your mat and then walk away to check a message you’ve just received or send an email – guilty J

7: Take the time to just be. Always start and finish your practice in stillness. You could choose a breathing (pranayama) practice such as ujjayi prior to asana practice, repeat a mantra, do a self-inquiry of your body (physical, mental, emotional and energetic), or meditate. Setting stillness as top importance of your practice will make you feel nourished and peaceful, encouraging you to practice with more consistency and devotion. Just 3-5 minutes of conscious breathing or meditation will benefit your asana practice, because it helps build concentration. Similarly, practicing asana with an intense focus on drishti, bandhas and breath as mentioned above, will enhance your capacity to meditate.

8: Seek help via nearby resources. If you are feeling a little stuck by yourself, look up some blogs and yoga websites, take an online yoga class or listen to a podcast. There are some great free classes and trial memberships available online. There are also countless books and instructional DVDs. Don’t forget to treat yourself by “tuning up” with a great teacher. A few classes or a workshop will help bring attention to areas of your practice that need assistance. I know first hand that students from my advanced yoga course have found new inspiration and motivation for their daily home practice. Finally, remember Yoga is a vast discipline that involves much more than stretching, strengthening, breathing and meditating. Get inspiration by reading philosophical teachings such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita.

9: Most of all, express gratitude! Every time you come to your mat give thanks that you are blessed to be practicing yoga. Gratitude opens hearts and minds!

 

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Congratulations Advanced Yogins!

Dear advanced Yogins,
I just wanted to say thank you so much for participating in the 8- week Advanced Go Yoga Course. Has the course helped your alignment in the poses, has it changed the way you view your practice, or the way you feel as you move through it?
Ultimately I do hope you have all benefitted and grown from the experience and I look forward to seeing your bright faces in class. I want you to know that even though the course has finished my lines are always open, should you have any questions or concerns. You are never alone on this path as together we ultimately wish for the same things in life – peace, happiness and freedom.
Much love, health and kindness,
Jackie
Posted in Inspiration

Godzilla Pizza, Adelaide’s only Vegan Pizza Joint!

Vegan Peri Peri Chicken Pizza
Vegan Peri Peri Chicken Pizza

Vegan Peri Peri Chicken Pizza

I stumbled across this little vegan’s gem right in my own neighbourhood by accident – We were at my parent’s home for an extended family afternoon get-together that rode into the evening. The kids were  getting hungry and pizza is always the easiest option for everyone’s taste in my family…except me. Godzilla Pizza is literally around the corner from my parent’s home so I wandered over there expecting to pick out a few meat and vegetarian pizzas for my family and a minimum chips for me.

What greeted me in the menu was beyond anything I’ve seen before in a take-away store. Every single pizza on the menu could be veganised. I am familiar with faux meats (although I had never tasted them before as it just seemed off) and I had tried a few vegan cheeses, but I had never in my life been to a pizza shop that actually offered these alternatives to their customers. What was meant to be a quick 2 minute order turned into an extended study of the menu. For the first time ever I was spoilt for choice!

When I told Rory, the co-owner, my reservations about mock meat he cheerfully offered me a taster of all different kinds. The pepperoni particularly appealed to my spicy side and so I ordered my first vegan hot n’ spicy pizza, called the “Zeke”, with extra jalapeños.

Rory also informed me while preparing the pizzas that they also sell a trove of vegan desserts. Now I was in trouble; he pulled out a variety of ice-creams, slices, brownies, chocolate bars and cakes, made for Godzilla by another local small business called Cherry Darlings Bakehouse (formerly known as Veganised). I settled on the mint chocolate chip ice cream, which is still my favourite.

Because they don’t compete by price or by extensive advertising, from the exterior Godzilla looks like just another pizza joint. But unlike most pizza joints, Godzilla are as interesting as their pizzas are delicious.

Rory took over Godzilla Pizza in 2012 with his business partner and uni mate, Tyler, who had already been working there for the previously owners. They were both studying commerce at the time and they joked that their accounting assignments were always based running a pizza joint, so why not do it? They both liked the idea of being able to cater to everyone’s dietary needs and their customers also include those with lactose and gluten intolerance. Some regulars come as far as Holden Hill and he tells me he often will see customers hop off the bus in front of the store, order a pizza, then eat it at the stop while waiting for the return bus home.

