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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

Where "Home" Comes From

September 13, 2013

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Been enjoying the shift from hot weather to breezy days and calm, cool nights. Sunsets have been especially golden and lovely, and the cicadas were going nonstop there for a while, sounding like the air being let out of summer. They've settled down, and the kids have a routine going, and I've been kind of fighting the urge to bake everything in my recipe book.

It's like that this time of year. The feeling of something ahead, of a time to put things in order and make sure the snow blower is in working order, and slowly put away the lawn ornaments and the chairs and clean out the birdfeeders. I have a deck project going. It somehow came undone after I stained it with colored stain last summer, and I had a shredded deck there for a while, but the power washing is done and sanding is under way. Thinking I can get to the staining early in the week. There is the annual window washing to do, too, and caulking in the bathrooms, and some painting around doors outside just to spruce things up.

Times like this I could feel a bit overwhelmed with the work it takes to maintain a house. But what I'm taken with is more a kind of humble feeling at how fortunate I am to have a house. Really. It's such a great thing to have windows to wash so we can see the birds and the trees and the neighbors' houses more clearly. I can take the sweetest naps on the living room rug, even sweeter after I vacuum up the pencil shavings and crumbs from the cookies the kids are supposed to eat in the kitchen. And moving around my kitchen after the counter has been wiped and the fridge cleaned out and the floor washed is such a feeling of having arrived, somehow. Or maybe it's simply comfort.

I think that's part of where "home" comes from. It's about who lives in your house, yes, and all the laughter and memories and meals together and so on. But a house becomes a home when you attend to it, when you fix the broken pieces and paint the peeling ones and redo the parts that aren't working so well anymore. It's part of that feeling when you return from a long time away and see the house, and think, "There it is. We're home." It's what makes winter less daunting: you have a house to prepare, and you get it all going, and when the snowstorm hits, you're warm and the house is secure. The big work has been done, and you can rest awhile because the furnace filter has been changed, and the windows are sealed properly, and the repairs on the radiators were successful and they're cranking out heat. You can sit while, in the evening by the fire whose chimney is soot free and good-to-go and look out the window at the snow falling and think how maybe next spring we'll start up the garden and plant some sugar snap peas this time around, and maybe some pumpkins, too, to carve out next fall.

So yes, there's work to be done. Good work. Work I feel blessed to have to do, in a house that has become a home.

There are days when there's not much in the cupboard for after-school snacks, and recipes like this are the answer. They're quick and reasonably healthful, and something that will make the kids say, "Yay!" when they get in off the bus. Or spouses, who have been at work and for whom dinner seems a long way off. Which it does, sometimes.

Spinach Dip

1 package vegetable dip/soup mix (I use Knorr)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayo
3 small green onions, chopped
10 oz frozen, chopped spinach -- thawed, rinsed, drained and squeezed

Combine above ingredients. Mix well. Chill 3 hours. Cut out center of an unsliced loaf of rye bread and fill with dip. Or simply cut bread into chunks, or shred as you eat. Substitute a small can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped, for the onions if you wish. Or throw 'em both in. Good with carrots, celery, crackers, too, as dippers.

Enjoy!

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