October 6, 2010


I haven't been to the farmers market in three weeks, so I feel out of my element. Okay, I did go to the farmers market in Southern California last week, and I still have a couple of beautiful nectarines and plums that I have been packing into lunches this week, but I don't have any fresh, local vegetables and I have no eggs, so when it comes to making dinner, I'm feeling a little out of touch.  Especially since fall has suddenly kicked in around here. I would feel so much better if I had a 10-lb bag of Pink Lady apples, and a couple of winter squashes and one large bunch of greens.  Well, except that I almost always dislike winter squash once it is cooked....  And actually, I do have some sort of winter squash--or maybe it's a pumpkin--that I picked up at Oto's two weeks ago...  I also have some onions that are still decent and some cute little baby potatoes that I'm planning to serve with pork chops and chutney this evening. I have a couple of almost-ready poblanos and bell peppers in the garden, four okra that I harvested right before we left for vacation, and the last half of a bunch of organic green onions that I picked up at S&S when I was buying pork earlier this week.  So we'll get through the week.  I'm just anxious to get some good local eggs and check out all the autumn produce this Saturday morning.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a recipe for popcorn.  Yeah, it doesn't really highlight local produce, though I suspect that this time of year, one might be able to buy corn for popping at their local farmer's market or pumpkin patch, but that's not the point.  This is just a quick snack for munching while watching a movie or packing into a lunchbox.

I've never been a big fan of microwave popcorn.  It just seems artificial to me. Sure, it has an alluring smell that sometimes tempts me, but most brands leave that weird film in your mouth, and it kind of ruins the experience.  I own an air-popper, but I haven't used it in quite a while.  I prefer the stove-top method, because of the flavor the cooking oil imparts, and because it doesn't require a uni-tasker (that I would have to go digging in my garage to find).  Special thanks to my Uncle Dave in Kansas City who taught me how to make popcorn on the stove four years ago.  My life has changed.

Adapted from Dave Reid of Kansas City

1/4 - 1/3 cup cooking oil with a high smoke-point (enough to cover the bottom of your largest pot).  I prefer the flavor of coconut oil or grape seed oil, though you can use something like canola or peanut oil, if that is what you have on hand.
1/3 - 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
3 tablespoons butter, melted, plus a generous sprinkle of table salt
OR a generous sprinkling of Nori Komi Furikake (Rice Seasoning)

In a large lidded pot, over medium-high heat, heat cooking oil with 3 popcorn kernels.  Stay close by and listen for kernels to pop.  Once popped, remove lid, sprinkle in the remaining kernels, and replace lid, leaving lid slightly ajar, so that stem can escape.  Cook over medium-high heat, shaking pan back and forth over burner fairly constantly (yes, with all that shaking your lid might not remain ajar, just be sure that the stem is escaping) until popping slows.  As soon as popping slows to about 2 seconds between pops, remove pot from heat. leave lid on a couple seconds as the last few kernels pop, then carefully remove lid, being aware that a few kernels may pop out at you.  Transfer popcorn to a large serving bowl, drizzle with butter and salt (or sprinkle with rice seasoning), toss with a spatula (or two table knives) and serve.

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