Tag Archives: popcorn

Gliding into summer…

I love being outside. I am a summer girl. I like decorating the outside too making it a comfortable, beautiful place to be, on the cheap.

I recently posted about several lovely things that have come my way of late, including a free bench style glider. Now, I’m the sort who likes to rearrange items till they’re “right.” This season I started with a red bench in my seasonal screen tent. I had finally needed to knock apart and throw out my preferred bench because it passed the point repairs could keep it going. While the red bench looked cute it really isn’t too comfortable because of the shallowness of the seat. I don’t want to sit rigidly upright like I’m in a church; I want to shift positions and sprawl at whim.

I moved another bench in, a legless one that is intended to be a porch swing (which I sit atop cinder blocks instead) but out it came once the glider arrived. Space-wise it made the most sense to put the glider in the tent, space being not “spacious.” I wanted to share with you my inaugural glider ride and popcorn snack.

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With shredded cheese and Nutritional yeast, yum (seriously)

But of course I must show you the view from inside which is really what it’s all about.

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Panoramic view (sorry, it’s not the clearest)

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Calibrachoa

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Lydia, the One-armed Watering Girl

Popcorn fun!

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Tell me this doesn’t look like a moose?!? Okay yes, I drew on the eyes myself to create the full effect, but still you can see it, right?

I pop and eat A LOT of popcorn but I don’t remember ever seeing a kernel quite like this. The ears! The nose! The mouth!

Here he is next to a lamp to show size contrast.

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A medium-sized story about saving things for “good”

There are 3 pieces to understand as background before I launch into the rest of the tale.

1) I am the sort of person who tries to pay attention and learn things from my life. Some things I have learned, others have taken me an abysmally long time to learn, and still more, I clearly haven’t gotten yet.

2) I was raised on the school that says there are everyday things, and then there are “good” things which are to be stored away and rarely, if ever used. This way of thinking was thoroughly drilled into me. “Good enough,” patched, and mediocre described the stuff that should make up everyday living. It’s taken me a very long time to challenge and replace these beliefs, and it continues.

3) I am wild about popcorn and eat a lot of stove-popped corn. My favorite popper for many years has been Wabash Valley Farms Whirley Pop©. These poppers have traditionally not been cheap, and I was fortunate to initially receive one as a gift. I wore that thing into the ground. I replaced that with a second and at some level noticed it wasn’t quite the same. It still made brilliant popcorn but the pan dented more easily and looked shabby sooner.

The Main Story:

A few (3?) years ago I had what I considered the magnificent fortune to land  an unused Whirley Pop from Freecycle. I carefully put it away to “save” it. I wasn’t going to hop onto a brand new one just because I had it, no sir. I needed to get full use out of the one I had first.

So comes the day recently when I decided it was time for the new one. I put the old one out in recycling and away it went. I was going to use the nice one saved for “good!” I deserved the new one now, I told myself.

First thing I noticed when I removed the popper pan from the bag it was stored in, was that one of the little wood knobs on the lid was cracked. How had I not noticed this before? Had it happened while it as in storage? Cracked wood usually suggests cheap wood to me. The wood parts on my old poppers had always been fine, as had the basic turn-crank mechanisms. And then there was that; I started using my popper but something seemed amiss. The popcorn wasn’t as good. I examined the popper and one of the two metal wires that spin the popcorn wasn’t even close to the bottom of the pan. Surely it was just traveling over the top of the kernels. Scorching on the bottom of my nice, new pan seemed to indicate the same. Inferior was the word that kept coming to mind.

Then the cracked wood knob broke completely in two and fell off. It could not be repaired nor did I see a simple way to jury-rig a replacement. This knob is how you open the lid when the popping is done without giving yourself second-degree burns on the hot pan. I tried to work without it but its absence irritated me.

The new popper with its missing wood knob

The new popper with its missing wood knob

I went online and looked at recent reviews of the popper. Many people wrote of a change in quality from earlier versions they’d owned. They said the popper was flimsier (some mentioned “aluminum foil”) and dented more easily. They said the turning gears broke. Hmmm. Sometimes I can be a little slow to grasp points like this; I think something represented as a product, sold as the same thing, is just the same as it’s always been, even in face of evidence to the contrary.  My mind will even make strange, compensatory leaps to account for failings in an item. (I even briefly blamed my poor, innocent, great-as-always Jolly Time© popcorn, even though I was still popping kernels from the same bag that had been fine with the dearly departed popper.)

Boy, did I feel gypped! Here I had carefully saved the fresh, unused popper for “good” and unbeknownst to me it was junky. Just sitting there quietly waiting to be junky. Now, I’m not saying ALL the Whirley Pop© poppers must be this way but I’m certain this one is not as good as the first one I ever owned. And it’s not as good as the one I sent off to the recycling graveyard. And THAT was another mistake. Never get rid of the old but still serviceable  thing till you try out the new thing. I know this! I SHOULD know this!! Why don’t I know this?!

So. If this isn’t a good kick in the head to reconsider my saving-for-good philosophy – a solidly direct message that supposedly good things aren’t even necessarily so or if they were, may turn to crud while they wile away the years unused – I’m not sure what is. And should I ever let go of a serviceable item before making sure its replacement is okay, I expect I’ll deserve whatever results. And my popping situation? I bought a new popper, a different brand. It was time. We will see. Lesson(s) learned. Oh I hope so.

Where’d my beloved sun go?

I’m well aware of the shortening of days. It bothers me, leaves an unsettled feeling for what’s ahead, not quite dread, but a distant cousin of it. Another blogger referenced the “pitiless elemental ferocities,” which is about as good and succinct a way of describing winter’s harshness as I’ve ever heard.

