Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hot Chocolate Memories

We were outside on Sunday and the air had a frosty nip to it and smelled like snow. I didn't know I remembered what snow smells like. It didn't snow of course, but the Littles would have been so, so happy if it had. It would never be what they really want, of course. They want the kind of epic snows I had as a child; they want the 4 foot drifts and the snowmen and a snow fort worthy of a cowboy. I don't know if anyone gets that kind of snow anymore, but it is as much a part of my childhood as Barbie dolls and Lincoln Logs.

In Colorado, when it snows, you still have school.  I remember my mother forcing me to put pants or snowpants under my dress because we had to walk 3 blocks to school and it was cold and snowy out there!  People shoveled their sidewalks, of course, but we took quite a few "short cuts" through snow drifts. We had recess too. No one had ever heard of "indoor recess." I don't believe we had a single time when the weather was too inclement for us to go outside.

(This picture isn't us, but it sure could be!)

It was a different world. I loved waking up to see the world blanketed in white. I doubt if Mom loved it. We'd put on our school clothes, then bread sacks over our shoes to keep our shoes dry and so the boots would go on easier. Then a sweater, snow-pants and snow-boots. Then hat, scarf and mittens and finally, a coat. These manipulations required adult assistance. It's hard to put on boots and it's even harder to zip your coat with mittens on . Little kids never had gloves back then. I think you were a teenager before you had gloves. Nothing fit 100% either; my snow clothes were once my sisters and my brother wore my cast-offs. I'm not sure where my sister's came from!
When we got all of that on, we could barely walk. It was a stiff legged, robotic walk at first as my knees learned to bend under the snow pants and my ankles got used to the boots. We would venture out and I still can taste that first whiff of fresh clean snow air. I loved how quiet the world was, blanketed in snow. We were often quiet the first few minutes as we listened to the loud sound of our own breathing in our scarves.

If it was a school day, I'm sure Mom closed the door and collapsed with a cup of coffee. If she was unlucky and it was a weekend, she probably braced herself for our inevitable and too fast return. When we came home, she always made hot chocolate. This was before "mix" and packets so it was yummy. One of my favorite childhood smells is the smell of scalded milk!  I make this for my kids on cold days still.

Hot Chocolate

1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa, unsweetened 
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt

Stir all above together to break up the starch in the cocoa

3/4 water

Heat over medium high heat until the cocoa simmers 

3.5 cups milk, slowly, 1 cup at a time until heated then add more.

Top with marshmallows, (lots).

You can also add a pinch of cayenne and a teaspoon of cinnamon; that's our current favorite way to enjoy it.

What's your favorite hot chocolate memory?

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