Saturday, February 6, 2010

The best kind of hot chocolate

I just came in from plowing the driveway. A pretty straightforward job, although this was probably the third or fourth heaviest snow we've gotten since we moved into this house in 1986. Maybe the second heaviest.

When I went out to plow Alex had just called to say he was going walking on the frozen Charles River. When I got back in because my fingers were getting cold, Linda reported that someone had called 911 on him. So Alex was ushered off the Charles by the forces of the law, one cop waiting for him on the other side of the river and another cop waiting for him at the place he set out. Perhaps he will be on the evening news.

Linda told me this tale of the nanny state in action while I was searching for the old Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate mix that Albert gave us a couple of years back. Turned out that Linda had given the hot chocolate mix to Alex at Christmas time to take back to Massachusetts. But all was not lost, for I found a hoary box of Nestle cocoa powder way back on the shelf of the cabinet that should be marked "Here be dragons" or "Terra Incognita" like the empty places on Darwin's maps.

"Best by December 2007" doesn't necessarily mean it can't be used to make hot chocolate in February of 2010. Especially when you have a hankering for hot chocolate on a cold and snowy day after coming in from an arduous job of running the tractor up and down the driveway a half dozen times.

So I set out to make hot chocolate. But first Linda had to insist there was a recipe for it on the box even though I was telling her that there was no recipe on the box. Then she suggested that I consult Joy of Cooking for a recipe. As though I needed a cookbook to tell me that hot chocolate is cocoa and sugar and milk in more or less the right proportions. The Aztecs and the Mayans used to make hot chocolate before cookbooks were invented. They didn't even have milk.

So here I am enjoying the very best sort of hot chocolate; the sort that someone says cannot be made but that nonetheless is made out of suspect ingredients combined by instinct. Unfortunately there were no ancient crusty marshmallows to melt on top of it. But you can't have everything in life.

In case you find yourself in a similar situation the recipe is two heaping teaspoons of cocoa powder, a cup or so of skim milk, a packet of Equal, a healthy shake or two of sugar from the bowl because the spoon is already wet with milk and a clotted mess of cocoa, and a dollop of half and half. The cocoa was difficult to dissolve until after I heated up the whole mess in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

Linda is out sweeping snow off her car. In a few minutes I'll go out and sweep off my car so I can move both of the cars to the plowed portion of the driveway. Then I can finish up the plowing, warmed by world class hot chocolate. Eat your hearts out Aztecs and Mayas.

Life is good. Alex got his walk on the frozen Charles before he could be snared by the forces of the law. And I got my hot chocolate.

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