The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Cabin Fever and Cocoa Cocktails

Day four of the epic Southern snow storm. Day four of the husband working from home and the kids’ schools and activities all canceled. The roads are impassable. We haven’t received mail all week. We are trapped; and I am one degree Celsius away from starring in an episode of Snapped.

I have a sudden new appreciation for The Donner Party. And they didn’t even have a Crock Pot to soften up those rump roasts.

Surprisingly, I was somewhat prepared for this. My refrigerator is stocked. I have plenty of wine. I even had the foresight to fill the bathtub with water in case the pipes break so we can at least flush toilets in an emergency. Hey, there are a lot of butt-holes in this house. We finally broke three year old Spider-Man of the “I can poop outside” habit a few months ago… wouldn’t want to confuse the little guy if our water supply freezes up.

So how does a mom like me cope? Not very well, to be honest. I try to keep the kids outside as much as possible. But the thing about kids and snow is that it makes SO MUCH more work for the mamas. I have to get them all dressed in multiple layers, zip the zippers that their mittened fingers can’t grasp, manage the wet clothes when they come in, make the hot cocoa, remove the snot-cicles, and extricate sharp sticks from soft tissue. It’s exhausting just writing about it, let alone doing it. And it is an endless cycle. They go out for a couple of hours (tops), get cold, come in, undress, dry off, eat, and rest. Like bad Chinese food, an hour later the cycle begins again. Times like this make those polygamous families in Utah look pretty damn appealing. Who couldn’t use a few sister-wives to help with all the work and boudoir duties? It really does take a village.

Well, with all this endless outdoor frolicking and indoor defrosting, we used up our last packet of Swiss Miss yesterday. Unacceptable. My three year old, who can’t say the hard “c” sound, says he must have “totoa in the tow tup” (cocoa in the cow cup). It’s pretty tute. Clearly I needed to find a way to make homemade cocoa. If I had to milk the cat and melt my chocolate flavored calcium chews, I would do it. Luckily, I didn’t have to work that hard.

Here’s the recipe I found (and revised) in my desperation. There are tons of recipes out there but I wanted one that was easy, tasty, and not filled with artificial ingredients like non-dairy creamer. And since we’re totally snowed in, my magic pantry would need to provide all the ingredients. Perhaps you recall the magic pantry that saved Klepto’s birthday party a couple years ago? This recipe is based on one from Alton Brown of the Food Network. I love that man… he has never let me down. I think there may have been a typo in the instruction part of his original recipe, so I tweaked it a bit and made it more user friendly. Warning… once you taste this, you will never be able to drink store-bought cocoa mix again. This is much richer and more complex… perfect for serious chocolate lovers. I’m guessing it’s also much more economical and of course less packaging makes it better for the environment. Win-win-win!

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix


  • 2 cups powdered sugar (must be powdered… not granulated)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder (Dutch-process preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk (powdered WHOLE milk trumps the non fat kind)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (don’t skip this… thickens it the perfect amount)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste (I omitted this… my kids are sissies)
  • Hot water


Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. In a small pot, heat 4 to 6 cups of water.

For the semi-frozen kiddies: Place 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a mug and add 6 oz. hot water. Stir to combine. Add some mini marshmallows if you have ’em. This is pretty watery, but my kids didn’t like it any stronger than that. Whatever… more for me.

For the exhausted adults: Place 4 or 5 tablespoons of the mixture into a mug, add in that tiny pinch of cayenne you omitted for your sissy kids, and add 6 oz. hot water. Stir to combine. Then add 1.5 ounces of Baileys Irish Cream, Frangelico, Grand Marnier, or the bathtub moonshine you’ve been saving for that special occasion, a.k.a. Thursday.

Seal the rest of your homemade cocoa mix in an airtight container… it keeps indefinitely in the pantry.

Looks like school is canceled again tomorrow and one of my best friends just called to see if I had killed any children or pets yet this week. Ah, she knows me all too well. Where is that Crock Pot, anyway?

Seasons eatings!


Totoa in the Tow Tup

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris

2 comments on “Cabin Fever and Cocoa Cocktails

  1. laura lee
    January 14, 2011

    i don’t know if it’s the stress of all the family togetherness, the bizarre meals I’m having to concoct due to limited ingredients or inhaling all the carbon monoxide from my fire obsessed husband but my 4 year old’s poop is green. his theory:” i think it is because i’ve been playing the green leapster so much”.

  2. Iris
    January 14, 2011

    In my extensive personal experience with poop of various colors and textures, I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt that green poop is usually the result of consuming blue artificial food coloring. Just how bizarre are those meals you’re concocting, missy?

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This entry was posted on January 13, 2011 by in kitchen wench, lush, mother, thrifty and/or gross and tagged , , .
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