Sunday, March 6, 2011
Pop Your Own Damn Popcorn (and other things that make me cranky)
Did anyone else enjoy Mark Bittman's excellent hissy fit regarding MacDonald's breakfast oatmeal? The Man of Science sent the link to me as soon as he saw it, knowing that my own freak outs regarding "convenience" foods tend to take a similar tone.
See, I understand why people might want to buy instant versions of more complicated food. I know cooking certain kinds of foods takes time and effort and not everyone can spend half an hour in the kitchen at the end of a long day. What I don't get is "instant" versions of food that have fewer than three ingredients and take almost no time to prepare. Regular readers will know that I have a particular hatred for powdered iced tea. It's just tea! With ice! And lemon and sugar if you're fancy! Why does this need to be processed and powdered and loaded with chemicals? It makes me insane.
Guess what else I feel this way about? You got it. Popcorn. When I was a kid, I'm pretty sure that popcorn was made on the stove top. Then suddenly there were large, clunky one-use kitchen appliances specifically for doing this job. Then came chemically saturated, oily, smelly little packets and microwaves with one-touch settings just to turn them into popcorn!
Okay, I'll admit that I have never, since moving out of the house I shared with friends in my second year of university, had a microwave in my kitchen. So I have not really left myself with the option of having microwave popcorn, even if I thought it was a good idea. But I don't think it is a good idea. At least not when you have an obliging stove top at your disposal.
I made a big bowl of popcorn for the Man of Science and I to share on Saturday afternoon and it took me less than five minutes, start to finish. The popcorn that I used was organic, bought cheaply from the bulk bins at a nearby health food store. I popped it with a bit of safflower oil and then sprinkled mine with salt and pepper and the Man of Science's with salt and cayenne pepper. It tastes better than microwaved popcorn. It is better for us. We get to choose our own seasonings. The clean up is fairly negligible. What's not to love?
So, if you've never popped popcorn on the stove top here's how you do it:
Find a medium sized pot with a reasonably thick bottom, and some kind of lid.
Pour enough oil into the pot so that there is a thin layer of oil on the bottom of the pot.
Toss in three or four popcorn kernels. These are your canary kernels. They'll pop to let you know that the oil is ready.
Heat the pot over medium heat with the lid on until you hear the kernels pop.
Dump in 1/2 cup kernels and put the lid back on.
Shake the pot a bit. Rest it on the heat for a few seconds. Shake the pot again. Rest it on the heat again.
Repeat until popping slows down to one pop every five seconds or so. Remove from heat.
Season as you see fit.
Enjoy while getting caught up on American Idol and thinking about how your mom must be in love with Paul MacDonald because he's all cute and bearded and charming and now he's gone and sang "Maggie Mae" to seal the deal.*
It snowed a lot last night. I try not to complain about such things, but I'm tired of winter. So please excuse my crankiness.
Eat To The Beat: P.J. Harvey - The Last Living Rose