Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mint-to-Be Frothy Hot Cocoa a homemade, soothing ticket to dreamland

Hubby was insistent. Why hadn’t I blogged about the splendid hot cocoa mix that he brews each evening for our nighttime wind-down regimen? After all, it utilizes mint leaves as a key element for its flavor—and as we all know, the mint plant (irrepressibly) springs from the garden. Doesn’t this blog honor foods that are garden-fresh?

I bowed my head in shame. After all Hubby does to aid and abet this column—after-dark trips to the garden to bring in a homegrown item, emergency dashes to the grocery for a last-minute ingredient, hosts of kitchen clean-ups with all my dirty pots and pans scattered about—the least I could do was to blog about the homemade, stovetop cocoa mix that he has perfected through night after night of experimentation.

So here it is: Hubby’s Mint-to-Be Frothy Hot Cocoa, certainly the best from-scratch cocoa mix you’ll ever sip—so good, in fact, that it was a part of our nighttime routine all summer long, even on those broiling, ridiculous evenings when the thermometer still read 100-degrees at bedtime. On with the hot cocoa, regardless!

Of course now we are learning about chocolate’s health benefits—and that the natural flavanol antioxidants contained within cocoa contribute to cardiovascular health. A soothing cup of milk before bedtime also is said to be sleep-inducing, because it contains tryptophan, the same chemical found in turkey—just as with the after-Thanksgiving-dinner sleepiness that seems to descend. The calcium in milk is thought to have better chance of getting into the bones and muscles while you rest, so bedtime is prime time for ingesting it.

Besides those attributes, the sweet sip of hot cocoa (the mix recipe is adjusted with lighter options, as you’ll see) at the end of the day is just plain soothing and aids in our mellowing out to put the day’s cares aside. The mint from our garden spikes it with freshness—the same as peppermint candy does in those expensive, gourmet coffee-shop brews might but without the calories and sugar.

We are big believers in our nightly Mint-to-Be Frothy Hot Cocoa. Thanks to Hubby for reminding me to be evangelical about it and to spread the word in this blog so readers can have more replenishing z-z-z-z’s as well.

Hubby’s Mint-to-Be Frothy Hot Cocoa

1/2 cup sugar (we use sugar substitute)
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 cups milk (we use skim)
4 teaspoons vanilla
20 mini-marshmallows
4 mint springs
(dash of sugar-free whipped topping, if desired)

In airtight container mix sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. In small saucepan on stove heat milk over medium-high heat. Stir constantly. When milk is warm stir in cocoa mix. Stir until cocoa mix is dissolved and chocolate drink reaches desired temperature. Stir briskly with a wire whisk to make the liquid froth up a bit. In the bottom of each cup place 1 teaspoon vanilla, 5 mini-marshmallows, and 2 leaves from the mint sprig. Allow drink to steep for a few minutes until it cools a little and the mint leaves flavor the drink. Remove the mint leaves or let them remain, according to your preference. (This recipe makes enough for four cups of hot cocoa. Hubby and I make up the powdered drink and divide it in half so that it lasts for two nights. The second night, all we have to do is to warm up the milk and do the add-ins to the cups.)

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