Wednesday, July 16, 2008

HM Popped Corn, And I Don't Care

A few days ago, I mentioned popcorn. Not the modern microwave popcorn, but real popcorn. Not so real that you toss a cob of it in the fire, but the kind you buy in a clear plastic bag at The Devil's Playground. Or Country Mart, or Kroger (if they are still in business), or Dierbergs, or Schnucks, or any supermarket. I can't really say where mine came from. I found it in the pantry last week when we re-filed our canned goods and dry goods alphabetically. Not really. Who do you think I am, Redneck Diva? But we reorganized and checked expiration dates. It seems that I am turning into my mother. I found some items that were good until 2004. That must mean they've been in there since 2002. How time flies.

My popcorn was some generic kind, the small white popcorn, not the big yellow popcorn, in a bag with a ziplock top that had been opened. But I thought to myself, "How bad can popcorn go if you leave it unattended for 5 or 6 years?" I had some old butter-flavored oil in another cabinet, but that went into the circular file under 'things that might kill me'. I think I bought this popcorn when the kids were little, so I could show them that popcorn did not always come flavored with movie butter in its own paper sack to be tossed into a microwave for 3:50.

I decided to pop some of this historic treat the other night, right after The Pony had gone to bed. It wasn't on purpose...I just didn't get around to it sooner. I'm sure The Pony wondered what I was up to, what with his room being on the other side of my kitchen wall. His bedroom was the dining room on our house plans. Good thing our little 'surprise' was discovered the week the Mansion was being framed. Filling in a wall and adding a door changed a dining room into a bedroom fairly easily. But that's neither here nor there. We're here to behold the glory of popcorn.

I poured some vegetable oil in a saucepan, covering the bottom by about 1/4 inch. I dropped in one kernel of popcorn, put a lid on the pan, and turned the burner to that little notch between Medium High and High. In my future snack bowl, I poured enough kernels that would cover the bottom of that pan. By that time, the single kernel popped, and I knew the oil was ready. I poured in the popcorn, replaced the lid, and started shaking that pan slowly back and forth. It popped in no time. I had set out another bowl in case of overflow. When the rising tide of popcorn lifted the lid, I poured some into the other bowl. Then I went back to shaking until I didn't hear any more popping. Voila! The #1 son and I had a tasty treat. A purist, I added only salt. The boy went to great lengths to melt butter in the microwave, and add salt and pepper. He's an odd duck.

You know I don't like to toot my own horn, but the boy proclaimed, "This is the best popcorn I ever ate!" I'll take him at his word. We each had only 4 or 5 old maids in our bowl. You know, the unpopped kernels, not little old ladies with too many cats, or a dog who likes bones from the cupboard. That bowl would be too heavy to carry. The first bite of my crunchy carby corn sent me to another time and place. I was in the kitchen of my childhood home, watching my mom pour white popcorn into a brown paper grocery sack. Remember those? She had popped about three pans of it for our Saturday night trip to the drive-in. Those were the days, my friends. The four of us piled into our black Oldsmobile 98 with our contraband corn. I'm sure we took sodas as well. That was back when the cans were flip-top. They came all the way off, and you dropped the sharp metal into the can, not considering that you could choke on it, swallow it, or in the very least ingest whatever germs were on the top of that can before you opened it. We might even have taken Dixie cups and those 'big' 16-oz glass bottles of Pepsi.

My sister-the-future-mayor's-wife fought with me for the back dashboard. That's what we called the space under the back windshield. Whoever got that spot could lay there and watch the movie, falling asleep comfortably if it got boring. The other one would have to sit in the middle of the back seat to see between Mom's and Dad's head, and lay down unable to see the movie if they got tired. Oh, and whoever won this prize piece of car estate rode there the whole way, in her pajamas, of course. No seatbelts for us! Did they even put them in cars back then? I'm sure ours were always stuffed down in the seat crack if we had them.

Don't you young whippersnappers try telling me about Jiffy Pop, either. We didn't do Jiffy Pop. It was an extravagance that we never got during the early childhood years of shopping at the Poplar Bluff Piggly Wiggly. My mom gave in a few years later, and allowed us to try it. The anticipation was better than the corn. And let's also try to forget those ancient days of popcorn poppers in the college dorm.

Nothing beats a saucepan, vegetable oil, white popcorn, and salt.


Sharon said...

There was nothing like the back window of a car. Wonder why we made it through without seatbelts?
Popcorn is a favorite of mine. Especially when made in an iron frypan on the stove. Now I don't have to shake the pan because there is a winder to keep the popcorn moving but it still goes on the stove.

Hillbilly Mom said...

We also rode in the back of my dad's truck, on the highway, sitting on the tailgate with our feet dangling.

I haven't popped corn in an iron fry pan, but my mom cooked almost every meal in one. And she was careful never to wash it, but only to wipe it out.