Saturday, September 5, 2009

Matrimonial Cakes and a giveaway

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I have a confession to make. I’ve been away for about a week and didn’t tell you. I thought it would be more fun to see if you could figure out where I’ve been (and still am).  Take a guess – not just the country, but take a stab at a smaller geographical region within the country. These cookies are a clue about the country. We stopped at a bakery to enjoy a cup of tea and a snack when I spotted these and they took me back 30 years. I first tasted them when my good friend Jan and I were next door neighbors. They’re really date squares, but they’re called “matrimonial cakes”  in the western part of the country where she’s from.  Another clue - I’m in the eastern part of that country.

We sat at an outdoor table eating them, and this was the view:

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Here are a few more pictures I snapped that might give you some idea of where I am (some subtle and not-so-subtle clues within the photos).

They catch a lot of fish here, including lobsters.

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This is a very photographed lighthouse in one of its towns:

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There are thousands of shipwrecks off the coast here because of the many hidden rocks under the water:

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There are lots of these birds here along the shores:

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And bald eagles too:

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Here’s some of the food I’ve been eating this week:

It’s easy to find shops here selling tartan plaid clothing:

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There are lots of sandy and pebbly beaches on this place. Here’s my husband with a watercolor painting he worked on for an hour or so the other day:

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This is the view on one of the many scenic drives here:

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Have you figured it out yet? If you don’t have a clue about where this is, not to worry. Just take a guess anyhow and leave a comment on the blog by Monday Sept. 7 no later than 10 pm EDT. I’ll pick one name at random and send the winner a cookbook I bought yesterday featuring recipes from this place I’m visiting (and it’s really nice with lots of beautiful photos).  Just make sure you leave a way for me to reach you, via an email address or a blog url. But in the meantime, try baking these matrimonial cakes and make your very own treat. 

Matrimonial Cakes

For printer-friendly recipe click here

Jan’s mother still makes a batch of these bars once a week so she can take them with her as a hostess gift if invited to dinner or for tea. She always has some in the freezer. They warm up in the microwave very well. She has even developed a gluten-free variation for Jan’s sister and father who are gluten-intolerant. If you’re interested, email me and I’ll try to get it for you.

1 cup all purpose flour cut in chunks

1 cup lightly salted butter

1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

Mix above ingredients with pastry blender until crumbly.

Pat half the mixture into the bottom of an 8x8" baking pan, Spread with date filling (see below) cover with remaining oats. Pat lightly in place.

Bake at 325 degrees  for 40-45 minutes.


8 oz finely chopped dates

1 tablespoon brown sugar (I don't use any additional sugar)

1/2 cup water

Bring to boil in small sauce pan. Cook until thickened. Cool slightly before spreading on oatmeal layer.

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  1. I have no idea where this is, but it looks like a perfect place for a break. And I love lobster but its a luxary food here :(
    Great photos! The sky is just as interesting as the landscape in the last one.

  2. Hi Linda, wow you kept that very quiet, how did you manage it :-)

    You are having a holiday in Eastern Canada...I know as I have family living out there :-)

    Have a super time!

  3. My guess is Nova Scotia (I made some Google researches....) but if I'm wrong, never mind, I still envy you because this is a very beautiful place!

  4. My first guess was Cape Cod, but when I saw the tartan plaid, I was stumped.
    Wherever you are, enjoy it!

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  7. Hahaha.. I don't have clue but can you send me one of those date bars?

  8. HI Linda.
    Are you in Scotland? I'm not sure if they have Lobster there but the tartan plaid makes me think so!
    Anyway, have a great vacation! Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Hi Linda, your pictures are just beautiful and boy could I go for that lobster! I'm going with Nova Scotia. Enjoy!

  10. the all inclusive guess - ireland, wales or scotland - but the lighthouse throws me off as do the lobsters - one more - british columbia?

  11. Isn't that Peggy's cove lighthouse?

  12. I am guessing Maine, but I have never been anywhere like this place! Very nice ;-)

  13. Hmmmm, somewhere in Maine..? All I know is I wish was there!

  14. My guess is that you're in Cape Breton. Enjoy the rest of your time there!

  15. Hi Linda, I forgot to put the town down ..eastern Canada, Nova Scotia...

    That sure is Peggy's cove lighthouse!

