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Article Published May 9, 2019
Dreaming of Strawberries, Making Do with Lemons and Dates
Lee White, Columnist

This can be a difficult time of year for me when I bake.

I start thinking about all the locally grown produce that will come our way over the summer and start to crave fresh rhubarb, strawberries, and blueberries. But I don’t always have immediate access to fresh. Or sometimes, I find that frozen is still better than what is available locally. For example, I’m not crazy about fat cultivated blueberries, preferring Wyman’s frozen wild blueberries.

Still, when life gives you lemons, make lemon loaf. And recently, I did just that, making two from Ina Garten’s lemon loaf recipe. I took the cakes to meetings and they were eaten in no time. Loaf cakes are easy to make and, unlike most cakes, require no frosting. In addition, once you follow the recipe (flour, sugar, butter, egg, and liquid) you can have fun and experiment with the basic recipe, adding different combinations of dried fruit, nuts, coconut, or chocolate or cinnamon chips.

With all my baking, I accumulated many cartons of buttermilk and too many bags of walnuts. So I made this date nut bread, along with this delicious buttermilk sorbet. Imagine it as dessert with the sorbet, and then, for the next day, the nut bread, sliced, with cream cheese and pineapple, becomes a tasty lunch.

The sorbet requires an ice cream maker. Buy an inexpensive one, or borrow one from a friend.

Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can email her at

Date Walnut Bread

I will double this recipe, making two loaves, and use buttermilk instead of regular milk;

2 cups flour

1 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

(you may use ground if you don’t have fresh)

5 tablespoons light brown sugar

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

(I use a small wooden bowl and a mezzaluna)

1 cup chopped pitted dates

(I chop them with a little flour so they are not sticky)

1 egg

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9-inch loaf pan (I use Pam in the blue can).

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add brown sugar and mix. Add nuts and dates and stir together. Beat together egg and milk and add to dry ingredients, along with butter. Blend just enough to moisten the mixture. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until top is cracked and a wooden skewer comes out dry. (I use these wooden skewers instead of toothpicks since the latter are too short to get to the bottom any bread or cake.) Cool slightly and invert onto a wire rack.

Buttermilk Sorbet

(From Martha Stewart Living, February 2000, page 193)

Yield: 1 ½ quarts

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 cups water

2 cups buttermilk

1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Combine sugar in a medium saucepan with 2 cups water. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves completely, about 10 minutes. Increase heat, and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine sugar syrup with buttermilk and vanilla. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions to freeze. When freezing is complete, transfer sorbet to an airtight container and place in freezer for at least 1 hour. Sorbet will keep, frozen for up to 2 weeks.