Vegan Garlic Pizza Bread

Vegan Garlic Pizza Bread

Rory has since finished his degree in commerce, but has not been eager to leave Godzilla for a 9-5 job in accounting. Although the hours and effort put into running the small business with Tyler may not be as good, he is a creative type and just chatting with him you can see his passion is pizza. The weird and wonderful concoctions on the menu, and their special “Pizza of the month” is testament to this creativity. Rory likes trying new ideas and new flavours but for every pizza that made it to  the menu there are hundreds of experimental pizza flops. The “Thai satay pizza” took months of researching and a cooking trip to Thailand for him to come up with the appropriate home-made satay sauce. The current “Hanhdorf hotdog pizza” followed a similarly long path to find the best vegan hot-dog. You see, pizzas are only considered good enough to make it to the menu if they can be made vegan and taste just as good. The top photo is the next “Pizza of the month”, a vegan version of “Peri peri chicken pizza”, which looks pretty enticing as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Rory does admit, however, that the secret to making a good vegan pizza “is not so much the mock meat or cheese, it’s the effort that goes into the dough to make it light and fluffy, the spices in the sauce and the freshness of the veggies” (which are all locally sourced). He toys with the idea of being able to prepare his own range of mock meats, which are currently bought expensively from Redwood’s in the UK, as a means to reduce costs and bring more fairness to his vegan customers.

Vegan cheeses, mock meats, mayo and chocolate bars

Vegan cheeses, mock meats, mayo and chocolate bars

You can buy different styles of these imported Cheezly cheeses and Cheatin’ meats from Godzilla’s refrigerator to take home for your own pizza creation. They are all competitively priced compared to the supermarkets, which aligns with Rory’s desire to offer inexpensive food to vegans.

His eyes sparkle when asked what he loves the most about his product and his service. “The vegans are without a doubt the most grateful customers, and I still love delivering pizzas because everyone is always happy when the pizza arrives”. “I went to an accounting expo in February and everyone there looked so bored and unhappy, I stopped applying for accounting jobs right then and there”.Godzilla Pizza Logo

 

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Gluten-Free ANZAC Biscuits

Gluten-Free ANZAC Biscuits

Okay, okay, I know it’s a little late to be posting a recipe for Anzac biscuits, given that the day of remembrance was two weeks ago. BUT, my father-in-law, who was just last year diagnosed as having Coeliacs disease, has been staying with us for the past week. Although he never had a big sweet-tooth, before having to remove all gluten from his diet he did used to thoroughly enjoy a couple of Anzac biscuits with his black tea.

This inspired me to dig out an old recipe that I follow for the ‘crunchy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside’ Aussie bikkies. I experimented with quinoa flakes instead of rolled oats to make them gluten-free (GF). My husband couldn’t tell the difference and ending up downing more than his dear ol’ Pa!

Ingredients

2 level cups of quinoa flakes

1 level cup GF-plain flour

1 level cup desiccated coconut

1 level cup raw sugar

150g Nuttelex or other non-dairy margarine

2 big Tbsp golden syrup

1 ½ tsp baking soda

¼ cup boiling water

Instructions

Preheat oven to 170°C, 150°C fan-forced. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Pour the quinoa flakes, GF-plain flour, coconut and raw sugar into a large bowl and mix well.

Melt the nuttelex in a medium saucepan over medium flame. Dip a metal tablespoon into hot water and then use it to measure out the golden syrup into the melted nuttelex. Stir until dissolved and just coming to boil then reduce to a very low flame.

Stir the baking soda into the boiling water until dissolved then add to the saucepan of melted nuttelex and golden syrup. Stir until it froths then immediately add it to the dry ingredients and mix well.ANZAC cookie dough

Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and roll together into a ball. Place each ball on the baking sheet and flatten slightly.Raw anzac biscuits

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, they should still be a little soft, then allow to cool on the oven trays for at least 5 minutes to harden up a little.Fresh baked Anzacs

Transfer to a cooling rack and then store in an airtight container – I made 24 bikkies with this recipe.

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