Sunday, November 8, 2015

Doubting Dames and Divas

What's not to love about Annie Lennox? Her first solo album was titled Diva. The word diva is kind of a funny word, one of those that has taken on a life of its own. Diva used to refer to well known opera singers, then it evolved into a name for female singers with a bit of an attitude. Now diva can be used to describe any person who is difficult and hard to work with.
Another word that gets confused sometimes, hot cocoa. There is a definite difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa but often the two are confused. For someone who doesn't really like chocolate to begin with it really doesn't matter. What does matter is this article about health benefits to drinking hot cocoa. "7 Health Benefits to Drinking Hot Cocoa".  So if you need an excuse to indulge there are seven for you. I already have a favourite hot chocolate, El Popular Chocolate and I wanted to find a good hot cocoa. Turns out finding hot cocoa isn't so easy to do.  The grocery stores around here only stock Swiss Miss and Nestle. I would normally say there's nothing wrong with that but I checked the ingredients and wasn't willing to buy a product that had dipotassium phosphate. I know a lot of products with powdered dairy use it but I don't feel like drinking it. Dipotassium phosphate is used in agar, which is what is used to grow bacteria in petri dishes. Nestle's has sodium aluminosilicate, which is also found in a lot of packaged foods. It helps to keep the powdered food from clumping while packaged, but it's also used in latex paint and laundry detergent. I wanted to try a product that didn't have too many "extras" in it so I chose this Ghirardelli Double Chocolate. Perhaps it has less chemically sounding ingredients because it has to be made with milk?
The fact that it has to be made with milk needs to be considered when you're at the store purchasing hot cocoa mix. Luckily I picked up a 1/2 gallon of milk so I had plenty to make a cup and have enough milk to put in my Franken Berries in the morning. 

As I began preparing the hot cocoa some things started to cross my mind. It would be so much easier to put in a Suchard disc in the Tassimo and be enjoying hot chocolate already. Then it hit me, what if this hot cocoa doesn't even taste good by the time I'm done? What if all of this whisking and heating is for nothing? Then I really got to thinking that maybe this way of thinking is what changed the way we eat now. What if we started doubting our abilities in the kitchen so much that we turned to these pre-packaged, frozen and fast food? What if somewhere out there an exhausted housewife spent all afternoon preparing a meal for her family and nobody liked it? That could have been the tipping point because who wants to work hard on something and it turn out like crap? For some people cooking is a gamble, they never know what they're going to get, but if you go through the drive-thru you're sure of what you'll get. Even if it's bad you know what to expect. Trying new recipes can be scary and expensive so it's no surprise some people turn to fast food. I used to think it was just pure laziness that led people to order the #7 with chili instead of fries. Now I'm not so sure.
It truly can be disappointing spending a lot of time in the kitchen and have something not turn out as you envisioned it. On top of that you have a mess to clean up and you're still hungry. A lot of us could definitely use more confidence in the kitchen and maybe some fool proof recipes for back ups when the baked Alaska turns into charred Chattanooga. Hot cocoa isn't the most complex things you'll make in the kitchen so if you're afraid to mess it up just start slow and maybe buy a whole gallon of milk instead of a half. You know, in case you mess up. As for this Ghirardelli hot cocoa, it was ok. There was no mistake it was cocoa and not hot chocolate. It had a good flavour but felt like it could have benefited from some extras like a peppermint stick or peppermint schnapps or both.
The book to read this week, Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers by Deborah Cadbury.  It gives a bit of history of chocolate and a very interesting look at the families who made their fortunes on the selling of the "food for the gods".  Some of the families are more interesting than others but it's a good read if you're interested in history and those Citizen Kane/Remington type family stories.
The holiday season is fast approaching. Let me know your weird family traditions and dishes you think only your family serves.  One of my great-grandmothers always served oyster stew and always had Tom & Jerry's at her Christmas parties. No one has carried on that tradition but this may be the year I try out one of those recipes. Stay tuned.


  1. FWIW during the cold weather I enjoy a pretty simple cocoa drink: in an 8-10oz mug I put a heaping teaspoon of baking cocoa, 2 rounded teaspoons of sugar an add boiling water and after stirring it, a splash or so of half and half. Very un-chemical and probably close to how they originally drank it. I'll spare you the traditional holiday Norwegian fruit soup recipe, it involves tapioca. Interesting blog - should check it more often!

  2. Thanks for checking it out and sharing a recipe. I got some of that black cocoa at the Dutchmen's store that I've been wanting to try, maybe I'll test it out this way. I think I'm going to have to break down and try "real" tapioca. You're not the only person who's told me the real stuff is good.