snappy popcorn

img_1612We’re moving. Did I mention that?

nps-campusOur house sold in July, we closed in late August. Four days later, we closed on the condo. (Building photo above, common room below.) We rented the house back for 60 days to give us time to redecorate the condo.

one of the many common areas in the buildingIt’s one month and one week later. Somehow, with the help of our amazing contractors, we selected everything for the condo in record time. We picked out materials from floors to tile to cabinets to appliances. We picked paint colors and faucets and drains.

img_1509It’s deconstructed now. (photo above) We’ve got furniture on order. We recovered some of our current furniture. I found lighting and closet hooks and rugs, medicine chests and a bicycle hanger. I went to seven stone yards before finding the perfect countertop granite.

img_1534The contractors have been busy. The condo is starting (slowly) to come together. We move in 12 days. Yes. 12 days. We’ve called utility companies and internet service providers and cable companies to shut off and turn on service.

img_1463We have hired a company to run a three day estate sale from October 21 to 23. We are seriously downsizing and there are going to be some very good deals. I am sad to say farewell to some things, but overall I feel lighter going forward with less.

some of my childhood books Through all this, we slipped away for two weeks in the Berkshires, a vacation planned months ago, well before we had any idea we would be moving. It was a nice two weeks, although the rental property was less than we hoped for — it was not very clean which was horrifying. And sadly, it had a truly dreadful kitchen.

img_1587Thankfully, I brought a cast iron pan and a baking sheet, because I always travel with one of each! Ha! Well, if dinner couldn’t be made on the sheet pan or in a cast iron pan, it didn’t get made. I brought along my friend Charlotte Druckman’s fabulous new cookbook, Stir Sizzle Bake, for inspiration. An entire book on cast iron pan cookery! It’s totally brilliant, people. You need this book.

img_1575The good news is the lake was lovely and the views calming. We had friends and family who came to visit which always makes for a fun time. And at the end of the two weeks, I was ready to take on the move.

img_1608It’s a busy time for WORK, too. (In case you are thinking that I’m just packing boxes and dreaming of living in a castle.)

Perhaps you’ve had a chance to see my new monthly column, BRING IT!, for the Washington Post Food section. It’s so much fun to be writing about potlucks and other occasions and the foods that we bring to celebrate.  Check out my Slab Pie story, a Chile Verde recipe for everyone, and the tastiest road trip lunch, Lentil and Farro Salad.

Watch for my story in The Local Palate next month (November.)

And be sure to pick up the Edible DC Holiday issue, arriving on news stands mid-November. Jennifer Steinhauer and I were the guest editors and we asked all our favorite local writers to contribute.

img_1611Finally, I can’t leave you without a recipe, but I’ve been cooking so little lately, I have only my latest obsession to share. Popcorn. Spicy, sweet, salty popcorn. I credit Mary Reilly (editor of Edible Pioneer Valley) for teaching me all about popcorn possibilities. And mailing me enough gochugaru to spice up any situation.

Cracker Jill
Makes about 12 cups

6 ounces bacon, diced (optional)
1 cup popcorn kernels
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 cups salted peanuts or slivered almonds if you have run out of peanuts
6 ounces unsalted butter
8 ounces light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon gochogaru chile powder (or pimente d’Espellete or Aleppo pepper or cayenne), depending on your pantry and your preference

Heat oven to 400°. If including bacon, line a baking sheet with parchment and spread out the bacon in a single layer. Place in the center of the hot oven and cook until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 250°. Let the bacon cool a bit then chop it up into small bits.

In a 5 quart heavy pot heat the grapeseed oil and three popcorn kernels. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn, remove the pot from the heat, cover and wait exactly 30 seconds. Place the pot back on the heat, shake and shake until the corn stops popping. Dump into a very large bowl ASAP. Add the peanuts and the bacon and a little bit of the bacon fat that is on the baking sheet.

Make the caramel. In a 3 quart saucepan, heat the butter, sugar and salt until dark amber (265-270°), add the baking soda and stir well, then add the bourbon and chile powder and stir very thoroughly. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir stir stir to coat everything.

Spread the popcorn out on two baking sheets lined with parchment. Slide in the oven and bake for one hour. Cool completely. Break up especially large chunks.

Lasts only a day or two, at best.


5 thoughts on “snappy popcorn”

  1. What a cool old building! I’ve never seen it before. Part of me is very very intrigued by your upcoming estate sale. But I already feel I have too much stuff too! Ayyyy.

  2. Wow, you are cranking! Sorry to hear about the Berkshires house. Next time you want to head up that way, how about Norfolk CT — some great rental options, and Yale Summer School of Music and Art to leaven country with culture.

  3. I just made a batch. This is amazing! I’m going to be the coolest “kid” at the potluck Halloween party I’m going to this year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *