Showing posts with label Running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Running. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Best Hot Chocolate

We've been in the middle of a pretty bitter cold snap and that means that I've been spending huge amounts of time inside.  Sure, it leads to cabin fever and absolutely must be relieved by (very) short daily runs outside, followed by standing by the fire whining about not being able to feel my legs.  However, my book load is lightening at such a rapid pace; I can't remember reading this much in a month before.
Can you see the little flash of red from the cardinal?

But, I absolutely require that there is a steady stream of hot beverages while I'm sitting by the fire of an evening.  I've narrowed it down to, truly, the best hot chocolate.  It's also the speediest.  It was (very roughly) copied off of this blogger's recipe, but I've gotten more loosey-goosey with the method in order to spend the minimum amount of time in my freezing kitchen.

When I was young, my mom used to make stove top hot chocolate when we came in from sledding-stirring cocoa and sugar and water until it boiled, then adding milk and heating for what seemed an interminable amount of time.  Then on the other end of the spectrum is the tepid watery sludge made by mixing powdered milk (blech), cocoa powder, and heaven knows what else into water that, for some reason, is never quite hot.  I'm grossed out just thinking about it.  This hot cocoa is the happy medium.  It's got the full-body flavor of the stovetop method with the quickness of the awful hot cocoa mix method.

This is like no hot chocolate mix you have ever had before.  In fact, it doesn't even deserve to have the same name as that sludge-in-a-package.  I think you'll agree with me after you've made a mug.

Here's the recipe and, oh, is it a lovely to have that hot chocolate ready and waiting in the pantry.

Get out a pint jar and into it put:
1/2 c. cocoa powder (don't bother using some cheap, Dutch-processed, alkalized baking cocoa…use a very dark cocoa powder instead-the flavor is far better)
1/2 c. white sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch (This is to make a smooth hot chocolate mix…don't leave this out!)
Now, this part is pretty optional and I haven't actually seen a huge difference when I omitted it.  However, you can add about 1/4 c. very, very finely chopped dark chocolate (I stuck mine in the food processor)
Then, when you go to make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, just dump, oh, about a tablespoon into a mug full of milk and heat.

Enjoy with your next good book!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pride and Prejudice, While Running

I've been running for a few months now, but it's just recently that I have discovered that I can listen to the written word while running.  Happy day!  My first choice was Pride and Prejudice because, why not?  And I figured that if I was going up some steep incline or let my mind wander, it wouldn't matter as much with this book because I've read it so many times.

Every time I listen to an audiobook, I am amazed by the new dimensions that previously explored books take on.  I downloaded a free copy of P&P from Loyal Books (it used to be Books Should Be Free-it's a company that records books that are now free since they are in the public domain).  Luckily, this particular recording was a good one and the narrator's voice didn't annoy me, something that frequently occurs when I listen to audiobooks.

Everybody knows the story of Pride and Prejudice, so there's no way that I need to actually give you a  synopsis here, so I'll just write some of the things I loved about listening, in particular, to P&P.


  • I can be a very a fast reader at times and so being able to catch every word and s  l  o  w down was good for me.  Listening made me realize yet again how brilliant Austen's writing is and that her work is something to be savored and focused on.
  • The dialogue was a huge highlight of listening.  The reader that narrated my recording was very good at switching voices and I had so much fun listening to the pages upon pages of verbal sparring that is so prolific in Austen's writing.  I am always so impressed by how mean those people can be without ever losing their manners.  
  • I completely forgot about running while I was listening and, as such, improved my time immensely.  I've always been a slow-ish runner and it's thanks to Jane Austen that I'm getting up enough speed to run a 5k without driving everybody nuts around me.  
  • I loved the characters more.  For some reason, listening to these characters talk and live, I became more attached to them than I ever have through reading or watching the 4-hour extravaganza of a movie.
  • It made me lengthen my runs.  I was guilty of saying, "Hey, I did 2 miles, what the heck," when I needed to keep going.  Because I was breathlessly (quite literally) eager to hear what was going to happen after Lydia runs away with Wickam (yes, yes, I know what's going to happen, but still…), I did longer runs.
  • Runs became more meditative.  While I was listening, I would slow down a bit to laugh at the squirrel fight going on over my head or turn around to watch a sunset unfolding.  The prettiness around me was perfectly offset by Jane Austen's lovely words.
This is something I really recommend doing, if you run or work out at all.  At first, you're going to be distracted and it's going to be hard to focus if you've never done this before.  But pick a book that you've read a million times and before you know it, you'll be completely engrossed and you'll never go back to book-less exercise.