A summer girl through and through, I’ve diligently made a point to “make my peace” with the darker, colder seasons, to counteract the gloom with plentiful indoor light and cheery decor, and to find things to enjoy in the weather. It’s a stretch at times; once I’ve acknowledged the scrumptious pleasure of huddling under a thick pillow of blankets, cozy and satisfied, on a chillingly cold winter’s night, or sipping a cup of hot chocolate after an invigorating foray outdoors, the “list” starts to kind of dry up.

The change in day’s light, the brisk early mornings, and the first leaves turning, are naturally the obvious signs something is afoot. But there are secondary shifts that I have not thought about as much. It’s the quiet. The fans and the air conditioners are silent and still, the doors and windows are shut, and the chirps of birds are distant and less frequent. Everything feels muffled. I feel disconnected from the outside world, residing in my own bubble.

In time, I will adjust and become more comfortable in the bubble-world, shift gears, and invest more in the kinds of pastimes that are best suited to long, cold winter days. I will pop corn, knit, and sing ditties around the hearth. All right, I’m kidding – just want to make sure you’re with me. I can’t knit, I can’t sing, and there is no hearth. However, corn WILL be popped.

I know that I will stare wistfully out the window, trying to imagine what summer felt like, trying, unsuccessfully, to remember it. I never truly can. I know I did this or that, but I just can’t quite get back there, and part of me secretly, irrationally, fears the warm season will never return. I feel like a simple, ancient human who thinks I’m being punished by vindictive gods who’ve stolen the sun.

Popcorn, Crunchy Light of my Life

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I am addicted to popcorn. Our affair goes far back. It was love from the start. To this day, I can’t believe how good it is. It surprises me. I had to give up my delectable friend for 3 years when I had braces as a teenager. That was the deal – no gum, no candy either – but oh man, it was going without popcorn that slayed me.

I’m a stove-popped popcorn girl. That’s the way I first had it and it’s still my favorite. However, back in the day, when I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about nutrition and when the public wasn’t anywhere near as informed, I’d not only consume movie theater popcorn, but I’d routinely ask for “extra butter.” And they’d usually oblige me, pumping more of that mystery golden topping onto my popcorn. (It never occurred to me at the time the topping might not actually be butter. Whatever it was, I wanted it sloshing in my cup. Yes. Well.)

In my less health-conscious days, I also invented my own cheese topping for an occasional treat at home. I’d melt butter in a small pan and then add cheddar cheese to that so it congealed together. I’d pour the liquid mix over my popcorn. [Excuse me while I swoon at the memory.] I couldn’t tell you when I last did that. There’s plenty of reasons to have a healthy diet, not least of which is I hope to be able to keep eating popcorn forevermore if I keep my teeth where they are. Now, I occasionally use a tiny bit of butter as the rare treat, or maybe just shredded cheese. But mostly it’s “straight” popcorn. I liven it up with spices or Nutritional Yeast (don’t let the name fool you; it’s tasty!).

I am eternally grateful that the food I love above all others is actually good for me. I knew it was a whole grain and high fiber, but a study two years ago which gained a lot of attention had even better news http://www.scranton.edu/news/articles/2012/03/popcorn-study.shtml. This link isn’t as scientific (i.e., dry) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/popcorn-packs-antioxidants-study-finds/blogEntry?id=16006251. The short story is popcorn has fabulous antioxidants, specifically “polyphenols,” more than fruits and vegetables. The hull packs the most of them and fiber. We shall refrain here from getting into the whole genetically modified business – I’m really not in a position to start farming & harvesting my own corn to pop. I’m gonna eat what the stores sell.

Apparently I'm not taking any untoward chances on running out

Apparently I’m not taking any untoward chances on running out

Get your popcorn! On second thought…

I have a pretty healthy diet. It’s something I’ve been committed to for many years. Numerous times I’ve read or heard that once you start eating in a healthy way, junky food loses its appeal. Ha ha! (This is one of those things they say in order to convince people to change their evil ways.) I have not found that to be entirely so, but still, rarely indulge. Rarely, not never.

If I had to choose one food to subsist on for the rest of my days, it’d be a close call between (healthy – I promise!) pizza and popcorn, but popcorn has the edge. I wolf down A LOT of popcorn – popped on the stove with a small amount of canola oil. So, it’s fairly healthy (yes, I know air-popped is healthier but that dry popcorn just doesn’t do it for me.)

Once in a great while, maybe twice a year tops, I’ll buy a 3-pack of microwave popcorn like I did recently. It was on sale and the “butter” flavor was cheapest so that’s what I got (and before I went healthy, I was a big fan of butter). Although it was a name brand, it wasn’t one I’d bought before. The first two times I tried it, the kernels popped poorly, maybe only a lousy half of the bag. Oh, but the flavor!! Mmmm. I like!

So I got the idea with the 3rd and final bag, to open it up and pop the corn on the stovetop so I wouldn’t end up wasting all those kernels again. Maybe I shouldn’ta done that because on tearing open the paper bag I discovered the “seasoning” was greasy bright orange hunks of I-don’t-know-what. I’m telling you, they were the color of carrots. Um, I’m pretty sure the butter flavor was not made from carrots… I hesitated briefly. I knew I should throw it out. But I didn’t. Instead I added more regular popcorn I had onhand and popped the mix up on the stove.

But I may be ruined – now that I’ve seen (with me own eyes I did!) what microwave “butter” flavor is, at least with this brand, I don’t think I could ever pull it off a grocery shelf again. I will always know that inside those crisp, tidy white paper bags lurk the greasy orange hearts of “butter hunkettes”.