Friday, June 19, 2009

Popcorn At Last!!!

The long awaited popcorn post...
Here it is folks! The step-by-step guide to mouth-watering popcorn, complete with pictures. Sounds like I'm trying to sell something, but I promise I'm not. Believe me when I say though, this popcorn is the most delicious you have ever put in your mouth, bar none. Alright, enough with the preliminaries - let's cook some popcorn!

Step One: Choose your vessel and set your stove-top (you didn't think you cooked this stuff in the microwave, did you?!?).

My DH and I have come to really appreciate our Whirly Pop stove-top popper. It is so easy to use and pops the corn much faster. It's also nice to have a dedicated cooking vessel for your popcorn since it is optimal to "season" it, much like you would cast iron cookware. Before we started using the whirly-pop, we just used a regular heavy-weight pan with a glass lid.
When setting the temperature on your stove top, you want to go pretty high. I go up two thirds of the way on mine. Adjust to suit your stove top's peculiar personality.

Step Two: Put in your cooking oils.
I like to use a combination of oils and fats when cooking my popcorn. Bear in mind that these need to be high temp tolerant oils. You want to coat the bottom of your vessel with about 1/8-1/4" of oil. I use mostly canola or sunflower oil blended with olive oil and just a few drops of sesame oil for flavor. Now, in contradiction to what you might think, I also add my butter now, about 2 tablespoons. You get the same rich, buttery flavor without the soggy, cold butter taste that can sometimes come from pouring your butter on after the popcorn has popped.

Step Three: Add the popcorn.
If you're popping in a whirly pop, you'll go ahead and put all your popcorn in now. For large kernel corn, I use 2/3 cup. If you're popping in a regular pan, you'll put in a single kernel and wait for it to pop. After the first one pops, put in the rest. You may have to experiment with how much popcorn to use depending on the size of your vessel.

Step Three: Let the popping begin!
In a whirly-pop, once the popcorn begins popping, you'll start slowly turning the crank to keep the popcorn moving on the bottom of the pan. It has a unique system with a little arm that moves across the bottom of the pan, keeping the popped popcorn from sticking and burning and moving it to the top. This popper has really reduced the number of "old maids" (un-popped kernels) we have at the end.

In a regular pan, you want to give your pan some hearty shakes throughout the popping. Again, this keeps the popped popcorn from sticking and burning and helps keep the un-popped kernels at the bottom where the heat is.

Step Four: Pour, season, ENJOY!
You'll know your popcorn is finished popping when you can count to three or four between the pops. Remember, your pan is still VERY hot and your popcorn will continue to pop (or BURN) after you take it off the heat.

Pour out about 1/4 to 1/3 of your popcorn in a large bowl and salt to taste with sea salt. I only use sea salt because of the wonderful flavor. If you have finely ground kosher salt, that is delicious too. Iodized salt is only for melting ice if you ask me.

Once you season the first part, pour a little more popcorn out into the bowl and repeat the seasoning. Keep doing this process until you have poured all your popcorn into your bowl and seasoned it.

Step Five: Clean Up
If you're using a whirly-pop or if you have another pan you want to keep only for popcorn, here's how you want to clean up. DO NOT use any soap. Soap cuts through the oil in your pan and prevents the seasoning process from taking place. The more times you cook in your pan, the better it works. So, I get my water running really hot and just thoroughly rinse the whirly pop, inside and out. Then, I set it over to dry on a towel or wipe it out right away to put away. Of course, you can only do this if you have a cooking pan dedicated to only popping popcorn. If you're having to use a cooking pan you use all the time, just be sure to use plenty of oil each time so your popcorn doesn't stick and gets a good flavor.

Well, that's it! Go try this plain recipe and if you want, go check out the cool seasoning recipes that are on the web! Just remember to stay away from anything that calls for Lawry's or accent salt etc. You don't want to load up your natural, yummy popcorn with nasty MSG and artificial flavors!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Long Time, No Post!

We're gearing up for a great summer. In just a few weeks we'll be in Iowa for a week with my DH's family.

DH and I have a tradition of popping popcorn on the stove, the old-fashioned way on Wednesday nights when we get home from church. I make it every few weeks for the kids to have as a snack on Wednesday nights at church in their classes. People ask me all the time how I make it. I think it's just because it tastes so different and so superior to the microwave popcorn we've all gotten used to.

At any rate, I'm going to do a post about it over the next couple of days, giving you a how-to on honest-to-goodness popcorn.

On one final note, here's a funny picture of my horse Tiki. The vet came out on Monday and gave her an annual exam, her annual vaccinations and also filed her teeth. Horse's teeth have to be filed every few years to keep them from developing sharp points that make it difficult for them to chew their food and also make having a bit in their mouth more comfortable. The usual procedure is to lightly sedate your horse since the vet uses a drill with a file on the end to smooth off the horse's teeth. After it was over, Tiki was resting in her stall to let the effects of the sedation wear off before she went back out to her pasture. She walked over to her feed bin and just rested her head on it like a pillow. She is such a funny horse anyway and this just took the cake.

See you again in a few days with the popcorn how-to!