Sunday, October 9, 2016

Safeway Chocolate Date Nut Squares and the Full Hunter’s Moon, by Margaret Ullrich

Wishing my Canadian readers a very Happy Thanksgiving, a Happy Columbus Day to readers in the United States, and a nice week to everyone else!

Yes, I'm preparing Ma's bacon covered turkey, Maltese style.
Would you really expect me to cook a Thanksgiving turkey any other way?

Today would have been my Ma’s 94th birthday. Ma died about a week after her birthday in 2009. It was an answer to her prayers. My parents had married in 1948 and immigrated to America in 1950. Pop died in January, 2009. Pop's last years hadn't been good, what with heart and kidney problems, arthritis and diabetes. Their days had become an endless round of doctors' visits. Ma also hated the winter weather in New York and always said she'd dreaded facing them. 

During one of my parents' visits, Vince Leah and his wife died within hours of each other. Since Paul had worked with Vince at The Free Press, he had gone to the funeral. I remember Ma saying how lucky Mrs. Leah was, and that she would want to go the same way, too.

I started this blog a few days after Ma died. During her later years she had gotten interested in cooking, and we sent each other recipes, both old favourites and new finds. This blog became a way to keep up that tradition.

Instead of receiving clippings from Ma, I now get emails from readers. My last post was for ‘Our Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies’. Among the hints I mentioned that if you don’t like walnuts, leave them out. Well, The email I received was about the flip side of the nut coin. Did I have another cookie recipe that uses walnuts?

Yes, I do, thanks to the recipe that was on the back of the 1 Kg bags of walnuts, which I used to be able to find at Safeway’s. Yes, it was another staple that Sobeys, in its infinite wisdom, decided to discontinue. It was described as a delightful dessert with chocolate and nuts in every bite.
Sobeys doesn’t carry the large bags of nuts anymore.
And yet Sobeys stays in business…


Once a package of walnuts is open, refrigerate or freeze the nuts to retain freshness.

If you’re curious, 1 Kg of walnut pieces equals approximately 8 1/2 Cups.

Toasting nuts intensifies their flavour. To toast the nuts, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350º F for 8 to 12 minutes, stirring once. Watch carefully, as they can burn quickly.

If you want another date recipe, you could also bake a batch of 

As you can see, it’s also easy to go through dates and walnuts during the holidays!

                        Chocolate Date Nut Squares

Makes 54 squares

Grease a 9 x 13 inch cake pan    


In a bowl combine
1 Cup pitted dates, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pour over the dates
1 1/2 Cups boiling water
Stir and set aside to cool.

Sift together
1 1/2 Cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda 

In a large mixer bowl beat
2 large eggs
1/2 Cup butter or margarine, softened
1 Cup sugar
Beat until well blended.
Stir in the cooled dates and liquid.
Stir in the flour mixture.
The batter will be thin and rummy.
Pour the batter into the greased pan.

Preheat oven to 350º F

Combine in a small bowl
1/2 Cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven, cool and cut into squares.

About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac

Just as darkness falls, look for the Draconid Meteor shower, also known as the Giacobinids. Look to the northwest, near Polaris, the North Star, to find the constellation Draco, the Dragon, which is the radiant of this shower. Normally meteor showers are best viewed after midnight, but not in this case — head outside in the early evening!

October 9 — First Quarter Moon, 12:33 a.m. 

October 12 — Fall is a great time to view Sirius, the Dog Star, part of the Constellation Canis Major. Look to the southeastern sky where it rises after midnight, or find it in the southern sky before dawn. An easy way to find Sirius is to locate Orion’s belt and follow it in a straight line down to Sirius.

October 16 —  Full Hunter’s Moon, astronomically full at 12:23 a.m. 
Watch this short video on how the Hunter’s Moon got its name! The full Hunter’s Moon is at perigee, meaning its closest point to Earth for the month.

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