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Recipe: Simmer Pots

Recipe by Katie Searle-Williams Photograph by Leo Patrone

Use citrus fruits, herbs and spices to make simmer pots that will turn your home into a super-cozy, transcendent wonderland all winter long. 

When I was growing up, my mom would put a pot of water on the stove and simmer cinnamon sticks and orange peels to make our home a transcendent wonderland. This is such a simple way to create a cozying effect.

Start your own simmer pot tradition
Fill a pot half full with water, bring to a boil, add your favorite ingredients, turn heat down and simmer all day, adding water when needed. There are no strict parameters—feel free to mix ingredients and vary the amounts to your liking.

A few tips
1. Refrigerate your simmer mixture and reuse it for up to one week. Add water as needed.
2. Keep your orange, lemon and lime peels, as well as apple skins (dry them out first before storing in a container). Use these ingredients with various spice combinations suggested above or create your own.
3. For fruit juices, herbs and spices that are ending their life cycle, don’t throw them out—just add them to your pot.
4. Set a reminder for every 30 minutes so you remember to top off your water. Do not leave your simmer pot going when you leave the house.

For storage
For a mix to keep on hand, try this ease-to-store recipe.

Combine all ingredients (2 cups dried rosemary, 2 cups dried lavender, 1 cup dried eucalyptus leaves, 1/2 cup dried peppermint or spearmint, 1/2 cup dried bay leaves), keep stored in an airtight container, and add 1 cup mix per 3 cups boiling water.

Wonderful combinations
2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
5 star anise
1 orange peel

3 sprigs evergreen or handful pine needles
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 pieces orange peel
2 pieces lemon peel

2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
 
5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
 
1/8 cup whole cloves
1/8 cup allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup lavender
1 teaspoon anise
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

A few drops of vanilla
Orange peels

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