The story & recipe below were recently featured in Chicken Soup: Food & Love.
Of the 14 Chicken Soup titles I’ve been published in, this is one of my favorite stories, and, I think, one of the best all-around books they’ve ever put out…and they’ve put out some doozies!
Now, as much as I’d love folks to go buy copies of the book, our hautemealz.com subscribers and followers always get a little extra-special treatment. So, here’s the full story and recipe for your enjoyment!
(If you still want to buy the book, just click on the cover to be taken to our Amazon.com store.)
Mom’s Hot Chocolate
by Perry P. Perkins
One of my earliest memories is of waking up to the smell of camp-smoke and my mother’s hot chocolate. My parents were poor, and we lived in tenement apartments in the Portland suburbs. Dad worked two jobs and mom was disabled, but that didn’t stop them from packing up our some-times running station wagon and heading into the Cascade Mountains several times each year.
Dad would fish with remarkably poor results and Mom would read or knit.
I, until I was old enough to garner my own interest in not catching fish, would wander around the nearby woods pestering small animals and doing whatever it is that youngsters do to amuse themselves. Our gear was old and worn and our food was usually cheap and starchy. One thing that we always splurged on, however, was the ingredients for our traditional hot chocolate, a recipe that has been handed down from my grandmother to my mother, and finally to me.
There was no store-bought, just-add-water powdered cocoa in our camp!
Mom would set the smoke-blacked and much dented coffee pot at the edge of the fire and slowly warm the milk, adding chocolate and mints, and stirring until the steaming contents had become a thick, rich brown and the aroma of chocolate and mint mixed with the scent of Oregon pine to fill the camp. More than once I can remember folks that we had just met hours before, wandering into our campsite with mug in hand to enjoy my mother’s creation.
I can remember blistering hot summer days, freezing spring mornings and torrential Pacific Northwest downpours that trapped us in our heavy canvas tent for days at a time, but I don’t remember ever waking up in the woods without the beckoning smell of mom’s hot chocolate wafting into our tent.
Mom has been gone for a decade now. She went home years before I met my wife and started my own family.
Now, when we load up our car and head for the mountains, nestled among the air mattresses, fishing poles, and ultra-light sleeping bags, there are always Hershey chocolate bars and Peppermint-Patties. I still use that battered coffee pot, resting it over a portable camp stove now, as we always bring extra cups for the neighbors that inevitably show up.
I’ve told my family a lot about Mom, her life, struggles and victories, and it seems like nothing brings back these warm memories better than sitting around the fire at night and sipping sweet hot chocolate.
Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.
Mom’s Hot Chocolate
1 Quart of half-and-half milk.
4 regular milk chocolate bars
1 large Peppermint Patty bar
Bring milk to a very low simmer; add milk chocolate & peppermint patty. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Serve hot and enjoy the company!