My daughter called me tonight to check in and tell me that she desperately wished she was sitting at home with me instead of hanging out with giggling friends at
the 80’s-theme costume sleepover party she was attending.
OK, that’s not entirely true but she did call me to check in.
And to tell me of this incredible new way of making popcorn involving only popcorn kernels, oil, and a pan.
It’s unbelievable! It makes popcorn…with no microwave involved!!!
At first, I was shocked that it was new to her but after some reflection, I realized that it was true.
I have never made her popcorn “from scratch.” We don’t eat popcorn at home often and when we do, it’s that mysterious flat packet that’s placed in the microwave and emerges 3.3 minutes later, bloated and steaming.
I was raised better then this.
Maybe it was just because we didn’t have microwaves way back then.
But I think it was a little more than that.
My grandparents went as far as to raise the popcorn in their huge garden every summer.
In the fall, we would help them harvest the tiny ears. Pulling back the husks, we would hang them by tying the husks to wooden collapsible-style clothing drying racks.
These would huddle around the wood stove to dry the popcorn. Meanwhile, the trees outside turn brilliant colors then slowly allow their leaves to drift to the ground.
At some magic moment, determined by my grandfather, the popcorn would be deemed “ready” and it was time to remove the kernels from the cobs.
I’m sure they have machines that do this but we used our two thumbs.
My grandparents, my sister and I, and any miscellaneous person who happened to be about, was issued a large bowl and a stack of dried ears of popcorn.
Many hours passed in conversation while popcorn chaff drifted around us.
The secret to removing the stubborn popcorn is to place your thumb behind the sharp little kernels at the narrow end of the cob, then push hard towards the larger end.
The popcorn will, in theory, pop right off in a row as your thumb runs down the length of the cob.
Then repeat the process around the cob until it’s all removed.
I’m sure our conversation during those days covered a wide variety of topics but the only one I remember was constantly comparing techniques to get the popcorn
off the cob with the least amount of effort. Everyone had their own theory and many experiments were done in the quest to find the most efficient method.
Once I remember using a wooden spoon in place of my thumb but, like all our attempts, we always ended up back at the thumb down the cob method.
Tried and true. The calluses that we developed by the end of the days-long process were badges of honor and something to be shown off at any opportunity.
We were left with huge bowls full of the now ready popcorn.
I loved running my hands through the containers. The cool, smooth kernels with the tiny points at one end created a tickling sensation on my skin as I buried my hands repeatedly and burrowed around with my fingers.
I could have sat there forever and had no idea that many years later, I would be spending countless hours sitting around a large plastic box of uncooked rice with my tiny autistic son, creating the same sensations with him.
A shared tactile experience that bound us and calmed us from the frustrating world we both found ourselves in.
But rewind back to the home grown popcorn.
Large ziplock bags of it were given out to grateful family and friends.
It was a point of pride to serve “Papa’s Popcorn” to your guests.
My grandmother cooked hers in lard (gasp!) then coated it with a generous shake of salt and a drizzle of melted sweet butter.
Almost every night we enjoyed bowls of this heavenly snack while playing board games or watching television.
Until tonight, it didn't occur to me that I have never shared these memories with my children or passed on the simple but delicious treat of popcorn made in a pan,
instead of a microwave. That will change.
But first, Rick is asking for some brownies and he rarely asks for anything.
I went downstairs and saw I was out of brownie mix. As I was returning to tell him the sad news, it occurred to me:
there’s this incredible new way to make them using the items in my pantry and instructions found on allrecipes.com.
It’s unbelievable! Brownies…with no brownie mix involved!!!
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.