I pulled out my Grandma’s United Farm Women of Alberta cookbook, 1946 edition, which is a collection of recipes their members had submitted for publication in the cookbook. It was a well-used cookbook in Gram’s kitchen, with newspaper clippings taped inside the cover and little notes and splatters in the margins. I even found an old bingo card as a bookmark! You have to respect the cooks from her day, working from the old style of recipe notation: no method, just the ingredients. Why take up paper writing out stuff everyone knew how to do! Also, no oven temperatures were given because a lot of people did not have a dial to set – they were burning wood, coal or dried cow pats in their ovens.
After some browsing, I decided to make the date loaf, but I had to laugh at the amount of butter listed as the size of an egg. Was that a pullet egg or a jumbo? I guessed at somewhere in between and chose 2 Tbsp. I also saw the jar of candied ginger beside the jar of dates and decided I would give Mrs. Fuller’s original recipe a bit a of kick by adding 1/2 cup of the ginger in place of the nuts.
Here is my updated version, with a few more instructions, though my kids sometimes complain I don’t include as many as I should.
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. butter
Combine and let sit for 30 minutes or more.
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups flour
Add the sugar, egg and salt to the mixture, stirring well. Add the flour and stir just enough to combine.
Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle of the loaf.