Post # 6 Twirly Poppin’

June 13, 2012 at 10:58 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 6 Twirly Poppin’

My family loved popcorn.  We ate it out of a big bowl, sometimes with butter and sometimes just salt.  The white fluffy kernels were hot and melted in your mouth.  Dad always made the popcorn until he decided that it was time I learned how at age 7.  It was like some great rite of passage.  We had a popcorn popper that was a basic heating coil that started when it was plugged in, no on/off switch at all.  A kettle with a glass lid and a plastic side handle sat on top of the coil.  I melted shortening and put popcorn in, then shook the thing hard to keep the kernels from burning.  I had to hold the lid and the kettle at the same time or the lid would fly off.  Success was measured by the amount of burned popcorn.  I loved making popcorn.

Through our moves around the country (Dad was in the Marines and got posted all over) somehow that machine which wouldn’t even be sold today, much less given to a seven year old to use, anyway, it was lost.  I didn’t know popcorn could be made any other way until Mom explained that a pot was a pot, a lid was a lid, and a stove was a stove.  With her watching me, I knelt on a kitchen chair and manhandled a pot and lid, and made popcorn just like before.  I learned a few things from this.  One, substitutions work as long as they’re well thought out.  Two, kitchen machines that serve one purpose are suspect.  Three, there’s always more than one way to accomplish something.  Four, a single layer of popcorn kernels in the bottom of the pan is plenty.  I learned the last one the day the popcorn lifted the lid off the pot and kept right on popping at a furious rate as I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t spray popcorn all over the kitchen.  Then, I had to find a bowl big enough to put all that popcorn in.  If a bowl that big did exist, we didn’t own it.  I finally had to put it all in a paper bag, which was a good enough solution that from that point on it’s what I did.

Over the years, popcorn technology changed.  Jiffy Pop was a wonderful innovation and fun!  You didn’t have to measure out any oil or shortening, or popcorn.  You just turned the stove on and shook the pan over the heat.  It even created the serving bowl.  Another great innovation was gourmet popping corn.  These are high quality kernels which pop big and fluffy, and leave very few “old maids” behind.  And how many times have you passed a movie theatre and wanted to go in just to get popcorn?  During the health craze of the seventies, a new invention came called the air popper.  Instead of heating the popcorn in oil to get it to pop, it used hot air like a blow dryer.  When a kernel popped it was immediately blown out of the machine into a waiting bowl.  It guaranteed no burnt popcorn and no “old maids.”  The popcorn had a sweet flavor and definitely tasted like corn.  The only trouble was that the popcorn was dry, and no seasonings would stick to it.  You could add butter or other types of flavoring liquids, but that defeated the health benefits of air popped corn.  The machines are still around, and have a loyal following, but aren’t as popular as they once were.  Of course, with the arrival of microwave ovens came the bag of microwave popcorn.  I actually like microwave popcorn, but you get mixed results by brand.  When you find one you like, stick with it.  I personally like Pop Secret Real Butter and Salt.

My adventure in popcorn has been varied, but I always go back to the traditional; that is, traditional for me.  I have a pan called a twirly pop that lets me move the popcorn around as it pops.  I used to own a movie theatre style popcorn maker that I really liked, but it was broken in a move.  I want to get another, professional quality model, but I’ll have to wait until I have the room and the funds.

Popcorn is personal.  Everyone likes it a little different.  Some people like Kettle Corn, a sweet version.  I can’t stand the stuff.  I knew a guy once who would drown his popcorn in butter and salt, making a popcorn soup kind of thing.  Once he got his sinuses scraped, he stopped making it like that.  My brother accidentally sprinkled sugar on his popcorn once, and liked it enough that he did that once in a while from that time on.  My mom used to tell us “tales of the farm” where she grew up.  She told us that they would make a huge amount of popcorn on Saturday night, and what they didn’t eat became breakfast cereal on Sunday morning with sugar and milk.

Popcorn is big business with whole stores devoted to popcorn in all its variations and flavors.  I prefer what I grew up with, and even though I’ve tried many of the variations, I still go back to salt and butter and the old pan over the stove (see recipe on right.)


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