A Breakthrough In Popcorn Technology - Kitchen Pyrotechnics Blog at Allrecipes.com - 248446

Kitchen Pyrotechnics

A Breakthrough in Popcorn Technology 
Aug. 28, 2011 9:52 am 
Updated: Sep. 23, 2011 8:33 am
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.
Kate on her way to her '80s theme party
Photo Detail
Aug. 28, 2011 11:17 am
Ah! This reminds me of the phone. Would kids know how to dial a rotary phone? I still make popcorn the old school way but it was a long time before I knew what made popcorn pop! Popcorn is a specific type of corn. Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside causing it to steam and burst (pop) the kernel.
Aug. 28, 2011 1:26 pm
Lovely blog entry! I'm feeling all nostalgic now, and it's your fault. My best popcorn memory is Dad popping gallons of it for the drive-in movie. We'd have a couple of grocery bags of it, dripping butter. Yum. And of course, while Daddy popped the corn (in a dedicated popcorn pan), Mom made the hot cocoa, which went into huge thermos flasks. Saturday night drive-in movies, fresh popcorn and Mom's cocoa. THAT was heaven!
Aug. 28, 2011 4:49 pm
bd.weld, a rotary phone? I have no idea what you are talking about! lol
Aug. 28, 2011 4:51 pm
Thanks lucylove, sorry about the nostalgia trip. Oh, the drive in was such a treat! We still have a couple around but rarely get to them. That's a great idea for something to do before fall weather sets in.
Aug. 29, 2011 12:35 pm
Rotary phone? I was raised with a big black phone on the wall with out a rotary dial. Just crank on the side to turn once to reach "central" to dial the number you wanted if it was not on your rural line.
Aug. 29, 2011 12:37 pm
If you were on a "party line" you were assigned a certain number of rings, like two long rings and 2 short ones. Anyone on the same party line would hear the ring and could pick up their phone and listen to your conversation!
Aug. 29, 2011 3:35 pm
I remember the party line, grannygigi! With 2 teenage girls in the house, our parents were ALWAYS getting complaints from the neighbors that we were on the phone too much. But with only 25 kids in our high school, I'm not sure who we were talking to all the time!
Aug. 30, 2011 9:11 am
I remember the "shelling" with some nostalgia, but mostly pain. Years after we gave up growing our own popcorn, I learned that the corn had not dried long enough. Sore thumbs for too many years convinces me that buying the kernels is the smart thing to do.
Aug. 30, 2011 3:16 pm
Hi Mike! I agree completely...I love the memories but would not grow it myself again. My thumbs ache just thinking about it!
Sep. 23, 2011 8:33 am
I know I'm late, but I love this post. The tactile experience you shared with your son and the a-ha moment you had about the brownies with no mix - love it!
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Michelle Smith Wuscher

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About Me
I am the mother of 3 - 22 & 19 yr old boys and a 10 yr old girl. We have a pyrotechnics company and get to experience fun events all over the state and country. After a lifetime of rarely leaving Washington State, I love experiencing new foods during our travels.
My favorite things to cook
Just about anything except baking. I like to "wing it" when I am cooking which isn't good for baking. And it's also a problem when everyone loves something I made. It can be difficult to come up with the same thing twice. We dine at restaurants the majority of the time but I love being able to make a home-cooked meal for my family.
My cooking tragedies
When I was about 10, my sister and I tried to make a recipe for Shepherds Pie that used instant mashed potatoes but we neglected to prepare the potatoes before adding them on top. It turned out glue-like but the adults did a great job of eating some of it and telling us it was "just fine". But there was a lot of water consummed with that meal!!!
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