Serving up walnuts, dates and a little courage

My new job will not be an easy one.

As I write this, it is Sunday night, the night before my first day at my new job.

Like every other night of my life immediately preceding a major life event, it is unlikely that I will sleep much tonight. I will lie awake in the darkness, eyes shut tight to block out the reality of the ticking clock. I will occasionally leave my room to pace nervous circles in my kitchen, careful to shuffle silently so my distress does not disturb my sleeping house. My mind will be inundated with the many possibilities of catastrophic failure, embarrassment and panic.

I will torture myself with scenarios that would rightfully prove the validity of my insecurities and confirm my darkest belief about myself — that I am a fraud.

My new job will not be an easy one. It will test the limits of my patience and maturity and will challenge my resolve and dedication regularly… so I have been counseled.

I am grateful for the honest testimonials, but these warnings obviously add to my trepidation and are deafening as they swarm through my mind like buzzing wasps. How foolish I am to willfully abandon the isolated safety of my home, where there are no witnesses to my ineptitude.

Where did I find the audacious hubris to declare myself fit for life outside of the nest I have been hiding in for so long? What reward could possibly outweigh this monumental risk?

Like every other morning of a major life event, I will wake up very early tomorrow. Fueled by adrenaline and fear, I will wake long before my alarm, and silently prepare myself for the path ahead of me yet unrevealed. I will prepare two lunches, pack two backpacks, and write one note on a napkin to remind my son that I love him more than anything else in this world. I will drop him off on my way to work, as I will every school day from now on, and I will drive myself toward my future.

I might not have the stomach for breakfast before I leave, so I’ll pack a slice of this date and walnut bread to eat during my silent commute. This bread is sweet, dense and fragrant with spices — enough, I hope, to stoke a little courage in my heart.

Date and walnut bread


1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon clove

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups pitted dates, chopped

1 cup hot black coffee

4 tablespoon butter, room temperature

¾ cup dark brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line a loaf pan with a sling of greased parchment for easy removal.

Heat your black coffee to boiling, turn off the heat, then add the chopped dates. Allow the dates to soak until mostly cooled.

In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar and room temperature butter.

Add the egg and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

When the date and coffee mixture is cool, stir it into the butter, sugar and egg until combined.

Add the vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until a sticky batter forms.

Fold in the walnuts.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a butter knife inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs stuck to it, but no wet batter.

Allow to cool slightly before pulling out of the pan.

Wait until it is completely cooled before wrapping and storing in the refrigerator for up to one week.