Dates With Dean

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Here’s an article I wrote for the August 2017 issue of the official

James Dean Remembered international fan club magazine,

the Deanzine

(which just hit the mail today!  VERY EXCITING! I can hardly wait until my copy arrives). 

Every full-color issue is chock-full of fascinating stories, photos, and current news updates.  Click the link above for info on how to subscribe (and become a full-fledged fan club member at the same time).

I’ve reprinted the article in full here, so that I can share this newly discovered recipe with the readers of Recipes4Rebels.  Sections that were edited out of the original article, due to space limitations, are highlighted in cream

If you own my cookbook, this recipe is NOT in there…you might print the card out below and paste it in your book.  ( If you don’t own the book yet, you can get it HERE. )

My latest video, showcasing this recipe is at the bottom of the page…don’t miss it!


Here’s another “lost” recipe that arrived too late to make it into the Recipes for Rebels cookbook.  Unseen for many years, debuting here in The Deanzine!  Ortense Winslow’s Date Pudding!  This recipe comes from the kitchen of Jimmie’s Aunt Ortense and is one that she made for pot luck dinners or special occasions at home. One that little Jimmie, known for his sweet tooth, truly loved.  Ortense contributed this recipe to the Favorite Recipes fundraiser cookbook from The Community Home Economics Club.

Little Jimmie at around age 10, at home on the Winslow Farm with his Indiana family

Ortense was extremely active in her church and community.  I garnered the following tidbits from the weekly Social Scene column of The Fairmount News (from the 1920s through the 60s, she was mentioned in 264 issues, and often multiple times in each of those issues).  The Fairmount News was published once, weekly.  It came out on Thursdays.  It was the predecessor to Fairmount’s current News-Sentinel, which is also published once, weekly, and comes out on Wednesdays.

Ortense was a member of The Fairmount Community Home Economics Club, who met monthly at a different member’s home.  It was an exclusively “ladies” group.  The host (and an assigned co-host) served a “dainty” lunch. Two members would present the “idea exchange,” sharing household tips and tricks, and then someone else made a feature presentation…topics included everything from cake baking and furniture arrangement to pattern making, dress fitting, upholstering chairs, and making door-stops.  I noticed a few sleeper topics too, like the “lesson on mattresses” and “a presentation on washing woolen sweaters.”  They had “pickle and relish recipe exchanges” and the “Christmas Candy sampling and recipe exchange”.  The newspaper reports sometimes included detailed descriptions, “The tables were decorated with bowls of Sweetpeas and tall tapers in holders, the colors being yellow, blue and pink.  Favors of Sweetpea corsages for the ladies and small handkerchief dolls and small blown glass swans filled with blue water…”

Ortense was often in the news…

Ortense’s mother Emma (Dean) and daughter Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann) were members of the rival (lol) Unity Home Economics Club (there was also The Mutual Home Economics Club, The Liberty HEC, and several others in the area).  Joan and Emma would sometimes attend Community HEC when it was Ortense’s turn to hostess.  Joan and Ortense even did piano duets for entertainment.

Both Ortense and Emma were members of the Rho chapter, Phi Beta Psi sorority.  Though they were a philanthropic organization, this one seems more of a social group.  The also met monthly at a rotating member’s home, but it sounds like they mostly played Bridge and gave bridal showers.

Ortense was very active in the Back Creek Women’s Christian Temperance Union, an organization dedicated to upholding moral values within the community.  They met monthly, usually for an evening pot luck dinner, but regularly also held full-day or multi-day conferences.  Ortense once gave a lecture entitled, “Efficiency—How to Make One Hour Do the Work of Two.” Others preached about the evils of alcohol and debated just how high on the scale of evil did cigarette smoking fall.  The women of the WCTU sewed clothing that was donated to needy families, and made bouquets of flowers that they delivered to “shut-ins.”  They sponsored youth activities and community projects.

It was at one of these WCTU meetings that young Jimmie Dean got his first experience at public oratory.  Years later, after both Joan and Jimmie were older and had moved out of the house, it seems that little Markie got regularly dragged along to these meetings (especially in the summer months when Marcus was busy around the farm).

