A notice would go home for make-up picture day sometime in late September. It was sent before picture day itself had even been mentioned or occurred. This piece of paper, like all dittos, would get crumpled up and bunched down into my backpack. As the dreaded day drew near I would become worried. What if I missed picture day and then by some stroke of terrible luck, missed make-up picture day?? What if there was an announcement about it while I was in the bathroom washing my hands at the trough sink? What if my bus was late? What if I got lice? What if the Life Touch people couldn’t make it to make up picture day at my school? The thought was almost too much to bear. Do they hand out plastic disposable combs at make-up picture day? Would they be able to superimpose me into the class photo? I HAD TO BE IN THE CLASS PHOTO.
I’m pretty sure I never missed picture day. I came close to perfect attendance in the early days of grammar school, before I started getting teased and bullied so badly I’d stay home with stomach aches and long before I started skipping periods to drive around town trying to find somewhere more interesting to go. There had to be a record and ritual. Standing in line with my classmates, in the hallway near the library, with a different sort of anticipation than waiting to be checked for poor hearing or scoliosis, practicing how I would arrange my hair over one shoulder and smile without showing any teeth, fidgeting. I didn’t want to be left out. There were so many new rules and things to remember. I wanted to write it all down. But then I’d forget.
Fall is full of pleasures but also anxieties. A new teacher and the coming winter. A long year ahead of shorter days and dark nights. There are a million reasons to make this dip as an appetizer or snack. Sunday afternoon football games, Saturday night family pot luck, to serve before a holiday meal or at a Friday night gathering of the girls complete with silly cocktails like cider sangria. But I like the idea of making it for a person who needs a hug after a long day in the trenches. Third grade can be the trenches. So can an office job or graduate school. This dip basically a hug filled with cream cheese and served with toast points. Share it with someone you love.
- 10 pieces of bacon, cut crosswise into small strips
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 8 oz brick of cream cheese, cut into pieces
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon garlic sauce (toum)
- 1 16 oz container fresh baby spinach
- 1 6.5 oz jar artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 baguette
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a large skillet cook bacon pieces over medium heat, 8-10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a paper towel, reserving 1 tablespoon bacon fat in the pan. Add onion and cook until softened, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the flour and cook, 1 minute. Add cream cheese, milk, sour cream, garlic sauce, spinach, and artichoke hearts to the pan. Turn down the heat and work the mixture together until the spinach is wilted and everything is incorporated. Season with nutmeg and cayenne. Stir in parmesan cheese and bacon. Spread into a baking dish.
- Bake 15 minutes then move to the broiler to brown the top. Allow the dish to stand 5-10 minutes before serving with sliced baguette.