“In the Kitchen” is a series celebrating the family table––the food we eat, the spaces we inhabit, and the people with whom we share it all. Each edition welcomes a new voice to this conversation on kitchen life and food, and today, I welcome Sarah Hart, the talented every-woman behind the Home is Where the Hart Is Instagram and blog. Sarah is the mother of four boys in the suburbs of New York City, who appreciates the kitchen for the solitude it offers as much as the family togetherness. Her kitchen is a touchpoint to the past and also a place to enjoy holiday crafts, which she’s sharing with us today. Welcome, Sarah!
Spending time in the kitchen during the holidays is one of my most favorite things, especially when the kids are involved. The smells, the twinkly lights, the greens and holiday tunes playing in the background make for a cozy spot to create wonderful holiday memories and traditions. Because I love the holidays so much, I don’t stop at the Christmas tree when decorating our home. Instead, I like to add little touches throughout our entire home, especially in the kitchen since it’s where I spend the majority of my time. Little touches like old Santa mugs that belonged to my grandmother and our elf Chippy really add some cheer to the space.
One of my favorite simple ways to decorate is by drying orange slices in the oven and using them for garland or ornaments. I usually hang the oranges somewhere in the kitchen, but this year I decided to add them to the garland that surrounds our front door and used the leftovers for ornaments on the tree. The great thing about these dried oranges is that they will usually last you more than one year if you store them in an air-tight container.
I have a confession to make before I share this “recipe” with you: as much as I enjoying spending time in the kitchen with my boys, sometimes that time isn’t always the most relaxing. There’s often bickering about who gets to crack the egg or who’s turn it is to stir. There’s also often a lot of mess, which is totally fine, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to have a kitchen activity we can ALL participate in without fighting or tears, and that won’t end with me cleaning flour off the ceiling. Just make some hot chocolate for back up in case anyone is feeling a little Scrooge-y.
OVEN-DRIED ORANGE SLICES
I found this recipe from Martha Stewart (who else) years ago that I use as a guideline:
1 navel orange
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat. Top with orange slices in a single layer, and generously dust with sugar. Bake until the peels are dry and the flesh is translucent, about 2 1/2 hours.
Just a few notes here: I use whatever oranges I have sitting on my counter leftover from my Thanksgiving turkey prep. Sometimes I line my baking sheets, sometimes I don’t. I have never dusted them with sugar, but they still look beautiful to me when they come out of the oven. Also, I find I need to bake them for closer to 4 hours to get them the way I really like them. But like I said, you can use this recipe as a guideline. A helpful tip though: let the oranges sit out on the counter for a day or two after they come out of the oven so they can harden up a bit, then you can simply string them up with some twine or ribbon, or insert ornament hooks directly through the flesh for hanging.
Whether hanging from your kitchen window or on your tree, strung up around your front door or displayed in a pretty jar, these oranges are just so festive and cheerful to me. As pretty as they are though, it’s the tradition behind them and the process of making them with my family that really makes them so special. Happy Holidays!