date squares; humble but delicious – happy anniversary

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com

Date Squares are a humble sweet and perfect for our anniversary.

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com

Not my wedding anniversary but rather this site’s anniversary – you and me. April 4, 2015 marked my fourth year of cooking, writing, photographing and sharing my life with you. What started as a way for me to survive my daughters leaving home has morphed into a full-time commitment. A daily discipline of expression through self-taught art forms. I’m blessed to have the love and support of gifted chefs, writers and photographers who gently but diligently offer guidance and inspiration.

Four years ago, it took me the better part of a day to put up a post consisting of a few lines of text, a couple of pictures and a recipe. Looking back at that work, I realize those hours of frustration were less about my inexperience and all about filling my day with possibility. I was drowning in emptiness. The vacancy in my home, after my daughters moved away, was a metaphor for the dark chasm in my chest.

My blog was a life line; the tow rope I used to haul myself back into the light. Consumed with learning how to blog kept me focused on discovery, rather than grieving the end of my daughters’ childhood. Sharing family memories from when they were little, as part of my preamble to the recipe, was nostalgically therapeutic. Devoting time, every day, to retell precious moments from their younger lives soothed the lack of their daily presence in my life. Somewhere along the journey, I realized the larger part of my sadness was losing the role that had defined me for so long; being a mom. A hands-on, in your face, elbows-off-the-table kind of mom. When I figured out that the girls hadn’t fired me, they’d simply given me a new job description, I felt all my bits settle back into place. Once grounded, I threw myself into the art of food blogging.

Each component of food blogging is a production unto itself. Cooking requires research, food shopping, recipe testing and recipe writing. Writing. Writing is tough. Beyond the recipe, I often share a story. Spelling, grammar and punctuation is made easy, despite my many errors, with the help of ‘spell-check’. It’s the exposing of one’s life to an unknown audience that scares the poop shit out of me. I think and speak in schizophrenic order. Stringing letters into words into sentences into a story, worthy of your time, is unnatural for me. The most helpful piece of advice, related to my writing, came from a dear friend of mine who happens to be a doctor of English,  “Be a stranger to your work.” Essentially, write it, leave it alone then read it later to see if it says what you want it to. Often, my work doesn’t. I work hard to pull the story out of the jumbled mass of words on my computer screen. Like anything, if you want to develop, you need to practice. I practice, happily, every day.

The final component of a food blog post is the photography. Food photography is a drug. I think about/crave it twenty-four-seven. I rarely look at food, now, without composing a shot in my head. It’s like living a duel existence; one of me is living my life while the other me is looking in through a camera lens. A great photographer friend of mine looked at one of my shots, a couple of years ago, and said, “I want to see more of the story.” I was gob-smacked. My pictures, also, had the power to tell the story. Who knew? Not me, certainly. Until that moment, I’d only considered close-ups of what-ever I was cooking. More often than not, all you got from me, was a macro shot of a peppercorn. Telling part of my story with photography allows me to show you the magic of food through my eyes. I love it.

And so, four years of grinding, frustrating, deeply gratifying moments of work lands us here, celebrating another year together. The privilege of having you spend time, with me, is not something I take for granted. Your interest in my work blows me away and inspires me to continue.

Happy Anniversary.

To celebrate, I’m sharing a humble but delicious DATE SQUARE recipe. XO

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com
DATE SQUARES
16 squares

Oat Crumb

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups rolled quick oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature

Date Filling

1 pound dates, pitted and chopped coarsely
Hot water
¼ cup brown sugar, add more if you like a sweeter filling

date squares;humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com
THE STEPS:

  • Preheat oven to 350*F.

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  • Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  • Stir in oats – the mixture should resemble course crumbs.

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com

  • For the date filling; combine chopped dates and enough hot water to cover the dates in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and cook, stirring often until dates are soft and begin to thicken.

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com

  • Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com

  • Spoon the date filling over the bottom crust.
  • Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over the date filling.

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com

  • Gently pat down the topping with your fingers or the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and golden.
  • Cool completely and cut into squares.

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com
THE LOVE: Make sure you check your dates for pits even if the package says that they are pitted. My pack was loaded!

date squares; humble but delicious - happy anniversary / bitebymichelle.com
old-fashioned date squares
Print
AUTHOR:
Yield: 16 squares
INGREDIENTS
  • Oat Crumb
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups rolled quick oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • Date Filling
  • 1 pound dates, pitted and chopped coarsely
  • Hot water
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
THE STEPS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Stir in oats - the mixture should resemble course crumbs.
  5. For the date filling; combine chopped dates and enough hot water to cover the dates in a saucepan.
  6. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and cook, stirring often until dates are soft and begin to thicken.
  7. Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.
  8. Spoon the date filling over the bottom crust.
  9. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over the date filling.
  10. Gently pat down the topping with your fingers or the back of a wooden spoon.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and golden.
  12. Cool completely and cut into squares.
THE LOVE:
Make sure you check your dates for pits even if the package says that they are pitted. My pack was loaded!

 

  • Joe

    THE BEST DATE SQUARES IN THE WORLD your images are improving each and every day.

  • Sandra Bell

    “the girls hadn’t fired me, they’d simply given me a new job description”: love this line, and love date squares! Thanks for all your hard work! Happy Anniversary!

  • Janice

    I’ve loved your blog since the beginning! Keep going – I’ve learned so much! It’s been wonderful to witness the evolution of your photography as well. I love the stories and the recioes (even when the food scares me and I have to google the ingredients!!!)

    • Hi Janice, so lovely to hear from you! Thanks so much for your encouragement. XO

  • Debbie, thank you so much for reaching out. There are so many times after I’ve published a post that I wonder if what I’m saying resonates. People don’t often leave comments so I’m never sure. Your kind words mean the world to me. Thank you.

  • Elizabeth

    Congratulations on your anniversary. I love your site and often share it with others who are stuck in the kitchen looking for simple delicious dishes.

  • Elizabeth

    PS served up your candied bacon recipe yesterday and it was a huge hit!

  • Lori

    Happy Anniversary Michelle ~ I still remember how I found your blog via Pinterest. I was pleasantly surprised that your were from “down the road” and added you to my reading list immediately. I so enjoy your recipes and your stories and your photographs too. Cheers to another year.

  • Kaitlin Doherty

    So lovely