Christmas is over. The turkey is finished and the last of the cranberry sauce has been scraped from the dish; the Christmas tree has been hurled out and all the decorations taken down. I know it’s not Twelfth Night until 5th January*, but I like to start the New Year afresh, not weighed down with last year’s detritus, so everything’s swept away.
Most of the Christmas decorations are packed away after a little judicious sorting; thankfully the snowman decorated with cotton wool and other primary school produced decorations have finally disappeared. It seems a shame to throw away the greenery that decorated the house so even though it’s slightly dried up and shrivelled, it’s time to put it to use. Most of the bay leaves will hang in the kitchen, which means I can just reach out to grab a leaf instead of putting on coat and wellies to pick from the garden. Any other dry and combustible greenery will be packaged up to make natural fire starters.
How to make natural fire starters
Take a heap of rosemary, bay, marjoram, thyme, Christmas tree needles and pine cones and if necessary, leave them somewhere warm to dry out. Then lay out a handful on a sheet of newspaper together with a little dried orange peel (which makes an excellent fire starter used on its own). I also added some empty walnut shells, a by-product of a banana and walnut cake baking session.
Fold and roll up the newspaper, twisting the end to enclose your dried herbs. When you next lay the fire, poke a natural Fire Starter package in amongst the logs so that when you light the fire, the herbs will ignite and help the logs catch.
You could do this any time of the year. Just select and dry the herbs and use them on barbecues or outdoor ovens. Instead of putting them into packages, you could hang them from a hook or leave by the fire to use a handful at a time.
*Christmas Eve is the first night of Christmas as our ancestors believed the day ended when the sun went down, rather than at midnight as we do. So Twelfth Night is the night of 5th January, the night before Epiphany.