With another wedding cake baked and spring semester in my rear-view mirror, I finally feel like summer has begun. No, summer isn‘t quite the same as it used to be; the three-month vistas of free time I enjoyed from age 5-22 no longer lie ahead. I’ve been nostalgic for those childhood summers lately: sleeping in, spending the day flitting about town with mom, attempting badminton on the lawn with my sister, eating dinner off the grill in the cool Colorado evenings. Bliss!
After the sun set, summer nights in our house usually involved a movie. And where there are movies, there sure as Sam was gonna be some popcorn.
Admittedly, most of the popcorn I remember eating at home was microwave popcorn, though there was also brief stint where Kelli and I found an air popper almost as entertaining to watch as whatever movie was selected for the night. I do remember, quite vividly, one attempt to pop corn on the stove and the ensuing clouds of smoke that followed when it cooked too fast and burned to a crisp. Perhaps scarred by this event, up until recently I had mentally relegated popcorn popping to the arts of yesteryear, one that I was unlikely to ever master. But then, after seeing some friends pop corn at a party — quite casually and deliciously and with no clouds of smoke, I might add — I bravely bought a bag of cheap yellow kernels and decided to give it a shot.
Revelation. Perfection. Obsession. Sublime happiness.
It turns out making popcorn is really easy. And really fast. I’m really not sure now what happened that fateful night as a child when I developed a fear of popcorn-making, but I am now here to say that if any of you have similar fears, give them up! Tonight! You can make freshly-popped popcorn with just a few kitchen tools that you already have.
1. You’ll need a large pot with a lid, measuring cups, some popcorn kernels, and canola oil. The sea salt is not necessarily required, but I’ll be using it later.
2. Measure out the quantity of popcorn you’d like to make. A little goes a long way… 1/4 cup of kernels will yield about 5 cups of popcorn. If you’re making popcorn for more than one of two people, use 1/2 cup of kernels. Add the kernels and 2 tablespoons of canola oil to the pot and tilt the pot back and forth to coat the kernels.
3. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat, making sure the lid is nearby. As the pot heats up, shake the pot back and forth over the burner every 15-20 seconds. The oil will begin to sizzle lightly around the edges of the kernels. Once the first couple of kernels pop, quickly place the lid on the pot and continue to shake back and forth across the burner until about the popping frequency reduces to one every two seconds or so.
4. Remove the popcorn from the heat and continue to shake for a few seconds before removing the lid so that no rogue kernels pop out in your face. Pour the popcorn into a large bowl.
5. Now it’s time to season and flavor these puffy little kernels! They are tasty on their own, but the possibilities for flavoring popcorn are endless. I wanted three different flavors, so I separated mine into three separate mixing bowls.
6. Season your popcorn, using a light hand, and sampling along the way to ensure you don’t over-salt. Here are a few of my favorite combinations:
Melted Butter & Sea Salt
Sea Salt & White Truffle Oil (just a dash! A little goes a long way!)
Garlic Powder & Rosemary
Et voila! In less than ten minutes, you can have fresh, homemade popcorn, seasoned exactly the way you want it. A bag of popcorn kernels costs just a couple of dollars and can yield WEEKS worth of single servings. You know what I’m getting at.
Now I just need to figure out a way to smuggle THIS into the movie theatre… I don’t think they’ll notice, do you?
What are your favorite popcorn seasonings and flavors?