Hot Chocolate and Taking a Break-My column in the Greenwood Daily Journal This week

Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday February 9, 2013

My kids know things are about to get real when I have all of my crock pots on the counter tops and ready to use.  When I get out all of my big guns, so to speak.  I seem to know when things may get bumpy because all I seem to shop for are ingredients for our favorite slow cooked recipes.  A need for comfort? The sense of ease at dinner time?  Who knows, but I like it.

 In typical Heather Tallman fashion, I have once again scheduled myself to the hilt.  Thanks to my new friend, Google Calendar on my Iphone, I can now schedule every last minute of my life with reminders of both the verbal and melodic varieties.  A tone when it is time to wake up, when it is time to leave and time to have lunch.  This is what my world has come to, sad huh?
It’s my fault really.  Like many young business owners I am afraid what is here one day may not be here the next so I try to squeeze every last drop of time out of my twenty-four hours I am given each day.  Strike while the iron is hot, don’t let grass grown under my feet, you know how that goes.
I have not touched the time when I am with my kids, in their ‘awake’ time, but the rest has become a series of phone conferences, deadlines, revisions, typing and cooking.  I knew it would all come to a halt and over the last few weeks it happened.  I became so run down and tired I had to cancel almost every commitment I had and pare down my priorities to caring for my kids, working and spending more time at home.  For two solid weeks I did just that and it was more than enough time to recharge and refocus on my priorities.

While I was nesting, which is what it felt like, I made so many great things to eat.  My kids would walk in the house with that look I hadn’t had a chance to notice in a while.  That look after they smelled something they loved to eat baking away in the oven or on top of the stove.  Everything cookies, potato soup, black and bleu burgers-you name it we had it.
I spent a little time cooking my through another Gooseberry Patch cookbook called Slow Cooking All Year Round and when all was said and done I made 15 pretty fantastic meals.  I even made a few desserts like pumpkin pie and molten lava chocolate cake-all in the slow cooker!
So, in the name of slowing down and moving at a slower pace I am sharing a few unique recipes from that cookbook today.  They are both drink recipes, which I never think of doing in a crock pot, with the exception of warm wine. That’s not very family-friendly.
The first is for Hot Lemonade, a soothing drink that is perfect if you are fighting a cold or suffering from a sore throat.  My kids really liked it too.  Next time I will back off of the sugar and lemon juice a bit, but if you like traditionally sweet lemonade then the proportions will work for you.  Throw a few cinnamon sticks in there and you will be set.
Lastly, but not least is The Best Ever Hot Cocoa.  The name says it all as it was probably one of the best I have had in a while.  My oldest son, the hot chocolate expert gave it his seal of approval too.  I used dark chocolate chips for this because that’s what we all preferred, but the recipe calls for milk chocolate.  Use what you like.  Make sure to whisk every 15 minutes or so and turn the heat down after 2 hours.  The day I made this the temperature never got past 9 degrees so it was great timing.  I set out a few toppings and cute mugs and we made an event of it.


  1. Judy says

    Awww…I love the hot chocolate event. And so glad you took some family time, and that it recharged you. I remember a time when my kids were in middle & high school. My daughter was in show choir, my son in sports. My husband & I thought we were doing the “good parent” thing by being totally involved with their activities, but all of the behind the scenes volunteering we were doing (sewing, building backdrops, etc) were taking us away from the family. A lot. My son finally commented that it kind of stunk that having such involved parents meant we were never around anymore. That was a wake up call for us. All too soon, those days when they’re all home are gone. Good for you for taking time to enjoy it!

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