Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Break

After I heard last night there would be no school the following day due to the blizzard, I was wandering around the house whispering to myself my snow day mantra, "Embrace the snow day, embrace the snow day." I used to hate snow days. The kids would be so bored despite my efforts at crafts, baking, play dates with the nearest neighbors, and I would get nothing done around the house. Then I decided to mentally reframe how I thought about snow days. I decided to see the positive in them: I didn't have to get the kids dressed and out the door at the crack of dawn, ditto for me, no lunches to make, no carpool. Of course, there is also the memories that are made from watching the little ones make snow angels and catch snowflakes on their tongues.

Fortunately, my husband was off this snow day. He spent most of the day shoveling, and my kids went outside to play around in the snow as he cleared the walkways. The neighbors wandered over and the children made snow angels with their friends. Rosie didn't like that Lillie threw snow at her. I told her that's how you "play" in the snow. When they came inside their noses were pink, and their clothes coated with snow like a donut with powdered sugar. "Hot cocoa, hot cocoa", they cried. No problem, easy enough request. Wait, no, the packet of hot cocoa is processed on equipment that processed wheat. Once again the seemingly easy becomes not so easy. I decided to pull down the canister of Ghirardelli cocoa, and make the hot cocoa recipe on the back. Hot cocoa became easy once again. Once you try making cocoa from scratch, you will never go back to the packet. There is a richness which cannot compare to the boxed stuff.
I can't say the day was exactly idyllic, moral begins to break down by early afternoon, but while all the kids were gathered around the kitchen table drinking their hot cocoa, they were quiet and content. So make yourself a cup of cocoa and embrace your snow day!

It's worth buying better quality unsweetened cocoa powder. I think Ghirardelli natural unsweetened cocoa is the best you can get in the supermarket. It's not much more than Hershey's, and if you put the two side by side you can't help but see the difference in color and richness of texture. There is also a type of cocoa called Dutch processed, which contains alkali. For an easy primer on dutch cocoa versus plain, click here. For this recipe, you can use either.
Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup milk (dairy, soy, rice, coconut)
Whisk together first two ingredients in a small saucepan. Add the milk, whisk together until blended. Heat over low heat for 8-10 minutes, until small bubbles appear on the surface. Whisk occasionally while heating. Serve immediately, garnished with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired.
Microwave method: Mix cocoa and sugar and set aside. Pour milk into a mug and heat on high for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in cocoa mixture.
Serves 1

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