  16. I'm going to guess Nova Scotia as well. My parents went there on vacation a few years back and I'm pretty sure that is one of the lighthouse they visted. Those date bars look delicious! Enjoy your trip!

  17. Looks like Nova Scotia (New Scotland), Canada to me. Is that St. George's lighthouse?

  18. Don't have a clue after the clues, but I'll take a guess anyway...Scotland?

    Looks beautiful wherever that is!

    Thanks for the lovely giveaway and it was fun guessing...

  19. Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia! I love that lighthouse -- we visited a few years ago. Did you try the gingerbread in the little coffee shop near the lighthouse?

    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    We are in Colorado tonight -- will be back home soon. Had a wonderful trip!

  20. I had to do some research but I found out that Matrimonial Bars are a Western Canadian tradition and there's a famous lighthouse that looks just like your picture in Nova Scotia so I'll assume you're there!

    You mean to cut the butter in chunks, right? Not the flour as written? I don't think my flour cuts easily. ;)

  21. Sure looks like you are in Canada somewhere in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward's Island, Labrador or Newfoundland. I love it up there especially the big lobsters.

  22. Forgot to add: Most likely Nova Scotia.

  23. Lighthouse is definitely Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia. I just didn't know they were tartan plaids there as well :)
    Have a bucket of steamers for me :)

  24. Ciao Linda!
    Anche noi ce la siamo goduta in Nova Scotia...un po' di anni fa.
    Sono felice di sapervi lì.
    Come al solito sei bravissima e creativa.
    Un abbraccio anche da Valerio a te e Rich.

  25. Nova Scotia's my guess too.. I was married there and served these cakes at our reception, but with a raspberry filling instead of dates. I've hunted for years for a recipe but didn't know what they were called. TY SO much for posting this recipe Linda! What a great time of year to be visiting. Have fun!

  26. Nova Scotia's my guess too.. I was married there and served these cakes at our reception, but with a raspberry filling instead of dates. I've hunted for years for a recipe but didn't know what they were called. TY SO much for posting this recipe Linda! What a great time of year to be visiting. Have fun!

    Will you be heading up the Cabot Trail as well?

  27. I'm late to the game but my guess is Canada as well. Great photos. I hope we'll get to see a close up of the picture your husband is working on.

  28. Well since I read everyones comments I'm going with Nova Scotia! First I thought scotland, you stumped me with the plaid. Wherever you are I wish I was there too! That coastline looks beautiful, I love the ruggedness, of course the lobster is a big plus too. :-)

  29. I see I'm not the only one that thought Nova Scotia.

    I hope you are having as wonderful a Canadian holiday as the pictures portray. It looks like such a beautiful place to visit.

  30. I am going to guess New Brunswick in Eastern Canada-the scenery is so beautiful there.

    Elaine R

  31. Somewhere in Canada??? I would have to say Nova Scotia! Wherever you are it looks gorgeous and I hope you're enjoying every minute and every meal!

  32. Hmmm, first I was thinking Maine - but then the Tartans threw me so will throw my hat in with the Nova Scotia people! Meanwhile, I shall take some of your matrimonial cakes now. Worked up a sweat walking through your delightful photos.

  33. Well date squares are called matrimonial squares in western Canada, so from those photos I'd say you're definitely in Nova Scotia. My favourite province! (Apart from my home province of Ontario, of course. And even then it's a major toss up.)

    (And having just read all the other comments, most of us are in agreement about your location :)

  34. Being a Canadian, it looks like NOVA SCOTIA to me. My family and I went there on vacation when I was a teenager and the landscape was very similar. We stayed on Cape Breton Island and did the Cabot Trail. Wonderful, generous people and great food! And of course beautiful scenery!


  35. wow! it looks SOO gorgeous! i love the sketch.

  36. Hi,
    I dont know where it is, but it remind me of Devon, UK. Obviously it has something to do with Scotland :-) so I am wrong. But I love Matrimonial Cakes - my friend used to make them.