The preservation of western cultural and the American Cowboy. Sharing the history of the early trail drives, the Chuck Wagon and those who pioneered untamed land. The content is for educational and entertainment purposes. Cowboys and Chuck Wagon Cooking reviews cooking techniques, products and western gear which today is part of western life style. We hope you will enjoy your visit and look forward to comments, recipes and shared heritage. Thank you for your visit. Hope you follow us along the trail of news, stories and the Cowboy way.
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Saturday, February 2, 2013

BRER RABBIT

Molasses has a long history before the cowboys drove the first herds of cattle of early Texas to New Orleans.  In 1857, Cowboy J. M. Cowley of Fentress, Texas stated, "We had to go to the Brazos River to buy corn for cornbread.  Beef, Cornbread, Molasses and Coffee was the principal diet in those days, and it was a wholesome diet."  Chuckwagon cooks enriched the many staples sweetening the taste using the thick rich syrup, molasses. 
Brer Rabbit Molasses and Syrups today, continue to give that great taste for sweetening many recipes. Sometimes enjoyed  just by adding directly on waffles, pancakes and even one of my favorite breads, Pan De Campo.  Just as the chuckwagon cooks did years past on those cattle drive.   Brer Rabbit, much like the Cowboy has an interesting history in both American literature and as an emblem for a syrup business dating back a hundred years.   
Pan De Campo smothered in Brer Rabbit Syrup with Coffee photo Credit: Wayne Hanselka
The emblem Hare often a trickster succeeding by wits, though not always successful, are the efforts of Br'er Rabbit and the many stories making him a folk hero. The character used not only for the fine molasses and syrups, but also in many Disney movies and books, including the stories written down by Robert Roosevelt, uncle to President Theodore Roosevelt, publishing them in Harper's, where they fell flat. This was a good many years before a genius arose who, in 'Uncle Remus', made the stories immortal with the fictional Tar-Baby in the second of the Uncle Remus stories published in 1881 along with folklorist Alcée Fortier in southern Louisiana, where the Rabbit character was known as Compair Lapin in Creole French. Enid Blyton, an English writer of children's fiction, retold the stories along with the writings of Joel Chandler Harris, as well ethnologist for the Smithsonian Institute, John R. Swanton, who traces the origins of br'er Rabbit back to cultural heritage and stories of early Native American tribes of Creek Indians and Cherokees along with early enslave Africans. 
Br'er Rabbit and Tar Baby
Author, Jace Weaver, "That the People Might Live: Native American Literatures and Native American Community" traces the relationship further about the great hare, Br'er Rabbit which the stories originated mostly in Cherokee myths.  These stories past down around camp fires, heard my early Anglo settlers who migrated to North America from Europe and again past through the generation before becoming the great tales of the interesting Hare.
Today, the Brer Rabbit label continues sales through B&G Foods, Inc who purchased the name from Nabisco, Inc in 1997. Although the roots long begin before the 20th century with Penford Corporation of 1896 that moved to Harvey, Louisiana. The monopoly of Corn Products Refining Company (CPR) acquired 25 percent interest in Penick molasses and corn syrup trade.
However, in 1913, under Teddy Roosevelt’s trust busting campaign, the Supreme Court decision force CPR to divest its interest in Penick and Ford. This interest was bought by F.T. Bedford, the son of CPR’s E.T. Bedford in which the son had a falling out with his father desiring to be in business on his own. Instrumental while working with his father, F.T. Bedford was largely responsible for developing Karo and Mazola brands before forming his own business an created the Br'er Rabbit Label. An act of Teddy Roosevelt's trade busting, who's Uncle created such great stories of the witty Rabbit would only be appropriate to rebel against the former Syrup empire an once more, see the rabbit out smart the fox. 
I have to extend some thanks to Calvin Wayne Hanselka, who made that great Pan De Campo Breakfast smothered under the covering of Brer Rabbit "Full Flavor" Syrup and remembering the great tales from the Uncle Remus stories.
Pan De Campo Bread made in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven
 I was honored to meet Calvin "Wayne" Hanselka during the King ranch Hand Breakfast while I was working on the chuckwagon making the fabulous bread that Cowboys enjoyed during the days of the trail drives.  It became the official "Bread of Texas" in 200 .   Here's the RECIPE  for making Pan De Campo.
Cowboy Cook Roger Edison, (left)  with Dr. Hanselka, PhD Texas A&M (standing right) at King Ranch in 2012.  Dr. Hanselka specialized in Ranch Management, Natural Resource, and Cultural Resource Management information.  He conducted Consulting, teaching, planning and active management for land managers in both the United States and Mexico.  
BRER RABBIT ADVERTISEMENT 1948
 
