Saturday, April 5, 2008

Food Talk: Dates

I love dates. Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree. I don't let myself buy them often because once I eat one I eat a lot of them :-) I also enjoy using date sugar, which is sugar produced from dates. There's a wonderful article about the cherished date palm at the following link:

Even though I grew up in a poor rural area in northern New York state in the 1950's, we were no stranger to dates. We used them once a year for our Christmas cooking, where we could invest in making a favorite expensive dessert in celebration of the holiday. My mother baked what is called a bar cookie, called a "refresher." Bar cookies are cookies that have a consistency more like a cake and cut in a bar (narrow rectangular) shape. They are usually the size and consistency of like a soft brownie that is cut into finger shape rather than squares. Anyway, the bulk of the refresher cookie was diced dates and walnuts mixed with flour and sugar. The taste was absolutely amazing. Each bar was frosted with a vanilla butter frosting flavored with grated orange rind, and topped with a green or a red maraschino cherry. They were our family's favorite once a year dessert treat. We could not afford to make it more than once a year so we all looked forward to them being a regular treat at Christmas time. I have the recipe in storage, though I've not been able to make them for many years, due to the churning of my livelihood and my continual relocation to places not conducive to making a home and festivities. Anyway, enjoy the article, it is very touching.

Another GREAT article about dates, emphasizing its importance in Islam tradition and healthy life.