This weekend hasn’t been my favorite. Friday I went and got a flu shot with a doctors checkup and as the lady was giving the shot to me she also let me know that it had the H1N1 vaccine in it. I had read enough about it to not want to have it… but as the needle went in was perhaps not the best time to mention it. Most of the rest of the weekend is a blurry haze of being too exhausted to do much more than take care of the children, and enjoy mild flu-like symptoms.
There are certain things that are extremely special to my little children, and one is movie popcorn (it’s extremely special to a lot of people). The other day it occurred to me that I have never popped popcorn in oil, and I thought it might be something special I could do for the children.
First, I had a stash of coconut oil I hadn’t used for a long time, and in my research I discovered that movie popcorn used to be from coconut oil. Then I read that the ratio for popping corn is 1 part oil to 2 parts popcorn. Got together the oil, the measuring cup, the beautiful new popcorn bowl, and a shiny large pot. (and fire extinguisher… just in case)
Once upon a time I had gone to a fancy pilot’s lounge while I was in the Air Force, and they had a popcorn maker that they had filled with jalapenos along with the oil. One of the reasons I wanted to try to see if I could get this to work is so that I could eventually work my way up to seasoning things specially. This time I added salt to the oil as a part of that foundation.
First I put in a whole cup of oil (that’s about 1/2 cup too much) I salted it, and put in a few kernels of corn. I put on the lid and set the oven to medium high. You know when the oil is warm enough because the kernels pop. (so clever ) This is where the group activity part comes in, with the children having kind of clued in by this point that we were doing something interesting in the kitchen I removed the oil from the heat, added all the popcorn (two cups… which was fine for that amount of oil, but NOT for the size of the pot… I kind of knew that, but didn’t care, I was curious… and I had a fire extinguisher handy just in case) We counted to 30 together with the oil and popcorn away from the heat, this is to make sure that all the kernels are at the same heat and pop around the same time… to be honest this part could probably be left out. But it was group participation.
I returned the pot to the medium high heat, shook it a little now and then and waited for the popcorn to pop… and waited… and waited. For a second I thought it wasn’t going to pop, it probably took about three to five minutes. When it first started the children were so excited and wanted to see what was going on, which proved to be dangerous, oil covered popcorn WILL fly out of the pan when it pops. The kids screamed at that (in glee) and I rushed the lid back on.
Once the popping was more steady the stuff on the bottom stopped being able to make it out of the pan, when that happened I took the lid off a little so that the air could help give the popcorn the crispiness that sets it apart from air popped popcorn.
My biggest mistake was too much popcorn for too little space to pop, I did shuffle the popcorn as it popped to keep the harder kernels to the bottom where the heat was but there were a lot of crispy kernels that made it into the popcorn pot. Coconut oil is good, but it isn’t the super buttery flavor that everyone was expecting so I put some butter over the rest of it before the kids got it… but the experiment was a great success… and next time it’ll be even better!
What I’d do next time:
- With the 1/2 cup of oil I’d add 1/4 stick of butter.
- I’d reduce the recipe by 1/2. They pigged out on popcorn but still didn’t eat half of all that I made, and as it was popping the popcorn was getting compressed in there.
Have you ever popped popcorn like this? Do you have any tips and tricks or ideas on flavors that might be added to make it something more interesting or special? I love how into it the children got by the end, and enjoy watching how much they enjoyed it. I won’t throw away the air popper, but I do think it’s nice to have this as a new and exciting option.
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