Stop Making Waves

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Yellowbird Foodshed

The following post is about POPCORN.

The last decade the Ballmer house has been without the appliance that is most commonly referred to as the microwave.  I am sure that most of you reading this right now both own, and continue to use, this handy appliance and so the following paragraphs are in no way an attempt to persuade you to do otherwise.  HOWEVER, in an attempt to be funny and relay some otherwise boring information, I will probably come across as an advocate for not exposing yourselves or your food to electromagnetic radiation (the “micro” waves that the Microwave Oven uses to heat and cook whatever you happen to shove into that little death chamber).

I am not a scientist and therefore have not run tests with a variable and a constant to prove any of the following theories, but I am a large proponent for common sense.  Many times I will say something out loud to see if what I am about to attempt actually makes any of that sense that doesn’t seem to be so common.

Example #1  “I am about to jump off this house with a sheet in my hands in hopes that it will act like a parachute and float me to the ground.”  

Example #2  “I am about to consume and expose my internal organs to a pepper so hot, that the person who is handing it to me had to put on latex gloves to keep it from touching their skin.”

Example #3  “I am putting food that is going to go into my body, into a little space that is completely closed and secured, expose it to RADIATION, then consume it without so much as a question of how did that material go from cold to scalding in 10 seconds.”

Again, let me reiterate, this is is not an attempt to convince you to pull that little contraption out of your house that used technology left over from WWII.  The same war where nuclear energy was used for the first time in bombs that destroyed entire populations and left thousands more to die in the aftermath from exposure to RADIATION.  (Yes I am aware that all radiation is not equal) (And yes, I know that we are exposed to hundreds if not thousands of types of radiation everyday and some of them we can’t live without).  

I have stated what ISN”T the point of this post, but I haven’t told you what IS the point…and for good reason, there ISN’T one.

HOWEVER, people often ask the obvious question, “Well then how do you heat stuff up?”  To which I usually give the reply, “The same way that humans have been heating up stuff for the past 15,000 years…fire.”  And what I mean is just the normal oven or stove, but they usually think I mean that I have some sort of fire going 24/7 that I am able to use to heat stuff up…and, I just usually let them keep thinking that.  KIDDING

SERIOUSLY though, it’s not hard at all to heat something up in the oven or on the stove if you are willing to wait around for the agonizing 5-10 minutes it might take to get your material to the desired warmth.  Can you imagine waiting that long for leftovers to heat up? Crazy I know.

Example #1  Last nights pizza.  In our oven there is always a cooking “stone” of some sort that we put food on to reheat.  Set the oven to 400 and wait for it to heat up or just throw the pizza on the stone right away and let it heat up with the oven.  When the pizza is warm or hot, pull it out and consume.

The second option for this example is to set the broiler in the oven to 500.  The broiler is that coil on the ceiling of your oven that heats up fairly quickly and you can put things right under it.  It will melt cheese, crisp bacon, and toast bread (toasting bread was going to be Example #2 but I guess I can just lump that in here).  Put your pizza right under it until it reaches desired temp.

Example #2  Coffee or Water.  Pan. Stove.

Example #3  Leftover dish’s like Stir-Fry or Spaghetti/Lasagna/Random Pasta or Rice Dish.  Pan/Skillet on a stove. Add a little butter/oil/sometimes even just a little water will do the trick and heat it up.  Now here you do have to add another step. Stirring it occasionally. Again, it is super cumbersome to have to move that spoon around so don’t even think about getting rid of that machine that is cooking your food with waves that can actually interfere with WiFi connections.

Example #4  POPCORN. Took me a while didn’t it? (see sentence #1)  It won’t be worth the wait. First off, I eat a LOT of popcorn…like 5 nights a week…and maybe a bowl on Saturday or Sunday afternoon as a snack.  This popcorn consumption spiked almost simultaneous to the elimination of the radioactive cooking box. Reason? Because popcorn cooked on the stove is like fluffy, flavorful, filling manna from heaven.  My whole life I had been eating artificially flavored, dry fluff that was pretending to be the real thing and falling drastically short.

Let me give you a short tutorial in case you too are being tricked by fake popcorn.  Get some yellow, white, red, or even blue kernels from a legit source. They sell them at the big box stores but trust me, it’s worth going into a little amish store and buying an unmarked bag that clearly was grown in the surrounding acres.  Pay whatever they ask.

Find your partners favorite deep stock pot.  You are going to ruin this pan for cooking anything but popcorn so for sure grab the best one.  Put that on your burner and crank the heat up to at least Medium High.

Next, get some fat…don’t mess around at this step.  I’m talking pork lard or full fat butter…better yet, do a 50/50 combo of the two. Take an ice cream scoop and get a raquetball size blob and drop it into your hot pan.  You will know it is the right amount if when you look at it, you think, “That looks like way too much!”

Now, and this part you need to be super exact, grab 4 handfuls of kernels out of your shady looking bag of popcorn seeds.  The indicator here will be if there are some rocks or bugs that you need to remove to get a clean grab. Throw exactly 4 handfuls of seeds into the pan and listen to them start to talk to you.  It will kind of be a whisper but don’t be tricked into leaning in closer to hear what they are saying, because the oil is so hot by this point that it will definitely pop and scald you for the attempt.  Cover with a lid that doesn’t fit right.

Minutes will pass.  You will think you did it wrong.  You will curse me for playing a joke on you.  And then it will happen. The sound of death being beat back by life.  The sound of a seed that would sit on your shelf for eternity unharmed, turning itself inside out, and offering you it’s very essence.  The ultimate sacrifice. Apparently it only takes 1, because almost immediately following another will make a similar sacrifice. Now they are all offering themselves up so fast you can’t distinguish one from the next.  You will run around in a frenzy wondering if you put too much oil…or not enough corn…or if the doghouse is going to be worth it for using the good stock pot instead of the old one.

Finally, you will start to hear the “popping” decrescendo.  Gradually that will fade to individual pops and now you will remember that the pan is hot and in a flurry you will search for hot pads, snow mittens, the t-shirt off your back even would work to keep your hands from burning on the handles.  For goodness sakes have a giant bowl ready to dump haphazardly all the glorious corn into. You are now one step away from jamming your teeth full of hulls that will cut your gums into glorious post annihilation mayhem.

Salt.  Pink Himalayan Salt.  Not in a shaker, it would take too long.  We are talking bulk…empty a peanut butter jar if necessary to be able to get your entire hand in.  Grab a handful and spread like you are seeding a lawn. Take the entire giant bowl now in both hands and toss the popcorn straight up in the air so that none of it is left in the bowl.  Let all the contents fall straight back down into the bowl. Repeat until satisfied….usually that is 20 times for me…it could be done in 2 for normal people.

Now, grab an entire handful while it is still hot enough to burn you and stuff the entire handful in your mouth all at once.  I did NOT say fingers full, I said hand. You will know you have done it right if your jaw unhinges like a cobra trying to swallow a baby deer.  Another good indicator will be if corn is breaking away and falling onto the counter, floor, couch cushions etc.

Finally, put nothing away.  Leave the kitchen a disaster.  You will know you have done this right if at breakfast tomorrow, your significant other is not talking to you, the kitchen is spotless, and you can’t remember what you might have done wrong to earn this silent treatment.  Doing some quick math on the figures that I gave you earlier, you will very quickly deduce that our breakfasts are very quiet. It’s nice to not have to wake up to a noisy house.

In short, throw away your microwave…I told you this post was about POPCORN.

 

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