From my article published in Modern Flavor Magazine:
Oh my, the devious background of molasses is a story that is rich with history and has a dark side. Here, however I will stick with the sweet side!
The word itself molasses is Portuguese, “melaco“, from the Latin, “mel”, meaning Honey. Aah, a term of endearment bestowed upon me as a young child, “ Honey Bunny “ Sittu, my Lebanese grandmother, thought it suited my mischievous personality. To this day, I wear the label well, after all, isn’t life about stirring up some fun.
Molasses comes in many forms, and has had many uses. Back in the days of printing presses, it was mixed with glue to case in rollers ~ think this is it’s devious side. It does have a benifical side as well. Packed full of calcium, iron, and magnesium, this powerhouse sweetener can
be a substitute for those folks watching their healthy diet. Molasses is sneaky, like that,
giving you added nutrients without sacrificing flavor. Depending where in the world you are, depends on how it is made. Middle Eastern culture gets their molasses from dates, grapes,
and pomegranates. Here, in the USA, we derive our molasses from sugar cane. Some where around 1733, you remember the Triangular Trade, rum, slaves, molasses, and the part about the tax that went along with it, and the tea tax. The Molasses Act was put in place, and well let’s just say Boston Harbor was never the same after that!
Right, we were sticking to a sweeter story, so pour yourself a rum punch, and don’t forget the umbrella.
Teaching a class full of preschoolers is often a challenge, due to all these allergies and what~not. I set out prepared, knowing there is no stove to cook or bake our recipe, and have a bunch of ingredients for the kids to mix and match. Play with your food, is one of my motto’s, and play they did.
The 21 children were full of excitement as I put in front of them bowls filled with such interesting items. We had oats, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and coconut. Aromar units came from the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger! Tools, too! Fun things, a sifter, and a whisk. Yes, even three bowls with the sweet stuff, one honey, one molasses, one sugar.
What I did not prepare for was the over zelist child that adored tasting as he went along mixing and tossing marshmallows into his friends’ hair. My task was simple, really. To engage the kids in a fun way, learning addition by counting how many spoons of sugar we put in our recipe. Learning about the different places in the world, like where coconut comes from.
We used a no- bake version of Molasses Bars, which gave the kids a chance to taste new things. Hang on to your punch, here’s where it gets sticky. My enthusiastic one decided it would be better to use his hands and paint with the molasses, rather than scoop it out and put it in with the oats! Being outnumbered, my only resolve was to join in the fun. “ Come here my little Honey Bunny,” I said to him. “ Now that we got all our plates covered in molasses, how will we get it into the mixing bowl? “ He took a step over to the table and announced we would pass the mixing bowl and share the stuff inside. Whoah-la! Brilliant.
That is exactly what we did, individual molasses bars. This worked out even better than the original recipe, as it gave the kids the choice of which items they wanted to add. The spices
were also swapped around, kids go by what smells good to them. Mr. Honey Bunny himself
was the first to finish, cooperation in clean-up was his next mission. He lead the kids to the sink, marching and singing along the way. Hands washed, tables cleared, Molasses Bars wrapped all by the time the teachers & staff returned everything was cleaned up and sparkling. The kids had a new favorite dessert to bring home, the teachers got a me to sign up for a once a month class. The pre school, well let’s just say it was never the same after that.
Before you refill your rum punch, go to my website to get the no-bake recipe. http://www.gypsysoup.wordpress.com For you teachers, I would be happy to come to your school to teach a hands on cooking class, my other motto ~ “Have pots and pans, will travel.”