homemade hot cocoa mix

Want to know the ingredient list of a popular, unnamed hot cocoa mix? Are you sure? Here goes:

Sugar, Modified Milk Ingredients, Glucose Solids, Hydrogenated Coconut, Palm Kernel and Soy Oils, Cocoa, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Flavour And Artificial Flavour, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono- And Diglycerides, Datem, Silicon Dioxide, Guar Gum.

Yeah, nothing says warm and delicious like palm oil and silicon dioxide.

Or you could make my homemade hot cocoa mix with four totally ordinary ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups powdered milk
1 tsp salt

Put it all in a container and shake. Done. Next time you’ll find a bigger container and double the recipe, mark my words.

To serve, put a few teaspoons (or tablespoons, whatever, I don’t judge) of the mix in a mug and add hot water.

I can’t believe it’s tofu: an egg-free, oil-free banana bread cake

Not long ago, I read somewhere that silken tofu can be used as a substitute in baking for either eggs or oil. Ah, I thought, but what about using it as a substitute for both? Challenge accepted.

The result is this egg-free and oil-free banana bread that I call a cake only because I bake it in a 9×13” pan. When I make it in the stand mixer, it takes no more than ten minutes to prepare and it’s really, really good.

Here’s what I do:

Mix together two cups of flour*, one cup of sugar** and one teaspoon of baking soda.

Dump in one 300g package of silken (soft) tofu, a splash of vanilla and two large bananas (or three if they’re on the smaller side) and mix it until it’s all wet. (For the first five seconds of mixing, I always panic and think there isn’t enough moisture, but there is.)

Toss in two tablespoons of chia seeds, one-third of a cup of chocolate chips and about one cup of nuts. Hemp or flax seeds would probably be good here, too, as would shredded coconut or dried cherries.

Give another quick mix to incorporate the add-ins and scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure there’s no pocket of flour hiding there.

Plop the batter into a parchment-lined 9×13” pan, spread it around, sprinkle another quarter cup of chocolate chips on top and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.


* For flour, I make a gigantic jar of my own gluten-free mix by dumping in approximately equal measures of every crazy kind of flour I can get my hands on. Spelt, buckwheat, coconut, barley, quinoa, farro, oat – you name it and it’s in there. Because I’m only interested in increasing the diversity of our food and not baking for someone with celiac disease, this is good enough for us. For this recipe, I sometimes use one and a half cups of my mega-mix and half a cup of whole wheat.

** For sugar, I use half a cup of regular white granulated and half a cup of turbinado when I have it. When I don’t, I use all granulated.


This is just the way I make it. I’m not a chef or a nutritionist so I can’t say how many calories are in it or what will happen if you want to make huge changes like cooking it over a campfire or substituting turnip for the banana. Give your weird idea a shot and see what happens. If it’s good, you’ll look like a genius. If it’s…interesting, don’t despair because someone at some point will be desperate enough to eat it, especially if there are chocolate chips involved.

Charlotte the chef

While excavating the family dumping ground (otherwise known as my desk) the other day, I came across the following two recipes written by Charlotte sometime last year. I wish I could be more precise as to the dates these were written, but sadly I didn’t scrawl the dates on the backs as I usually try to do.  Must have been out clubbing seals or raiding tourist sailboats on those days.

Like the best archaeologists, however, I’m able to guesstimate a time frame based on the artifacts found immediately above and below the recipes, which is corroborated by what I already know about the development of communications at that time  (i.e. Charlotte’s handwriting and spelling). It’s all very complicated.

Outmeal Recipe

1. Pour in outmeal

2. Pour in a lot of water

3. Put in cinnomon

4. Put in brown suger

5. Put it in microwave for 15 sec

6. Put on raisons

7. Put in a bit of milk

8. And eat it

Smelling good! Thumps up!

Popcorn recipe

1. get out ingreddeints. butter and popcorn nuts.

2. get out other stuff        bowl, popcorn pumper.

3. put popcorn nuts into popcorn pumper.

4. start pumping the popcorn

5. when it’s ready heat butter and pour it in

6. eat it or put in bags For shcool.

Considering Charlotte’s recipes already surpass some of those by the best-known television chefs  (see Rachael’s Ray’s Late Night Bacon recipe and Paula Deen’s English Peas recipe on the Food Network), I predict she’ll be a huge star in the celebrity chef world in another twenty years. Guess I’d better start being nice to her.