Eat it while it’s hot

by Jacqui

Some people exercise when they’re feeling stressed. Some people pour vodka. I like to chop an onion, mince some garlic, coat a pan with olive oil, and get busy.

Maybe it’s the upcoming elections back home. Maybe it’s more about Sandy. Whatever the reason, I woke up today with a particularly strong yearning to cook. Mike was around, and good thing. He added an unspoken motivation proven to be essential to today’s mission. We peeled, diced, sliced, and seeded nearly a dozen persimmons for a chutney, a butter, two kinds of jam, and a white sangria spiked with Cointreau and spotted with pomegranate seeds. Persimmons are seasonal here, and it seemed like the right route to take.

But this isn’t about persimmons, or boozy persimmons, for that matter. I want to tell you about popcorn.

For some reason, twenty-nine years and six-and-a-half months passed before I realized the incomparable bliss of stovetop popcorn and maple butter. I’ve always liked popcorn, but fake butter is only good for a couple of bites, and the instant, pre-bagged stuff is too easy to burn. The streak was broken this week, my friends. I might never buy microwaveable popcorn again.

Popcorn, Hot and Sweet

1 teaspoon sunflower oil

¼ cup popcorn kernels

3 T unsalted butter

3 T maple syrup

pinch salt

pinch cayenne pepper

toasted, unsalted peanuts

First, toast your peanuts. Spread a handful in a dry pan and heat over a low flame. Take your time with this. Burnt nuts are sad nuts.

Heat the oil in a large pot and drop one kernel inside. When it pops, add the rest of the kernels. Shake the pot quickly to spread the kernels across the pan, and cover, keeping the heat on medium. Once the kernels begin to pop, keep shuffling the pot across the heat. When the popping slows down, turn off the heat. Keep the cover on until the pot goes quiet.

Spread the popped corn on a baking sheet and mix in the peanuts.

To make the glaze, melt the butter slowly in a saucepan and add the maple syrup. Add the salt and cayenne pepper. Pour the glaze over the popcorn and toss to coat. Most importantly, eat it while it’s hot.

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