Sunday, August 27, 2006

One for the Grazers

Time for a vegetarian treat – popcorn. Popcorn now a day evokes an image of tossing a pre-packaged bag o’ corn into the microwave and four minutes later you have a roaring conflagration in your microwave. I actually saw this happen, a student running out of the squadron building with a huge ball of fire in his hands and pitching it out into the street. No one was hurt and I’ll bet the student tells that story to this very day.

Before that there was air pop, a way to keep the oil out of the equation and produce popcorn with the texture of packing material. And who can forget Jiffypop? Jiffypop, a prepackaged foil pan of popcorn that you popped over the stove, was also an excellent method for starting fires.

Evidence from the archeological records show that when the Aztecs weren’t busy cutting the hearts out of their victims for offering to the gods (there’s another god o’ the week in the making), they were popping corn over hot embers. As the kernel heats, the hull conducts the heat to its center, softening the protein and starch present well past the boiling point, and forming steam from the ensuing liquids. Eventually the pressure becomes too great, the hull cracks and in the sudden absence of pressure, the mass of starch and protein puff up. While other types of corn will “pop” only true popping varieties will yield the fluffy treat we have come to know and love. Want to read more? Hit the library and check out “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen” by Harold McGee.




I like to take a page out of mom’s cookbook and pop over the stove in a three quart sauce pan, with a lid (safety tip). Add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan, drop in a couple kernels for temperature indicators and several slices of jalapeños. I use peanut oil for the extra flavor, but if you are worried about the cholesterol monster or eating peanuts brings on convulsions, you can opt for canola. Slap on the lid put the spurs to the pan and wait for the sounds of the indicator kernels popping – you can now add the popcorn. I put in around 2/3 of a cup. Shake the pan back and forth over the burner until the popping settles down to a couple every second; you are then ready to de-pan. To keep the tradition alive I use the mixing bowl my mother-in-law used back in the fifties. At this point you can exploit some cows and add melted butter and or salt.

The tough part will be finding something on TV that won’t scar junior for life, if indeed it is not already too late, and settle on the couch and enjoy some quality family time. Oh, you can remove the jalapeño slices if you wish, but I find them rather tasty and leave them in the mix.

Here is some help in making the decision on that movie courtesy of the Cursed Tongue

Like to cook, want a quick and easy oriental stirfry? Check this out! Foodcrazee has it going on in the kitchen!!

20 Comments:

At 9:30 PM, Blogger jin said...

Well, phos you are 3 for 3 today!!!

1. YUMMY a grazer treat!
2. On Food & Cooking is the best book EVER!
3. YAY for making that popcorn on the stove instead 'o the nuclear microwave!

Personally, I like to pour in a few cups of kernels 'cuz I get a huge kick out of that 'poppy' noise as they overflow all over the stove & floor. It makes me giddy!!! Hahaha!
Note: I only make popcorn at my pop's house!
I ain't stooopid ya know! ;-)

 
At 10:43 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

I love pop-corn - the salted.

Keshi.

 
At 6:35 AM, Blogger Becky said...

My ma still pops popcorn in the big pot, and it is a refreshing change from the popcorn bag.

 
At 7:22 AM, Blogger fairscape said...

pk

Never tried the bagged stuff. Too many chemicals. I heard there was a lawsuit going against Jiffypop by the workers in the factory that handles the artificial butter powder. Made them sick or die or something. Aren't I a wealth of knowledge today? Anyways, I like the airpopper. Melt some salted butter and voila! instant party in a bowl. Yum!

 
At 6:44 PM, Blogger jin said...

Yes fairscape. I believe it was some sort of throat cancer. A majority of the workers in the factory that made the artificial butter powder ended up with the same thing. The way I heard it on NPR (several months ago) it was in association with the microwave bagged variety.

 
At 7:24 PM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Jin: Ever pop corn over a camp fire with one of those basket poppers? There is a definite art to that….

Keshi: A little salt, a little jalapeño an a bit of butter and it is good to go – worst ever popcorn = theater popcorn. It tastes like styro packing peanuts.

Becky: I can’t abide the smell of the bag stuff, especially the stuff with extra “butter”. I don’t even like warming up my lunch in a micro where someone has pooped the junk, I think it ruins the taste of the food.

FS: Now that you mention it, I seem to remember something about the Jiffycancer. That yellow powder ahs never been anywhere near a cow!!
Jin: I think Jiffypop was dangerous just because it had a nasty habit of bursting into flames. The yellow stuff is probably ground asbestos or something.

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

hehe yep!

Keshi.

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger Cherry! said...

I prefer to cook everything on the stove top. I hate the microwave.

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger Cherry! said...

oh and I love popcorn!

 
At 6:41 PM, Blogger Chickie said...

I can't wait to do this with some corn!

 
At 7:02 PM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Microwaves are ok for warming things up, cooking - not so much

 
At 12:40 PM, Blogger Sarah Letnes said...

"…excellent method for starting fires" and "(safety tip)" very funny.

I like my jalapeno popcorn with kosher salt. And I love eating the crunchy fried jalapenos, too.

 
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