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Friday, November 13, 2015

Giving Thanks -- For Popcorn

Linus: What’s all the commotion?

Charlie Brown: We’ve got another holiday to worry about! It seems Thanksgiving Day is upon us.



We hear you, gang. In all the build up, all the planning, and all the buzz, it’s easy to feel Thanksgiving fatigue  – we’ve barely polished off our Halloween candy, after all.

More than that, though, these cooler days herald in the start of the holiday season, filled with all the bells and commercial whistles that come with it. Things can start to feel -- to borrow from another Peanuts holiday special -- insincere. To cut through mass commercially-induced holiday cheer served up in a red cup, we’re not going to tell you about all the spices, herbs, and dried goods that we have to season your Thanksgiving feast. (We suspect you already know about those, anyway).

Instead, let’s talk popcorn. 

Popcorn is perhaps the best of all snack foods: it's easy to make, it's crunchy, and it can be customized to your cravings, salty or sweet. And a bonus: it's not inherently bad for you, and in fact is full of antioxidants and fiber. Its healthfulness really comes down to what you put on it.

And, as you may or may not remember, popcorn for dinner served as a key point of misunderstanding and (good) grief in Charles M. Schulz's 1973 classic, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

(From A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, written by Charles M. Schulz
and directed by Bill Melendez and Phil Roman.)
So in honor of Thanksgiving and Snoopy's chef skills, here are a few ideas we came up with to Thanksgiving-ify your popcorn.

First, make a bowl of popcorn. One of our popcorn packets makes enough popcorn to fill a large bowl.

Shaman Blue popcorn - hulless, crunchy, and slightly sweet.

My preferred method of cooking up these little crunchy gems is to put a thin layer of oil (olive, vegetable, coconut, whatever oil strikes my fancy), and a tablespoon of butter for extra flavor in a large saucepan with a lid.

Warm the oil briefly over medium-high heat, then pour in the contents of a popcorn bag. Cover with the pot with the lid -- this is important, as things are about to get exciting -- then shake the pot back and forth over the burner, so the popcorn is constantly agitated, like so:

Once it starts popping, keep shaking until the popping stops, taking care not to burn the popcorn near the end. Dump the popped kernels into a large bowl, then season away. Also, it's easier to make the seasonings stick if you sprinkle additional oil and/or melted butter onto the popped kernels.

And now, take a spin on our popcorn Thanksgiving-omatic:
  • Turkey: Sprinkle popcorn with Turkey Brine Seasoning -- it's chop full of rosemary, thyme, salt, and other secret spices. Best used with olive oil and a dab of butter.
  • Mashed potatoes: Pop the kernels in butter, then sprinkle with extra butter and a little garlic salt (or, if you're into fancy mashed potatoes, sprinkle with truffle salt. A little goes a long way!).
  • Stuffing: Sprinkle with a combination of dried sage, black pepper, salt, and a touch of onion powder. Best with oil and butter.
  • Green beans casserole: Pulse a dried mushroom or two in a food processor (or chop with a sharp knife) until finely minced. Add to popcorn with salt and dried minced onions. Try it with olive oil!
  • Pumpkin pie: Add a little sugar (brown sugar or muscovado are nice) and pumpkin pie spice. Definitely better with butter.
Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Just remember, as Marcy said, "Thanksgiving is more than eating...We should just be thankful for being together." Or in the wise and poignant words of Peppermint Patty, “There’s enough problems in the world already, Chuck, without these stupid misunderstandings.”

Words that ring true, especially these days. So relax, everyone. Take these moments to enjoy your Thanksgiving – whatever you end up eating.

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