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Oatmeal Bar Cookie With Dates and Nuts: A Family Recipe

I grew up watching and helping my mother make homemade cookies. They were always in our school lunch boxes. Here, I share some family faves.


  • 1 3/4 cups oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup dates, cut in small pieces (they now come prepackaged that way)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts


  1. Start by mixing the oatmeal, flour, packed brown sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Cut in the chilled pieces of butter and use a blender to combine with the oatmeal/flour mixture until crumbly. Set this mixture aside.
  3. Combine and boil the dates, white sugar, and water together until thick. Take time to stir this mixture and keep an eye on it. It will become entirely darkened in color during this process.
  4. When completed, add the chopped nuts.
  5. Pack 1/2 of the dry mixture into the bottom of a greased 9-by-9-inch pan. I find that it is best to use one's fingers such as shown in my photos in place of a spoon or spatula.
  6. Cover this mixture with the cooked date filling.
  7. Add the remainder of the oatmeal crumb mixture and pack down well.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.
  9. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

I turned the entire baked cookie out onto a wooden cutting board and used a large knife to slice across and cut into the desired shapes.

Below is the final product... and scrumptious if I do say so myself! This bar cookie recipe has a chewy candy-like interior because of the cooked date and sugar mixture, and yet it has a crunchy, delectable exterior because of the oatmeal mixture.

I hope you, the readers of this article, will enjoy this family recipe as much as my cousin Bill and I have over the years. Please leave a comment below if you decide to try out this recipe for yourself. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

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A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to my cousin Bill on the telephone. He lives in Peoria, Illinois, and my husband and I live in Houston. When Bill and I were youngsters all residing in the State of Wisconsin, we saw each other often during the year. . .in fact, almost every or every other weekend all summer long and then at different times of the year, as well.

My grandparents and parents lived in the countryside of Oconomowoc across the field from one another and later even next door to one another. My aunt and uncle and three cousins resided in Madison, Wisconsin, at that time.

My dear grandparents had room enough in their home to put their daughter and family up when they came for visits. My cousins and my brothers and I always had a great time playing together. We rode bicycles, climbed trees, slid on boxes down into the nearby abandoned gravel pit, played jacks, hula hooped, had picnics, swam in the lake at my grandmother's house, and did countless more things together, as kids often do.

Bill and I talked about many things that day, and among other topics, he wondered if I had a copy of a cookie recipe that my grandmother had given to my mother and his mother. My mother is deceased, and his mother is no longer able to bake cookies. Fortunately, I remembered the delicious oatmeal bar cookie that he requested and decided to make it this year as a part of my homemade cookie assortment that we give away as gifts. This recipe not only features oatmeal as a prime ingredient but also includes dates and nuts.

The first three pictures above show my mother and my Aunt Marge as young women. They learned how to cook by watching their mother and assisting her when old enough. They both became excellent cooks in their own right!

The fourth photo shows my sweet maternal grandmother who was not only a terrific seamstress and homemaker but also an excellent cook. She preserved produce from my grandfather's large garden by canning and threw dinner parties that drew rave reviews from their friends who often came from Milwaukee out into the countryside where my grandparents had retired.

When I was old enough she let me help her clean and get her house ready for those parties. It was fun working alongside my grandmother. My mother often kidded in later years that she never got the same assistance in cleaning at home. There it was a job! At Grandma's house, it was a different story. I am sure that other parents have had the same experience. (Smile)

The last photo above was taken in the backyard of my parents. My three cousins are on the left, and my two brothers and I are on the right. My Dad had built the trellis and the playhouse also made by my Dad is in the background.

Here are some good tips for getting bar cookies out of a pan plus another recipe.

© 2011 Peggy Woods

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