Everyone loves a bowl of buttery, salty microwave popcorn, until someone in your office accidentally burns it. Then, no one wants popcorn and everyone is complaining, “Who burnt the popcorn?”
That stench never seems to dissipate.
I was a microwave popcorn kinda gal until a trip to Pittsburgh to visit my husbands college buddy and his wife. I love the Greenman’s and our family trips to Pittsburgh. If three month’s out of the year wasn’t like living in Antartica, we would call Pittsburgh home. As it stands right now living in Maryland, I walk around in three layers of clothes, a heating pad and a fire in the fireplace when it’s 45 degrees outside.
The Greenman’s are gracious hosts and eating at their home is always an experience. Kyle and Laura take such great care in making dishes. You can taste the love they have for food.
My one request when we go to Pittsburgh is to take a trip to the Strip District. I could go on for a whole other post about the many places you must visit when in Pittsburgh but the Strip District is a necessary stop. The Strip is a unique blend of local food and souvenir retail.
Pennsylvania Macaroni Company or Penn Macs, is my FAVORITE! I could spend hours just looking at the cheese wall. BE WARNED, have your order ready when they call your number, those folks don’t mess around with their cheese.
They also have shelves upon shelves of olive oil, fresh and dried pastas, fresh baked bread, spices, flour, nuts and so much more. You truly have to experience this for yourself to grasp the enormity of this place.
Before I get back to the popcorn though, I have to mention a few other places on the Strip that you have to visit; La Prima for the best true Italian coffee ever, Wholey’s for an awesome fish market experience, Penzey’s for a spice awakening, and Parma for super sausage and huge chunks of pancetta.
Don’t stop just at those places though, the Strip is worth spending the day weaving in and out of shops and street vendors looking for the perfect gift or finding inspiration for your next meal. If you are Steelers fan, you will not be alone!
Now back to the reason for this post, popcorn. Our last visit to the Greenman’s, Laura decided to make the kids a snack. It was popcorn and they don’t own a microwave.
Honestly, I don’t think I have seen anyone make popcorn on the stove top since I was a very small kid. I felt a sense of contentment watching her complete this simple task. Michael and I spent the ride home discussing how we were gonna start making popcorn on the stove top from now on.
The simplicity of making popcorn on the stove top actually has me wondering why microwave popcorn took over. Then I think of office buildings and their lack of stove top popcorn making tools. Then I laugh over the smell of burnt microwave popcorn in those office buildings.
Active Time: 5 minutes
A large pot with a lid
2-3 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
Heat the oil and three kernels of popcorn in a large pot over medium high heat.
Cover the pot with the lid and give it a few shakes while it’s heating.
Have the 1/2 cup of kernels ready to go because as soon as you hear one of the tester kernels go “POP,” you are ready to dump in the rest.
Throw in the kernels, leave the lid partially open and away from your face. You may want to use pot holders for this.
Shake the pot back and forth during the popping stage. Once the popping calms down and you hear a pop every 1-2 seconds, take the popcorn off the heat. Carefully, remove the lid and pour that popcorn in your favorite popcorn eating bowl.
Your popcorn canvas is ready to be painted. Here are a few ideas:
- My family loves a touch of unsalted butter, a pinch of kosher salt and grated parmesan cheese. Add some finely chopped rosemary to kick it up a notch.
- For parties, I’ve drizzled melted chocolate or colored white chocolate over the popcorn. Always a hit!
- Check out my post on Facebook for the sesame peanut popcorn recipe. I posted this back when I used an air popper machine. Silly Girl!
- For a taste of the Chesapeake Bay, drizzle on some unsalted butter and a sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning.
- Unnecessary but oh so delicious, bacon cheddar popcorn. Add crisp bacon pieces, drizzle of melted butter (or bacon drippings if you are courageous enough), a pinch of kosher salt, finely shredded cheddar and a handful of sliced scallions.
A perfect gift or for your own snacking pleasure, here is my recipe for SALTED CARAMEL POPCORN.
Follow the directions above for popping your popcorn.
Active time: 10 minutes
Inactive time: 35 minutes
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1/3 cup of corn syrup
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 cup of toasted pecans or cashews or almonds or a mixture of nuts (you decide)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine popped popcorn and nuts in a large bowl.
If you need to toast your nuts, layer them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes, stirring half way through.
In small sauce pan melt butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup over medium heat and bring to a boil. Let boil for 4 minutes without stirring.
Remove from heat, whisk in kosher salt and vanilla extract.
Immediately pour caramel sauce over the popcorn, mix well and spread evenly on parchment. Bake for 30 minutes and stir every 10 minutes.
Allow the popcorn to cool on the baking sheet. Break apart the caramel popcorn and store in an airtight container for about a week, if it lasts that long.