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Mrs. Sundberg's Recipe Collection - 12 tried-and-true--one for each month of the year--featuring an introduction and tips from Mrs. Sundberg herself

It's cold outside and warm in here

November 26, 2007

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Mr. Sundberg was away for the weekend and I figured with the kids having a few vacation days we ought to make use of it. So we headed up to "our" hotel on the lakefront in Duluth Saturday morning and met up with my brothers and sisters-in-law and the cousins and the kids swam all day and evening and we ate a lot of carrots and light dips and carob-coated things because it's healthy and after what felt like a field trip to Gluttonville on Thursday, anything gravy or peanut butter-laden seems somewhat irresponsible. At least for a few days.

In one of the rare lulls in activity, I excused myself from the fun and said I was going up to the room to rest awhile and why don't we all meet up there at 7:00 for pizza. They all said sure thing and by the time I shut the door behind me and kicked off my shoes, there was the show, loud and clear. I put all the pillows in the room on one bed (there were 8) and snuggled on in. Mr. Keillor was talking about shopping the day after Thanksgiving and the people who head out and the people who stay home.

I'm a stay-homer. In protest, for the most part. I don't want to be a part of the herd. Never have. There's something distinctly unappealing about standing outside a door in the cold dark morning waiting for the door to open, then running on in, coupon in hand, in search of the TV we don't really need but can't pass up because it's so dang cheap. I may refrain from participating out of sheer exhaustion, too, because something about an alarm clock going off at 3 a.m. the early morning after Thanksgiving Day seems a bit sadistic. I mean really, people. Doesn't the time of your life have value? Isn't it worth a few extra bucks to wait awhile? To be honest, though, I think the real reason I don't head out the day after Thanksgiving doesn't have much to do with money or the fact that my husband is not a deer hunter or crowd issues. I think I stay home not because of what's out there, but because of what's in here. At home.

Oh, I get up early, but much later than 3:00 a.m. There's baking to do, and I've a pantry chock full and all day to do it. Sometimes there's snow and sometimes there isn't. But it's cold outside and warm in here, and the kids are home playing board games or reading or helping me roll out dough and looking through the recipe box saying, "Let's make Fudgy Rum Balls" or "It's been about seven years since we had Beef Stroganoff." They put in a movie, sometime a Christmas one like "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street" or maybe a cd with Bing or Andy Williams. We talk about where we'll go this year and sometimes argue, and just as I pull a tray of cutouts from the oven, the phone rings and it's my father, fresh in from deer camp, reporting a year without a deer but a good time anyway. Then he hands the phone to my mother who sounds as if she's been busy and turns out she's making cutouts, too, the same turkey shape and all.

"I have a candle lit. Smells like pine," she says. "I sent you one, along with some dishcloths and chocolate." We talk awhile about my father and his back issues, about her hip and their plans for the holidays, and she wants a full report on the kids. I tell her about the violin recital and the Christmas concert and what days we're free in December. We agree to talk again once I check with my brothers, and she tells me she has to go, that the Chamber of Commerce meeting begins in half an hour and she wants to finish up the cookies. So we hang up, and I feel that familiar tug again, the one right here in my chest, the one I always feel when I say goodbye to my mother. Something about this time of year, though. I don't know whether it's the cold or the dark, or that I'm aging and so is she, but the ache runs a bit deeper and lasts a bit longer. Been that way since I can remember. Sure has.

Anise Oil Candy
5 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 cups white corn syrup
Boil to 290 or 300 degrees.
Remove from heat.
Add 2 tsp red food color and
2 tsp anise oil.
Pour onto very lightly greased cookie sheets.
Crack when cool.

You may substitute green food coloring
and wintergreen oil for variety's sake.


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