It’s time to get the Christmas tree

 

Have you put up your Christmas tree yet?

 
Across the country, Christmas tree farms are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends for buying a real Christmas tree. In preparation for this busy weekend, our barn has been stacked with Christmas trees, so that we look across a small forest of treetops as customers weave their way between them; there’s mistletoe and wreaths aplenty; the snow globes have been shaken and the shelves filled with decorations, juju hats and gin. We’re all set. Are you?

 
Here’s five reasons to buy a real Christmas tree this year.

 
A family tradition
It’s fun to choose a real Christmas tree and for many families, buying the tree is the start of Christmas celebrations as the whole family come to the farm to choose their tree together. We’ve been selling trees here for so long that some of our customers, who we remember coming along as babies with their parents, now arrive with their own children to buy a tree.

 

The smell
No matter how much pine scented room fragrance you use, nothing beats the gorgeous smell of a real Christmas tree.

 

Decorating
Decorating the Christmas tree rates as one of the favourite things to do in December and a real Christmas tree has so many branches that the scope for decorating is vast. Some people take it far more seriously than others with many mothers admitting that they let their children decorate the tree but then completely redo it after the children have gone to bed while others banish the family from the room while they decorate it to perfection.

Whether you choose a themed decoration scheme or hang a mismatch of all sorts, there is of course the trauma of the lights not working, baubles smashing and wondering if your teenager will notice that the polystyrene decoration they made as a three year old has mysteriously disappeared.

 

Fifty shades of green
Christmas trees come in an immense range of green from the bright green of a Norway Spruce to the dark green of a Nordman Fir.

Fresh Christmas trees are grown as a crop, providing a habitat for birds and animals while they’re growing and when they’re cut down they’ll be replaced with more trees. Whether artificial or real trees are more environmentally friendly seems finely balanced so it comes down to personal preference. Would you rather have a bit of PVC standing in the corner of your living room or a magnificent fresh Christmas tree?

 

The tree that keeps giving
After Christmas, your Christmas tree can be recycled; they’re usually shredded into woodchips that are used for mulches or fuel. Alternatively, buy a container grown tree that can be planted out after Christmas, provided you water it while it’s in the house.

 
If you’re planning to buy a Christmas tree this weekend, don’t forget to measure up first as trees in a barn or field can look deceptively small.

 

Read this guide to choosing a Christmas Tree

 

in my kitchen December 2014

In my kitchen, there are no smells of gingerbread and cinnamon and all things pre-Christmassy. The blogsphere may be entering the festive period with butter biscuits, gingerbread houses, stollen, panettone, julekage and cinnamon scrolls but not in my kitchen. Perhaps next week or the week after that.

In my kitchen

 

cinnamon stick Christmas tree

 

… there are no festive decorations apart from this cinnamon twig Christmas tree. In my imagination, this will be transformed into a thing of beauty when it’s decorated with bunches of herbs and tiny sparkly decorations. Doubtless, when the fairy descends to cast this magic, she will also pick up the discarded coats and damp gloves that the workers from the Christmas Barn sling over chairs or by the Aga to keep warm and perhaps she could also sweep and wash the floor, empty the bin and do the washing-up. My kitchen is not a pretty sight at the moment.

 

In my kitchen, there is no stack of new cookbooks. I’ve noticed that many IMK bloggers write about the cookbooks they’ve acquired but I’m getting rid of them. About six months ago I decided that too many of the cookbooks on the shelves were pretty to look at but had few recipes that I actually wanted to cook. Added to that, it seems that the more famous the author, the more likely that their recipes didn’t work for me. There were books that I rarely used and others from which I used only a few recipes. Looking through I also found the same recipe replicated by many authors with just a pinch of this and that changed and even worse, some authors write a recipe for Book 1, then tweak it ever so slightly, thus justifying a new page and glossy photo in Book 2. Enough is enough. I dispatched the books to charity shops, offspring and to use for jelly printing and haven’t missed them since. My favourite cookbooks have remained and I studiously avoid the cookery section of the bookshop (though I still borrow cookbooks from the library) and most of my inspiration now comes from blogs. I trust bloggers more, especially when people like Glenda test, test and test again until they’re happy with the recipe. Anyway, often I just want an idea for what to cook for supper rather than an actual recipe.

 

In my kitchen …

There is beautiful fenland celery (that tastes way better than the imported pap we usually have) to make a salad with walnuts and crisp English apples, a ham is bubbling away in a saucepan and a batch of shortbread is cooling in the baking tin. Of course there’s bread too. There’s always bread. A batch of sourdough loaves baked in tins for sandwiches and some burnt looking bacon, cheese and spiced crabapple rolls inspired by Jane.

What about you? Do you buy cookery books? Do you follow recipes or just use them as a springboard?

Once again, I’m joining in with Celia’s In My Kitchen series at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial as we tour the world to see what everyone has in their kitchen this month. If you have the time, check out some of the different blogs that are listed on Celia’s page.

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