by Caren Crane
Here at the Lair, we like to talk about our home states and share a bit about what makes them special. During this (unusually warm) holiday season, I thought I would share some things unique to North Carolina during the holidays:
1. Christmas Town, USA - Since 1956, the small town of McAdenville, NC the citizens and businesses have decorated their town in celebration of Christmas. Thousands come to see the 375 decorated live evergreen trees and streets lined with decorated homes. Nothing will get you in the mood for Christmas faster!
2. Biltmore House - Biltmore House is a fairytale, family-owned chateau and estate in the Blue Ridge mountains near Asheville, NC. Completed in 1895 by George Vanderbilt, Biltmore is decorated in lavish style for the holidays each year. Candlelight tours are especially popular and showcase the beauty of the home in a spectacular fashion that you will never forget.
3. Old Salem - In direct contrast to the lavishness of Biltmore House is Old Salem, NC. Located in Salem, NC, Old Salem is a restored 1766 Moravian settlement, boasting 4 museums, 11 period gardens and a population of settlers in period costume going about their daily work. At Christmas, traditional wreaths hang from the doors, lampposts and fence posts are wrapped in their winter greenery, the smell of fresh baked treats emanating from the bakery warm even the coldest nose, and the sound of music drifts through the air to draw you into the holiday spirit. The candlelight tours are wonderful!
4. NC Fraser Firs - The NC Fraser fir has been judged the nation's best Christmas tree by the National Christmas Tree Association. The NC Christmas Tree industry is ranked second in the nation (behind Oregon) in number of trees harvested and first in the nation in terms of dollars made per tree. We have tons of retail lots and over 150 choose and cut Christmas tree farms in NC. Cut Christmas trees sold in the eastern United States probably grew in NC!
5. Aluminum Tree and Aesthetically Challenged Seasonal Ornament Museum and Research Center - Yes, friends, in Asheville, NC, there is the ATACSOM. Creator and curator Stephen Paul Jackson displays his ever-growing collection of metal Christmas trees, each covered with tacky ornaments. Decoration themes range from Elvis to a tribute to Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Our own Susan Seyfarth, self-professed tacky tinsel connoisseur, would love this museum. What more can be said, really?
Today is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Being my contrary self, I offer you a totally non-chocolate-covered recipe that happens to be a favorite among my family and friends. At least, I assume it's a favorite, since they keep asking me to make it and begging for the recipe!
1 12-oz bag cranberries (sort out mushy ones and watch for stems)
1 c water
2 c sugar (or Splenda, which I use)
1 c orange juice
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 c chopped pecans (I toast them before chopping)
1 c chopped celery
1 c raisins
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (I use more, probably 2 or 3 tsp)
1 tsp grated orange rind (again, I use more, probably 2 tsp)
Bring berries, water and syrup to a boil. (If using Splenda, only boil berries and water.) Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. (If using Splenda, stir in now and make sure it dissolves completely.) Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl or container. Pour berries over mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Keeps in refrigerator for 2 weeks.
So tell us, what's cool about Christmas where you live? And what is your favorite chocolate covered something? Has anyone actually eaten chocolate covered insects? Inquiring minds want to know! The coolest story will win a $10 Borders gift card, so do tell!