Autumn is a great time to experiment with making your own flavored popcorn. If you pop it yourself in a large pot on your stove, it costs way less money, and it’s super fun for your kids to look through a clear lid to see the popcorn kernels popping around like crazy! It’s not that hard, really.
First pour 1/4 cup of vegetable oil into the pot to coat the entire bottom of the pot. Put it on medium heat. Pour 1/2 cup of popcorn into the pot. Don’t forget to put the lid on the pot. One time I was making popcorn at my friend’s house with her kids, and we were watching the popcorn on the bottom of the pot. The phone rang and for some reason we all walked out of the room without covering the pot. Five minutes later there was popcorn all over the kitchen! The air was full of flying popcorn! And it was impossible to put the lid on the pot when it was spitting out boiling hot kernels in all directions. We laughed hysterically, accidentally crushed popcorn under our feet, and finally got the lid onto the pot. It was a lot of work to clean up.
So don’t do that. Remember to put the lid on.
Let me back up to say that you need to take the pot off the heat for one minute after you hear the first popcorn kernel pop. Then return the pot to the heat. Shake the pot continuously back and forth, taking turns with anyone else in the room, making sure their turns are longer than yours so that you do less work.
As soon as the popcorn stops popping, shut off the stove, open the lid, and dump the popcorn into a large bowl. If you are having a party, everyone can make their own toppings in their own bowls or paper bags. My favorite flavor of popcorn is cheese popcorn, you know, the kind that actually looks orange. Well, I had no idea that you can get the same basic flavor by shaking Parmesan cheese on some air-popped popcorn. And it’s not bad for you, because it’s real cheese. It contains calcium and protein. Of course cheese has calories, but at least they’re not empty calories.
If you eat the air-popped popcorn with salt on it, it has almost no calories at all. Only do this if you’re on a diet, because it’s a whole lot better with butter. Real butter. Melt butter either on the stove or in the microwave, and pour it on top of your popcorn. Yum.
I’ve tried making mixtures of chili popcorn by using chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin, but I didn’t really like it that much. Maybe if you mix it with Parmesan and don’t go overboard on the chili powder, it would be more delicious, if you are in a spicy sort of mood.
Of course, the grand finale is caramel popcorn, which takes longer to make, but it’s delicious. Cook 1 cup of brown sugar, 4 tablespoons of margarine, 1/4 cup of corn syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan under medium heat, stirring continuously. When it bubbles, stir another five minutes. Pawn this task off to your children, who have way more energy than you do. At the end of five minutes, stir in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Then pour it over the popcorn that is on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake an hour at 200 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes.
If you are impatient and want to eat the caramel popcorn without baking it at all, go ahead. It’s a lot stickier, but it’s still yummy. Especially if you’re pregnant and you have a craving for caramel popcorn, you definitely wouldn’t want to wait an entire hour!