Alvena Barnes of Bellingham married her husband at Christmas in 1949. Art was serving in the U.S. Navy and in January or February of 1950 he was on a destroyer for anti-submarine warfare training. She says she baked these bars and packed the probably still warm cookies into a coffee can and mailed it to him.
After he received them, he stuffed a few into his pocket before going on watch. The captain came along, sniffed, and accused Art of having alcohol. Art offered him a cookie. By the time the mail had reached the ship the dates had fermented!
"We have them every Christmas. This year we are celebrating our 61st anniversary," she says.
OATMEAL DATE BARS
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1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
11/4 cups oatmeal (old style)
1 pound dates (about 21/2 cups)
11/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 cup water
Combine brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, softened butter and soda.
Cook dates, sugar and water together; add 1 tablespoon butter.
Layer half of oatmeal mixture in 8- by 8-inch pan.
Top oatmeal layer with layer of cooked date mixture.
Top date layer with remaining oatmeal mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.