Post #586 The Popcorn on the Tree

August 25, 2018 at 4:24 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #586 The Popcorn on the Tree

It seems to be time for a post about popcorn again.  I like the stuff.  It was the first thing my parents decided I was “old enough” to make on my own.  I was about seven, I think.  Maybe a little younger.  We had an electric popper that was basically an electric coil on a base with a metal pot that sat on the base.  The metal pot had a ceramic handle and a glass lid.  Dad showed me how to carefully measure out Crisco and wait till it had melted, then add the corn.  Then I had to keep the kernels moving to avoid scorching.  I had to keep that thing moving non-stop until all the kernels had popped.  All the while, I had to keep a hand on the glass lid to keep it from coming off and having popcorn all over the kitchen.  Once it was done, I had to melt a little butter and spread it over the corn and sprinkle with salt.  Hard to believe that’s the start of my brilliant cooking career.

My mom spent the first part of her life on the family farm during the Depression years.  She used to regale us with stories of the fun times she and her large collection of brothers and sisters had.  Riding on the backs of cows, jumping from the hay loft into piles of hay, sitting around the radio with a bowl of popcorn in the evening.  Many times, that bowl of popcorn would become breakfast the next morning with milk and sugar.  Sort of a puffed corn cereal.  They made candy and ice cream out of snow.  Most of the fun they had was home made.

When we kids were younger and moving around a lot because of dad’s military service, a lot of our fun was home made because we were always the new kids in the neighborhood.  So we played games, watched TV, read, told stories, listened to mom and dad reminisce, and ate snacks.  Bowls and bowls of popcorn went down our throats.  Then we hit our teen years and we all floated away like leaves in the wind.

Funny thing happens though.  Memories of fun times from childhood come back and tug at you.  Families expand, moms become grandmas, roles get reversed.  Suddenly new kids run around the house and you start remembering how to keep them entertained on the cheap.  With popcorn, usually.  At least in our house.

One day in winter, my nephew had just started school and came home with a paper chain in red and green.  It was about six feet long and was for their Christmas tree at home.  He was so proud of it!  He asked if we could make one for grandma, so we drove right out and got the supplies, all the way down to “the right glue stick” and scissors.  I was making stew for dinner so it didn’t really need any attention.  He showed me how to make the chains and we went to town.  By the time grandma came home, we had about ten feet of paper chain for her.

But during our conversation while making the chain,  I shared some stories from when we were his age, and when his grandma was his age.  I told him about the popcorn on the tree.  His eyes lit up and he asked if we could make popcorn strings for his Christmas tree.

So, a few days later, we did.  Every time he started to get bored, we’d take a break, but we kept at it almost all day and eventually had enough to drape over his tree and his grandma’s tree.  We strung popcorn, cranberries, and for added touches, we tied chocolate candy kisses in colored foil into random places.  Would have been more, but we ate a ton of them.

And I told him the story of his first Christmas, when I had made popcorn strings for the tree.  He was just learning to walk, had toddled over to the tree, found the end of the popcorn string and slowly ate his way up the string until he nearly pulled the tree onto himself.  His reply was classic.

“I guess that’s where I learned to like popcorn so much.”

Yeah, kid, it’s in the genes.

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