My mother was a very strict disciplinarian. Many, including a younger version of myself, would have labeled her an abusive parent. But with age comes wisdom and over the years I have come to realize that upbringing and circumstances molded my mother into the person she had become by the time I had joined an already crowded family. I hold onto some of the better memories and recognize now my mother's attempt to show her children how much she cared...like when we came home on cold, rainy school days.
By the time I was in first grade, I pretty much knew what would be waiting for me after walking home in the pouring rain. I was the youngest of four siblings and watched as Mother would go through the same ritual every year for my two sisters and brother as they walked through the back door in their rain-soaked clothes.
Hours before Mother would be in the kitchen with her trusted collection of recipes and whip up a huge pot of homemade hot cocoa. Food in our home was always carefully rationed out...except for on Hot Cocoa Day.
On Hot Cocoa Day a bone-chilled, dripping wet kid could always count on two things. A towel warmed by a gas space heater to wrap up in and an endless mug of Mother's hot cocoa. I wouldn't be far off saying I lived for Hot Cocoa Day. As a pre-schooler I would watch as she mixed all the ingredients into a huge stock pot and impatiently wait as it slowly simmered into a rich brown vat of childhood delight.
We would hover in front of that one tiny heater in the living room while Mother took turns holding the towels up to the flames to reheat them until we were dry. Then, and only when she made a new batch of hot cocoa, we were allowed to fill our mugs with as much of that chocolate goodness as we wanted. If we were lucky, there would be slices of homemade bread straight from the oven, topped with fresh churned butter or maybe even some snickerdoodle cookies to nibble on.
While my mother was not one for showing much affection, I now know this was one way she showed her children how much she cared. And even though it's been more than forty years since I've had my mother's hot cocoa, every time I sit down to drink some on a cold, rainy day I think of her and realize there was a lot of love in that cup...
by Ferol Lavergne
1 cup shortening
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
5 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix shortening, butter,sugar, and eggs. Blend all dry ingredients.
Stir in with shortening, butter, sugar and egg mixture. Roll into balls the size of a small walnut. Roll in mixture of 4 tablespoons sugar and 4 tablespoons cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown and still slightly soft. Allow to cool completely and store in airtight container. Makes 16 dozen.