I think the resolution that I'm most excited about is the one in which I send treats to friends. So far it's going swimmingly--a quick Wednesday afternoon project and a cold but short trip to Fed-Ex turned into over an hour-long phone conversation with my dear friend Katy who, while I think about often, I don't talk to nearly enough.
My suspicion was correct--people like to get mail. I know this because I got an unexpected letter in the mail from one of my sweet friends just saying hello and it changed my whole outlook this week. It's so simple, takes so little time, but the results are huge.
My first mail-treat was something simple that I knew would mail well. Popcorn! It's perfect for mailing; it's light, it lasts a while, it's endlessly customizable, and it's perfect for snacking once it arrives to its destination. Katy loves all things truffle, so I knew her unique batch of popcorn would be spiked with earthy truffle salt and freshened up by some chopped rosemary.
Do you make popcorn on the stove? If you don't, do. It's very easy and much healthier than the bagged stuff.
Start with about 1/4 cup of canola or vegetable oil in the bottom of a medium sauce pan. Add about 1/2 cup of popcorn to the oil, or enough to where the oil is just covering the popcorn. In my humble opinion, white kernel popcorn is the only way to go. It pops smaller and more tender than regular yellow kernel popcorn, which I think is key.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and heat over medium heat. Medium heat is important here; if you cook it over high heat it will pop too quickly and become tough. As the popcorn begins to pop, gently shake the pan so that the popped corn rises to the top and the kernels fall to the bottom so that they can, you know, pop. The popcorn will begin to push the lid up, at which point you should carefully pour some of the popped corn into a bowl then return the pot to the heat so that the rest of it can pop. Sure, you could use a larger pot, but that's not how I've always done it.
While the popcorn is popping, assemble your flavors. You could go classic with salt only, or movie-theater style with some melted butter, although that's never been my thing. You could also add some seasoned salt, Cajun seasonings, or lemon pepper. One time, when I was a kid, my friends mom put mac-and-cheese powder, you know the kind from the blue box? She sprinkled that on top and it was glorious. My mother makes some with melted white chocolate and pretzel bits. It's basically a blank canvas, in that it's not interesting at all unless you add something to it, namely, salt. Popcorn only becomes good when it meets salt.
For Katy's batch I used truffle salt and rosemary. As the popcorn was poured into the bowl, I sprinkled the truffle salt over the hot popcorn, then added the rosemary. Toss to combine with your hands, being careful because the popcorn on the bottom will still be pretty hot.
I filled a bowl for photography purposes, and also because I was hungry, but I've been known to eat it right out of the giant popcorn bowl as dinner. However, it's not feasible to send a giant popcorn bowl to Dallas, so I let the popcorn cool, then packed it in zipper bags and made cute little labels. It's about as crafty as I ever get.
This popcorn is crunchy, salty, and savory. The truffle salt, which you can find online here, is incredibly flavorful, which is surprising because when you look at it you just see these tiny black flecks of what I assume to be truffle. But those little black flecks pack a punch, and the truffle flavor was definitely pronounced.
Katy got her popcorn in tact and ate it for dinner while talking to me on the phone, which was the best treat of all. You know those friends who you can not talk to for weeks and then pick up right where you left off? She's one of those. The good kind.
Even if you didn't make a resolution to send treats to friends every month, maybe this month you could send some popcorn. It's easy and fun and you'll let those people that you think about all the time know that you think about them all the time. Spread the love!
Here's the (basic) recipe:
Stove-Top Popcorn with Rosemary and Truffle
- 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup white kernel popcorn
- Desired Toppings (anything works, just make sure there's salt!):
- Truffle Salt and chopped rosemary
- Sea Salt
- Cajun seasoning salt
- Old Bay + salt
- White Chocolate and pretzel bits
- Anything! Experiment!
- In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add oil. Cover oil with popcorn kernels and cover with lid. Heat over medium heat.
- As popcorn begins to pop, gently shake pot by the handle to shake the un-popped kernels to the bottom. When the popcorn begins to push the lid up, pour half of it into a large bowl and return pot to the heat. Continue this process until you don't hear popping for 30 seconds or so. Season the popcorn when it's hot, as you go.
- Serve right away or let cool and store in zippered bags for up to a week!