Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Molasses Mornings

I learned how to eat breakfast by watching my grandfather. Not how to literally eat breakfast, of course, but how to really eat breakfast - leisurely, gently, and with reverence, savoring the flavors that guide you into the day. (Unfortunately this is not the way I get to eat breakfast during the week now, although I do my best to enjoy my 6AM banana and cereal to its sleepy pre-dawn utmost...)

When I was little, around 6 years old or so, I of course wanted to do everything the way my grandfather did, which included eating breakfast... My grandfather is a gentle man - soft spoken, of few words, and a patient, hushed, there is all the time in the world manner. Sitting beside him at the breakfast table, I mirrored his moves - Grandee ate oatmeal one tiny, miniature serving at a time, so as not to waste any, and hence I too ate my oatmeal in multiple minuscule installments, each carefully garnished with a sprinkling of brown sugar and a puddle of cream. Above all, my favorite meal to share with Grandee was pancakes, because we had our own special pancake ritual: Grandee topped his pancakes not with maple syrup, but with molasses - thick, deep, intense, black-strap molasses. No one else in my family could tolerate its pungent flavor straight-up, but since Grandee liked molasses, of course I learned to love it too. I still do, genuinely, to this day - I love the heady depth of its bittersweet flavor.

In Grandee's honor, I always keep a big bottle of molasses in the pantry, even though I still remain the only one I know with a fondness for the stuff (aside from my grandfather, of course, who, thankfully, is now a hearty 92 years old). Fortunately, there are plenty of recipes that can put molasses to good use in a more, well, subtle way than using it to drown one's pancakes. Driving home from work last night, I chatted with my grandfather on the cell phone, and, when I got home, found myself drawn to that big jug of molasses. Several states away, I couldn't sit down to a stack of pancakes with Grandee, but I could bake cookies... and hence these molasses ginger-snap cookies were born. If my grandfather were here, he would say to savor their rich, sweet, spicy flavor slowly... There is always time for a cookie.

Molasses Ginger-Snap Cookies

½ cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup molasses
2 egg whites *
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves

~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray.
~ In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, olive oil, applesauce, molasses, and egg, and blend well.
~ Stir in the remaining ingredients until the batter is smooth and combined.
~ Chill the dough for at least 1 hour in the freezer or two hours in the refrigerator (this will keep well overnight, if you want to make the dough the day before you bake them)
~ Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets to form balls 1” in diameter.
~ Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are set.

*For a Vegan Version, replace the eggs whites with 1/4 cup soymilk or ricemilk, and add 1 tsp baking powder!


ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Wow, MY fondest childhood breakfast memories are with my grandfather too! My sister and I would always try to wake up earlier than my grandpa to beat him into the kitchen in the morning. But no matter how early we woke, it seemed Grandpa was already awake, and he had already made us oatmeal with raisins, his specialty.

Lisa said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm enjoying looking through your yummy recipes. Ginger is my sweetheart's favorite and I'm sure he would love these cookies.

There is still time left to submit something to our new food event. I'd be very happy if you contributed a vegetarian soup.

anya said...

Oh, such a lovely post!! I really love your style!!!

I love to have a real breakfast too. That's why I always wake up a few hours earlier to have enough time for savouring bite after bite or spoonful after spoonful (be it banana, a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, nuts and berries or freshly brewed cup of coffe with a crispy, toasted, slightly buttered and 'jammed'/'honeyed' slice of bread...;) Yum!

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

Astra Libris said...

ChocolateCoveredVegan, your story is wonderful! Hooray for great breakfast memories!

Lisa, thank you so much for visiting, and for the invite to participate! Your event sounds terrific - I'm definitely planning on sending an entry! Vegetarian soups are awesome...

Anya, thank you so much for your lovely comment... You are so kind. Your breakfasts sound wonderful! Buttered toast is the best... Mmmm... Happy Valentine's Day to you too!