 
 
The word, "Molasses" comes from the Portuguese word, (melaco), which derived from the latin word, (Mel) meaning honey.   Molasses in made through refining sugarcane, though is also made from Grapes in many countries of the Middle East and also from Sugar Beets.  Although Sweet Sorghum, often marketed as molasses in not a true molasses.  
When Columbus discovered what would become the Americas, he brought with him sugarcane to the new world. Although, Sugarcane originates in New Guinea where it has been known since around 6000 BC.  It's cultivation gradually spread into migration routes reaching Southeast Asia, India and the South Pacific about 1000 BC.  
Arab trade routes into Asia, would further spread the crop into Egypt during the Arab conquest of 640 AD.  As they advanced further into areas of the Mediterranean, the sugan cane would continue to spread eventually into Syria, Cyprus, Crete and reaching Spain around 715 AD.  
The trade of sugar cane would be introduce to Madeira and soon reaching the the Azores, West Africa and the Canary Islands around 1420.  As Columbus began his first explorations to the New World, he would take sugar cane from the Canary Islands where he resupplied the Gulf of Arrows which he named such due to meeting the only hostile Indians during his first of four voyages which present violent resistance and use of arrows by the Ciguayos Indians. Today, the location called the Bay of Rincon in Samana, Dominican Republic.  By 1520, Spanish explorations would spread the crop to both central and South America eventually reaching north America through Bristish and French trade.
To make molasses, harvested sugar cane is stripped from its leaves, then cut, crushed and mashed to extract the juices from the plant. The juice is boiled into a concentrate which promotes the crystallization of sugar. This molasses has the highest amount of sugar content due to little amounts of sugar has been removed.  The second boiling again removes more sugar though crystallizing and has a bitter tinge to its taste.  Upon the third boiling, this yields the finest syrup called "Blackstrap" Molasses.  A term that is solely Americanism dating just after the turn of the 20th century. 
Since the majority of sucrose has been removed from the original first two boilings, Blackstrap Molasses today is often marketed for its high energy and sold as a health supplement having a great source of calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium in addition to traces amounts of vitamins and other minerals. One tablespoon per day provides 20 percent of the daily value of those nutrients.  
Molasses is also used for making Rum, ethyl alcohol, cattle feed supplements, dark beers such as Stout and Porters. It is also through chemistry mixed with various chemical agents for de-icing, rust removal and as an alternative fuel source for automobiles.  
Although, I enjoy using molasses when cooking from baking needs to BBQ rubs.  I often even use it to make Brown Sugar which is combining  1 cup of granulated cane sugar to 1 tablespoon of  molasses.  Simple mix in a bowl using a wood spoon until completely blended, then store in an air tight container. It yields one cup and if you desire an even darker, richer brown sugar, add an additional tablespoon of the molassesYou will enjoy the many different recipes which molasses will truly enhance and Brer Rabbit is a name that has been with us nearly a hundred years.

2 comments:

  1. I have never heard of Brer Rabbit mollasses. Will have to try to locate!

    ReplyDelete
  2. when I was small rabbit mollasses was all we used.I tell my grown children about the molasses, they don't know what I'm talking about.

    ReplyDelete