You may be wondering why I’m writing about cranberry sauce when Christmas is over! There reason is that I made some this year and it was a huge hit. I gave some away as a present too. The best thing is that it is very simple to make and uses very few ingredients. The only thing could be finding the fresh cranberries themselves but loads of grocery shops sell them as they are seasonal. You can also use frozen cranberries. If you find some on reduced price, buy them and make the sauce. It will keep in the freezer and I found it goes with a lot of foods, not just turkey. For instance, it goes well with cheese, Indian and Mexican foods- the tanginess sets off the spicy flavours.
So here it goes-
100g/3½oz light brown sugar (cost 46p)
100ml/3½fl oz orange juice ( I used the cheap carton of orange juice but you can also use freshly squeezed orange juice and use the rind, as below to make the zest) 86p
250g/9oz fresh or frozen cranberries (80p for 300gm)
1 clementine or small orange, finely grated zest only (optional)
Bring the sugar and orange juice to the boil in a large saucepan. Stir in the cranberries and simmer for 5 minutes or until tender but holding their shape. Frozen cranberries will take longer than fresh. Refrigerate until needed, it will thicken as it cools.
I also added ginger powder and a clove into the mix and took out the clove after I finished making the sauce. I added the zest later.
Total cost of homemade sauce £2.12, i.e £ 0.70 per 100 gm
Shop bought cranberry sauce cost: £0.68 per 100 gm
So you see there isn’t much difference in the cost but the difference in taste (and the colour) is enormous. And since it is so simple to make, why compromise? Plus it can be a zero waste gift. I’m now thinking of using this recipe for other seasonal berries.
My neighbours buy ‘real’ Christmas trees while I have a fake one.
First of all, why do we have fir trees inside our houses during winter festival? It is the most illogical thing to do!
Perhaps the concept of the Christmas tree came from the Paradise Tree, representing the tree in the garden of Paradise, which was used in medieval German Mystery or Miracle Plays that were acted out in front of Churches on Christmas Eve. Fir trees were first used as Christmas trees about 1000 years ago in Northern Europe.
The first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house, in the way we know it today, may have been the 16th century German preacher, Martin Luther. In many parts of northern Europe, cherry or hawthorn plants (or even a branch) and brought inside in the hope that they would flower at Christmas time. People also made pyramids of woods which were decorated to look like a tree with paper, apples and candles. Sometimes they were carried around from house to house, rather than being displayed in a home. Early Christmas Trees could been hung upside down from the ceiling using chains. Anyway the custom has stayed and people love the seasonal decorations and especially the children love the spectacle of the Christmas tree. So there is no getting away from not having one- what ever form you decide.
It has been calculated that artificial Christmas trees are made of plastic and PVC, shipped over from China. So there is a carbon cost of manufacture and transportation plus the energy cost of the materials. Added to that, artificial Christmas trees aren’t recyclable, so if they’re thrown away, they will end up in landfill.
According to the Carbon Trust, a two metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint of around 40kg, more than ten times that of a real tree that’s burned after Christmas. In other words, you’d need to re-use an artificial tree 10 times to negate its carbon footprint, yet it’s estimated that fake trees are used only four times, regardless of improving quality.
But if you’ve used your fake Christmas tree more for more than ten Christmases, then you are ‘carbon neutral’. I’ve used my Christmas for 16 years now, and it still looks good. All the decorations also have been used for more than 16 and also were lent to someone when they didn’t have any.
While my fake tree is stored away for the year, my neighbours have to go and buy a tree- there is car use involved while the tree itself might have been transported from Scotland or somewhere even further. Most real trees also come wrapped in plastic which also has to be disposed off. Then there is the problem of the disposal of the actual tree especially if you haven’t got the space in your garden or even a garden (which is increasingly the case in city apartments). After the new Year, the streets are blocked by irresponsible people even though the Council offers collection for a small fee. So to avoid the fee, these people throw the trees anywhere.
This is where the fake tree is better in my opinion- the more you use it, the less it costs financially as well as ecologically. It stays in its cardboard box, handy for the next time it is needed.
This is what one of my neighbours decided to do with a fake fir- looks good and deters many bugs! Better than throwing a fake tree away.
Postscript: This was published last Christmas by BBC about a boy’s ‘Worst Christmas ever’
Ros Bruce, from Essex, said her 10-year-old son got an Xbox One for Christmas, and he and a friend had spent weeks planning what games they would play together online.
She said they had been downloading a game since 09:00 GMT – and by 23:40 it was still not ready.
“He has spent most of the day in tears,” she said.
Christmas has long gone but the streets are now piled up with discarded Christmas trees, some blocking the pavement, some blocking the roads, waiting to be taken away by the cleaners. How sorry they look!
Some people have been clever- they’ve used up the needles which drop out anyway for mulch or in their compost. So these trees look like this-
For the last seven years, I have been using the same tree, rather the same artificial tree. Agreed that perhaps it doesn’t smell the same, although a clever trick of putting some pine scented oil around does the trick. All I have to do is put it up, put up the decorations and then take them down again for next year. There is no waste and no nuisance. No needles to sweep away. And it doesn’t look too bad, I have to say! When I don’t use it anymore, I know that it will be good to go to a charity shop for someone else to use.