If you're anything like me, you have many fond memories of time spent with your grandparents when you were young. So many of those memories for me revolve around food. Big shocker there, I know. But at Grandma's house, I always know there will be goodies of some kind. Polish dumplings, warm poppy seed rolls, fresh-baked cookies, and the list goes on. So it was a treat the last time I was at Grandma's house to be able to spend some time with her while we whipped up some really tasty hot cocoa!
It reminded me of all the winter days spent playing outside in the snow when all of us local cousins were young. After hours of sledding, snowball fights, and building forts, we'd begrudgingly head back inside as the sun began to fade in the midafternoon. We were hungry and soaked, but I'm not sure we noticed. As soon as we were inside, the first thing we had to do was get out of all of our wet clothes. So off came the stocking caps and wool gloves and scarves and heavy coats and winter boots and snowmobile pants and turtlenecks and jeans and long underwear and undershirts. When there were five or six of us over there at the same time, Grandma's laundry room must've looked like a blast site! While the clothes were placed in the dryer or hung over a vent, we scampered inside to see what we'd be munching on. Often, it was grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup...still one of my simple favorites. And many times we'd make hot cocoa on those cold winter days and nights. Not always the slow and homemade kind that Grandma and I put together on my recent visit, but I don't suppose it matters as much when you're just a kid. With a few mini marshmallows dancing near the rims of our mugs, we were a pretty content bunch curled up in the living room either watching cartoons or playing Nintendo while the big furnace vent in the corner blasted in warm air. Those were perfect moments to be alive, though we were certainly unaware of it at the time.
Decades have passed since then, for both me and Grandma. Since that time she has lost a husband and me a grandfather. She's lost a son and a daughter while I lost an uncle and an aunt and some of my cousins lost a mother or a father. Time waits for no one, I suppose, and that's a lesson we all learn the hard way from time to time. I'm just very grateful that my memory bank is filled to overflowing with wonderful memories of my youth, and I'm equally glad that me and Grandma were able to share some cocoa and conversation all these years later.
Grandma's Incredible Hot Cocoa
1/3 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups milk (2% or whole)
3/4 tsp vanilla
Mix cocoa powder, sugar and salt in saucepan on the stove. Pour in boiling water. Bring mixture to a boil, then bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add milk and heat to desired temperature, being careful not to let it boil over. Add vanilla and serve.