Temperatures at 20 below zero are rarely a beautiful thing. Good for freezing all the bugs and keeping them at bay during the summer, yes, but good for getting out and playing in? No.
Unless you're making peppernuts.
Every year I make peppernut cookies for the holidays. My grandmother always did and I'm happy to carry on the tradition. Our recipe makes a ton of cookies, and if you're going to run the oven for half the day making them, it's best to do it on a cold day when you can enjoy the warmth.
But that's not why 20 below is beautiful on peppernut day. This is:
You see, you have to freeze the ropes of dough after you've formed them so they are solid enough to cut into cookies. I'm usually fighting to find enough space in my freezer for a few cookie sheets full of dough and it takes a long time for them to freeze. When it's 20 below out, though, you can just pop them outside in the snow and they freeze pretty quickly! It's sort of like flash freezing, I'd guess. It's great!
And then it occurred to me (well, actually it occurred to my brother, but he was nice enough to share this thought with me...) that the good German peppernut tradition probably predates the electric freezer. So I'm guessing putting the dough outside in the cold to chill is not something I am the first to do. Perhaps that's why they're winter cookies after all.