Sunday, December 13, 2020

National Hot Cocoa Day!

First, we'd like to thank all of the readers who attended our virtual rockin' cocktail party yesterday which, if you missed it, you can view here: Poisoned Pen Bookstore! 

Seven winners were chosen from the comments (1300 comments!!!) You each should have gotten replies and direct messages letting you know that you won, so check your posts and messages to see if you're a winner! In case you're checking here, here is the list of book recipients:

Anita Ashton -- The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen
Danielle Kempe -- A Bitter Feast by Deborah Crombie
Judy Deliramich -- The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Donnis Benson -- The Key Lime Crime by Lucy Burdette
Mary Lee -- Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay
Teddi Davant Perry -- Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron
Gwen Ward  -- Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Congrats, one and all!

Jenn McKinlay: And now, real talk, is there anything better than hot cocoa on a cold winter's day? For me, this is a rhetorical question, by the way. 

Today is National Hot Cocoa day so I'm sharing Sully's hot cocoa recipe from my very first Library Lover's Mystery, Books Can Be Deceiving, which came out way back in 2011. 



Hard to believe we're up to book eleven with this year's One for the Books, which is set at Christmas time (if you're looking for a holiday mystery) plus there's a wedding and a murder, natch!


Sully's Hot Cocoa:

 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 3/4 cup white sugar 
  • 1 pinch salt 
  • 1/3 cup boiling water 
  • 3 1/2 cups milk 
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream 

Directions

Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Slowly blend in the boiling water. Bring the mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Lower the temperature to simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Be careful that it doesn't scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the half-and-half to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature. 



Now, how about you, Reds and Readers, are you a fan of hot cocoa? If not, what is your cold weather beverage?


91 comments:

  1. Thanks for the recipe, Jenn . . . yum!

    Coffee always tops my hot drink list, but I am indeed a Hot Cocoa fan . . . .

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    1. Coffee-aholic here! 3 cups every morning and sometimes one in the afternoon!

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    2. Jenn, no wonder you're so productive! Milk and/or sugar? Drip, filter, espresso?

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  2. Strong black drip-filtered coffee is my year-round hot drink (in the morning).

    But I do occasionally like to treat myself to a hot chocolate on a winter's day. I also make my own hot chocolate mix (similar to yours).

    Wow. 1300+ comments at yesterday's Jungle Reds virtual party is awesome. It was a lot of fun.
    My Red drink was a vodka cranberry cocktail with sparkling water and lime juice.

    Hot chocolate can be my reward after a long winter hike or snowshoe or skate. And adding a splash of Amaretto or Frangelico (hazelnut) liqueur makes it even more indulgent and yummy.

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    1. Oh, both your cocktail and your cocoa sound like winners to me!

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    2. Jenn, thank you, I am glad you approve!

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  3. I do love hot chocolate, it is a very special treat. We drink hot coffee all year round, and sometimes I will make a mocha drink, adding cocoa, a little sugar and milk. The other day I put marshmallows on top. Divine!

    Last night's cocktail party was loads of fun. It will be fun to replay it.

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    1. Wasn't it a blast? And yes, marshmallow pushes cocoa over the top... in a good way.

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    2. It was fun - thank goodness for Hank, herding us like cats. :)

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  4. I like hot chocolate but I hardly ever drink it. When I do, I add cinnamon and little cayenne to make it Mexican hot chocolate.

    Loved the party last night - and that screenshot is a lot better than the one I took! I had a similar cocktail to Grace's - cranberry vodka, sweet vermouth, a spoonful of frozen limeade, and lime seltzer.

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    1. Edith, yes I had noticed we made similar "Red" drinks!

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    2. Once I discovered I had cranberry vodka in the liquor cabinet, I was all set (must have acquired it last year and forgotten)!

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    3. Ohhh, I did not realize it was cranberry-infused vodka. I don't drink a lot of cocktails (prefer wine) so I don't have vermouth, bitters or fancy vodka. But I did have cranberry juice and limes so it was an ok drink.

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    4. When I was in Mexico last February, I bought a bag of Mexican hot chocolate! It’s in my pantry somewhere. It really is the best.

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    5. ,,, in your pantry somewhere..... it's winter, you need to start digging it out. No, wait, you live in Phoenix, it's probably still plenty warm there,

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    6. Edith, in the end, I did drink Scotch. I sipped it so it would last an hour.

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    7. Aperol spritzer here. My new drink of choice

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  5. My Mom used to make hot cocoa from scratch, but I've never mustered up the energy to try. I do love a good mocha, though, especially Mexican style!

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    1. Same! A little spice just adds some extra flavor.

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  6. Happy Hot Cocoa Day! The day after National Gingerbread House Day. I'm sensing a theme. When is Candy Cane Day?

