What happened to the square? Entertaining when I was growing up meant that at a certain time in the evening coffee and a plate of sweets, usually squares, would be served. We were only allowed the edges because that was what was given to the kids until after the party. We were always stunned that there might be left overs after a party, I mean really, why would anyone leave sweets uneaten?
One place to still find a fine selection of squares is a funeral reception. Perhaps it’s a Maritime thing or just a small town thing but funeral receptions in Nova Scotia are known to have the best selection of squares, period. And don’t even get me started on the little sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
I have mentioned before the handwritten cookbook my Mother wrote out for each of her children. In it is a collection of recipes for squares that really need to be resurrected and I’m on a mission to single-handedly bring back the square. There is a reason these are old tried-and-true recipes… they’re delicious.
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1/2 cup maraschino cherries cut up
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp vanilla
Mix 1 cup flour, icing sugar and butter and press into an eight inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
While the base is baking mix flour, baking powder and salt together. To this mixture add cherries, eggs, coconut, walnuts and vanilla. Spread over base in pan and return to oven for 15 min till browned at the edges and set. Remove and cool to room temperature. Top with a butter icing.
There are very few things that I would consider saving from a burning house (of course, once family and the dog are safe) but one thing I’d try and save would be Mom’s cookbook.
My mother wrote all of her, and our, favourite family recipes by hand into a book for each of her children. Yes… all by hand, it’s a 165 page book and she has seven children. I clearly haven’t taken very good care of mine but I do think that a cookbook should look well-used. I would suspect a pristine cookbook is one that isn’t very good and that’s certainly not the case here. I am determined to make all the recipes in the book.; my own, much less ambitious, Julie and Julia project.
The third recipe that I’m featuring here is for oatmeal cookies. There’s a reason Mom’s recipes are all so good, they have been curated, tried, tested and refined over years of baking. The other two recipes I have shared so far are Cinnamon Biscuits found here and Delicate Lemon Pudding found here.
There is definitely a special affinity among Nova Scotians for oats which surely comes from their Scottish ancestry. Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language defines oats as: “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” I have read also that the Scot’s retort was “That’s why England has such fine horses and Scotland has such fine men.” I’d have to say that this is a fine cookie.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp soda
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup raisins
- Cream butter brown sugar and vanilla together. Mix soda with water and add to creamed mixture. Combine flour, salt, nutmeg and oats and mix well. Add to creamed mixture and add raisins, mix thoroughly.
- Use a small scoop to form cookies and bake on a lined cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes.