Reader Submissions

by blue midget

It’s a very exciting thing, when redshift reports that more and more people are visiting the site every day, every week, every month. When he gives us the numbers, I look at him blankly and think, “People are seriously reading this?” Yes, it’s true. We’re even starting to get email submissions with oddball questions. There was one with a quite obscure subject, and I took it upon myself to answer. Coincidentally enough, if you have any questions you’d like to ask us, topics you’d like to see covered, rants, raves or WTF?????’s, please email them in. You can send it to Ask Blue Midget, and I will respond.

Submission of the week: Popcorn.

Dear Blue Midget,

Every time I microwave popcorn, I burn it. It says put three minutes but stop it when the popping stops, but I always get distracted by something and burn it. I tried putting two minutes once, but I ended up with a bag of corn. What can I do?

Sincerely,
Too Pooped To Pop

Dear Poop,

This is, unfortunately, another example of how the people of North America (oh yeah, I’m talking to you too, Canada) sacrifice good taste for fast, cheap crap. I’m not sure what gives people the idea that microwave popcorn was ever a good idea in the first place. After you’ve popped it, the burnt-popcorn-of-death smell has permeated the entire area, contaminating anyone within a 30-yard radius – congratulations, everyone around you smells like burnt death. If the smell wasn’t bad enough, the taste of dry, charred popcorn is anything but pleasing. To top the whole thing off, you now have 1/3 of your corn kernels at the bottom of the bag, like black rat droppings, and no matter what you do with popcorn that survived the microwave, you will always feel that your popcorn is somehow tainted because the un-popped kernels touched the popcorn. And don’t even get me started about the aftertaste.

Forget about the microwave popcorn. It was a doomed relationship to begin with. There’s better popcorn out there, worthy of romance. There are some really good ways to get yourself some great popcorn, at the same level of ease. Remember the air poppers that came out around the 80’s? Just plug it in, put the corn kernels inside, stick a bowl under the spout, and in a few minutes, you can have tasty popcorn. You don’t have to watch it or remember it, and even better, you’ll get less of the annoying un-popped kernels at the bottom of your bowl, since the air flow of the popper isn’t strong enough to shoot them out. This is the method I recommend.

Going back to microwave popcorn for a minute: The other issue with microwave popcorn is that you are pegged into one type of popcorn: Salty, buttery, charred crap. With an air popper, you can make all kinds of popcorn – even chocolate popcorn.

The Recipes:
Peanut Butter Popcorn
1/2 cup light corn syrup (or golden syrup)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups popped popcorn

In small pan melt together corn syrup and sugar. Add peanut butter and melt. Be careful not to boil mixture too much, the peanut butter will start to burn. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Stir mixture over popcorn.

Adult Popcorn
1 1/2 ounces parmesan cheese, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cumin
1 pinch thyme
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup popcorn, unpopped

Combine parmesan, salt, cayenne, cumin, and thyme; this is best done in the processor with the blade, process for 3 minutes so the mix is very fine. Pop the corn. Toss with the butter. Toss with the cheese mix. Best served now, but may be prepared up to 4 hours in advance and served at room temperature.

Much thanks to Recipe Zaar, my favorite recipe site on the web, for these two recipes.

The Trivia:
Popcorn pops because of the tiny amount of water inside each kernel. When the water inside turns to steam, the popcorn pops. Coincidentally, the name “popcorn” comes from the Middle English word “poppe,” which means an “explosive sound.”

Also, October is National Popping Month for the U.S., which is strange because National Popcorn Day is January 19, and National Caramel Popcorn Day is April 7. I was unable to locate any sort of Popcorn Day for Canada, so you guys can share our days.