Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas Tales

I have three families, my American family, in all it's traditions and quietness, the four sisters that accepted me so lovingly when I married into its fold. Now when my parents separated, neither family saw much of each other again and a split happened on many levels: my nephews have enough grand-parents for an army but anyway. On one side you have my dad's family, small and tight, we can always count on each other for everything. We travel together, we send each other jokes by emails and even in it's monastery atmosphere, we still manage to pop a few fart jokes during dinner. Now at my mom's house, it's radically different: Loud music, loud people, lots of children and laughter. My mother once said she stopped counting her cousins at 100 and lost count of them all, imagine that!

To summarize it: My American family serves Antipasto, my Dad's serves French cheeses and my mom serves cheeses from Quebec. (I see a pattern!) The love for good things and good people assemble us on an unconscious level and I'm happy to drive 8 hours in either directions to see these people.

Today, I'm home alone, cooking spag sauce for my Lovey and I pulled out a box of dates that I bought in Quebec on my last trip. Dates cost a lot less up there > Made in Iraq < (Imagine that). Now oatmeal date square is one of those recipes obscure in the USA, brought here by great-grand-mothers who came here during the first recession and recently rediscovered by my husband who absolutely LOVES these.

My uncle teased him by telling us a story (which I translated for Chris). First he glanced around to make sure grand-ma wasn't around (She was in the kitchen pouting because we picked my mom's fudge over hers in a blind tasting). “So when we were kids, we didn't have a lot of money, so your grand-ma's date squares were this thick.” he shows his fingers very close to each other. “She freaked when she saw the size of mine!” then he moved his hand like he was seizing a cheeseburger. At that point Chris's eyes were glowing with desire.

Needless to say he threw the dates in the cart as soon as he saw them at the store. I followed the recipe on the box and it was perfect. I hope you will try it and fall in love all over again with this healthy (?) treat. Enjoy!
Tasty tasty little black turds
Jaffa Oatmeal Date Squares

8 inch square Pyrex, lightly sprayed with Pam
500 gr of seedless dates
1 C of orange juice
¾ C softened butter
½ C lightly packed brown sugar
1 C of flour
2 C of rolled oats

Turn your oven to 350F while you prepare the rest.

1- On the stove top, place the dates and the juice in a casserole on medium heat, cover and stir every so often. Your goal is to obtain a thick paste, the dates will break up easily but be careful to not burn it, turn down the heat if it tries to boil. **Warning, the mixture will be VERY HOT, stir firmly but carefully**

2- Cut the butter in pea size morsel and with your hands, mix the dry ingredients with the butter until it forms crumbles, the best technique is to the rub the mix together between your hands like sand.

3- Push ¾ of the crumbles at the bottom of the mold and press firmly. Spread the date mixture on top of that and finally, sprinkle the rest of the crumble on top, press gently.

4- Put the Pyrex in the oven for 30 minutes until golden.
For the love of Dog, let is sit for at least 10 minutes before you cut it in squares. Dates become molten glue, not only does it stick to everything, it will BURN you. 
 This is Hungry Julie, wishing you a tasty and gooey good year!

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