Friday, December 12, 2008

Pomanders, Potpourri, and Spicy Ornaments

If you’ve ever worked with me, the first thing you find out is that a recipe is just a starting point. This was clearly illustrated today, when I set out to make wax pomanders using this recipe:
Wax Pomanders
1 ounce beeswax
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cup assorted powdered spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, etc.)
1 T orris root
Melt the beeswax slowly with the applesauce.
Stir in the spices and orris root. After the mixture has cooled slightly, pour onto a protected surface.
Roll “dough” into balls.
Roll the balls firmly in lavender buds or rose petals.
Allow to dry three or four days.
Now I thought about making them just like that… briefly. But how much more fragrant would they be if instead of cinnamon and cloves, they were made from sandalwood, myrrh, frankincense, and orange powder? A few drops of oakmoss absolute, and a splash of frankincense essential oil couldn’t hurt either. So I did. The frankincense and myrrh have to be powdered. A coffee grinder is perfect for this task, but so is a heavy plastic bag and hammer. The resins melt, so they don’t need to be hammered too finely. The house smelled heavenly!While rolling different sized balls, my eyes fell upon a dish of varied sizes of pinecones on the porch. The dough easily went in between the “tongues” of the pinecones, and with a little patience and time look wonderful. Even hemlock cones turned out well...although I must admit that it felt a little bit obsessive to work with them.
I also made leaf shapes and stars and all sizes of balls. Some of the balls are studded with cloves. These will become part of a holiday potpourri, although they are nice just as they are. In fact the pinecones would be amazing firestarters!
For the potpourri, I will add star shaped pieces of orange peel, star anise, 1’ cinnamon pieces, frankincense and myrrh pieces, some gold sprayed pine cones, and maybe a little oakmoss. Some rose hips and a few dried rose petals will be nice too. On top will go a few pomanders made from kumquats. A few small pieces of juniper will complete the bowl.
Many other herbs and spices came to mind to use this way. Powdered rosemary would be good. Juniper berries when ground, have a fruity, woodsy scent. The colors would vary by using just allspice, just rosemary, or just powdered dragon’s blood resin (although the dragon’s blood would be an additive to a sandalwood ball).
See what I mean about simple recipes getting out of hand?

Citrus Pomanders
To make citrus pomanders, choose firm, thin skinned fruit.
Use a small nail to make holes in a pleasing pattern all over the fruit.
Fill the holes by sticking whole cloves into them.
The cloves will dry and preserve them. Did you know cloves were used for embalming in ancient times?
Put the fruit on a shallow dish, and cover with a mixture of cinnamon, clove, and orris root—all powdered. Roll the fruit in the powder daily until it is nicely dried.
Kumquats are very quick to do and look great mixed into a potpourri. It’s something the kids really enjoy, because the bigger fruits can get boring for them.

Spice Clay Ornaments1-1/2 of a mixture of powdered spices. Could be clove, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, or any of the fragrant baking type spices.
1 C apple sauce
1 t gum tragacanth (optional, but awesome!)

Blend together the dry ingredients with the apple sauce. If it is too dry, add a wee bit of water. If it is too wet, add a bit of the powdered spices.
Roll out the dough onto parchment or waxed paper until it is about 1/2" thick.
Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
Use a drinking straw to make holes through which ribbons to hang them will go.
Turn onto parchment covered cardboard.
Allow to dry for several days, turning on occasion so that both sides are exposed to the air.
Add colorful ribbons and use them on the tree or on gifts as tie-ons.

Have a wonderful, heavily scented time :-). You might as well plan on baking cookies because after playing with all of these spices all you need is some oatmeal, sugar, flour, eggs, butter... you know the drill.


Lisa Brawner said...

I am going to have to make these to keep year round in my house :) tina --i am So enjoying your recipes and blog !

Sharon said...

Love all of these ideas! We have done a few but I want to try all of them!