It has been REALLY cold lately. I mean it’s not just curl up under a blanket or put on a sweatshirt cold, but more like put a on sweatshirt-then put another one on along with a hat and some gloves-then curl up under three blankets-while you have a space heater pointed right at you cold. Oh, also, you’re indoors in this scenario. Yeah, it’s that cold.
Of course, I can’t really complain. Sure, it’s been below 0°F for at least a week and continues to waver between negative and positive degrees, but it’s nothing compared to the north of the state.
See, I am in Anchorage which is in the South Central part of the state, meaning it’s closer to the equator (well, as close as we can get in Alaska). There are other places much closer to, and actually in, the Arctic Circle. See map below.
That dotted line? That runs across the state West to East? Near the top? Goes into Russia and Canada too? Try zooming in…Yeah! That line! That’s the line showing the Arctic Circle! Check out how much of Alaska is above that line. Pretty cool, huh?
Actually, it’s pretty damn cold.
Spending four years in New York definitely messes with your internal temperature gauge in terms of what the weather should be like during certain seasons and how cold it is outside. I keep hearing from New York friends who say that the 40s are way too cold and it should heat up now. I just chuckle. One of my good NY friends actually sent me a picture of her phone’s temperature readings for Anchorage a week ago. It said it was -4°F. She said “It’s a bit cold eh?”. Yes. Yes it is. It’s even colder up in Barrow (again, see the map).
Remember those berries you froze this summer? Oh, and that peach butter you made? Remember how I had said they would be a little reminder of warmth in mid-winter? Yeah, time to pull those out and enjoy.
What? Your favorite season is Fall and you’re mourning that it will be a long winter, a damp spring, and a mildly warm summer before you get to see the beautiful colors and smell and eat the comforting smells and food again? I feel ya. May I present you with: Pumpkin Butter!
A 3-4 pound Sugar or Pie pumpkin – NOT the kind you carve for Halloween (you can also use canned pumpkin, but it just won’t be the same as roasting a pumpkin!)
1 cup apple cider
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
As much of your favorite pumpkin pie spices are you’d like (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, all spice, nutmeg, whatever your heart desires)
Sugar (if desired, to taste)
To roast pumpkin: Preheat oven to 375°F. Use cooking spray to adhere parchment paper to baking sheet pan, set aside. Split pumpkin in half using a large chef’s knife. Clean out pumpkin innards and carefully remove stem and bottom knot. Cut pumpkin halves into slices for easier peeling. Using either a knife or a vegetable peeler, peel the skin from the pumpkin slices and, if you want things to look nice and neat, peel inside of the slices too to remove straggling innards. Cut slices into chunks. Roast in the oven for 15 to 25 minutes. Take out of oven and let cool.
Once pumpkin is cooled, puree in the food processor with the cider, spices, salt and vanilla extract.
Put puree in a medium saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste to see if you would like to add any sugar to sweeten, and if so add to your liking. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge. Enjoy!