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random: brother and recipe

A few days ago, it was my little brother's birthday. I haven't seen him for more than a year and a half, and I miss him. Skype just don't quite cut it, y'know? I won't go into the whys and wherefore details, but we've always been close, even when not living together. That indelible close that happens when no one else you know ever shared or understood the world you grew up in. The kind of close that means you can almost forget that an ocean and twenty months lie between you, because you carry the other's self in the very shape of your own, and somehow the fact that the other is not physically present in your present just doesn't seem to register.

Anyway. I miss him.

One of the things we used to do, one of our little rituals of staying sane of the kind everyone needs in the face of the interminable demands of this world, was hot chocolate. Not complicated, right? But it couldn't really be. We'd go out and buy some – and there was a fabulous chocolatier shop called San Churros, which was thankfully too far away to go to regularly, or we'd have been very fat and very poor very quickly – or stay home and make some. We didn't even drink it together, always; sometimes just making it for the other was enough.

And we put our creative and rational faculties (which are considerable, naturally) to quite a lot of experimentation. He's always been more picky than me, more determined to get it right, the perfect cup. He can be obsessive like that. You know: a geek. Me, I was just happy to have the drink. The good thing about experimenting with hot chocolate is the good thing about chocolate generally: even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.

So in celebration of his birthday, and because I'm drinking some right now, I'm going to share what became my favourite hot chocolate recipe. (It wasn't his. I don't remember if he ever had a favourite; he was always tinkering with the next idea – using melted cooking chocolate, adding orange essence, or vanilla, or something, frothing it in a saucepan, etc – and whenever I made him a cup I had to check how he wanted it this time. Which is why it was usually me making him make it, rather than the other way around. And, I'm the oldest.)

My favourite is actually really pretty simple:
– A hefty, heaped teaspoon of cocoa (the Hershey's Special Dark stuff does okay over here; back home, there were a couple of different brands we used, but there was a Dutch one whose name escapes me which was really good).
– A shake of cinnamon and/or pinch of cayenne pepper if I'm in the mood. (Don't overdo the pepper. Seriously.)
– A nice, proper dollop of honey, but don't overdo it. You kind of have to eyeball it, and you can always add more if you need to. This is the only sweetener, so adjust as needed; I don't like it too sweet, myself.
– Milk. A microwave. A mug, a spoon, a couch, a blanket and an episode of whatever is Show to you. I'm thinking this is not the part I need to explain to you all.

1. Put the cocoa (and cinnamon and pepper, if that's what you're doing) in the mug and add the honey. Stir them together until you have a thick paste. It can take a little while until it goes from powdery and lumpy to smooth and blended. If you've stirred for a minute and it hasn't come together, add a little more honey.
2. Pour in the milk; don't bother stirring yet, it's cold and won't mix. (I like to smear the paste all around the inside of the mug with the back of the spoon, but I think that's just me enjoying the texture. I don't think it actually does anything for the drink, except maybe make it a little easier to stir in together later.)
3. Heat in the microwave, but not to boiling. (Which you shouldn't do anyhow.)
4. Stir until it's uniformly chocolatey. If the cocoa remains all globby and bitsy, the milk is probably still too cool to make the honey dissolve properly. Heat it a bit more. If it's hot enough, and you've stirred it properly, there shouldn't be too much of the paste clinging to the spoon once you're done.

And that's it. Simple and yummy, and appropriate for all ages. If you have a favourite hot chocolate recipe, or tried this one, I hereby invite you to share about it in the comments; I'd love to try it (and make suggestions to my endlessly experimenting brother). Or what your own sanity-saving ritual is ... other than writing fic, obviously. ;)


( 8 speakses — have a speak )
Feb. 25th, 2011 11:37 am (UTC)
Awww. I hear you there, babe. I feel the same way about my cousins. ♥ skype isn't the same at all - but it DOES help, and hey - at least it's free! :)
Feb. 25th, 2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it helps a lot. ❤

Family's a funny thing, ain't it?
Feb. 25th, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
thanks for sharing this! have a wonderful day, sweetheart!!

Feb. 25th, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'll see what I can do... :)
Feb. 26th, 2011 01:07 pm (UTC)
What a lovely description of your relationship with your brother. I love it.

Your recipe sounds delicious. I'm looking forward to trying it but will probably wait til the LilBit is over a year old. Honey is a no-no for babies and I am a notoriously sloppy cook, so I'd worry about cross-contamination. (I try not to worry about every bizarre little thing, but it's hard sometimes.)
Feb. 27th, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's sometimes far too easy to take that for granted, and forget how blessed I am to have him. And it's also good to be able to share that with you guys.

I'd heard honey is bad for babies, but I never knew why. And I hear you – there are so many bizarre little things out there to worry about that when you let yourself start, it's very hard to stop! Hope you enjoy it when you do get to make it :)
Feb. 27th, 2011 04:27 am (UTC)
Honey can contain minute traces of botulism spores. For older children and adults, it's not a big deal because the acid in the digestive tract kills then bacteria before they can produce the dangerous neurotoxin. But babies under a year old don't have fully mature digestive systems and so might not be able to handle the bacteria.

And yeah, there are so many things to worry about, it can get in the way of enjoying the baby. I depend on Himself to validate or repudiate a concern. If he validates, then we take steps to mitigate. And if he repudiates, then I relax and stop worrying. It's a pretty good system. :)
Feb. 28th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
I believe that is one of dads' primary functions, yes. Sounds like you guys have it pretty well sorted out :)
( 8 speakses — have a speak )

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