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If you're one of the rare West Coasters who owns a true chestnut pan - a long-handled pan with a perforated bottom - you can put on Nat King Cole to croon as you literally roast your chestnuts over an open fire. Again, keep shaking your pan above the heat until they're roasted to perfection. A bed of hot coals and low flames is better than a raging inferno.
Yes, eat or, rather, drink it. But you might want to think about serving it in a thimble or at least a one ounce shot glass, as in eggnog shooters. Given your average eight ounce glass of eggnog, one of which I managed to down before Christmas dinner this year, contains about 350 calories and 50 per cent of your recommended daily intake of saturated fat, you can see my reasoning.
But god, how I love Avalon eggnog. Mercifully, our local store was sold out of it before Christmas. If you managed to get a bottle, I hope you shared it with many friends.
The jury is still out on whether the rum is just an excuse to drink the eggnog or vice versa. Personally I'm of the second mind-set. If you're a Spartan or lactose intolerant (nearly one in the same) and even if you're not, maybe try Vitasoy's dairy-free Holly Nog. It's nice and nutmeg-y and not bad for a non-dairy substitute. Even my Avalon-addicted husband likes it. The label says to serve it hot or cold, but we prefer it cold. Bonus: it's organic.
Okay, eat it, but like the eggnog, pace yourself. One, yes, one single slice of your average beef salami contains 11 per cent of your daily sodium intake and 11 per cent of your recommended daily saturated fat allowance. Spend wisely.
The holly berry
Basically, a not-to-eat. In the "olden days" holly berries were widely and wildly reported as poisonous. But given that dozens of bird species depend on winter holly berries for food (our bush is currently stripped of its winter supply, thanks to juncos, robins and chickadees) it's pretty radical to think of all hollies as "killers," especially since there are hundreds of varieties. Some, like the South American variety whose berries are used to make yerba mate tea, we humans actually seek out. However, eating more than a few of the bright red berries of most European varieties can make you sick, so keep your holly décor away from kids and pets.