Meandering through the bustling crowd, keeping a watchful eye on both kids galloping from stand to stand with the “look Mommy” call beckoning me from both directions. They draw my attention to everything from flowers to jewelry to red peppers. Their little eyes, ears and senses can’t get enough, until we ARRIVE.
The pièce de résistance rises before us, the smell beckoning us long before our arrival – its large red frame stark against the landscape of white tents and folding tables that fill the once empty parking lot this sunny summer Saturday. The popcorn stand at Market at the Square – little else compares and few bribes can move my children from sleepy-headed-morning-girls to ready-to-go-what-are-you-waiting-for-mom-let’s-go-already girls.
While I am happy to welcome fall back to central Illinois, I always miss the Market while it is gone for a variety of reasons, but primarily for our family…we miss the popcorn. Let me assure you, this isn’t just ANY popcorn, it is homemade (in a huge kettle – right there at the market) Kettle Corn. My grandma used to make a version of this even adding red food color to make it “pink popcorn” on the stove using a special pot with a handle that you turned while it was popping to ensure even heat distribution (or something technical like that).
So with the closing of the market looming, I decided that I wanted Kettle Corn year-round in our house…But I don’t have a huge outdoor kettle ala Farmer’s Market, nor do I have the fancy stove popper kettle with handle, and – although many say its possible – I can’t pop REGULAR popcorn on the stove without burning it, so I certainly wasn’t going to even attempt adding sugar to that hot mess. (I can only imagine the kitchen fire that might ensue!)
So – I found a GREAT recipe, where else but Pinterest, for microwave kettle corn in a brown paper bag. It was a hit with my family! My husband literally said, “You made this??” with a slight air of disbelief.
If you are interested, check out the recipe below – even I couldn’t mess it up. The only downside is that you do pop it in fairly small batches, but I am ok with that – I have the second and third bags prepared as the first is popping!
In a small bowl mix together:
- ½ t oil – corn, canola, olive… whatever you have
- ½ t vanilla (optional )
- ¼ t salt (finely ground salt, or popcorn salt)
- 1½ t icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) … I also used regular sugar once, but the confectioner’s seems to stick a little better to the kernels
- Stir in ¼ cup popcorn kernels (any kind will do – but I love the Boy Scout popcorn that is so readily available this time of year!)
Stir with a spoon until everything is well-mixed. Pour into a brown paper bag. Fold the bag over 2 to 3 times, and place upright (or on it’s side if it doesn’t fit upright) in the microwave. Microwave until popping slows down a couple pops per second (start at 3 minutes, but be prepared to stop it earlier if needed). Everyone’s microwave is different, and will require a different amount of time. I have a 1200W microwave, and I cooked it for 1 minute and 25 seconds. Keep a keen ear and eye on it until you figure out the timing with your microwave.
The amount of each ingredient above can be varied based on personal preferences as well – so add or subtract based on your personal preferences!
As a bonus for anyone who prefers savory popcorn over sweet, try this one that I personally LOVE following the same popping instructions as above:
- 1 T oil
- 1 T grated parmesan
- ¼ t coarse salt
- ¼ t dried thyme
- ¼ t garlic powder
Any other great popcorn recipes chambanamoms should know about? Please let us know!
Erin (Trent) Tarr made the three-hour drive from Southern Illinois to Champaign in 1997 to attend the University of Illinois and never left. Mother of two beautiful girls (3 & 5 years old), her passions for leadership and education have led her to start “Be the Benchmark” – a coaching/mentoring business for tween and teen girls. You can often find her (with two kids in tow) at Champaign Centennial sporting events where her beloved husband of ten years, Adam, works as an Athletic Trainer.