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Branch Out

Forget Popcorn. Put Pasta, Pomegranates And Pastry on Your Tree

By Lisa Cherkasky
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 8, 2004; Page F01

To me, decorating with food is always beautiful -- and that's not just because I've been a food stylist for almost 20 years, or because people have decorated for the holidays with foodstuffs at least since the Middle Ages. The colors are natural and more subtle; the intensity of tone is dialed back from what you might find among store-bought ornaments.

You might think this sort of look -- pale hues and organic shapes -- would seem right only in an old-fashioned or a country-style house, but it all depends on what you do with food decorations and how much of them you use. My rooms are kind of spare, with "clean lines" and contemporary greens, orange and sapphire blue, so I don't overdue it with the Christmas froufrou. You can take something that looks rustic, and, by keeping it simple, make it modern.

_____How To_____
A Handy Guide

The same techniques could be used to make Hanukah or Kwanzaa decorations as well, because you could hang the ornaments on anything.

You can make most of the decorations you see here the night before, or you could start next year's batch in September; wrap them carefully in tissue, and they will keep from season to season. They might fade a bit, but that would be part of their charm. However, garlands made from cereal, bay leaves and juniper are best made fresh each year. And the pomegranates will keep if they dry before they get moldy and squishy.

If you don't want to save ornaments, it might be fun to put the simplest, non-glittery ones on a tree outside and let the critters go to town. You can always make more. That being said, so-called "edible decorations" are not to be eaten once you've glued, pinned and painted them. Hanging them at a height beyond the reach of pets and young children is also necessary.

These decorations make the best kind of gifts, created in my kitchen with things from my kitchen cupboards.

Lisa Cherkasky, who hauls out her beloved chain of tiny gingerbread men to decorate the mantle at Christmas, last wrote for Food about garnishes.

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