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Conquering Homesickness: Bake the Day a Little Sweeter

Homesickness has hit me hard this year. Don’t get me wrong––I love my life in Winona and it’s been really exciting to come back for a second year, but that doesn’t mean it’s been an easy transition. After such a great summer spent at home with family and friends, it was really hard to come back to a place I’d hardly been to in 3 months. 

I’ve had a good (and busy) start to the academic year, but sometimes it’s been challenging to stay motivated when it seems like my life is nearly 200 miles away. Thankfully, I’ve been able to overcome some of these notions by bringing a bit of home to Winona.

During my last trip home, I was given a copy of my grandma’s cookbook. When it was first published in 2010, she printed a copy for each grandchild to be given when they were an adult. My mom found it when she was cleaning and decided it was time for me to take my copy to my new home. 

My grandma passed away over the summer, so it was bittersweet to unwrap the cookbook from her characteristic packing tape-enclosed wrapping and read the personalized note inside. As soon as I got back to Winona, I bought the ingredients for one of my favorite recipes of hers and got to work on bringing a little bit of Grandma’s legacy to Winona.

I was a little nervous to tackle Grandma’s peanut butter fudge; my mom had told me it might not turn out right the first time, but I was willing to give it a try. Grandma always made it for our Christmas Eve celebration; and although it’s not December, I figured fudge can be comforting any time of year.

One night when my roommates were out, I got around to baking the fudge. After a short time mixing and then an even longer time waiting, the fudge was done. When I placed the first piece in my mouth, I was surprised to taste that it was perfect. The fudge tasted just like a Christmas Eve party at Grandma’s house.

I was excited to share it with my roommates who now love it just as much as I do. Although making fudge may not perfectly cure your homesickness, I was excited to bring a little bit more of my life, my family, and those I love and remember into my new home.

Check out my grandma’s recipe below:

Grandma Strohbehn’s Peanut Butter Fudge


  • 2 C. white sugar
  • ⅔ C. milk
  • 1 pt. marshmallow creme
  • 1 C. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Cook in a 3-quart saucepan. Combine sugar and milk in a saucepan and cook while stirring to a soft ball stage (234ºF). Remove from heat. In a warm mixing bowl, combine marshmallow creme, peanut butter, and vanilla. Add cooked syrup and mix well. Pour into a buttered 9” square pan. Cut into 2” squares when almost cool. Makes about 24 pieces.

Baked goods may not fix everything, but baking can be cathartic. Maybe try making one of your favorite recipes from home or try my grandma’s fudge. Either way, I hope it makes your day a little bit sweeter.

Brianna Strohbehn is a junior at Winona State University and a small-town girl from central Iowa. Brianna is studying English, double majoring in writing and applied and professional writing with hopes of someday becoming an editor at a publishing firm. When she isn't writing, Brianna enjoys thrifting, reading, exploring her new home in Winona, and spending time with family and friends.
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