In Search of the Perfect Christmas Tree
Check out some recommendations for tree shopping in Bethesda and our hot chocolate recipe to try out while you trim.
It's that time of year again … you're decking the halls, jingle bell rockin', making your list and checking it twice. 'Tis the season, and what better way to get into the holiday spirit than by finding the perfect Christmas tree.
Here are few places in the Bethesda area to shop for your tree:
Support the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad by purchasing your tree or wreath from them. They offer table top as well as 5' to 9' Fraser Firs, ranging in price from $30 to $115 as well as wreaths in 14", 20", and 24" for $15 to $30. Hours are noon to 9p.m. on weekdays and 9a.m. to 9p.m. on weekends.
When I stopped by, Pedro Mayorga, who was setting up for the day, gave a few tips to help your trees and wreaths last through the season. To keep your tree from drying out, close off nearby air vents. Soak your wreath in room temperature water for about 20 minutes and air dry before hanging it. Buy a tree stand that is the right fit and size to avoid tipping or possibly more costly accidents.
Located at the corner of Old Georgetown & Greentree Roads, the Bethesda Community Store and Deli is selling Fraser Firs, ranging in size from 4' to 8' for $30 to $100. Their wreaths are 16", 20", and 30" and cost $20 to $30. The owner, Arnie Fainman, has found that Fraser Firs are a customer favorite and its branches hold ornaments well. Stop by between 9a.m. to 8p.m. daily.
North Bethesda United Methodist Church's tree varieties include Fraser Firs, Douglas Firs, and White Pines. White Pines have longer needles than either Fraser or Douglas Firs. All are great options, but if you like to decorate your tree with a lot of ornaments, especially heavy ones, the Fraser Fir is your best bet. Trees range in height from 5' to 10' and are priced from $45 to $100, and wreaths are $25 to $35. The church sells trees from 10a.m. to 9p.m. Monday through Thursdays, and from 9a.m. to 10p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
After a day of tree shopping, unwind with a cup of hot chocolate. Ina Garten from the Food Network has a great, simple recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate.
First, I combine 1 2/3 cups of whole milk with 3/4 tablespoon of brown sugar in a pot. You can use 2 percent or skim milk, but the richness of the whole milk is worth the calories. Once the mixture has come to a simmer, shut off the heat.
Stir in 3 ½ ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate and a pinch of ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper each. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Ina Garten suggests using chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa and finds that Belgium, Swiss (such as Lindt), and French chocolate varieties work and taste the best.
Let the ingredients steep for about 3 minutes and then heat up again until simmering. Ladle into your favorite mug (use a strainer if you don't want chocolate bits) and enjoy the sweet 'n heat! A perfect way to warm up on a cold, winter evening.