Should I Use the Good China?

The other day Jim mentioned that a friend of his was coming over and they would be jamming together on their guitars. Could I make a treat for them to munch on? How about something healthy like date bars? Putting aside the question as to whether date bars are “healthy” or not, I confess that the thought crossed my mind to provide a bag of Funyons and be done with it. Life is hurried and time is short, and taking the easy way out when it comes to entertaining is tempting. Still, I love to bake, and a request for date bars was like waving a red flag in front of a bull, and right after the seditious Funyons thought, I began mulling over which recipe to use. I would like to say I used my Grandma’s Date Bar recipe, except that I can clearly recall her using a Betty Crocker mix. I have a library of cookie cookbooks (see photo), and after wading through an ocean of date bar recipes in the books and on the Internet, I found the following at, contributed by Helen Cluts. I made the bars and let them sit overnight. The next day, I was tempted to serve in the pan, but something made me cut the bars neatly and then arrange them on a pretty china plate.

Life being what it is, who knows whether Jim’s friend might have actually preferred Funyons, but I don’t think so. (See photo of plate.) As modern people, we seem a little uncomfortable with the small ceremonies that can grace meeting and greeting, but I think offering something homemade gives a special welcome, a culinary “namaste” to the guest. And these crunchy, buttery bars, ribboned with date jam do the honors nicely.

Cookbook Library

I would like to say that these date bars are good keepers, except that Jim and I fell on them like famished wolves the next day, so who knows?

Oatmeal Date Bars

1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten (original recipe called for 1 egg white)
Combine the dates, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is thickened, about five minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in the butter and egg until blended. Pat half of the mixture into a greased, 8-inch square baking pan. Spread with date mixture. Gently pat remaining oat mixture over date mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and cut into bars.

9 thoughts on “Should I Use the Good China?

  1. Oh, wow – you said “namaste”! “The divine in you greets the divine in me.” It’s a beautiful sentiment that I just heard for the first time at my church a few months ago. I don’t think it’s well known. Namaste!

    P.S. Go for the good china!

    1. When I say it was “good china,” of course it came from a garage sale!

      I have taken yoga on and off for years, and that’s where I learned “namaste.”

      1. Garage sale china is the best kind – beautiful with age and inexpensive. I love the old fashioned muted rose and blue hues.

        Have you noticed how almost every estate sale has the owner’s china set for sale? It’s almost always gorgeous, too. But, I’m a sucker for old things . . .

  2. Fran,
    The “good china” is such a nice touch. You are so right that the small ceremonies in life are lent a small bit of grace by adding small touches. Your dishes are beautiful and the bars look amazingly delicious. I will try them soon. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. In my home, “good china” is synonymous with Polish pottery. I swear, no matter what is served on a piece of this patterned pottery with the deep blue background, its status is elevated. Whether it’s a simple sandwich, a salad, or a dish I’ve spent hours preparing, it all looks more appetizing on a beautiful serving dish.

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