Monday, 25 March 2013

Meat-free Monday: Oliver's Date Loaf

Some of the best recipes are not those found in the glossy pages of coffee-table worthy recipe books, but are those that earn their reputation through good ol' fashioned tried-and-tasted, then requested, recipes - handed down through generations, or around social circles, becoming known as 'Aunt Alice's pudding' or 'Granny Iris' Granadilla Tart'. And invariably, a recipe is eventually passed along so that no one actually knows who Aunt Alice or Granny Iris actually is (or was), but one never-ever changes the name. It would be like plagiarism, stealing the glory, passing it off as your own. And God knows, if it was your own, there's your reputation to uphold, massive pride when it is that your curry or cupcake is the stuff of urban legend, so each time you write it down to pass it along, you proudly stake your claim with your name in the title.

And so, I've grown up with today's recipe - Jean's Date Loaf - named after my mum's best friend in South Africa. We have a big culture of 'kuiering' in South Africa - it means to visit another's home, to pop in, sometimes at short notice or even unannounced, and then to often stay - a cup of tea turns into a long afternoon with many brews, a sundowner turns into staying for dinner. Jean's Date Loaf is perfect for those occasions, since it's quickly whipped up in the microwave - so with even the shortest possible lead time, there is something to present to company.

Yet this weekend something big happened. Rules were broken. Jean's Date Loaf is no longer.

What could have happened to break with tradition? 

My Super Fairy Godson, Oliver, that's what. 
I received an email from Jean herself with the subject line 'Oliver's Date Loaf.'

It's insane to think Oliver has only been here a year, since he's managed to capture most all of our hearts - including those who meet him just once. This past weekend, my friend Kirst took globe-trotting Ollie, who has racked up more airmiles in his first year than most, to meet my mom at mom's friend Jean's home. (Kuiering extends to inviting friends of friends to friends. It really is one of our weirdest and most welcoming of South African traditions). It's such a relief to me to have friends drop in on my mom, and then report back - and she likes it too, having known most of my friends for more than half their lives, so she delights in their little ones, particularly since her grandchildren are so far away.

Jean served up tea and her date loaf - and apparently Ollie seemed to like my mom but *loved* the date loaf.

Given that he's only the happiest and sweetest kid on the planet, 48 hours away from his first birthday (expect more Oliveresque posts this week) it's no wonder that the adults saw this as the highest form of approval - and so, going forward, whether his momma makes it or not, the bet is that date loaf will never again be served up without chat about how much Ollie enjoyed it & how absolutely adorable he is... 

...which I'm sure he'll be delighted about when he's a rugby-playing teenager,
trying to get his own dates.


Oliver's Date Loaf (with comments by his superfairygodmum Carly in italics)
Yields 10-12 Servings

250g stoned dates
50g  margarine/butter - ugh, not even flies like margarine, use butter
160g brown sugar
200 ml water
4 ml bicarbonate of soda
1 large beaten egg
210g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
20g  nuts (optional) - but advisable
  • Cut dates in pieces
  • Mix dates, butter, sugar and water in large mixing bowl. Cook in microwave for 5 minutes on medium.  Stir after 3 minutes.
  • Add bicarbonate of soda.
  • Allow mixture to stand and cool down for 2 minutes.
  • Add beaten egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla to the cooled mixture then add sifted dry ingredients and stir it thoroughly
  • Grease an oblong loaf dish 22 x 12 cm and line with paper towel.  Pour mixture into pan.
  • Bake in Microwave for 6 – 8 minutes on medium.


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