Oh my gosh, if you could only take one whiff of my kitchen right now.  No, strike that.  If you could only take a whiff of my whole house right now!  It smells so good – so gloriously fresh and clean – with a little woodsy hint.  What am I up to?  Well, my home’s interior is getting a much needed scent makeover today.

Here at Connecticut Country House I’m a.k.a. “Fresh Air Woman”; I am so in my glory when I can open all the windows and doors, and air out the place on any given breezy day 3 out of the 4 seasons.  Here we are in the seventh week of winter (but who’s counting), freezing cold temps, and a potpourri of winter weather coming our way on Friday – sure doesn’t look like an airing out is in the cards any time soon.

So…a quick fix or 2 or 3.

I started by raiding the fridge in search of fruit that was a tad past its prime, and ended up with a handful of Lady’s apples, a nice sized orange, and a misshapen lemon.

Quick fix #1: Dry. Set oven to 200 degrees F.  If your oven is also a convection oven, this will help speed up the process.  Slice up apples, oranges, and lemons into 1/8-1/4 inch thick slices. Either using a cookie cooling rack, or line a cookie sheet with parchment (both work well), lay apple slices on one, and citrus slices on the other.  They bake at different rates.  Bake for 1/2 hour, and turn each slice.  Bake for another 1/2 hour, and turn again.  The apples dry quickly – so at this point they should be done. They should be a light tan color and a little leathery to the touch. Citrus will need about another 1/2 hour until the rinds harden up and the flesh dries out and becomes translucent.  Just the process of baking these will do the trick.

Quick fix #2: Mix.  After drying the fruit slices, you can whip up a simple potpourri.  All you need is the dried fruit slices or dried rinds, break 2-4 cinnamon sticks in two, 2-4 bay leaves, and a nice big healthy pinch of whole cloves.  Mix together. You can either distribute into smaller bowls and spread around the house, or make a statement with one big bowlful.  Smells great, looks great.

Quick fix #3: Simmer.  In a small saucepan, add orange slices, lemon rinds, 1-2 tablespoons of whole cloves, a couple of fresh bay leaves. I have a little stash of whole nutmegs, so using the microplane I add little shavings of nutmeg (optional).  Fill pan a little more than half way and simmer. Keep adding water to keep it simmering for as long as you like.

Ahh…now I can take a deep breath and smile.

Love, Nora






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