Growing up, I learned some of the most important life lessons from my father, who has shown me what really matters in life: 1) family is everything, 2) perseverance in the face of adversity is the only way to win at life, and– most importantly– 3) there is no situation that chocolate cannot improve.
Today, I put two of those lessons to use in my kitchen, after a veil of snow draped over the city– a rare occurrence in Atlanta, but a beautiful and magical one when it does happen. The city was transformed. People were cheery. As I saw the snow fall from my office window this morning, it was as if it was mocking me from outside: a slow-motion scene unfolding like a dream, silently reminding me to slow down, take a breath, and not get caught up in the minutia that has been stressing me out lately. It was calming, and it truly did look a lot like Christmas.
A roundabout way
By the time we were dismissed early from the office to brave the glaring roadways illuminated on Waze, the streets, trees, and cars were already hidden under a few inches of snow. I wanted to avoid the major highway, and since I’m not good at navigation or familiar with the back roads leading to our new place, I turned on the GPS, only to find that nothing would load up. I realized that the hundreds of other drivers on the roads had the same idea at the same time: to use their traffic apps, call friends, and of course, Instagram photos of the single snowy day we’ve experienced in years. There was no way I was going to extend this commute of bumper-to-bumper traffic by stopping at a grocery store on the way. After having left the office at 1:10, I finally managed to use the static map on Google to make it back to our crystallized lawn, ice-slicked driveway and dusted red-brick house two hours later.
This was my chance to pause and take in this winter wonderland. The only thing that could make this moment even better, as I’ve picked up from my dad, was a cup of warm chocolatey heaven. However, since it had only been two days since we’d moved to the new place, the pantry and fridge had not been stocked yet, so I had nothing with which to make hot cocoa.
Or so I thought.
Remembering that other lesson from my dad, that perseverance leads to results, I decided to get resourceful.
In my kitchen, I had half a box of cereal, three granola bars, pasta, and quinoa. In my fridge, I had hummus and pita, a couple slices of leftover pizza, a carton of milk and apple juice.
It was time to get creative.
Thinking out of the (granola) box
The end result was a testament to the lengths a chocoholic will pursue to make hot cocoa happen in the midst of a winter storm when supplies are scarce. However, it was also a gentle and much-needed reminder that there’s more than one way to accomplish a goal, and thinking out of the box can be helpful.
So here’s proof that if you set your mind to it, anything’s possible, also known as “How To Conjure up Hot Chocolate When You Don’t Have Any Of The Right Ingredients.”
- Step 1: Use a peeler to shave off the layer of chocolate from the bottom of the granola bar into a mug, and dig out the chocolate chips. You want this to be chocolatey, don’t you?
- Step 2: Boil some milk on the stovetop, and once it foams, pour into the mug, and use a spoon to stir so that the chocolate has totally melted in.
- Step 3: Hey! Guess what? You now have bits of granola in your hot chocolate, and the overly processed chocolate from your granola bar hasn’t melted into the milk all the way yet. It’s time to return the milk-and-chocolate mixture to the stove for more heating!
- Step 4: When it’s finally all melted in properly on the stove, strain the mixture into a mug, and add sugar as needed.
- Step 5: Enjoy a hot cup of joy on the snow-covered steps of your new home on a wintry day!
Stay safe and warm everyone!