Well, it's been a little while since the last post, but now it's well and truly the festive season. Hurrah! The Christmas cards have started arriving, I've strung up miles of paperchains and the Christmas tree, which takes up most of our sitting room, is twinkling and sparkling with lights and baubles.
It's quite a slow process to dry the oranges yourself (you can buy bags of pre-dried citrus fruits if you're low on time or inclination), but your house will be filled with Christmassy smells, which makes it all worth while.
Dried orange and cinnamon Christmas decorations
Cinnamon sticks (buy florists ones, rather than the ones for cooking with)
Raffia (or similar)
Pre-heat the oven to about 50C, or as low as you can get it if it doesn't go that low. Cut the oranges into slices about 1cm thick, and lay them on a baking tray, before putting them into the oven. You want to dry them out, rather than cook them, so the lower the temperature, and the longer you can leave them, the better - it may take three or four hours or even longer. If you don't manage to dry the slices completely, don't worry too much - the oranges will be fine for this year's Christmas decorations, but probably won't last forever.
To make the decorations on the left above...
Take three or four slices of dried, cooled oranges and with the sharp knife, make two small slits in the centre of each slice - big enough to thread the raffia through.
Cut a piece of raffia about 30cm long, and starting with the biggest orange slice, thread an end through each slit. Lay the next biggest slice on top, and thread the two ends of the raffia through the slits. Do the same for the remaining slices, then tie the raffia, but don't cut it.
Get a little bundle of cinnamon sticks and lay them on top of the oranges. Tightly tie the raffia round them, so they're secured to the oranges, then trim off the raffia ends.
Loop round and tie some pretty ribbon around the cinnamon, so you can't see the raffia. Then finally, feed some more raffia through the ribbon to make a loop and tie it off.
To make the decorations on the right above...
With the sharp knife, make two small slits in a slice of orange, at opposite sides, next to the rind.
Cut a piece of raffia, about 20cm long, and thread it through one of the slits, tying it tightly on the outside of the orange, leaving the ends long. Take a bundle of cinnamon, and loop the long ends of the raffia around it, knotting tightly at the bottom. Trim the ends.
Loop some pretty ribbon round the cinnamon sticks, and tie off, hiding the raffia.
Feed another length of raffia through the second slit in the orange, and tie in a loop.