Cleaning up after Christmas

It took an afternoon and a morning to finish but our Christmas decorations have been carefully packed up and stored away for another year. The house has been vacuumed and furniture returned to its proper place in rooms. It always looks a little bare once decorations are removed but it was time to break down boxes for recycling, get the trash to the street for pickup tomorrow, and mentally start planning for the new year.

oranges

One decoration that I had great fun with this season was dried oranges. I’ve loved to use dried slices to make wreaths, ornaments, and gift adornments. I’ve dried the oranges in my old oven with varying luck. Using the lowest possible heat setting of 175°, oranges had to be watched carefully and turned over a couple of times, and it took hours. The end result varied greatly. Many developed black or scorched areas and had to be discarded.

Samsung OvenBut this year was different. We are the proud owners of a new oven… an oven that has a Dehydrate setting built in! As the Barefoot Contessa would say, “How easy is that??”

It was so easy that I went overboard this holiday and made so many dried oranges that I had to give them away by the bag full. It was just too easy and fun to dehydrate this year. The slices were practically dry in 2-hours.

I moved on from oranges to lemons and nectarines and hung them as ornaments on one tree and as orange slice swags on the other. I them tucked into the evergreens on the sideboard and mantle and into the arrangement on the dining room table.

orange slice

I held a Christmas floral design workshop for our garden club and took a Ziploc bag of dried oranges for anyone to use.  Some did. Most did not. So it was at that workshop while I was re-bagging the leftover oranges that a friend asked, “Have you ever used dried oranges and lemons in tea?”  What????  It was such a simple suggestion that turned out to be an extraordinary one for me. It had never occurred to me to re-hydrate the slices of lemons and oranges in a steeping cup of tea. I just might have a use for all those oranges after all.

I tried it as soon as I got home. And guess what. It works…. it’s delicious…. it’s brilliant…. it’s simple…and I thank you, Becky, for the suggestion!

tea