    Hot chocolate is a once in awhile treat for me, mostly because it is never as chocolatey as I want it to be. That is, until I had hot chocolate in Paris. Ooh, la la! For a time Starbucks made one that was almost as thick and rich and chocolatey, but they quit doing so. However, I snagged a HUGE canister of the mix at Costco several years ago. It's pretty good stuff, but we are running out of the preciously hoarded supply, alas.

    Grace and Edith, I was also drinking vodka and cranberry, with a little simple syrup (my cranberry juice is unsweetened, which I didn't realize), and some of my homemade blackberry bitters. I called it a Mrs. Claus. And it knocked me on my keester.

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    1. Great minds think alike, Karen re: cocktails.

      Recipes online varied calling for either 3 or 5 parts cranberry juice and I used the larger amount.
      I drank the whole thing in the first 20 minutes and it was not strong enough, LOL.

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    2. And I totally agree with you about drinking fab hot chocolate in Paris!

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    3. The party was great fun! The only way it could have been better is if it lasted longer, and we could all see one another, too.

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    4. Agreed! I would have made a stronger second drink if the party had gone beyond the hour.
      And I love it that you named your drink!

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    5. I am food centric and could probably live on cocoa and gingerbread! LOL!

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    6. Karen, the wonderful David Lebovitz has a recipe for French Hot Chocolate. https://www.davidlebovitz.com/parisian-hot-ch-1/
      I haven't tried it but I'm sure it's delish.

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    7. Thanks, Debs! It certainly looks authentic!

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  7. Loved the party last night! And my "cocktail" was dark hot chocolate with a healthy splash of butterscotch schnapps, so that should answer the "do I like hot cocoa question." (Although I was running late, so I had to resort to a packet of Swiss Miss dark hot chocolate.)

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    1. I have got to pick up some butterscotch schnapps - this is twice it’s been mentioned and it’s calling me!

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  8. Hot chocolate, yes! From scratch is best, with loads of whipped cream. On winter days we might come trudging, plunging down the hill through the snow to home, to find hot cocoa on the stove. Thanks, Mom!

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    1. Same! My mom’s was always the best. She also used to melt brown sugar and butter and we’d go outside and pour it in lacy designs in the snow and watch it harden - snow candy!

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  9. So sorry I missed the party last night. I looked at my watch and it was 7:30. Dang - and I had planned a nice glass of red wine. My red of choice.

    I am a hot cocoa fanatic, but not necessarily a purist. I will make it from "scratch" if I have the time, but those little packets do in a pinch. Even when started from a packet (I use two) I always add half and half or cream if I have it and a peppermint stick swizzle.

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    1. I had red wine! Love the addition of a peppermint stick - genius!

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  10. Where's the marshmallow?? One big fat warm fluffy marshmallow on top seals the deal. Making cocoa from scratch is totally worth it and yes, some cream please. Day to day my hot drink of choice is chai tea, decaffeinated, plain and without all the hoo-ha of sugar and milk please.

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    1. I do love the marshmallows but also whipped cream. Whipped cream would probably win the toss up for me these days.

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  11. Wonderful fun party last night! So glad I could attend. That cocoa recipe is a keeper for sure - just what we need when the snow is and the wind are howling and blowing.

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    1. It’s been chilly enough in the desert for cocoa, too. For me cocoa is on if ithe temps drop into the 50’s. LOL.

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  12. Trader Joe's sipping chocolate around 4pm every day, sitting at the kitchen table watching the daylight fade.

    Nothing beats chocolat chaud on a chilly November day in Paris.

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  13. They just opened a Trader Joe’s near me in Tempe! Will check it out!

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    1. Yum, I have Trader Joe's chocolate mix in my pantry, I think. Must go check!

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    2. Waaah, I miss not being able to go to a Trader Joe's since our Canada-US border remains closed to non-essential travel.

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    3. Someone get Grace's address and and her some Trader Joe's sipping chocolate. We must maintain good international relations with our JRW family to the north.

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    4. Deanna: I like how you think!! πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

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  14. Lattes! For some reason— which I completely forgot, —at the very beginning of the pandemic we got a tiny little coffee frother. It is amazing! And Jonathan has become quite the expert. So often we have lattes and they are so absolutely gorgeously delicious!

    I’m not too much of a hot chocolate fan— One sip is delicious, then diminishing returns.

    And oh, thank you so much for your kind words about last night! You all are so amazing, and I am still floating by how incredibly many people came. Wow.

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    1. Oh, yes, my first morning coffee is always a latte.

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  15. For some reason this is reminding me of iced chocolates we had, sitting outdoors in a cafe overlooking Bondi Beach in Australia.

