My roommate’s dog Huey lies peacefully on the rug by the fireplace, his short-haired body absorbing the radiant heat from the bricks.
My dog Rocky, with his wooly chow undergrowth, stays clear of the ambient flames and can be found splayed out on the tile next to the Christmas tree far away on the other end of the room.
The whole house is filled with holiday cheer right now; cookies baking in the oven, pine smell wafting around corners.
Though the outdoor array of decorative lights laser beams their brightness into my bedroom at night (where one must climb out of a toasty bed to shut them off), I certainly love them as they cheer me home after a long day working.
With the cold, crisp nights bringing home the holiday season directly to Newporters, nothing else speaks “’Tis the season!” louder than receiving your first fruitcake for the holiday.
Mind you, it’s an inevitability and you too will look woefully into the fruity colors, a blender-erupted array of nondescript neon chunks and groan inwardly with the words, “oh great, another one.”
Ah, but it’s the thought that counts. And we must remember all forms of gratitude, or else the spirit of the holidays shall miss the heart only to sashay its way down the aisle of Nordstroms and simply vanish under a pile of cotton underwear.
The tragedy of missing the point of “happy” as it sits gregariously in front of “holiday” on a lovely Christmas card can happen to anyone.
Let me suggest a very happy holiday drink that keeps the health rolling, the tastebuds dancing and a smile that says, “Grrrrrr,” “Howdy,” and “Arriba, arriba” all at the same time.
It includes heart healthy chile peppers, calcium filled almond milk, stress reducing vanilla beans, and the luscious, sensuous dark chocolate that stimulates endorphins through PEA (phenylethylamine), the chemical that floods your system when falling in love. (You might want to do this together with your loved-one. Be sure to leave the kids with grandma.)
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add 1 chile pepper (I like the red ones) cut in half with seeds removed (use gloves!) to 2 cups of boiling water. Cook until left with 1 cup of liquid. Strain out the chili. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine 5 cups Pacifica unsweetened almond milk. Stir until combined. Then add 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and 2 cinnamon sticks and stir until steam starts to rise.
Reduce heat to low. Add 8 ounces of raw organic cacao powder into pot, then add 2 – 3 tablespoons of raw honey and whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted and honey well mixed. Do not boil. Turn off the heat and remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Slowly add the chile-infused water, a little at a time, tasting until the desired ouu-la-la is achieved. If chocolate is too thick, add more milk.
Serve in special holiday cups, adding some ground hazelnuts on top, with maybe a dollop of real cream or mascarpone cheese.
Sit by the fireplace, the Yule logs roaring with delight, sipping and invoking the sizzling spirit of Carmen Miranda with the jolliness of Old St. Nick that passes into everyone’s heart as you cha-cha-cha your way down Santa Claus Lane this holiday season.
Reach Gina at [email protected].