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Molasses and memories

Reaching back into the archives from 20 years ago, April 20, 1994 in Shelly Moran’s “Sharing the Best” column, struck a note because I remember this particular column - a reminder that time marches on, and I am getting old. But it is from my earliest days with the Cabot Star-Herald as a proofreader.

One of my pastimes back then was competition Dutch oven cooking. My son, Mike, and I were a team competing as “Pot Luck” and we traveled sometimes hundreds of miles and even into several states for cook offs. That was during a time when we had spare time for such pursuits.

The first Apple Pan Dowdy from this column was adopted into our menu, and it went on to win at several events. As was our practice, the recipe was “retired” after winning Best of Show dessert at a meet at Sulphur Springs.

In fact, I have used most of the recipes from the column. The barbecue sauce is tasty, and is a good basic sauce for a quick fill in or for a starter for someone new to such sauces. The gingerbread with lemon sauce is excellent.

From Shelly’s column 20 years ago:

“No other flavor brings such memories of Grandmother’s kitchen and things she made with molasses.”

Those words headed up a full-page article of molasses recipes that Jeff Gillen found in an old (September 1967) and very fragile Rural Arkansas magazine. It was Gillen’s wife, Evelyn, who recently brought me the 1940s recipes for Apple Pan Dowdy and Shoo Fly Pie from her father’s Watkins products materials. Gillen just happened across the most recent find on molasses and shared it with me.

Actually, I did not grow up on molasses, but I know that for many it was a tasty condiment slathered on hot, buttered homemade biscuits or poured over pancakes. Not only that, but judging from the recipes Gillen brought, I now realize that it cart be a sweet, flavorful ingredient for sauces, cakes, pies, cookies, breads, candies, bean dishes and even ice cream. I thought you might enjoy reading a sampling of the recipes from the old magazine. A Mrs. Shaw, whose full name I did not get, called the office some time ago and left word that her mother in California had received four gallons of homemade molasses at Christmas time and was needing recipes. I hope Mrs. Shaw will read these and pass them along.

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SNAPPY BARBECUE SAUCE

1 Tbsp. salad oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup vinegar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup tomato catsup

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 cup molasses

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire

Heat oil in skillet, add onion, stir over low heat until onions are tender. Add remaining ingredients, mix well, let simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. A different seasoning for frankfurters, hamburgers, chicken, sparcribs and chops. Serve as a heated sauce on toasted cheese or meat sandwiches.

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SWEDISH BROWN BEANS

2 cups brown beans

2 qts. water

2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup white vinegar

Soak beans in water several hours. Cook slowly in same water until tender. Season with salt, molasses and vinegar.

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APPLE PAN DOWDY

Pastry:

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

2/3 cup shortening

6 Tbsp. water

Filling:

1 qt. sliced apples

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup dark molasses

1/2 cup water

2 Tbsp. butter

Sift flour and salt together, cut in shortening. Add water, blend with fork until it holds together. Chill.

Use 2/3 of pastry, rolled thin to line 1 1/2-qt. casserole. Mix sugar, spices and salt. Fill casserole alternately with layers of apples and spice mixture. Mix molasses and water, pour over apples. Dot with butter. Cover with other 1/3 of rolled pastry. Trim edges. Bake at 425 degrees 20 minutes. Remove from oven, chop mixture with knife. Add 1/2 cup water, return to oven, bake 20-30 minutes at 325 degrees. Serve with cream to which a little nutmeg has been added.

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SHOO FLY PIE

2/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup shortening

2 cups flour

2/3 cup water

1/2 tsp. soda

2/3 cup dark molasses

1/2 recipe plain pastry

Mix brown sugar and shortening to make crumbs. Add flour. Mix well. Mix water and soda, add to molasses. Place layer of crumbs in the unbaked pastry shell, then cover with molasses mixture, and next a layer of crumbs. Continue until all are used. Bake at 350 degrees 35 to 45 minutes. This dessert well deserves its fabulous reputation with all molasses lovers. Work rapidly with the molasses mixture so you don’t lose the leavening power of the soda before it’s in the oven.

