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My Grandma’s Recipe Book (& Her Hot Cocoa Recipe)

My family has begun the process of moving all my Grandma’s belongings into an assisted living facility (and getting rid of those she doesn’t have room for.)  What a yucky and discouraging transition this can be!  While one can’t argue the inevitable need for more focused care when our loved ones grow old… it just doesn’t feel right sorting through treasured memories and deciding what to toss, does it?  It just doesn’t feel right to see a lifetime’s worth of accumulated treasures gradually dwindling to a few boxes.  Gives me a knot in my throat.

I know that so many of you have gone through similarly hard transitions in your lives, whether you’ve lost a young parent (as I have), or are gradually losing an elderly parent or grandparent… it’s no less painful.  May God hold your hand through the valley.

Today, rather than focusing on the many hard things that accompany these life transitions, I’d like to share with you a treasure that has made its way to me, now that my Grandma no longer needs it.

Her childhood recipe book.

Hot Cocoa from My Grandma's Recipe Book - Pretty/Hungry blog


It’s filled with yellowed sheets of loose-leaf paper, scrawled with cursive writing, & stained with grease.  Her maiden name is written at the top of many of them, and some even appear to be from a Girl Scouts cooking class of some sort, as they are titled, “Lesson 10: Baking Powder Biscuits” and so on.

My Grandma's Recipe Book - The Pretty/Hungry Blog


There are about 40 different pie crust recipes in here (so I guess I know what her sweet of choice was!)… lots of dishes that call for things like “Oleo” and “Fluffo”… and a couple of odd little recipes I’m fairly certain would never produce what they actually promise.  Like this one:  Vinegar Pies?  With a quart of boiled water?  Hmmm.

Grandma's Recipe Book


Or this one.  Skinny Pie Crust?  FYI: I don’t recommend eating much pie if you’re trying to get skinny.  (And I’d steer clear of “Diet Margarine” too.)

Grandma's Recipe Book - Pretty/Hungry Blog


I had so much fun looking through these.  It just brought such a smile to my face to get this little glimpse back in time.  Back to the days of jello salads, margarine, hand-written recipes, and “what-the-heck-is-gluten-free”??  I’m not saying those were the good ol’ days… just that they were special in their own nostalgic way.  :)  I liked imagining my dad as a young boy eating her “Veggie Casserole” on school nights, or enjoying her “Fruit Cocktail Cake” after Sunday lunch.

As I was deciding which of her recipes to make for you, I took a second look at “Lesson 6: Cocoa with Cinnamon Toast”, and realized that it wasn’t actually a recipe for cinnamon toast, as I had assumed, but a recipe for hot cocoa!  And I thought to myself, “What a pitiful cook am I!  I don’t even know how to make hot chocolate without the assistance of a Swiss Miss packet or my Keurig.”  (Yes, I know I could easily find a myriad of hot cocoa recipes on Google or Pinterest, but I wanted to make my Grandma’s!)

 And make it I did.  :)  And I am happy to report that it was delicious and I’ll continue to make it and serve it to my kids on chilly winter nights as long as we live!

Hot Cocoa from My Grandma's Recipe Book


One funny thing: Do you notice in the photo below how the recipe starts with “Each Girl…”?  I believe this is because my grandma learned this recipe in Girl Scouts (or some equivalent type group.)

Homemade Hot Cocoa- From Grandma's Recipe Book


Well, anyway… I realized after making the hot cocoa that this recipe makes a very “girl scout” sized portion.  (Less than a small teacup!)  I had to change mugs after making it so that the cocoa would even show in the photo, and even then it didn’t fill my tiny teacup!  So in the printable recipe below, I’ve doubled it, so that it’ll make a somewhat normal serving size.  :)  Oh Grandma!

All you need is cocoa powder, sugar, salt, a little hot water, and milk!  Also a few drops of vanilla (optional… but definitely add it.  Yum!)

Grandma's Recipe Book- Homemade Hot Cocoa

Simple, not too sweet, and special because it was lovingly passed down to us by my grandma.  :)

I’d love to hear about your most loved family recipes in the comments section.  (Unless they contain Diet Margarine, because I just can’t get behind that.)


Here’s the printable recipe (doubled, for your convenience. Ha!)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Grandma's Hot Cocoa
Prep Time:
Total Time:
Straight from my Grandma's childhood recipe book, this hot cocoa is a classic. It'll warm you through & through.
Serves:: 1
  • -2 tsp. cocoa powder
  • -1 Tbsp. sugar
  • -1 pinch salt
  • -1/4 C. steaming hot water
  • -3/4 C. steaming hot milk
  • -a few drops vanilla
  1. In your favorite mug, mix together the cocoa, sugar, and salt.
  2. Gently pour in the hot water and stir to dissolve.
  3. Then gently pour in hot milk, stirring to combine.
  4. Add a few drops of vanilla and enjoy!





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13 Responses so far.

  1. Anna says:

    such a special post. thank you for sharing this. It brought a smile to my face! love you cousin! Grandma I’m sure is so proud of you in so many ways :)

  2. KAY says:

    Brings back wonderful memories of doing the same – but no hot cocoa recipe was included. Will try your Grandma’s this wkend!!!

  3. Sami Barker says:

    I am new to finding your site but I have loved it so far. And this post just sealed the deal!! I too, had a beloved grandmother that has passed down so many things to my mom and I that we will never forget. Grandmas are so special, cherish yours while you can (I can tell you do!). Thanks for sharing!

    • Carissa says:

      So glad you’re enjoying it, Sami! And yes, Grandmas are so special… I keep meaning to ask my grandma to explain some of these recipes to me (haha!) but it slips my mind every time I see her!

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  9. Denise says:

    cherish your grandma’s recipes! I wish I had a legacy to pass to my children….. Will try the vinegar pies..sounds interesting

  10. Debby says:

    Saw your recipe for Vinegar pie & it brought back such wonderful memories of when my Grandma made them. I try to tell others about it & they act like I’m telling a wild tale. Thanks again.