Evangelicals Climate Change Brownies (with recipe)

A few weeks ago, my family and I had the pleasure of welcoming a bunch of people who were on a trip to Malawi to learn about how climate change is affecting folks here. I’d been in touch with the group’s leaders, including Ben Lowe of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) about how possibly to meet up with the group as they traveled, but as plans finalized I realized I wouldn’t be able to do that, as I’m phobic both of driving here and of taking public transport. Plus, our car had been less than functional for QUITE a while. (Though it is doing fine now.)

Anyway, as I looked over their itinerary, I realized that they’d likely be passing right by our house as they made their way from the south back to the north. So I offered our house as a rest stop, knowing, as I do, that American style rest stops are pretty much non-existent along the road they would be traveling. What bathrooms do exist are…well, maybe it’s better if we don’t talk about that. Suffice it to say that I was happy to offer my bathroom for everyone’s use.

My kids were so excited.

Jonathan Merritt looked at my kids’ Lego creations and, I think, wished he had time to stop and build a few himself.

Jenny Yang asked Aidan to play his violin (which he did.)

Karen Swallow Prior delivered a hug from my buddy Ellen.

And Leroy Barber told me that my brownies may have changed his life.

It was fun, if brief. It made me wish that in addition to conferences, where we all stay in hotels, drink too much coffee, and rush from session to session, people working in similar fields and in similar ways could somehow visit each other in their houses. It’s nice. It feels right, somehow.

I prepared a number of things to eat that day (how could I not!?) and here is the recipe that Leroy said changed his life. Which of course isn’t true, but which made me smile.

Life-Changing, Hopefully Not Climate-Changing Brownies

Preheat the oven to 325 F

Prepare an 8” x 8” pan by lining with parchment, buttering the parchment, and dusting liberally with granulated sugar, shaking off the excess.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together:

10 tablespoons butter

1 and ¼ cups sugar

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons Dutch-process (fair trade, if you can) cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Beat in two eggs, ONE AT A TIME, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Stir in 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract and beat in 1 cup all purpose flour until just blended.

Pour into prepared pan and bake at 325 F for 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack before attempting to cut.

Flight Behavior and Global Weirding

Last weekend, Graeme had a fever and so I ended up spending most of the weekend curled up on the couch with or near him as he perused Tin Tin books or watched DVDs and as I read Barbara Kingsolver’s newest novel, Flight Behavior.


I’ve enjoyed Kingsolver’s work ever since I read The Bean Trees for English class in high school and then headed straight for the library to find Pigs in Heaven and Animal Dreams. One college summer afternoon I started reading the first chapter of The Poisonwood Bible and found myself unable to do anything else until I’d finished. Even when Kingsolver gets on my nerves by being a heavy-handed in making a point, political, religious, or philosophical, she can sure turn a phrase and weave a plot.

This new novel has all the charms (if also the usual shortcomings) of Kingsolver’s earlier books; I was a little worried that she would be excessively pushy with the “issue” of this one–climate change–but she kept it pretty real.

Speaking of “real,” climate change is, and it’s so apparent in Malawi that everyone from university professors to brickmakers will tell you about it. Most people in Malawi grow their own staple food–corn that’s pounded and cooked into a doughy paste called nsima–and so when the weather goes weird and the rains are late or too scant, they feel it in their empty bellies: people who have never owned a car, never had electricity, never bought a computer, suffering the worst effects of a climate problem that they didn’t create.

Is this not close to the definition of “unfair”?

I don’t want to give any exciting plot details away, but a similar (yet, of course, very different) injustice forms something of a theme in Flight Behavior. There’s also a lot in there on faith and science. I recommend it!