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GINGERBREAD

1 cup melted shortening

1 cup molasses

1 cup brown sugar

3 cups flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ginger

2 tsp. soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/3 cups boiling water

2 eggs, beaten

Mix shortening, molasses and brown sugar. Add sifted dry ingredients, mix well .Stir in boiling water. Fold in beaten eggs. Pour into greased pan (13 x 9 1/2 x2 inches). Bake at 375 degrees 40-45 minutes. If you want something quick and easy for a gang of teenagers, just toss this together, serve fluffy pieces of it while warm. You won’t have to worry about leftovers. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, hot applesauce (flavored with cinnamon), mincemeat or our lemon sauce.

LEMON SAUCE

Mix together in saucepan: 1 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp. cornstarch. Stir in gradually, 2 cups boiling water. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 4 Tbsp. butter and 4 Tbsp. lemon juice with 1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind and a dash of nutmeg if you wish.

Serve hot.

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CHILEAN MOLASSES COOKIES

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 cup boiling water

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs, well beaten

1/2 cup molasses

Cream sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs and molasses, beat well. Sift dry ingredients together, add to molasses mixture. Stir in boiling water, mix well. Drop from teaspoon 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees, 12-15 minutes.

3 dozen.

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‘LASSES PECAN ICE CREAM

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups light cream

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 cup molasses

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine egg, sugar, cream, salt and molasses, cook over low heat until mixture coats a spoon (like custard), stirring constantly.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Pour into ice cube tray, freeze until partially firm. Turn into chilled bowl, beat just until smooth. Fold in pecans. Return to tray, freeze firm. This can be frozen in hand or elec- trically turned ice cream freezer.

Makes a quart.

(Note: Today you’d probably use a shallow pan rather than an ice tray.)

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I also received in the mail recipes for Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy from Mrs. Elmo Harrison of Carlisle. She had copied the recipes from her Down on the Farm Cookbook, dated 1943. It’s quite interesting to compare the recipes given for these two old-time favorites.

SHOO FLY PIE

Fit leftover pastry into a pie tin. Cover it thickly with brown sugar. Pour melted butter over sugar and bake in a hot 450-degree oven for 15 minutes or until the sugar melts and the crust is browned. Use a proportion of 1/4 to 1/2 cup of butter to each cup of brown sugar, - From “Down on the Farm Cookbook” contributed by Mrs. Elmo Harrison, Carlisle. Ark.

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APPLE PAN DOWDY

Make 1 1/2 times the receipt for the pastry for a 9-inch double-crust pie. Roll it out. Line a baking dish with it. Peel, core and slice 8 cooking apples and put them in the dish. Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves and 1/8 tsp. salt. Cover the apples with the mixture. Dot with 1/4 cup butter. Pour over 1/2 cup molasses which has been mixed with 1/4 cup water. Cover with a top crust, gash it crimp the edges of the two crusts to- gether and press to the sides of the baking dish.

Bake in a hot 450-degree oven 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate, 350 degrees, and bake until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and chop together the filling and the crust. Add more water and molasses if dry. Return to a moderately slow, 325-degree oven and bake 1 1/2 hours. Serve hot and pass a pitcher of Old Farmer Heavy Cream. Pan Dowdy improves with reheating. Serves 6.

_From “Down on the Farm Cookbook” contributed by Mrs. Elmo Harrison, Carlisle, Ark.

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This column is for readers to share their recipes. The recipes need not be fancy or original; just good cooking that you and your family enjoy -a few sentences of any personal history behind a recipe would be great.

Civic organizations, non-profit organizations, churches, school classes, EHC, 4-H, etc. can also take part. Collect six or seven recipes from members, include their names; tell about the purpose of the organization, maybe a little history; include when and where the group meets, and how to join.

When submitting recipes, include all ingredients and instructions. Give amounts and measures as well as sizes of cans and packages. It is also helpful to know sizes of dishes or pans used. Include a contact name, city of residence and phone number; the phone number will not be published but is needed should questions arise while preparing for print.

Please print if handwritten. Original photos of the recipe results are invited, but subject to space limitations; attach pictures to the email in jpeg format. Photos must not be copyrighted

1- e-mail - send to news@cabotstarherald.com, with “Lick the Spoon” in the subject line

2 - U.S Postal Service: mail to Cabot Star-Herald, P.O. Box 1058, Cabot, AR 72023.

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