Posted by: ThePseudotarian | February 2, 2011

Winter Citrus Simmer Pot

Just a quick post today! I hope to try out a new recipe tonight, which I then hope to post tomorrow. However, Matt has had a rough week, so if he insists on slow-cooker lasagna … well, I just can’t say no to that man.

We’ve been distracted trying to get our apartment cleaned up and ::ahem:: acceptable to visiting eyes, since our pesky slumlord, er, landlord will be showing the place. Apparently whenever they damn well please, too. So, I hope they like 65 lbs of Border Collie, because she most certainly will like them. Adamantly.

Anyway, I wanted to share this quick idea with you, because I tried it last night with amazing, amazing results. Like I said, we’re trying to make our apartment look and feel nice for visitors, especially surprise visitors. One big chore was making the place smell nice. Let’s be honest, owning three cats and a dog can make our place smell a bit musty. We can’t open the windows because they’re painted shut (BIG frustration there), and also because it’s freezing outside. While perusing various home/garden/kitchen/craft blogs this week, I stumbled on an ingenious idea.

So ingenious, that I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t already thought of it.

What one thing, without fail, makes your home smell amazing? What one little thing will always brighten up a friend’s or lover’s face when they walk in the door?

Mmmmmm – home cooking! So, I encourage you, my wonderful reader or two out there in the world, to make soup! But not your ordinary soup … not a soup you are ever going to actually eat. EVER.

First of all, start saving all of your citrus and fruit peels and castoffs in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Start right now. Peel an orange for breakfast? Add the peels to the bag. Squeeze a lemon into a pan of pasta? Toss the whole, squeezed lemon on in. Mealy apples that you don’t want to eat, but are otherwise a-ok? Yep. Make sure you keep this in the freezer and keep it sealed tightly.

When you have at least a handful or so of citrus scraps (lemon and lime go well together, as do lemon and orange), you can get started!

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and add your desired combination of fruit scraps and peels. Boil for a few minutes, and then turn down to a low simmer. Check back every half hour or so to make sure there’s enough water in the pan, and add more as needed. I kept my most recent one going for about 5 or 6 hours.

Along with fruit peels, explore your spice pantry and get creative! Here’s the exact combination I used last night, followed by a couple other ideas …

Winter Citrus Simmer Pot

1 lemon, peel and what flesh remained after I’d squeezed it
Peel from two small navel oranges
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cinnamon sticks

It made the musty, cat-filled apartment smell amazing! Matt kept getting cravings for cookies and desserts and I found him a few times rummaging through our pantry to see if we could bake anything sweet. Also, this has the added benefit of acting like a humidifier – a great perk for this dry winter air!

I’d also love to add:

Walnut Oil
Lemon Extract/Oil
Pear and Apple peels
Whole Cloves
Star Anise
Bay Leaves
Chinese 5-spice Powder
Dried Lavender or Oil
Ginger Peels
Tea Tree Oil
Lemongrass

In fact, I’m heading home on my lunch break and I think I’ll start a new one, since my “soup” from last night is a bit exhausted.

OH! And, though not cooking related really, here’s another idea for you! Instead of throwing out old, wick-less, unlightable candles, save similar scents together in a bag. When you need to freshen your house a bit, toss one of the candles in an old slow cooker. Make sure it’s an old one that you won’t use for food any more, because I’m pretty sure that if the wax melts … the interior ceramic pot is gonezo. Anyway, toss the candle in, turn it on and the heat will cause the wonderful scent to spread all over your home.

Neat, right?

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