Tag Archives: pumpkin

It’s C-C-C-C-Cold…

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!

Pumpkin Butter

Cooking Spray
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!

Happy Halloween/November!

November has begun and this year I have decided to challenge myself for the month. That’s right (or, write, hehe) I am participating in NaNoWriMo!

For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s National Novel Writing Month. Basically the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. For more information about it, visit the site.

That being said, I will be pretty busy this month but that doesn’t mean the baking/crafting/photos/art/blogging whateverness will stop!

So, until we meet again, here are some pictures of the Halloween festivities in this neck of the woods. Among the photos are sugar cookies, house decorations, and some of a small party I went to (including a really awesome bread spider!). Enjoy!

Is it just me, or does this guy kind of look like a Simpson’s character with a mask on? Dad made him, so no one really knows what the design plan was…

Happy Halloween and let the novel writing begin!

A Day at the Alaska State Fair

Have you ever been to a state fair? They may be among one of the most awesome things. Usually they are filled with animals, arts and crafts projects, cooking and canning, even flowers and produce all vying for various awards and ribbons. Plus there are usually rides. Also, fair food. You know, turkey legs, funnel cakes, elephant ears, cotton candy, hot dogs, and many a strange deep-fried thing.

Well, you ain’t seen nothing till you’ve been to the Alaska State Fair.

Ok, maybe you have seen something, but there is still plenty that makes our fair unique and fantastic. Here, let me show you what my afternoon looked like at the fair the other day:

This was the 1st place giant pumpkin. It weighed 1,287lbs which officially made it the biggest pumpkin to ever get the blue ribbon at the fair. However, it was not the biggest pumpkin at the fair.

This behemoth weighed at a startling 1,723lbs! Sadly, they discovered a small hole at the bottom of it which meant disqualification from getting the blue ribbon. I just keep picturing it hollowed out and used as the giant jack o’ lantern in the Halloweentown movies. Plus lots of pies. I see those too. Only this time I wasn’t sleeping when I saw them.

The real prize of the Alaska State Fair, the one written about all over the land (like in the September issue of Food Network Magazine. Seriously, check it out, page 155) is the giant cabbage. Now, if you are wondering how our vegetables get so giant the answer is simple – steroids. Just kidding. The answer is all in the state nickname: The Land of the Midnight Sun. With a lot of sunlight in the summer and the grower’s tender loving care, these babies reach up to at least 100lbs! Actually, the results from this year’s cabbage contest just came in and the winning cabbage was less than one pound shy of a new world record at 126.4lbs!

Here’s what happens to the smaller cabbages

Also, I realize this may not be the best quality photo. I apologize about that, but the lighting in the barn wasn’t exactly stellar for photos. Plus it’s just so much better in person.

These are the prize-winning raspberries. What do you think, should we enter ours next year for the fun of it?

There are also lots of pretty flowers that won ribbons.

On to the birds! This is a Golden Ptarmigan. The Ptarmigan is the state bird.

These funny lookin fellas are Polish Roosters. They have big fluffy heads. The name of the one on the right is Crazy Head. I think I am in love.

Bunnies! There were two in here, and one of the them was cleaning his buddy. Too cute.

This guy reminded me of Rusty. Actually, as we entered the small animal section of the barn and saw a bunch of sleeping roosters Dad says “Oh look, just like the cat.”

Turkeys?

Turkeys.

We entered the main barn, where they keep the big animals, just in time to catch the Great Pig Move. The pigs were getting slowly shuffled forward to be judged and have their pretty pictures taken. Some weren’t too happy about the whole schlep and they squealed which echoed throughout the big open barn. Attention hogs.

Here is something you might possibly only see at the Alaska State Fair, but I’m not sure, they may be elsewhere. What is he? Why, Rudolph. Actually this one may not be named Rudolph but he sure is a reindeer!

Oink. Oink oink.

Little Oinks.

Little curly tails!

These guys were getting judged. For all they know I was judging them too, but in a different way. But I wasn’t. Dad may have been.

These guys can be seen on the cliffs that border the highway as you head down south. Little cuties.

It may be surprising, but we actually have a good amount of Llamas up here. Although this guy, aptly named after the towering mountain Denali, was the only one at the fair.

Moo-cow.

AHHH! IT’S THE BARN MONSTER!!! RUN!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, here’s what the barn looks like from the front entrance:

From the barn we just kind of wandered around. Looked at all the booths. Smelled all the state fair food smells. Mmmmm…kettle corn….and then headed into the competitive crafting and the like areas. Small warning, I didn’t take many pictures of this stuff, not sure why I didn’t, but oh well. The few I do have seem to speak volumes.

Sigh. Look at that cake! The HANDMADE bass! The guitar and book quilts! The teeny tiny things in the dollhouse! The stained glass car! Oh, I wanna bake and play music and go for a drive and read a book and do lots and lots of crafting. All at the same time. You may want to stay off the streets.

After oohing and ahhing over the awesome stuff our great states-persons created we went off to the races!

The pig races! No. Really. Look.

Race Track + Pigs =

Pig races. Who said I couldn’t do math? Oh, right, my Algebra teacher.

Dad, a former Boy Scout, and I, a former Girl Scout, decided to see what the local 4H kids had been up to in their own display of their fair goods and projects. All I can say is there are some really awesome and smart kids up in Alaska. I think this blue ribbon photo says it all. It’s that one in the middle there. The really awesome one.

This gives me confidence in how the children of today will shape our future world.

We kept wandering around the fair and saw things that you would always expect to see in Alaska…

Giant cabbages…

Gargantuan kohlrabi…

Beautiful brussel sprouts…

And…kangaroos? Yes! There was a big display on animals from the Outback this year, including these adorable little buggers.

After devouring a funnel cake and buying a huge bag of kettle corn to bring home to the cat, we headed out and drove the hour back to Anchorage from Palmer. Bye bye fair.

This had been the first time I had been to the State Fair in four years, had I mentioned that?

Man, I missed it. All I can say is, job well done Alaska!

I hope you all enjoyed the glimpse of the uniqueness of the Alaska State Fair and are now buying your plane tickets to come up before the fair closes this Monday!

Happy 75th Birthday Alaska State Fair!

 

Side Note: I am currently enjoying…erm…I have recently enjoyed the first pumpkin ale of the season. Fall here we come!