Saturday, October 29, 2016

#Write31Days: 29 • date


5 Minutes about Dates and another Recipe

I always default to thinking all the palm trees in southern California must be date palms, but that's only partly true. Date palms were the first variety introduced to the region; the fan palm is the only native californian palm tree. I did some research and discovered:
Only phoenix dactylifera – the true "date palm" produces the large edible dates that are cultivated and sold today. There are hundreds of named varieties of phoenix dactylifera date palms, and one of the most famous is the large soft Medjool date palm, while the most widely grown date is the semi-dry Deglet Noor date palm. Phoenix dactylifera date palms have been cultivated since the beginning of recorded history. The name of the ancient land of Phoenicia actually means "land of palms," and many ancient Phoenician coins have images of date palms!

Date palms are mentioned in the bible, and their leaves were carried as symbols of victory by kings thousands of years ago. Date palm leaves were also used to hail Jesus during His entry into Jerusalem. Today Christians have Palm Sunday, and Muslims break their Ramadan fast each night by eating a date. Islam regards the date palm tree as the tree of life, and ancient traditions place it in the Garden of Eden.
The entire article is fascinating.

Continuing my own commentary: you know about quick breads that essentially are great big gigantic muffin loaves? One of my favorite quick breads is my late grandmother's recipe for Coffee Date (Nut) Bread. I never imagined it was her-very-own creation, but the number of hits for it I found online still amazed me! I enjoy it with cream cheese, and even more so spread generously with butter. Another pleasure-filled date memory is the date-banana shakes I used to get at the roadside shake, malt, burger, and smoothie shop some afternoons on my way back home after jogging on the beach. "Some afternoons" it had to be, because I know it was majorly calorific.

Especially for fairly mature guys, Hawaiian shirts are popular in southern California. What images, pictures, etc. typically romp around on Hawaiian shirts? Palm trees, old-fashioned woody type station wagons, ocean waves, hibiscus, surfboards, starfish, flip-flops, other sandals—I'd guess palm trees outrank everything else, and they'd need to be date palms.



Coffee Date Bread

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-1/2" x 4-1/2" loaf pan.

Ingredients

• 2 cups chopped dates
• 4 tablespoons softened butter
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• ⅔ to ¾ cup brown sugar
• 1 cup strong hot brewed or instant coffee
• 1 large egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• 1-¾ cups Unbleached all-purpose or unbleached flour
• 1 cup finely or coarsely chopped walnuts or other tree nuts, if desired

Instructions

• Place dates, butter, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Pour the hot coffee into the bowl, stirring to combine.
• Allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.

• Add the egg, vanilla,, baking powder, and flour, beating gently until smooth. Stir in the walnuts.
• Pour the batter into the pan, gently tapping the pan on the counter to settle the batter.
• Bake the bread for 45 to 55 minutes, tenting the loaf gently with foil after 30 minutes, to prevent over-browning. Remove the bread from the oven when a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, or an instant-read thermometer reads about 200°F.
• After 10 minutes, gently turn the bread out of the pan onto a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap tightly, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

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