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  16. We got a Nespresso machine a couple of years ago, and it's my favorite thing ever. I make a latte in the morning. Well, it's really a latte Americano, with one shot of espresso, frothed milk, then the cup topped up with hot water. It's just heavenly. I drink tea in the afternoons, Earl Grey or Ceylon, with a little milk. No sugar.

    I do love hot chocolate, either from scratch or a good mix, but it's sort of a special occasion drink. Today it is forty degrees and raining, and I'm finishing the Christmas decorating, so this may be the first hot chocolate of the year! Oh, and whipped cream! Marshmallows are good, but whipped cream is better.

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    1. I have the Ninja coffee maker with a frother attachment. Love.

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  17. Hot chocolate was a breakfast treat in the winter, with hot, sizzling sugar, cinnamon toast. For a few years our milk delivery was of concentrated milk which made hot chocolate easy to make - boil water, add a tablespoon (or more) Nestle Quik to the mug, add 1/3 of cup of concentrated milk and 2/3 cup of the boiling water. Marshmallows were reserved for summer barbeques. Since coffee is a daily occurrence, it only becomes special if I stop at coffee place for a mocha while shopping. Hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick floating the the pan is a nice warmer upper in the winter plus the house smells so much better while it's on the stove.

    I so enjoyed watching the re-run last evening of the Jungle Red Writers Cocktail party. I had virtual choir rehearsal at 2:30 here in California, so I was late to the party, which is the norm for me. Rhys: what was the mulled drink you had? I need to back and watch again.

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    1. Deana, for some reason, have a supply of concentrated milk in cans (probably bought on sale when thought was going to make pounds of fudge or something.) I'm going to have to give your recipe a try, substituting cocoa and sugar for the Nestle Quik. (I remember having that - it was reserved as a special treat in our house!)

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    2. I won't swear to the exact proportions, Julia. Believe or not the local dairy delivered the concentrated milk, so it wasn't canned, so it was kept in the refrigerator. We kids, me when I was old enough to turn on the stove and put the kettle on for water, often made COLD hot chocolate.

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    3. I had no idea this was even a thing. Fascinating.

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  18. The Cocktail party was great. Can't believe I actually went or stayed to a holiday party. I even wore red! But I was fashionably late. I seem to be doomed for getting on to Zooms, Facebooks etc. I clicked on your link from yesterday and was looking at a nice Poison Pen photo of you all in your pashimas, with a little clock saying start in 2.50 minutes. Well that clock lied. Finally having tried several things which made sense to me but got me nowhere I clicked on Events again, (thought I was on Events), and there you all were. I will try to go back and see the first half. So apologies for any snarky comments from me, but I did have a lot of problems with my sound which may be because we are on Rural Internet! Still Hot Chocolate! makes me think of the Polar Express. If my Hot Chocolate came with such panache I would drink it daily, but after snow clearing, roof raking around here my choice is hot Cidar with a decent slug of dark rum. You can take the English out of her passport but rum runs in our seafaring veins. I missed commenting yesterday so just want to say that Jenn your boys are so delicious. I was looking at a pic of Aidan at 7 making cookies, which was my memory on Fb yesterday. He is now 18 and I saw your eldest on Fb too. So big our guys, and so handsome. Where did the time go. My resolution is to be more on JRW during 2021. I love this community.

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    1. And we love having you here, Celia!

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    2. Delightful to see you, Celia! Thanks for the kind words about the boys. They're free to a good home right now...because teenagers!

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  19. If hot chocolate it must have at minimum a marshmallow, but preferably real whipped cream. But my preference is a mocha -- half coffee, half hot chocolate. But my go-to hot drink year-round is tea.

    I loved the cocktail party yesterday, even though I was late to arrive. It is SUCH fun seeing all the Reds on screen and chatting up a storm with the blog fans/commenters in the sidebar. A really good time. Thanks to everyone!

    Is the WWII women pilots book that Barbara/Poisoned Pen mentioned by Tessa Arlen -- the Poppy Redfern series? Can anyone verify?

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    1. Amanda, yes! Second book in this new series. I look firward to reading it.

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    2. So many great books were mentioned. Hank went back and listed them! I'm onto Citizen Vince. Can't believe I missed it.

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    3. Thank you both. Will go back to comments on the cocktail party stream.

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  20. When I first was in Paris, decades ago, it was a cold January. And I discovered chocolat chaud. Unless I can have the real think, I prefer a hazelnut latte. Having one as we speak.

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    1. Ann, whenever think of chocolat chaud, I think of traveling around Europe when was a kid (we lived in Germany.) No matter where we stayed, breakfast was always that thick hot chocolate and a hard roll with butter and jam. My parents substituted coffee for the chocolate, and, IIRC, finished off with a cigarette. :-)

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    2. Chocolat chaud was one of the first things I ordered in Paris last year. Yum!

