I forgot to post last night.
I honestly did. My brother dropped by yesterday evening, and after we had dinner together, enjoyed a delightful visit, and then I razzled two favorite-uncle-hyper kids into bed, I crashed myself. I remembered MoFo this morning at six a.m. Oops.
So now I'm running a day behind. I could have just skipped my snack post this week, but I think I'm onto something here, so I'll just push everything back. That means you get to enjoy my sparkling personality and rapier wit tomorrow, too! Yessir, I'm a giver all right.
In fact, I'll give you a bowl of kettle corn.
I don't know how everyone really feels about the microwave oven. As recently as a few years ago I used to disdain it mightily, dismissing it as the refuge of lazy non-cooks. Before that I adored it; my first cookbook was a kids' guide to easy microwave meals, and some of the stuff in there was so delicious that my mother still refuses to let said book leave her house (chiliburger casserole and pizza spuds were in regular rotation throughout the mid-eighties). Now I'm somewhere in the middle of the two extremes: I don't think it's the radio wave altar of haute cuisine, but I also don't think it's the lazy man's crutch either. Rather, the microwave is now the booty-saver of a woman cooking solo with no child care during a long day of young 'un wrangling. I mainly use our nuclear friend to cut my prep time some: I parcook potatoes prior to baking, soften onions before they hit the sautee pan, or heat liquids destined to become one with my gravies or soups. And, of course, there's snack time.
Almost everyone is familiar with DIY microwave popcorn, yes? I love it myself. But sometimes I'm in the mood for sweet, salty, AND crunchy, and that's when the tinkering with microwave kettle corn begins. I've yet to get to the perfect formula, but so far I have this:
- Use a Pyrex mixing bowl with a plate large enough to cover the entire top, preferably with a little overlap.
- Use two (2) parts oil to one (1) part sugar. About a third cup of corn needs a tablespoon of oil and a heaping teaspoon of sugar [What? I never claimed this was a healthy snack.] Mix the two together with a spatula until they're pretty well incorporated. The sugar doesn't have to dissolve into the oil. It just needs to coat the corn when you mix it into the emulsion.
- The lidded bowl o' corn will finish popping anywhere from 3-5 minutes on HIGH. You know the drill - pull it when the action slows to about 4 seconds between pops. And watch this stuff. The sugar makes it even more prone to burning.
- As soon as the Pyrex bowl is cool enough, throw it in the sink and fill it with water. There will be some chunks of caramelized sugar stuck to the bottom, but it's always come off for me after a brief soak. Give the plate/lid a rinse, too.
I keep promising myself that I'll experiment with other sweeteners, like agave nectar or maple syrup (that last one sounds so fall-perfect it makes my mouth water a little) but I always forget until I've just dumped the old-fashioned refined stuff in the bowl. If anyone goes that route let me know. But I can recommend the results from this method. It's not the exact same uniformed caramelized, beautifully coated goodness as what you'd get from painstakingly tending it stove top. However, when you've got a three year old clamoring for help putting on her tiara while your baby has super glued himself to your hip, this hits the spot.