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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Scents of Christmas

I bake a lot during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas - so for me, the smells associated with the holidays are visceral reminders of happy times...an automatic boost to my mood.  It is such a powerful olfactory association that I keep a small can of concentrated room spray out year round...The Scent of Christmas.  April, July, any month of the year...if I need a boost of happy mood - I give my rooms a little squirt and the reaction is immediate.  I don't do it too often - because I want it to be special.  But, when I do...wow, instant smile.

Part of my baking process frequently ends up with lots of apple peels, cinnamon sticks, cloves, leftover juice from a recipe, citrus rinds, ginger root knobs and peels...all that "stuff" that goes to the garbage, down the disposal unit, or down the drain (I live in a condo - so compost is not an option).  It's citrus season down here in the Rio Grande Valley, so I tend to have lots of orange and grapefruit peels to "trash".  Not in my house, though!  Another man's trash is this woman's treasure :-)

Yesterday, I wrote that I was keeping a plastic bag lined bowl for my apple and pear peels.  I also tossed in the used cinnamon stick.  Today, I'll be adding lime peels and pulp leftover from squeezing limes for limeade I'm making.  Also a few cloves leftover from Christmas before last and some bay leaves that are going to be past their prime soon.

Apple-Pear Butter Remnant Bowl
What do I do with all of this "trash"?  I store the bag in the fridge, or freezer if I have a lot...and I put a pot on the stove - 3/4 filled with water and leftover juices - throw in a handful of "stuff" from my "trash bag of remnants" - toss in some cloves and any dried spices that might be towards the end of their life (don't you have spices that are really past their prime...but hate to waste?  I do - because they say if it is over 6 months old, it's losing its flavor...ruh roh...I have stuff way older than that!).  I put this on to simmer all day long during the holidays - mostly on the week-ends.  My house smells delicious.  At the end of the day, I pull out the wooden parts and send everything else down the disposal...and start over again the next morning.

When I lived in a cooler climate and had to use the heater a lot - this was a wonderful way to add moisture and good scents to the air....and a "natural" way of recycling seasonal smell-good waste.  People would always come into my house and say "wow, your house smells so good"...."it smells so Christmassy"!

Don't want to deal with watching it on the stove?  Do you have an old slow cooker you don't use and it is just taking up space somewhere?  Designate it the "potpourri" cooker and throw the stuff in the crock pot, fill it to the top with water - put it on low - leave the lid off and it will scent your home for hours and hours. (I use crock pot liners and re-use them for simmering - I hate scrubbing a crock pot!)

If you are really industrious - there are many web sites which can instruct you on how to make, and bottle, liquid potpourri for personal use or for gifts.  With just a quick search I found an ehow article and another from a woman who makes homemade "stuff".  There are pages and pages out there, if you want to get fancier than using your leftovers!

But, for me...it's not rocket science - if it smells good and sweet when you are cooking it - those ingredients will smell good in a liquid simmering potpourri.  So, don't throw away those scent-sational remnants...use them to make your home smell sweet and delicious...and welcoming to your family and your holiday guests!

Happy Holidays my friends!StumbleUpon

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