The air carries a chill that wasn't there before, and my footsteps follow me with crunching, crackling noises, giving away my passage to listeners if my waving scarf and bright hat doesn't.
At the door to my apartment, the smell of baking squash greets me, a welcome that's almost as friendly as the feeling of an extra blanket on the bed, keeping me safe from the cold.
The seasons are changing, frost is coming, and comforting recipes are needed to stave off the chill of nature's sleep.
Are you beginning to crave the homey smells and tastes of the cold season like I am? There's nothing that says "autumn" or "holiday" to me more than spiced cider. Here's a simple recipe to make for yourself, or to share and help warm the hands of visitors at your door.
Spiced Apple Cider:
Fill a slow cooker with fresh apple cider, almost to the top.
Wash, and then slice an orange in half, and stud the skin with a few whole cloves. Float halves in the cider.
Put a cinnamon stick in the cider. Allspice berries are good too, but you may want to make a spice bag out of cheesecloth to avoid getting little pieces in your drink.
Add brown sugar and a splash of vanilla extract to the mix. For a medium-sized cooker, I used 1/4 cup sugar, but feel free to add more or less as you desire.
Set on low for a few hours until fragrant and warm. Stir occasionally. Ladle into mugs, and sip slowly.