sharing recipes from one generation to the next
Who knows why this date and walnut slice was dubbed “Chinese Chews.” I remember them well from my teenage years, the high density of fruit and nuts per square centimetre making them a luxurious treat. I have a battered and stained recipe book that was compiled by the Mothers Club of my high school and sold for the princely sum of 25 cents as a fund raising effort. It was published sometime between decimal currency being introduced into Australia in 1966 and my leaving school in 1970. It is a compilation of recipes, contributed by mothers of students at the school. My little recipe book reeks of how society has changed in the past 50 years. Mother’s clubs have been replaced by Parent Associations, each recipe contributor is acknowledged as Mrs, with their first initial followed by the surname. There are paid advertisements in the book for Junket tablets, products for the “hostess and housewife”, and a hardware store open on Saturday morning! I think it would be appropriate in today’s Australia to call this recipe Date and Walnut Slice, less exotic, but more politically correct. I have made a few minor changes to the original recipe.
180 g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped dates
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 170C. Grease a 30cm square shallow tin and line with baking paper.
Sift the flour, bicarb and cinnamon. Stir in the sugar, dates and walnuts. Lightly beat the eggs and milk together. Melt the butter. Stir the egg and butter into the dry ingredients until well combined. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking tin, bake for approx 40 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Cool then cut. Store in an airtight container.
The Chinese Chews of my youth had a large amount of candied ginger in them – giving them an exotic flavour.
It’s interesting the variations of recipes that exist. Ginger might have been a bit too exotic here
My Mum’s recipe came from , I think, the “McAlpin cookery book”, and Chinese Chews were always a huge hit when we returned from school! Who cares why they are named this? “Date and Walnut Slice” is so boring!!
You’re right, and thanks for commenting
All the above sounds familiar. My Mum used to make something very similar and she called it Chinese Chews also. In the 50/60’s. Ok, I will now refer to it as ‘Date and Walnut slice’, but it doesn’t sound quite as nice for some reason. Its not just any old Date and walnut slice is it. I have some of my old school Mothers Club recipe books and they are priceless. They have such wonderful homely recipes, and Oh the memories as I go occasionally go through them. Thanks RW
It’s a pleasure Ruth. It’s fun to dig out old books and to cook from them. While our daily food has changed dramatically in the last 40-50 years, if it tasted good then it’s still tastes good now!