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Citrus is one of the great consolations of winter.  And even though it’s not local, I am thankful that we are able get piles of beautiful oranges and grapefruits and clementines during these long, dark months in the north.

When we were growing up, my mother would always serve us half a grapefruit on Christmas morning, and to this day whenever I slice one open I just smell Christmas.  And I haven’t been able to get enough of them lately.  I hate for all the rinds to go to straight to the compost, so the other day I decided to throw some of them in a pot with warm water and spices to set on the stove to make the house smell citrus-y.  Actually, that was another thing my mother did.  I think she had a simmering pot of orange/cinnamon/cloves (or some combination of things like that) on the stove all winter.

Simmering Citrus House Warmer

Place a handful of fresh citrus rinds in a medium pot filled about halfway with water and add about 10 cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, and an inch or so of fresh ginger, cut into pieces.  You can also use the skin from ginger that you’ve peeled, and you can substitute powdered spices* for the whole ones.   (Or omit the spices and do a combination of citrus, rosemary, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract). Simmer on lowest setting all day, checking occasionally to add water if the water level is low.  Make sure to turn it off when you leave the house and at night.  Should last for 5 days or even longer if you store in the fridge at night (I’ve just been leaving mine out on the stove).

* This would be a good way to use up spices that you’ve had for longer than a year or so– it’s time to buy fresh spices!  But you can still get some use out of the stale ones by using them this way.

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