Who says you could never come home again? Maybe not to 1984 in the kitchen in Alhambra CA with my four siblings and baba making the bread for the Sunday liturgy, but the smell of bread rising, always triggers the memory of what it was like growing up with the privilege of being nurtured by a classic Serbian homemaker. What makes a good homemaker? In my opinion, one that welcomes all walks of life and makes each one of them feel at home. The magic of Baba’s hospitable touch is that it has had a way of bringing people back home, which resulted in her universal popularity from one parish home to the next. She earned this “hostess with the mostest” reputation not only with the food that she makes but by recreating the cozy village lifestyle of Serbia, one which honed many of her most cherished characteristics, homemaker first and foremost, but also a friendly neighbor, in fact it’s more than just a sense of community, it’s like a big family. To this day, Baba rarely visits her across the street neighbors empty handed. One of her catch phrases is “daj im” which means “give them” and in return for her kind and generous nature she would come home with jars of pickled cabbage or other culinary treats. Essentially, farmers markets are generated wherever she goes, and with little effort, because for Baba Rada, its a way of life. I remember coming home and finding boxes of figs or avocados on the kitchen island, a sign of appreciation from a parishioner. Baba’s long-time friends Felix and Gabriella who live nearby and often visit her home, grow their own organic peppers and various other vegetables, such as tomatoes & cucumbers. Felix, also makes his own wine and brings over a jug on occasion. We always shared our life with our friends and neighbors. There were many gifts received from friends of the church who considered our family’s presence to go hand in hand with churchlife. Following our Baba’s zest for life in the form of nurturing we took her lead and brought life to the parish home. I called my mom yesterday to ask her to look through our family photo albums at their house in Chicago for some pictures that I could incorporate into the blog. We got onto the topic of baba’s recipes and my mom said “well, we just made stuffed peppers”, a classic Serbian dish and one that Baba prepared so well. I literally responded with “mmmmm”, trying to recall that smell that we often woke up to on a cold fall or winter morning. Although my refrigerator is stocked with Trader Joe’s prepackaged fresh food, I decided to make punjine paprike myself.