We stood in the pouring rain, freezing for nearly an hour friday night to watch my daughter's final marching band performance and participate in the senior send-off ceremony. Because of the cold, wind, and rain, most of the balloons we let fly ended up on the ground on the end of the football field.
Ordinarily this would have been a sad time for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute as a stay at home mom raising my kids, and this school year is full of lasts. Because my youngest are twins, it's double lasts. Last marching band performance, last open houses to attend,(they go to different schools), last set of teacher conferences, last homecoming dance, etc. They really do grow up too fast. The best, most fulfilling part of my life is drawing to a close. Soon they won't need me anymore and as college approaches they won't have much time to spend with me. And while that's killing me inside, it's as it should be. My oldest son will always need me because of his disabilities, but if I've done my job right, the others won't need me. They'll be able to stand on their own and take care of themselves.
What makes this easier for me is that I truly like and respect the people my children have turned out to be. And it didn't hurt that it was rainy and cold; I despise cold weather and couldn't wait to get warm. So instead of thinking sad thoughts, I was thinking how good a nice hot cup of cocoa would be.
The perfect cup of cocoa is very simple. It should have only three ingredients- milk, cocoa and cane sugar. Some people add mint, vanilla, cinnamon or other flavorings; I've even had cocoa with a dash of hot pepper in it. But they detract from the soothing, glorious cocoa flavor. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.
Cocoa is one of the easiest things to make, so don't buy the little pre-measured envelopes. They contain unhealthy trans-fats and other nasties that don't belong in hot cocoa in order to mask the use of inferior ingredients. Here's what is in Nestle hot cocoa:
SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.
Often marshmallows which are also full of nasty ingredients are added to try and improve the flavor of their cheap ingredients.(and marshmallows aren't vegetarian) If I wish to garnish my hot cocoa the only thing I use is real whipped cream.
Use the best quality non-dutched cocoa you can find. (I use Rapunzel-it's organic, non-alkaline, and fair trade.) Dutch process cocoa has been processed with an alkali. This greatly reduces the flavonoid content of the cocoa, making it far less healthful as well as less flavorful. Numerous studies have shown that flavonoids are beneficial to cardiovascular health. Cocoa is also a good source of potassium, magnesium and fiber.
Perfect Hot Cocoa
1 c. milk
2 T. non-alkaline cocoa
1 T. cane sugar
Make a paste of cocoa, sugar and 2 T. of milk. Heat the rest of the milk, then whisk into cocoa paste till frothy. Garnish with a tablespoon of whipped cream if desired.
8 oz. heavy cream
2 T. raw honey (or you can sub 1/4 c. confectioners sugar)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Whip cream till it begins to thicken, add sweetener and vanilla and whip till stiff.
Head on over to Momtrends where this recipe has been linked and check out her fabulous Friday Feast linkup.