Ortense, at times, assumed the role of flower chairman, committee head, treasurer, secretary, and president for all of these organizations.  She hosted many of the events at the Winslow Farm north of town. She involved herself with the 4H clubs with each of her children, was a member of the Pre-School Mothers Study Club, (along with Marcus) was a member of The Topper Bridge Club (Marcus also was a member of a Euchre playing group, but Ortense apparently didn’t choose to play Euchre), and many more.  She attended home “cosmetic demonstrations,“ quilting parties, sewing parties, “textile painting” parties…all detailed in the weekly social scene reports in The Fairmount News.

Ortense took on other leadership roles within the community.  In 1943-44, she assisted in giving out sugar ration vouchers, to households in Grant County. Extra sugar was needed for canning the fruits and vegetables at harvest time.  Double boilers, used in the canning process, were in limited production due to metal resources being diverted to the war efforts.  No one was able to simply go to the store and buy one.  Ortense helped home economic clubs with the applications to purchase one, which would have been used communally and shared amongst neighbors. 

Ortense regularly demonstrated her competitive streak.  Perhaps young Jim picked this up from her.  It was often reported that Mrs. Ortense Winslow was the winner of the geography or math quiz or the quilt block competition.  As the years passed and times changed for residents of Grant County, so did the focus of these organizations.  Stories reporting “How to make a meal for anemics…” or “a menu of wheat served 6 different ways…” were replaced with “one-dish meals.”  Once her children had grown, it seems Ortense got to take a few one-day “bus excursions,” just for the pleasure of spending the day out with the “ladies.”

Ortense’s recipe

Back in the kitchen, Ortense’s Date Pudding recipe may have been an old family recipe.  In tracing both the Dean and Winslow family trees, both lineages were Quaker that emigrated from England to settle initially in the North Carolina area.  Date Pudding with nuts is a very traditional English recipe.  This variation would be dated from sometime after the 1890s when baking powder was first commercially produced and used (Royal Baking Powder from Fort Wayne, IN was the first).

The preparation, like the ingredient list, is simple and straight forward.  If you have trouble finding lemon extract (not as common these days), you can substitute 1t of fresh lemon juice and a few scrapings of the lemon zest. It can be served warm or room temperature.  It’s a sweet dessert, rich and custardy, so I like it with a small dollop of very lightly sweetened whipped cream on the side.

To see a video and new blog posting on the making of this dish, go to





Ortense’s Date Pudding bears a strong resemblance to British, self-saucing “Sticky Date-” or “Sticky Toffee Puddings.”  It’s a texture that may be unfamiliar to a lot of American cooks.  The top half of the pudding develops a caramelized crust on top of an almost brownie-textured layer, while the bottom turns into a sticky, gooey sauce.  First impressions may be that the pudding wasn’t cooked long enough, but no…this is how it’s supposed to be.

It’s very sweet.  I like to serve it slightly warm with a dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream to counterbalance.  Vanilla ice cream is also popular as an accompaniment.  The date flavor and texture of the nuts are unique and pleasant.  It tastes like a special occasion!  Alex REALLY enjoyed this date pudding, saying “I like it because it’s different and unexpected.  Like that grapefruit cake you made a while back.  I really, really like this.”

This recipe didn’t make a lot.  I baked it in a 4×8″ dish and ended up with about 6 servings.  In the video you see me lining the dish with baking paper…this was totally unnecessary.  I was attempting to figure out a neater way of cutting and serving the pudding…but skip it, just butter the dish as Ortense instructs.  You can always use a bigger dollop of whipped cream to hide any sloppy plating.

Use heaping Tablespoons for the flour.  Most similar recipes call for up to a cup of flour…but I stayed true to Ortense’s version and only used 2 T.  Just make them BIG ones.  The nuts should be chopped medium-fine for the best texture.  I used a few scrapings of lemon zest in place of the “lemon essence” that I couldn’t get here.  That worked out just fine.

I baked it at 375F for 30 minutes or so.  The skewer or knife test doesn’t work here when testing for done-ness.  The finished pudding will be somewhat firm to the touch and have a dark brown coloring. Watch it closely, it can burn quickly and easily at the end.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.  Lasts 2-3 days, covered, at room temperature.

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  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE the video. Found that very restful to watch. The pudding looks great! JX

    • Fairmount, Indiana’s just that kinda place… and glad to have the Brit stamp of approval on the pudding! :-). It’s not a recipe that’s typical in the American household.

  2. Fantastic! I always look forward to the next instalment and this doesn’t disappoint. I don’t think I have ever cooked with dates before, so this might be a ‘first’!

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