Weather Punch

New Orleans is insane.

Two days ago I was talking to my dad on the phone, wishing him Happy Thanksgiving. I was walking the Babe around the block, because he was fussy and often walking is the only way to proceed with life.

“You’re outside right now?” My dad asked, from his faraway Alaska home.

“Yeah.” I said, forgetting why he sounded incredulous.

“What’s the weather like?”

“Oh. Right. Yeah, it’s been pretty hot lately. Unseasonably, I guess. It was a terrible day to be inside with the oven on, I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner in my bra and underwear! I think it almost got up to 80 today. But the killer is the 95% humidity.”

“My Lord! 80 degrees? At this time of year?” (My dad grew up in Florida, but time obscures all.)

The crazy thing is that now, less than 48 hours later, I am sitting in front of the open oven, trying to keep warm. The temperature dropped yesterday, with big gusty drama, and continued falling over the night to a low of 38 degrees (Farenheight of course).

78 to 38 in 48 hours. I dread the coming months. Last winter it got down to 18 degrees, and was below freezing for weeks. And for some reason, when it’s cold here it’s usually accompanied by an exceptionally strong wind.

And don’t you think for a minute this place is even halfway prepared for that kind of cold, even though it happens every year. In Alaska, 38 is no big deal whatsoever. Our houses are insulated. And sealed against drafts. We have heaters, that work. Not to mention appropriate clothing. Long underwear, wool pants, sweaters up the ying-yang.

Here they have twelve foot ceiling, which I can accept, because they help with the intense heat that predominates. The lack of insulation I can tolerate because the houses are old and incredibly quaint. The goddamned cracks and holes everywhere serve no purpose in either temperature extreme, and are not even cute. The icy wind blows through our house like a sieve. I swore I was going to weatherstrip this year, but the cracks are so pervasive it’s intimidating.

Oh, don’t even get me started on the heater. Suffice to say you have to hold your hand over the vent for a full minute before saying, “Yeah, I guess it is warm air.”

At least this year, I have fortified my closet. I have long underwear, slippers, sweaters, hats, and big winter coats. I even bought the kids mittens. Extra blankets are ready to pull out tonight. We have a space heater for the times you just can’t bear it anymore. And lots of hot cocoa.

We’ll survive. But I have to admit, I’m already looking forward to our Christmas trip up north to Spokane, where we will be cozy warm in a house that means it.

 

 

HOT Hot Chocolate

Yup, let’s see how much fat and sugar we can pack in to keep the belly fires burning.

This is dark, rich, thick, cold-weather fighting stuff. I can’t believe it took me so long to come up with a HOT hot chocolate recipe for my dear Hubby who adores spicy. Y’all better feel special, ‘cuz I’m gonna share my super-de-duper top secret weapon/ingredient with you, and it ain’t the cayenne. I’d better patent this quick.

Here it is. This’ll put hair on your chest (or fat on your thighs, depending on gender).

HOT Hot Chocolate for Two

2 cups milk

2 Tablespoons cocoa

4 squares good, dark eating chocolate– fair trade for all cacao products please

2-3 Tablespoons sugar or more, to taste

pinch of pumpkin pie spice, or any or all of: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice and ginger

tiny pinch cayenne, to taste

1 Tablespoon, yes, you know it, all Alaskans in the audience will instantly see the brilliance in this… butter

Put all but butter in a saucepan and heat slowly, whisking occasionally till good and hot. Now add that secret weapon cold fighter. Whisk vigorously to melt, and work up some nice foam. Pour into cups and prepare to be worshiped.

Freezing Our Asses Off

Yes, we are. In New Orleans. It just doesn’t seem fair. Apparently it’s an epic cold snap. Tropical plants everywhere are fallen like cards. Pipes are freezing. People huddle around space heaters in their ridiculously inadequate houses.

In fact I’m colder here now than I’ve ever been, inside my own home, in Alaska. (Well, except maybe for the tipi days. Those were some cold ones.) These people just did not build their houses to deal with the 21 degrees we’re getting. I guess it’s pretty rare. But I am nevertheless completely appalled.

Some of the things, like the 12 foot ceiling, are good for hot weather, and hey, that’s ok. Makes sense. No problem. But the goddamn gigantic holes and cracks everywhere in this house that the cold air blows through like a funnel, are just as stupid in hot weather. Get it together! If we are going to stay in this house for the whole three years, and I think we are, I’m going to have to do something about it. Give me some weatherstripping and stand back baby!