Friday, January 8, 2010

How we used to make popcorn.

Dear Nancy, Jeni, etc,

Although this picture isn't related to the title, it is related to the last post:

That's Luigi in the mohair cat bed before I felted it. He liked it already. Now that cat bed lives at Molly's house behind Nancy's laptop. When Nancy works, Molly can hang out by her and look out the window at the same time.

Anyway, this post came about because Christy called. She is having a sleepover and wanted to know how we used to make popcorn "the old-fashioned way." Apparently she and her friends have popcorn kernels, but no way to put them in the microwave, and no "new-fangled" popcorn makers.

I know I made popcorn this way as late as when I was a teenager - but you might remember better than I (I'm being diplomatic here).

This is what I told her: we used to take a cast-iron pan and we had to use something for a lid (I really don't remember the lid, but we needed a lid.) I distinctly remember not being able to see the popcorn, so occasionally the lid would be lifted off to observe where the popcorn was in the process, and this would invariably result in popcorn flying up into the air and onto the floor, at which point we'd slam the lid back on.

But before we got to the lid-lifting-off stage, we poured oil in the pan - enough to cover the bottom. Then popcorn - enough to cover the bottom. I guessed about those; I need you to say what we really did. Then we put it over heat - about medium high - and shaked and shaked and shaked that pan, one hand on the handle, and the other holding the lid on. We shook it so the popcorn would not fry and burn in the oil. It made a great noise and commotion to shake that heavy cast-iron pan on the burner of the stove, which was probably part of the fun.

And then, after lifting the lid two or three times and causing showers of popcorn (which I recall casually eating off the floor), the popcorn would be done, and we'd pour it into a large brown paper grocery bag, and then pop at least one more batch.

When we had enough popcorn, we'd melt butter (probably in the hot pan) and then one person would pour it into the bag, which another person held and shook around so the butter could be distributed more or less evenly over the popcorn. Then we'd salt it the same way. Then we'd get bowls and eat it, probably watching Ed Sullivan or The Man From U.N.C.L.E. or something on our 16" TV screen.

Ok, that's what I remember. What do you remember?
Love, Mary


Nancy said...

It is interesting isn't it. I can not remember a lid for the cast iron frying pan either. Of course we had to use one! I do remember the godawful noise and the paper bag. I suppose we used a paper bag because it was inexpensive and we could just toss it when it was done.
Yum I like the idea of having some popcorn right now.
For Christmas I gave Christy some popcorn, some fancy salt and two plastic popcorn cups that looked like the red and white bags that popcorn used to come in. I bet she was using that.
I bought the popcorn and the salt at the co-op and bought the plastic cups at Sur la Table with Jeni. I had never been there before. You were right...terrible place. Positively addicting.
Thanks for bringing back a great memory.

Nancy said...

Come to think of it I remember pouring in enough oil to make the bottom shiny but not deep at all. Just so the kernels would get moistened. I could look at a kernel and I would see almost all of it above the oil. And I didn't put in that much popcorn. I think I put in 1/2 cup (or less if it is a smaller frying pan).
But when we used the big pan I would put in about 1/2 cup. I don't remember the corn jumping out so maybe that makes a difference. I could pop all the kernels before the lid came off. I remember listening to the pops to gauge when to stop.

Nancy said...

One thing about this way is you pop almost all the kernels every time. It still pisses me off when I have a bowl of unpopped ones when I use the air popper.

Mary Drew said...

I remember the paper bag filled with popcorn and the sides streaked with butter and oil. I think I'll have some popcorn tonight!