Learned a new word today: drupe. A drupe is what botanists call a fruit whose outer fleshy part surrounds an inner shell, pit or stone. A peach is a good example of a drupe as is a plum. A date is a drupe too. I found out some other things about dates too like:
- Dates come from plants called date palms, which were brought to America’s Western coast by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700s.
- Medjool dates, which originated in Morocco, were introduced in the U.S. in 1927 when 11 shoots were placed in quarantine in Nevada for seven years. The nine plants that survived were taken to Southern California in 1935, where 24 offshoots were planted in 1944.
- Reportedly the most labor intensive to grow and harvest, medjools are not only one of the most prominent varieties – they are the only one that can be picked and eaten fresh.
- Wild dates can still be found in Jordan and at the border between Iran and Iraq (foodie road trip!)
The more you know. The only time I’ve ever really eaten a date is when they were stuffed with gorgonzola, wrapped with prosciutto and then baked (a thumbs up appetizer for sure). But otherwise, I’ve been as dateless as a Dungeon Master. When I found out today is Date Nut Bread Day, I imagined something akin to a fruit cake. However always the celebrator, I pushed on. I searched the web and found a recipe from the kind folks at King Arthur Flour.
I have to give them credit, King Arthur knows how to write a good recipe. The page is clean and easy to follow. The instructions are clear and the give you extra tips too that explain some of the ingredients. Plus there’s a hotline to call in case you get in trouble. All in all, I would give them an A+ for presentation and I’d be happy to use their recipes again (I believe they are local folks from Vermont).
The recipe for Date Nut Bread was simple enough to throw together too. The dates were my only concern as I found out that they are hard to chop because they get very sticky. Plus the dates I was using still had the pits in them (damn drupes!). So after depitting them, I chopped them up, but it wasn’t the fine chop I wanted and I was afraid the chunks of dates in the bread would be too big. Everything else was pretty standard although it did have me add a hot cup of coffee and a tablespoon of vodka to the batter, so I wasn’t sure exactly where the recipe was going.
It game out looking pretty good and after it cooled a bit, slid right out of the loaf pan – always a plus. When it was still warm, I sliced off an end piece and dabbed some butter on it just for a quick taste. It was pretty good, so I was pleased with my work.
Later, after dinner I tempted Lola with a piece too. I decided to grill up two pieces with some butter so the outside would get nice and crispy. That took a few minutes. When it was done, I put them on plates and scooped out some vanilla ice cream on top. Lola seemed excited when I presented it to her. After a few bites, she kind of had the same feeling about it as I did: it would be great except for the dates. As I had worried, the dates came out too and when you got a chunk of them in your bite, it would overpower everything. We agreed that had it been chopped more finely, it would have changed things for the better. Everything else was great. The bread was nice and moist plus the walnuts added a little depth to each bite. I’d say a minor success but still a successful celebration.
Today was also National Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Day too and while I didn’t celebrate it (we thought about bringing some cookies or goodies to the folks at Hasbro Children’s Hospital), it seems like it should be something that deserves our every gratitude. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go to work every day and to be immersed in that kind of disease in children. Thankfully, the world has kind souls that do just that. So thank you to all the oncology and hematology nurses out there for all you do and for all the smiles you bring to those who need it the most. I have a Date Nut Bread for you if you want it, and a thousand thank yous as well.
Next Up: National Wiener Schnitzel Day