I'm getting back on track. Alix is home! And since I'm staying at her house until I can move into my new apartment, we were able to spend the whole day together yesterday making scones, going to the market, eating MORE broccoli salad, making crisp, going to Libby's Grandmother's house for dinner, eating crisp. What a culinary day! and executed with such peace and ease.
But even before Alix arrived I was able to pull myself together and make some date squares. My friends Katie and Eric invited me for dinner and I thought they'd be a wonderful, travel friendly finale to the evening. We started with a homemade, homegrown tomato salsa on french bread toasted in the oven, accompanied by a glass of rather delicious Cabernet Sauvignon. Then, Eric grilled delicious pork tenderloin marinated in Katie's homemade barbecue sauce, sauteed zucchini and red pepper and cooked rice. The experience was spectacularly relaxing. I am beginning to feel very at home in this city that seems to be filling by the minute with new friends, while older friendships just continue growing, growing, growing. We ended with the date squares, devouring the sweet smooth filling, sandwiched in buttery oat crumble; we ate them licking our fingers, smacking our lips, slurping milk and wanting more - but our bellies were full.
Leigh, who I worked with all summer at the outdoors store and who now has left us to take on bigger and better things like climbing up mountains and teaching, was kind enough to share this coveted family recipe for date squares before she took off into the new blue. You can hold back as much as you like when you make date squares, replacing butter with sunflower seed oil, or sugar with honey, or not adding very much of either... I understand the sugar, but I think it's best if you don't hold back on the butter. It's kinda like the crisp recipe: if you don't use enough butter, you won't get a good crunchy crust. Date squares need a good crust.
as adapted from Leigh's grandmother (who I have never, sadly, met)
For these squares I used 1/2 canola oil and 1/2 butter for the amount of butter called for in the recipe, simply because I didn't have enough butter. I have a feeling that if you wanted to save your body from the horrifying toxins found in most canola oils, (like GMO modified everything, pesticides you name it etc), coconut oil would be a Delicious Substitute. Also, I added orange zest, but not enough, so I recommend finding yourself a thick-skinned orange and adding the zest to the crust and topping mixture. On another note, I definitely added all the sugar the recipe called for, but the next time I won't add it to the dates because dates are sweet enough already.
Alright Alright, here's the recipe:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
1 - 1 1/2 C chopped dates (use more for a thicker filling)
1 C water (orange juice)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
(some salt if you want)
1 C brown sugar
1 1/2 C oatmeal
1 C butter
- boil the dates and water (or with some orange juice) until thick and syrupy
- whisk together dry ingredients
- add butter (You can melt it and stir it in, or you can cut it in. I melted it because I was using oil as well.)
- use a square pan, or whatever else you find to bake this in, and pack in a good thick layer of the dry mixture (about half)
- pour the date filling over the crust
- sprinkle on the rest of the mixture (the other half)
Then, buy yourself some creme fraiche, if it's around at the grocery store, and dollop a bit of that delicious slightly sour but oh-so-creamy and rich on top.
Eat with a spoon!