dark molasses

In upstate New York today, it was in the high 60s so that Halloween snow is gone. But more snow is on the way. That’s why this was a Kindling Day. Warm, blue sky, no snow or ice. The perfect day to gather firewood and kindling. There may not be another day like this until April.

“This is crazy,” my oil delivery man said to me. I think he was a bit disappointed at the temperature.

“That vine on the side of the house?” I pointed. “It’s budding.” And that vine has not had leaves for two weeks.

“Oh” he was now truly unhappy.

“Don’t worry. Snow on Thursday,” I said.

“Great.” He whistled his way back to the oil truck.

After a few hours of lifting things, I wanted a quick, “comfort food” meal. I know that I rant about only cooking from scratch, but the truth is there are days when some grocery store beans are a great start. A start.

I took a 28-ounce can of baked beans and augmented it: sautéed celery and onion plus some molasses. The result is a one pot meal that, coupled with a good beer, lets the day end on a perfect note.

And for that molasses? Look for something a bit different. Suzen and I found some sugar cane molasses at a Middle Eastern market in Brooklyn. More subtle, and probably more sweet, it made for great beans.


Brian’s Baked Beans, Augmented Style


Yield: 2-3 people



  • 1 28-ounce can of baked beans
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium sweet white onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup molasses



Open the beans and pour off some, but not all, of the liquid. You’ll be adding about ¾ cup of liquid between the molasses and vegetables. You want beans here, not soup.

Dice the celery and onion. Melt the butter in a 2-quart sauce pan. Add the vegetables and sauté until translucent. Add the baked beans and the molasses. Stir to combine. Heat until it bubbles, stirring occasionally.


Source: Brian O’Rourke