I met up with Mr. Shuffler in Toronto last weekend so my mother graciously offered to take care of my needy, co-dependent cats for the weekend. (True story: Last week, I was sitting on the couch working with Zest curled up next to me. When I got up to use the bathroom, she came with me, waited outside the door and then trotted back to the couch with me where we resumed our respective positions). Anyway, when I got home, there was four raisin buns and a container of date squares in my fridge. Best catsitter ever, right?
My Mum has been making these date squares as far back as I can remember. When I asked her for the recipe, she told me that she can remember her mother making these when my Mum was a little girl.
Edited to add: When I spoke to my mother this afternoon, she told me that in fact, this recipe was created by my great-great aunt Alma, who was the director of Home Economics at the Department of Agriculture in New Brunswick in the 1940s. Very cool story, Mum.
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
3 cups oatmeal
1 cup butter or margarine (melted)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix dry ingredients together.
Add melted butter and work together with a fork or your fingers
In a saucepan combine:
1/2 lbs. chopped dates (that’s about 2 cups)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp, flour
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cups water
Cook on the stove top until the dates are softened.
If the mixture is too thick, add a little more water
Put about 1/2 of the oatmeal mixture in an 8 X 8 glass baking dish and press down lightly. Add the date mixture on top and spread evenly over the bottom layer. Top with remaining oatmeal mixture. Pat down lightly.
Cook in 350 oven for 45 to 50 minutes.
I always melt my butter in the baking dish while the oven is heating to temperature. That way, I don’t have to grease the pan.
I also add a tablespoon of ground flax seed to the dry ingredients. That wasn’t included in the original recipe. Also included in the orginal recipe is 1 tsp. salt but because I use salted butter, I don’t bother with the additional salt.