Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tasks that are hard to describe over the phone...

Cooper and I may or may not be slightly addicted to popcorn.

An indication your child might love popcorn a little too much: He asks for it for breakfast.

But what is not to love? It is low calorie, at least the way I make it, it has the salty/crunchy factor and is portable. Oh, and costs like 2 cents to make per batch, at least the way I make it. And I am fairly sure it qualifies as a source of fiber, and is considered a vegetable. Or starch. Whatever.

I LOATH microwave popcorn. It is an abomination. Too salty, too, I don't even know what that other texture/flavor is that they all have. It is not exactly greasy, because microwave popcorn is super dry to me. Can something be greasy and dry at the same time? Whatever it is, it is gross. And heaven forbid you burn it. Just throw away the entire microwave at that point.

I make popcorn on the stove. In a pot. Kernals, oil, pot with lid. Salt to taste when done. If I am feeling decadent, I will melt a little butter, or put parmesan cheese on it. If I am feeling fiesty, I will add a little cayene/chili seasoning with a tiny hint of sugar. Seriously, TRY IT if you doubt. But mostly, especially if I am sharing with Cooper, it is just salt.

Last week I was away for two nights at a conference for work. The Bob called, asking me how to make popcorn. This is when I realized that making popcorn is deceptively difficult. You think it is easy, since it is just kernals, oil and a pot on the stove. But there are the ratios. How much corn to how much oil? How hot do you make the burner? How long do you wait, listening to the popping before you pull the pot off the burner and let the corn finish popping without burning?

There is almost nothing worse than burned popcorn. No matter how you make it, when it burns it all smells and tastes the same. BAD. And you can ruin a good pot. Not to mention you have been jonesing for popcorn, and now it all tastes burned.

Here is my recipe for good popcorn:

I am not picky about the corn itself. I usually buy the bulk bag at the store for like 2.99 but one store I frequent only sells Orville Redenbacher kernals, so we get that every so often. I just bought two big bags from a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts from a friend at work, and this stuff is very nice. But stale kernals make for lame popcorn, so keep it fresh!

Use a heavy bottomed pot. I prefer a stainless steel, 3 or 4 gallon pot. Cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of kernals. Pour in roughly 2-3 teaspoons of oil. You might need to experiement with that to get it to your preference. I use corn oil mostly, because olive oil has a lower burn temperature, and will start smoking and burn sooner than corn or canola if you are not careful. But I have used a very mild flavored olive oil as well. Put the lid on the pot, set burner (we have an electric stove) at not quite high. If 10 is high, set it at 8. Let it sit until popping starts. Once popping starts you have to be right there. Once the pot is pretty full, and the popping has slowed down to just a few pops a second, take the pot off the burner, turn burner off, and wait until there are no more pops. The pot stays hot enough to finish the job leaving only a handful of old maids. I pour into a bowl, and season.

This makes a lot of popcorn, obviously you can adjust the amounts to get more or less.

Bob very successfully followed those instructions, and Cooper got his fix. And yes, I DID make some this morning to bring to work, and yes, Cooper did eat some on the ride to school. But he had other stuff for breakfast first. There are worse addictions to have. Just keep plenty of dental floss handy.


Dproudmama said...

Naughty thing to do to me as I am leaving the house!!! I have not had popcorn like that since the 70's - my grandma used to make it all the time. Guess you have an authentic addition going.

Chip said...

I have a Whirley Popper that I think you gave me. Came with fancy schmancy packets to use, but regular oil and popcorn work just fine too.

Hmm... must get some regular kernels.

Here's the odd thing. I don't often make popcorn, but here I sit with an empty bowl that contained a batch of microwave popcorn. And yes, it's not as good as stove popped.