Saturday, February 8, 2014

National Molasses Bar Day - Feb. 8th; Chef Herb Wilson

Chef Herb Wilson
Wilson was a competitor on Top Chef: Masters, was the executive chef at Sushi Samba in Las Vegas and will be the head of Sumo Maya (opening in 2014) in Scottsdale, Arizona. Originally from New York City, he worked in prestigious French restaurants abroad before returning to his native turf, eventually opening Bambou, an upscale restaurant (now closed) that paid homage to his Jamaican heritage.

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February 8th is Molasses Bar Day. Molasses has a pretty distinct flavor, and is derived from sugar cane. In my experience, it seems to be more of a Southern thing to eat. (Molasses on fresh buttermilk biscuits... grits with butter and molassess... yum!) However, my mother recalls a cookie that her maternal grandmother (who was not Southern) made with molasses. Unfortunately, we don't have that recipe, at least not that we're sure of. Her parents had a house fire when I was young. My grandmother lost a lot of things, and may have lost recipes from her mother. (By the time I did our family cookbook, all my grandparents had passed, so there's gaps in my family history, culinary and otherwise.)

Don't be afraid to experiment with recipes you find that remind you of things your grandma (or great-grandma, or a great aunt, or..?) made. If you find one that tastes like you remember, add it to the cookbook and note that you don't know if it's the same one, but that it tastes like the one you recall. Get a second opinion if you can; does a sibling or a cousin recall it?

I did find this recipe for Molasses Drop Cookies in Grandma's file. We don't know how old the recipe is or where it came from. The card it's written on isn't very old, but it wouldn't be, since she lost a lot of her kitchen in the fire.

I know I urge this a lot, but I really do want to encourage you to talk to your older family members, get your history while you can, gather those old recipes and traditions. Please don't make the mistakes I did.

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