Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Guide Day 20 of 26: Tweet's Christmas Simmer Stove

Just like Jerry's guest post from yesterday, and like most of us, there are certain things I associate not only with the holidays but also with particular loved ones at the holidays.

This post is about one of my favorite Christmas childhood memories - the way Christmas smelled at my best friend's house.

My mom's best friend is Tweet, and my best friend growing up was Laura, Tweet's daughter.  Tweet & Laura (and Andy and little sister Sara) lived across the street from us, their kitchen visible from our family room. As you can imagine, this multi-generational friendship meant that we literally grew up in each other's houses, often spending multiple nights on end that stopped requiring a 'can she?', 'can i?' sometime around fourth grade.  We made so many treks back and forth between our front doors that we literally wore a path in the grass in Laura's front yard. In retrospect I'm surprised we didn't have toothbrushes at each others house (although, if I think like my 9-year-old self, who wants to brush their teeth?).

Every Christmas season, Tweet would simmer clove and oranges and cinnamon on her stove, filling the house with the coziest aromas.  She would sometimes let us help her make the oranges, poking neat rows of cloves into the peel before gently dropping the pretty oranges into a pot of water on the stove to simmer all day.

In the hopes that one day my kids say, "growing up our house smelled so amazing at Christmas", I decided to make Tweet's simmer stove with the help of the duckling, who loved poking the clove stems into the oranges to make them look 'like little pumpkins'.

It's like an orange hot tub. Look how happy he is. So relaxing.

The great thing about stove simmers is that you can package them as hostess gifts, passing along your favorite holiday scents for others to enjoy later. 

For Tweet's simmer stove, pair dried orange peels (which you can DIY by placing orange peels in a 250 degree oven on a lined baking sheet for 15-25 minutes) with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks in an airtight container.  For an even prettier presentation, replace the orange peel with whole slices of blood oranges.  Dry in the same manner as above.

Here are some great (and free) online label templates you can customize for your gifts:

- these simple "made with love" templates from frolic blog

- these wintery hanging tags from eat drink chic:

And here are some other great combinations to try. Just add water.

- dried lemon, rosemary and vanilla (you can also add verbena to this)
- dried apple slices, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon sticks

You can also place these in a crock pot with water if stovetop real estate is limited. Did your mom (or grandma or your Tweet) do this growing up?

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