Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the Heat and Love the Sunshine!
I’m a pale, wintery person by nature and I do find it difficult sometimes to embrace the wonders of summer – I find myself sloshing on buckets of sunscreen, turning the fans of full blast, shutting up the windows and watching snowy holiday movies trying to ignore the fact that I am on the wrong side of the world for that White Christmas nonsense.
Well no more, I say! This year I’ve decided to embrace Summer and all its goodness and use the bright Melbourne sun to my decorating advantage. No fir trees, no fake snow, no fake snow. Just some simple home made decorations – dried orange slices which turn into beautiful swinging stained glass circles, with sunlight shining through in the day, and the twinkle of solar powered fairy lights at night.
Stained Glass Orange Slices
I have previously made these lovely natural decorations by drying them out over a few hours in the oven…but why on earth was I turning the oven on when it was 30c+ outside! This year I simply sliced an orange into thin slices and laid them out on a tray and left it on the rooftop for two days. Be sure to bring them in overnight, though, or the possums will eat them!
Once they’re dried through, simply tie them onto some thread and hang them up. This year I have put a couple up in the lounge room windows to catch the sun, but last year I strung them all over my christmas tree and they looked lovely with the fairy lights twinkling behind them. I also added gum nuts collected from neighbouring trees which I painted gold and crimson before stringing up on the tree.
Candied Orange Peel
To help spread the christmas cheer I have also made little packages of candied orange peel to hand out to friends and family. Simply peel a few oranges using a vegetable peeler. Put the peels in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Once bubbling, leave for a minute then drain. Repeat the process a few times. I was doing quite a lot of peel at once so I repeated this step four times. This boiling process softens the peel, and removes any bitterness.
Now make a sugar syrup – 1 part caster sugar to 2 parts water. Stir in the saucepan and bring to a simmer, then add your prepared peel. Boil away for 10-15 minutes, then drain. Save the leftover orangey syrup to add to iced teas and sparkling water.
Lay the peels out separately on sheets of baking paper to dry out. Give it 10 minutes, then sprinkle with extra caster sugar, turning each piece over to make sure it is evenly coated.
While you’re waiting for the peel to properly dry out, get some dark chocolate melting in a large bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Dip each piece of peel into the dark chocolate, covering about half way up, then place onto a fresh piece of baking paper. Pop your chocolatey peel in the fridge to chill for a few hours, or until the peel is dried through and the chocolate is set.
Serve in a jar, or wrap up into little bundles with baking paper and string and give to someone you like very much.
Merry Christmas everyone! xx