Sunday, April 10

POPCORN. That is all.

I love popcorn.  Even better, popcorn is actually good for you.  Before you get too excited, I'm not talking about the microwaveable stuff that is saturated with butter and salt.  A kernel of popcorn, in its purest form, is packed with dietary fiber and even a little bit of protein.  This basically means that it is the perfect snack when you're in the most ridiculous of states: you're not hungry, but you cannot help grazing for food.  Well stop foraging.  Make popcorn.

At home we used to have a popcorn machine (named Marcus) that looked like this:

R.I.P. Marcus

It heated up some oil and then popped those golden kernels.  When I went to school I was forced to adjust to Marcus' absence in my life as well as the fact that microwavable popcorn goes for about $5/box, which can add up.  My solution?  A hot air popper.

It cost about $20, but it has payed for itself.  (No, really, it did.)  Bags of loose kernels are about $2.20 and make about 135 cups of popped popcorn.  It takes about seven boxes to hold one hundred and thirty-five cups of microwaveable popcorn.  At $5 a pop (hah, not intentional), it's already cheaper to buy the hot air popper and the bag of kernels.  Oh snap.  Watch me put those engineering skills to use.

If you're not feeling the hot air popper, you can make the popcorn on the stovetop.  Add oil (canola, olive...) to a pot that is at least 3 quarts and has a lid.  It should be just enough to cover the bottom of the pot, but it should be no more than a kernel deep.  I would suggest heating the oil over medium-high heat for about two minutes before adding the kernels, but it's not necessary.  Add about 1/3 cup of the kernels, which will make you about 8 cups of popcorn.  Shake the pot over the heat to make sure the kernels aren't burning and that the heat is evenly distributed.  Also, the heat should be allowed to escape from the pot.  But I like the hot air popper because I rarely have to clean it.

My makeshift kitchen (ie. my desk) for making popcorn

The hot air popper does have its drawbacks.  Because it is a hot air popper (as opposed to one that uses oil), there is virtually no other flavor to distract you from the pure essence of the popcorn itself.  This is especially dramatic if you are used to popcorn that is infused with fat and salt and butter.  But people, this is an OPPORTUNITY for popkernel growth.  Here are some toppings I've discovered.  I find that the greatest batches are a combination of these:
  • salt - obviously
  • olive oil
  • a little bit of drizzled honey
  • butter (you'll have to melt this on top of the popper or ever so delicately in the microwave)
  • garlic powder or garlic salt
  • parmesan cheese
  • drizzled chocolate or caramel (not too much though)
  • cinnamon
  • Italian seasoning
  • sugar
  • paprika or cayenne pepper
Of course, as a person with embarrassingly simple tastes, my favorite is salt and olive oil.

Final note on the hot air popper: you may turn off the machine and think the popping is over but you are wrong.  The popping is not over.  Be wary and vigilant.  The residual heat will inevitably heat a lone kernel that will fly out of the machine, into the bowl, and plummet to the bottom.  Just as you decide the popping has stopped, it will decide that it cannot contain its thermal elation and POP, causing the entire bowl to erupt.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

And because everyone needs a little bit o' harmonica in their lives:

Tragically, I cannot find a video with the fast version of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" (featuring only Bob Dylan).  The song was originally more of a lullaby, while this version is a lot more upbeat and more suitable for popping corn.  Here, Will.I.Am does a verse, it's Pepsi's Superbowl commercial from awhile back, and it's less than a minute long.  Either way, Dylan is fantastic.


  1. You can also make Karmel Corn...I'll send the recipe later... :)

  2. Please do!! I tried looking up some recipes, but they seemed a little strange based on how I remember you making it.

  3. Okay, here it is, straight from the Corn, Oklahoma Mennonite Brethern Church Cookbook (1980)

    2 cups brown sugar (packed)
    1 cup butter
    1/2 cup white syrup (Karo)
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp soda
    1 cup peanuts, pecans, etc.
    6 qts popped popcorn

    Combine brown sugar, butter, syrup and salt in a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes, then beat in soda vigorously; stir in nuts. Place popcorn in large shallow pan and pour sugar mixture over it -- stir. Bake at 200 degree for one hour -- stirring every 15 minutes to ensure all popcorn is properly coated. This recipe is a tried and true winner! Enjoy!