Saturday, August 7, 2010

When popcorn attacks!

Yesterday evening, the neighbor invited our kids over to watch a movie at night in their backyard, so I figured the least I could do was make some kettle corn. I was already in the kitchen making cookies, so I figured I'd dirty a few more pans. After much trial and error trying to come close to the quality of my dear friend's kettle corn, I have settled on some measurements that yield a decent enough product (I know she has the golden kernel touch and can just magically get things to work out without measuring spoons). I insist on looking at my three ingredient recipe every time, but I also need to follow the stove top recipe on the bag of popcorn, even if I am not adding the secret kettle corn ingredients. I have been a little bit cocky lately thanks to several successful batches. I guess one of last night's lessons was that I need to pay attention to what I am doing, as opposed to just periodically gazing longingly at my scribble notes, pretending to follow a recipe.

Part of my process for making kettle corn is to completely expect that I will burn one batch somewhere along the line...make three batches--throw out one is my usual (and yes, that counts as success). It isn't even always the first batch that burns...I can't explain. Through the past few years, I must've unknowingly developed "popcorn ear". The trick is that it only works if I am listening. My cooking space had been infiltrated by someone taller than me, for a change (yikes, my son is actually in that category now, but it wasn't him). I felt compelled to engage the intruder in friendly conversation. Suddenly, I realized I didn't know how far apart the popping sounds had gotten...critical error #1. So, I opened the lid very slightly to check on things...critical error #2. I should've let that baby burn, because that popcorn wanted OUT--I got hit in the neck, on the hand, and there were some zingers around the immediate kitchen area. Clearly not done popping. I had completely lost my rhythmic popping momentum, and a minute later, had to check the status AGAIN! Another shot to the neck, one to the finger, and more stray fire. Usually by the time I lift the lid, there is one kernel left to pop, and it leaps out of the pan joyfully, unlike the hostile enemy fire I was experiencing this time.

It is important to add that kettle corn has not only hot oil in its arsenal, but also, molten sugar! A tidbit of scalding sugar stuck itself to one of my fingers--ouch! Not only was my skin suffering from the schrapnel , but my impatient quality control instincts kicked in, so I was also burning my mouth conducting taste tests (I am both thankful and slightly disappointed that I do not have video of this to share with you). The only being in the house interested in helping was the dog, but I didn't need him involved in my situation. I was finally able to coerce someone into getting me a bowl to pour the well-done product into, as not to taint the salvaged portion. A few more kernels flew before I let the pan rest. Burn, rinse, repeat. I did make two more batches, so I suppose this was the norm in some ways.

This is what was not the norm...

Now I realize that these wounds are nothing to whine over (well actually they were, as they did sting for a few hours). However, there shouldn't be any first aid at all needed for popcorn making. I am considering having a popcorn dickie knitted so that I can confidently pop my corn on summer days when turtle necks are too warm. I should probably opt for some sort of safety goggles next time as well. I should also get out more than one bowl. Most of all though, I should double check what night the movie invite is for BEFORE making the snacks...oops, the outdoor cinematic adventure is tonight...and I can be rest assured that the children will tell the tale. I might be better off eating that treat myself and just sending them with hopes they forgot!

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