Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gifts from the Kitchen: Popcorn!

Remember those big tins of popcorn that you used to be able to get from department stores around the holidays? Usually, they would contain neat sections of flavors like butter, cheese, caramel,  and cinnamon. Almost always, one flavor would disappear faster than the others, which was much to my dismay! I never had a favorite: I do not discriminate when it comes to popcorn! Although probably if pressed, my favorite would have been microwave popped, since it was the freshest. This year, why not make your own? Recently, I learned that I could make my own flavored popcorns on the stove, without a popcorn popper! My two suggestions are to use a pot with a clear lid (unless you have practice... I nearly started a fire using an opaque lid) and make sure to buy good kernels. I like both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and both are cheaper than microwave popcorn with enough to fill a tin costing about a quarter. Once you've perfected your popcorn flavor, package it up in a festive holiday tin ($1 at the Dollar Tree). Remember to make it fresh, so your recipient will be impressed that you made the best popcorn they ever tasted!

Cinnamon-Maple Popcorn

1/2c popcorn kernels
1T olive oil
1/2t cinnamon
1/4c maple syrup
a few cracks or a pinch of salt

Add 1T olive oil to a pan with a clear lid and 8c capacity. Spread the olive oil around to make sure you don't have any hot spots where the popcorn can stick. Add 3 kernels and turn the burner on high. Stay by the stove, and shake/ toss the pan every minute or so, to make sure the kernels have an outer covering of oil and are heating homogeneously. Once the kernels pop, your pan is ready. Add the rest of the popcorn, then the cinnamon, salt, and about 1-2T maple syrup. Re-cover the pan and shake/ toss to make sure that the kernels get covered in your tasty flavoring. Continue to heat, shake/ tossing the pan almost constantly (but not quite, make sure it stays hot enough with contact from the burner.) Your popcorn will start to go! The popcorn is ready when you can no longer feel many kernels rolling around the bottom when you are shaking it. Remove from heat. Keep covered for 1 minute (otherwise, undetected kernels may pop out at you!) and let cool one more. Enjoy!

Other Flavor Suggestions (starting from a pan with 1T of olive oil)
Just Salt
Curry, Turmeric, and Red Pepper
Cinnamon & Salt (pictured above)

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