This is one of those posts where I mock my husband. Sorry, but it must be done. Last weekend, David rented cross country skis for himself and the girls.
He spent $80 (for the season, David made me tell you this) per human outfitting them to participate in what can only be the most grueling, un-fun, hideous sport in history. The only good thing...he was smart enough not to buy them for me. My man knows his woman.
To make my case about what hard work it is to cross country ski and therefore, why do it?, I twittered about it and like 30 people wrote back saying it was an abysmal, punishing sport geared to masochists and people with overly-muscular thighs. Mrs. Wheelbarrow actually called it "one long primal scream."
Still, David and the kids went out in the back yard that first day and they persisted.
It was cold and snowy and even when they could stay upright on the ski's, the kids couldn't feel the thrill of shushing down a mountain, defying death and whizzing past slow pokes all around you, only to stop dead two inches before the chair lift, spraying a wall of snow through the air like a Las Vega fountain. There was none of that. Just small children using every tiny, little, straining muscle to put one foot in front of the other and trudge eight inches through the powder, without falling over, into a cold, snowy lump on the hard ground.
Not that I'm being overly-dramatic or anything. Sigh. But it's like watching your husband make your children work in a factory or something and then, try to convince them, vigorously, that it was "fun". But there was progress and excitement and perhaps, in the end, appreciation. There must have been because they've gone again several times since.
Frankly, I think the only reason David likes this sport is that he looks hawt in the "special pants". You have to love a sport with special pants.
And I kept telling him all weekend he looked hawt, which he did, so you can't really blame him for, like, never taking them off. I think he might wear them all next weekend too. That's my prediction.
Anyway, after David persecuted our children with his winter physical activity, and just before all the crying and pleading to go watch seven hours of Wow Wow Wubbzie, I gave them their just rewards...we made hot chocolate and home-made whipped cream.
If you've never made the real stuff from scratch and insist on buying Miss Swiss or something from a packet, I suggest you try the real stuff. For one thing, it is a simple and heavenly process that requires no expertise, but the kids love watching you take a few stark ingredients and turn them into something luscious.
I will tell you that this was really the first time I think my kids have actually seen me take heavy cream and just with a little hand labor - nothing nearly as excruciating as walking through snow on tiny sticks - turn it into something stiff and sweet and fluffy. They were amazed that cream could do that, although David had tired them out and they got tired of actually doing any of the real work themselves.
Here is David in his cool post-cross country skiing, lodge sweater. That go perfectly with his special pants. Hawt, as well.
Anyway, here is the recipe, which I adapted from one by David Leibovitz. You can be picky about the kinds of chocolate you use, but I assure you that if you use what you have in the fridge, it will still come out gorgeous and silky and warm as anything Carnation can make.
Same with the cream, you can add lots of things to it, but simple is always best. Just enjoy the simple things.
Hot Chocolate (adapted from David Leibovitz)
1 quart half-and-half
10 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
tiny pinch of salt (if desired, taste it first)
tiny pinch of cinnamon (if desired)
David suggests adding some bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, but I didn't have any, so I used chips from the bag of Jacques Torres chocolate that was in our fridge. I eyeballed everything. I'm sure David's is a better recipe, but I think having hot chocolate is better than having no hot chocolate. As with everything, the better the chocolate, the better the drink.
1. Warm about one-third of the half-and-half or milk, with the chopped chocolates and salt, stirring until the chocolate is melted.
2. Whisk in the remaining half-and-half or milk, heating until the mixture is warmed through. Add the cinnamon and/or salt, if you like. I did neither.
3. Whisk the hot chocolate until it's smooth. Serve very warm.
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold (yields about 2 cups of cream)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (if you like, but not necessary)
You can totally use an electric mixer to do this, I just didn't have one at the country house. You should never let the lack of equipment deter you from fresh whipped cream. I mean, the pioneer women did it by hand, right?
1. Pour cream into a bowl. (a cold bowl will help, but it also isn't necessary)
2. Using a whisk, whip the cream until it starts to fluff up, about 5 minutes or so. Keep beating until the cream forms stiff peaks or keeps its shape when you remove the whisk.
3. Stir in sugar. And vanilla extract, if you like. I didn't use extract, just because I tasted it and thought it needed nothing else.
4. Plop big dollops into your steaming cup of hot chocolate. Or store in your refrigerator in an air-tight container.