Cook's Corner

Published 7:19 pm Wednesday, September 28, 2005

By Staff
Liven up popcorn for special treat
Okay, here's a horror story for you.
Once while getting my teeth cleaned, the hygienist explained a particularly bad situation for a patient. It seems he was having a pretty bad time with a tooth. He said it hurt, the gums were sore around the tooth and he just couldn't seem to get any better. Upon examination the dentist determined the problem.
While eating popcorn a husk from one of the kernels became imbedded between the aforementioned tooth and his gum. Not realizing the problem, the patient didn't do anything to remove the husk from where it had lodged. Time went by and it seems that the husk began to rot and then proceeded to infect the area that it occupied. Once the husk was out, the dentist decided that the tooth root area had become so infected that an extraction was necessary.
So much for enjoying a great bag of popcorn at the movies. Well, as Scarlett would say, "fiddle-dee-dee". I'm gonna eat it anyway – I'll just keep some dental floss handy to use after consuming one of my favorite snack foods.
A more fond memory of popcorn comes from my very young years. I can remember going in to Everage's department store in downtown Brewton to do a little shopping with my mom. As you entered the store, you couldn't help to breathe in the wonderful aroma of freshly popped corn. Yep, I had some. And I think we only paid a nickel for the bag. What a great treat!
This week's column will be dedicated to various ways to prepare popcorn above and beyond the regular salted and/or buttered varieties. Pick out one that you think you'll enjoy, grab a roll of dental floss and a movie and eat up!
Microwave Caramel Popcorn
4 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
One-half cup margarine
One-fourth cup light corn syrup
One-half tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
One-half tsp. baking soda
Place the popped popcorn into a large brown paper bag. Set aside. In a 2 quart casserole dish, or other heat-proof glass dish, combine the brown sugar, margarine, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Heat for 3 minutes in the microwave, then take out and stir until well blended. Return to the microwave, and cook for 1 and one-half minutes. Remove from microwave, and stir in the baking soda. Pour syrup over the popcorn in the bag. Roll down the top once or twice to close the bag, and shake to coat the corn. Place bag into the microwave, and cook for 1 minute and 10 seconds. Remove, shake, flip the bag over, and return it to the microwave. Cook for another 1 minute and 10 seconds. Dump the popcorn out onto waxed paper, and let cool until coating is set. Store in an airtight container (if you don't eat it all right away!).
If you like something with a little spice, this next recipe may fill the bill.
Popcorn Nachos
one-half cup butter, melted
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 gallon popped popcorn
one-half cup shredded Cheddar cheese
In a small bowl, mix together butter, crushed red pepper, cumin and paprika. Place popcorn in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the butter mixture and Cheddar cheese. Toss until well mixed.
If you like things a little sweet, here's a recipe that might make your family ask for popcorn as dessert.
Peanut Butter Popcorn
2 (3.5 ounce) packages microwave popcorn, popped
One-half cup margarine
Three-fourths cup brown sugar
One-fourth cup peanut butter
20 large marshmallows
Pour popcorn into a large bowl. In a glass or plastic bowl, combine the margarine, brown sugar, and marshmallows. Cook at 1 minute intervals in the microwave, stirring between each time, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Stir in the peanut butter until well blended. Pour the melted mixture over the popcorn, and stir quickly to coat the corn before it cools.
And if you are the type to make treats for parties involving children of all ages, here is a recipe for an old fashioned favorite.
Popcorn Balls
2 cups white sugar
1 and one-half cups water
One-half cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 quarts popped popcorn
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
One-half tsp. salt
Butter the sides of a large saucepan. In the sauce pan combine the sugar, water, salt, corn syrup and vinegar. Cook over medium heat to the hard ball stage (250 degrees). Stir in the vanilla and slowly pour the hot mixture over the popped popcorn, stirring just to mix well. Butter hands lightly and shape into balls. Mixture will be hot so be careful. Place balls on waxed paper to cool.

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