Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Popping Popcorn The Custer Way

Written 8-28-2010
I am always surprised that more people don’t make their own popcorn! Around here, we LOVE popcorn, often having it for a meal. The guys in our church play basketball after church on Sunday nights, which means there is no time to eat anything between church and basketball. Certain members of our family are VERY hard to live with if they go any amount of time without food (no names,) so that posed a real problem for the guys in our family who wanted to go play basketball. Everyone wanted to go, but we were frankly afraid of starving slap to death in that amount of time (noon to 10pm.) I finally (brilliant as I am!) came up with a great idea…we would take bags of popped popcorn and eat it on the way from church to play basketball! It was great, and we weren’t hungry by the time we got there!

I don’t remember our family ever buying microwave popcorn. Mom can’t remember the last time she bought it, either. Dad always made our popcorn in a pan on top of the stove…Dad says he thinks he learned from his older brother, who he thinks must have learned from his mom. That’s a lot of speculation, isn’t it?! I had some micro-corn at someone’s house a while back (names not mentioned for their privacy…LOL!) and it just was NOT good! Even if we were to want to buy microwave popcorn (no idea why…) we would have a tough go of it, because we don’t have a microwave. We haven’t had one for at least 5 years now, but that’s another post entirely!

I was next in the generational line, so I was taught how to make the popcorn. (It’s never good to learn how to do something around here…you are then stuck with the job from then on out! But then I taught Dave…) Now Dave and I are the popcorn-makers. I don’t even remember the last time Dad made it now! Mom’s never even tried. Reckon she knows better!

Without even taking into consideration the ingredient list on a package of microwave popcorn (just because I don’t have the resources right now) you should choose to make homemade popcorn for taste alone! I guarantee that if you try making popcorn this way, you’ll never want to eat the fake stuff again. So how about it…ready to make your own popcorn?! All you need is butter, popcorn, and salt! A dear friend doesn’t even need salt, but that’s certainly not me!

I start out with a generous amount of butter (or lard, or coconut oil, depending on how much of what we have available!) Don’t use vegetable oils…they aren’t good for you, but hey, that’s yet another post entirely! I would define my “generous amount” as a couple of tablespoons. I always make popcorn in a medium-size saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. (Unless I’m making it over an open fire in Pennsylvania at a Civil War reenactment, in which case I use a huge cast iron dutch oven that is very heavy and hard to shake.) The pressure and heat have to be able to build up inside the pan to pop the popcorn.

When the oil of your choice is very hot, sprinkle in enough popcorn to cover the bottom of your pan. You can start with just covering the bottom of your pan, until you get the feel for the ratio of popcorn to pan! I put more in than just covering the bottom, but I know how much I am comfortable dealing with. It’s easiest to just cover the bottom…

You can give it a few minutes to heat up (you’re doing this over medium-high heat, which I’ve forgotten to specify until now) and then as it starts popping (you’ll hear it!) you need to shake the pan around a bit. Your goal is to keep it from sticking and burning, and so you want to shake the loose corn kernels to the bottom of the pan as they pop. Here I am doing some serious multi-tasking…I’m making Banana Pudding, Mozzarella Cheese, and shaking Popcorn! I promise…the Banana Pudding blog is still in the wings…

When it’s done popping, you won’t hear it popping anymore. Isn’t that simple? You do need to wait and listen for a minute, to make sure all the kernels are done popping. Shake the pan around over the heat to make sure there aren’t any stray kernels stuck up in the popped corn. When you don’t hear any more popping, pour the popcorn into a large bowl, and salt to taste. (Very generously, if we’re eating it!)

When we eat this on Sunday night before basketball, the whole family gets a satisfying snack for less than $1.00. Beat THAT! It’s great for any time you leave the house and want to save a little money as far as food goes! Besides, it’s healthier than most of the stuff you can buy for a quick snack.

I swear, you will never want microwave popcorn again, and not just because you’ll save yourself the free-radicals and artificial flavoring! If you want, you can drizzle extra melted butter over the top, or make this spice to sprinkle over it…it’s a nice change! Use your imagination! I’ve been dying to make popcorn balls, but Mom won’t hear of…I have no idea why!

Popcorn Spice:
1/4 cup ground cumin
3 Tablespoons dried oregano
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper (or less to taste)

Combine the ingredients and pour into a salt shaker (or any old spice container with a shaker lid.) Sprinkle over popcorn!

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