Friday, July 1, 2011

How to Pop Corn

More in the how to feed yourself in case of zombie apocalypse series. Though I think this one works  better for how to impress someone on an in home movie date.

Actual real IM conversation the other day:

Me: Yeah, but I ate like four cups of popcorn (after working out).
Him: Popcorn = not bad at all.
Me: Butter.
Him: You should read the back of the bag sometime.
Me: giggle
Him: Oh, right

Y'all. You know popcorn doesn't come in bags labeled Orville Redenbacher that get put in the microwave, right? You know that? It actually comes in plastic bags of just kernels? And you can make it *gasp* without the use of a microwave? In fact you SHOULD be making it without the use of a microwave.

Some of my earliest memories are of my dad making popcorn, which he would put in a paper grocery bag and shake with the melted butter all over it and eating it while we watched movies. (This is probably also why I love movies.) Back in the late-80s he definitely went through the air popping phase like everyone did then. But it is better tasting when made with that most flavorful of all ingredients: fat.

Making popcorn yourself is stupid easy (if you don't have that hot oil fear) and it tastes light years better than anything you make in a microwave. Trust.

So what you'll need:
Pot with a tight fitting lid. Any size will do. If you are feeding an army, a huge one. Just yourself? Your medium sized pot will work just fine.
Popcorn kernels
A large bowl
Butter (about a tablespoon will likely do, but more if you feel so inclined)
Vegetable Oil

Here's what you do: Take your pot. Place on stove. Put in a layer of oil to cover the bottom of the pot, about a 1/4" thick (no, I do not have any actual measurements ever). Turn the burner on high. Throw in one single solitary kernel of popcorn. When it pops, you'll know your oil is hot enough. Wait for it to pop. Okay, it popped. Yay! Now: Pour out enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pot. Place lid on. Warning: Do not under any circumstances remove the lid until your popcorn has popped, understood?

If your pot has a handle, gently move the pot back and forth across the burner. If not, don't worry about it. I'm not sure there is any real scientific reason for doing this, just that it's fun.

Now: LISTEN. Just like your microwave popcorn, your on the stove popcorn will start out slowly popping, then reach a crescendo, then slow down again. Once it starts to slow down again, turn off the heat and remove the pot. There is nothing worse for stinking up your house than burnt popcorn. You are better off having a few more unpopped kernels, which will sink to the bottom of your serving bowl anyway, than trying to get every last one popped and burning it.

Also: the chances that the first few times you do this, the lid starts to lift itself off with popped popcorn is high. Just let it pop. If it starts to fall out the sides, well, that's the price of doing business. Again: turn off the heat and remove the pot, do not remove the lid. Worst case: you've wasted 23 cents in popcorn kernels. Big deal.

Once your popcorn has stopped popping, carefully remove the lid and empty it into your serving bowl.

Next, throw the butter in your pot. It'll melt from the residual heat. If your pot is not hot enough (it should be, unless you took like a five minute break in between), just put it back on the stove on low until the butter is melted. Pour melted butter over bowl of popcorn. Ta-Da!

If you want to serve it old school like my dad did: cut off a portion of the top of your regular paper grocery bag. Pour your popcorn in there after it's popped and then top with the melted butter. Close the bag and shake. Roll down the sides of the bag. It's almost like you're at the movies!

As with most of my how to feed yourself recipes, this one is adaptable to whatever your needs are. I'm not one of those people who needs things overly salted so salted butter is just fine with me. If you want more, go ahead. You want spices? Have a blast. Use garlic salt instead of regular. Cajun seasoning. Hell, cinnamon if you want. You can grate some parmesan cheese over for cheesy popcorn. Seriously, whatever you want to do. And if you end up screwing it up and needing to make another batch, I haven't done the exact calculations, but I'm pretty sure each batch of popcorn costs like $1.42.

I'm now gonna go make some popcorn, drink Dr Pepper and watch surfers change in front of my house a movie.

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