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  21. Black coffee for me! Hot tea some afternoons. I like hot chocolate but never make it from scratch. I make up a packet of Swiss Miss and add a dollop of milk or cream. I did make a hot toddy the other day since I have an abundance of lemons from my brother’s tree. And I just got some Bailey’s so may enjoy some Irish coffee soon.

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    1. Pat - instant hot cocoa + milk + Baileys = heaven.

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    2. Delicious! I could really use something with lemon about now.

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  22. Late to the party of course.

    I'm glad the event went well yesterday. Sorry that I couldn't take part.

    As for hot cocoa, I'm not a fan. But don't feel bad for the drink. I don't like any hot drinks. No coffee, tea or cocoa for me. I have tried it all (well, I had tea forced upon me as a kid when I was sick) and just didn't like the taste of the stuff.

    My winter drink of choice is simply the same stuff that I drink all year round. Water, milk, soda, fruit punch.

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    1. Jay, you remind me of my sister. She drinks iced coffee year round. And she lives in a place where it definitely gets cold and snowy!

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    2. My son is the same way -- no hot drinks for him, either.

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    3. Julia, I eat popsicles year round which is fun come the snowy weather of New England winter.

      Susan, Glad I'm not alone here on the island of no hot drinks!

      Oh, and I forgot to include lemonade on my list of drinks that I do imbibe.

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    4. Hub drinks everything on ice. I do not understand this. :)

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  23. Late to the party again!

    Congratulations to all of the winners!

    Your recipe for hot cocoa looks like a lot of work. LOL. I am too lazy.

    For my hot cocoa. I just put oat milk in the microwave for a minute or two and put in dutch cocoa from the local spice shop.

    Many favorite holiday drinks: Egg Nog with Nutmeg ; Mulled Spices Hot Apple Cider; Gingerbread coffee; Candy Cane Tea from Trader Joe's

    Diana

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    1. I may have to try your oat milk version, Diana.

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    2. Gigi, let us know how your hot cocoa turns out.

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    3. Tell us more about Gingerbread coffee, Diana.

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    4. Love egg nog. Alas, I am the only one in my house who does.

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    5. Deana,

      They usually serve Gingerbread Lattes at peets or starbucks. I've not been to either since the pandemic.

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    6. Jenn, egg nog is among my favorites. Interesting that you are the only person in your family who likes it. More for you, right?

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  24. I love chocolate in all ways but these days, alas, milk doesn't love me. Hot cocoa is now (reluctantly) off the menu. When I want a hot beverage I go for hot tea. I can't remember I time when I didn't drink it--even when I was a little kid. I became a real tea fanatic in college, when most of my friends were taking up coffee, and there's a stout mug of Assam with sugar sitting beside me right now. I prefer black tea to green tea, and keep Ceylon, Assam, and Darjeeling on hand most of the time.

    Whatever you're drinking, stay warm, safe, and healthy!

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    1. Oh, and last night's mock-cocktail party was a lot of fun. I'm glad I attended. I was particularly interested in Barbara's discussion of how every business needs to think of itself as a startup these days, and how the way authors reach their audiences will probably change a lot in the future.

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    2. Gigi, Barbara Peters is one of the smartest people about the book business I know. When she says something about the industry, I pay attention.

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    3. Oh, and there are a LOT of recipes out there for creating your own non-dairy hot cocoa mix. If you get take out, one of my girls swears by Starbucks non-dairy hot chocolate, made from almond milk.

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    4. Barabara is the sage of the industry, for sure. Love hot tea with honey!

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  25. Yesterday's event was so much fun! I loved seeing all the familiar names in the comments, and getting to see the Reds live.

    I'm like several earlier commenters: Coffee is my morning drink, always. Then tea is my usual backup/afternoon drink. I like hot chocolate, but it is a special-occasion treat.

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    1. Since the pandemic hit, I've started having a three o'clock cup of tea with a biscuit (cookie) or four.

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  26. The Reds' cocktail party was loads of fun yesterday, and I loved seeing you all together on one screen. Congratulations to those who won books. I do enjoy hot chocolate, but I don't drink it too often. I'm such a coffee drinker that I rarely fit in other hot drinks. Of course, it is the perfect drink on a snowy day.

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    1. Isn't it? I especially loved it after a day of sledding or ice skating.

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  27. I am just beating myself up for missing it yesterday, despite calendar reminders and all. So I'll go watch the remount, but you know, it's just not the same...

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    1. We're hoping to do a Valentine's Day edition. We'll keep you posted!

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  28. Again, thank you, Jungle Reds for the good company and conversation at Poison Pen. As one of those folks who,lives alone, the lively dinner conversation made my meal taste better. Hooray for all of you! And Barbara too.

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    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! Always a pleasure to see your name pop up here!

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