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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

This Land of Seasons I Love

March 5, 2013

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I spent a good part of the evening as I listened cooking up some white chicken chili and sloppy Joes and some gooey chocolate caramel bars for Mr. Sundberg and the kids to take along to the family cabin on Sunday. The kids are on spring break and had hoped for an adventure and Mr. Sundberg had the energy for it this time around. I have a need to catch up on paperwork and bills and such, so off they went for three days in the northland.

And what do you know? The snow I've been secretly wishing for started coming down on Monday, and kept coming down for a good 18 hours. I say "secretly" because just about everyone around is commenting on how "spring is just around the corner" and updating neighbors on the progress of the lilies and the daffodils and irises -- all bulbed and sprouting and reaching toward sunny, butterflied days we can't see. Still around the corner.

When it comes to seasons, spring is the quiet sister. You've got summer with its hazy stretch of laze and sun and hammocks and books, dozing on the dock, mowing lawns and diving into rivers. I love the burning colors, the wood smoke scents, the gathering tables and orchards of autumn, and the reason I live here when you add the fury and wildness of winter, snow piled high and blowing, the sharpened definition of "cozy", the sense of impending survival mode. And spring, to me, is a restorative walk in the park, the planting, baskets of eggs, and the great prep time for the rest of it. Spring is a cool shower, the scent of rain, mud holes and the ascent of spiders on the windowpanes. Spring is WormFest, hazy green fields, berries and fluffy salads with pineapple and coconut and lime.

So much freshness and clarity and green. Which is why I keep secret, most years, my late-winter wish for just one more storm. Bring it on, dark skies, and cover the house with snow. Blanket the drive so I can't get out, and release Time awhile so I might bake, and pay a few bills, and dust the shelves that have gathered a layer, and putter and putz. Let me run across a documentary by chance, something on the suffragettes or black mambas or the giant squid no one ever sees. Or a love story I watched when I was younger and less wise, or the biography of Dolly Madison, or Roosevelt, or Rosa Parks or Rasputin. Give me a small stretch of time for a nap late in the day, and please let there be syrup in the fridge. French toast would be good as the day sifts into night. Yes, some French toast, and lit candles, and a text or two, or a call even, from the children, out romping in the twilit snow on a frozen lake somewhere out there, to the north, in this land of seasons I love.

Important things often come full circle, to a familiar place, and it's that way with baking. I try all kinds of new things here and there, but return, inevitably, to a good pan of bars. It's a sure, simple thing. Much like rain, and summer vacation, and being touched on the cheek by someone you love. These bars are easy, and won't last long, but that's fine. You can always make more.

Oatmeal Bars

4 cups quick oats
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter

Mix quick oats, butter and sugars together and press flat in 9 x 13 cake pan, lightly greased. Bake at 350-375 degrees for 12 minutes, give or take a minute. Heat chocolate chips and peanut butter together. Spread evenly over crust, and refrigerate bars until the chocolate is solid and you can't wait any longer.

Enjoy!

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