Soybeans and Milo

Well… I am again riding on the Tanglefoot Trail and still learning new things each day. As you know, I’m a country girl, lived in the country all my life….raised on a farm…..did my due in the cotton fields and garden. Thought I was pretty knowledgeable about crops from the South. It appears I didn’t know as much as I thought!

When riding the other day, I took some images of some green soybean fields and some milo with their crusty grainy tops.

Soybean Field

The soybeans were not ready for harvesting yet, but it looked like the milo might be.

Milo Field

Milo Closeup

When visiting with my 93 year old dad this past weekend, I asked him exactly what was milo used for anyway? I knew it was a grain and assumed it must be something used for cow feed. It’s not a crop that daddy had ever planted. He usually had cotton fields and  maybe a few crops of soybeans, but it was the cotton fields that I primarily remembered.

Well, turns out, he was like me and assumed it was for feed also. So today, I figured maybe I needed to just Google it.

Turns out Milo is sorghum and is used in feed. Didn’t know it was sorghum. But it is different from the sorghum I did remember. Milo sorghum is shorter and is a grain sorghum, where as sweet sorghum (the only sorghum I was familiar with) is taller and sweet and used to make molasses. That’s the sorghum I can recall.

Equipment for Harvesting Milo

Milo Field Partially Harvested

Not sure that daddy ever raised sweet sorghum, but I can remember seeing it on a wagon and daddy stripping the leaves away and telling us to chew on the stalk. Sure enough, sweet. There were certain men in the community who made molasses out of sweet sorghum. Think the farmers would haul their sweet sorghum stalks to the man and the stalks would be ground up, the juices then cooked over a fire until it became molasses.

The molasses maker would keep a certain number of the buckets of molasses as pay and the farmer would come home with the rest.

Molasses was stored in metal buckets with lids. Sometimes the molasses might be too thin to my parents or grandparents taste… really never knew how it was going to turn out I guess.

We ate molasses on buttered biscuits. But it was also warmed up on the stove before pouring over the biscuit. The hot biscuits would be split open and buttered, left open face and then the hot molasses poured over.

My grandmother had a special little half moon shaped pan that was only, and I mean only, for warming up molasses. Whatever was not eaten from a meal, stayed in the pan, set off to the side and re-heated for the next time biscuits were served.

I don’t remember my mother having anything so special to heat up molasses, but my grandmother had the “molasses pan.”  One of my sisters is in possession of it now……but that’s okay…..I have the “jello” pan)))))

Molasses will eventually get grainy and turn to sugar. If it’s just a little bit, that’s okay, when you heat it up, the graininess melts away and you’d never know the difference. Molasses wasn’t substitute for syrup in recipes as I recall, but some cookie recipes called for molasses.

Just blogging about the molasses now makes we want to bake some biscuits and heat up some molasses. But I know, just like every other time in the past, if I go out and buy molasses…..we’ll eat them about once or twice and they will be pushed to the back of the pantry and next time you open it….gone to sugar.

If your appetite has been whetted  for molasses….here’s a recipe for Molasses Crinkles right out of the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook.

Molasses Crinkles
(Thick, chewey, with crackled, sugary tops)

A note by Betty Crocker herself: When served at Mrs. Fred Frendell’s in St. Paul, Minnesota, they were so delicious I begged for the recipe. Thanks to her, thousands of home have enjoyed these spicy cookies.

Mix together thoroughly…

3/4 cup soft shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses

Sift together and stir in…

2 1/4 cups sifted Gold Medal Flour
2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Chill dough. Roll into balls the size of large walnuts. Dip tops in sugar. Place, sugared side up, 3″ apart on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle each cooky with 2 or 3 drops of water to produce a crackled surface. Bake just until set but not hard.

Temperature: 375 degrees (quick mod. oven)
Time: Bake 10- to 12 min.
Amount: About 4 doz. 2 1/2″ cookies

Note: Betty Crocker never ever listed calorie count. I liked her.

Ah well….thanks to my Mama (my grandmother) for making those memories)))

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