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Fun Food Saturday: Popcorn

If your only experience with popcorn is something coated with yellow granules that comes out of your microwave, you are really missing out. Fresh-popped popcorn is a whole-grain, low-fat food that’s a good source of fiber (check out the complete nutritional picture here) and it’s been eaten and enjoyed in its purest form for thousands of years. You don’t need a microwave; you can use an air popper or a pot on the stovetop to pop corn to your heart’s content, and then eat it plain or flavor it in countless different ways to taste. You can even make it into your own building project (more on that in a minute). So in other words, there’s far more to popcorn than that wrapped-up microwave bag.

We love popping popcorn for movie night but to be honest, we never think much beyond a little bit of butter and salt for the toppings. So for Fun Food Saturday, we decided to branch out a little bit. We started with our favorite stovetop popcorn recipe from The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola: Heat a heavy saucepan on the stove on high heat for two minutes. Pour 1/4 cup of oil into the pan. Turn the heat down a little bit; add two or three kernels of corn. When they pop, add more kernels to cover the bottom of the pan, up to 1/2 cup. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan, and shake the pan back and forth very fast over the heat. When the popping stops (2 to 3 minutes), remove the pan from the heat.

Once we made up that basic popcorn recipe, we tried the following flavoring mixtures:

Cinnamon/sugar: Toss popcorn with butter, cinnamon, and a small amount of sugar. The kids decided that this one would be their new breakfast cereal.

Pizza: Toss popcorn with olive oil, dried basil, dried oregano, and grated parmesan cheese. One of the boys called this “dinner popcorn.”

Chili: Toss popcorn with butter, chili powder, cumin, a dash of lime juice, and some dried red pepper if your kids are willing to tolerate a little spice.

Bombay: Toss popcorn with butter, curry powder, salt, sugar, and dried coconut, golden raisins, and/or almonds as per this recipe on Popcorn.org.

Black Sesame Mustard: Toss popcorn with dark sesame oil, yellow mustard powder, black sesame seeds, and salt, also from Popcorn.org.

Popcorn Bowl from http://www.popcorn.org

In fact, Popcorn.org (the web site for The Popcorn Board ) inspired us with all kinds of recipes, including some for bread and muffins that call for processing the popcorn in a food processor until it is finely ground and using it as sort of a cornmeal. Who knew? But our biggest inspiration came from the Popcorn Board’s recipe for a popcorn bowl that you can make and use to serve, well…popcorn. The bowl is created by tossing the popped corn with a candy syrup that hardens into the shape you create. And although the recipe calls for food coloring, we got a nice pink color with a few drops of beet juice. Who knew that popcorn could be a snack as well as the bowl you serve it in?

Fun Food Saturday: Because food should be fun.

2 Responses to Fun Food Saturday: Popcorn

  1. Beth February 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Two words regarding popcorn: coconut oil. Melt about 2 tablespoons in the pan you pop in, and pop away. That and a little salt, and you can skip the butter.

    • jollytomato February 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

      Thanks, Beth! Now that you mention it, Tomie dePaola has a second recipe called “Friday night popcorn” that is similar – You melt shortening in the pan, and then you don’t use any butter. Haven’t tried that but next time we will! Cheers,

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