COLUMN from CRYSTAL SMITH: This Installment / Simpler Popcorn

Published Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm

By Crystal Smith

July 11, 2012. I’m not a big fan of microwaves. I’m sure they are just fine and perfectly safe; I’m just not a fan. I guess they are very convenient, but I have lived my entire time in Buenos Aires sin microndas and to be honest, I haven’t missed it. I have one back home and I think its greatest function was heating up my coffee if it had gotten cold.

Now, with all that said, I love popcorn. What a predicament, you say? Well, not really. Popcorn is not a difficult thing to make. Not only is it not difficult, it’s really a lot of fun. Not to mention you avoid perfluorooctanoic acid, the product used in the lining of the bag and a possible carcinogen, when you make it on your own stovetop. Plus, I feel some sort of liberation for not being at the mercy of the microwave oven.

He waits for it...

Then he jumps!

As popcorn is such a simple thing to make, I’ve been making it quite a bit the last few months. We’ve had lots of fun with it, like the time that Kevin came back from the store with two bags of “popcorn.” I had broken my foot and was therefore relieved of my popcorn making duties. I gave instructions with my foot propped up on the couch while he began the process. After several minutes and no popping noises, the unmistakable scent of burnt corn and oil wafted through the apartment. I thought perhaps the ratios were off, so he threw out the oil and kernels and tried again but nothing happened. About this time, I began to feel very smug. I was really starting to think I had some special popcorn making super-powers, so I stumbled into the kitchen to save the day.

As I poured in a few kernels, I noticed they didn’t look like regular popcorn kernels. I made a note of this, but my craving for popcorn pushed me onward. As I waited for it to begin popping, I took a look at the bag. We had been trying to pop something more similar to hominy. Just a warning, if you run out of popcorn kernels, don’t try to use some other kernel you have around the house…you will just end up with a pot to clean and some wasted oil.

Another fun discovery we’ve made is that Oscar is absolutely obsessed with popcorn. We began by throwing him a few pieces while watching a movie. He would probably do backflips for the stuff if he were a bit more agile. Sometimes Kevin and I forget to watch the movie because we’re so entertained by his antics. Other times I’m afraid he’s plotting against us for more popcorn, his stares can be extremely intense. Thank God he can’t make it himself.

It’s a little difficult to move around the kitchen right now as I’m still on crutches and quite clumsy, so I thought this to be the perfect moment to share my popcorn method with you as it only requires about five minutes in the kitchen. For the most fun, remember to share with your dog.

Simpler Popcorn

I like to make my popcorn with olive oil. Many people say it requires oil with a higher smoking point, but I disagree. Olive oil lends a really nice flavor to the popcorn, so nice that butter is superfluous.

1/3 c. popcorn kernels 

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

                                                                              1-2 pinches of sea salt

Heat the oil in a large stock pot on medium-high heat and add the salt. Pour in the kernels and cover. (A glass lid seems like it would be lots of fun, but my research shows that it will just fog up and you will not actually be anywhere closer to the secrets that go on in there.)

Once they begin popping, shake the pot back and forth a few times while keeping it on the heat. Shake it a few more times during the cooking process. You will be able to hear when the popcorn has finished popping. Once the popping slows down you should count to 3 between pops. If you get to 3 with no popping, it’s done. Turn off the heat and pour the popcorn into a bowl.

Feel free to melt some butter and drizzle over the top or even add grated parmesan cheese or some herbs. I like mine with just a pinch of salt.

Serves 2 people and 1 dog

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