Do Not Try This At Home (with Stove Top Organic Popcorn Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

I learned two lessons this week. The first is you can’t believe everything on the Internet. The second is recipe writing and following directions has room for errors. Here’s my humbling and expensive experience of having to buy a new microwave.

I’ve been working on a new book and have been recipe testing popped corn recipes. I’m not a big popped corn fan. Sometimes I buy unsalted, unbuttered microwave organic popped corn for my husband and son. It seems like cardboard, but they like it. I prefer the real deal, popped on the stove (recipe below). But I saw a recipe online for putting regular (unpopped) organic popcorn kernals in a dry bag in the microwave. Thinking this is a good short cut to let readers know about, I decided to test it. (I’m not going to give you the recipe because I don’t want you to challenge me and have to buy a new microwave too.)

I was a little leary, thinking it wasn’t going to work. I put it on for 2 minutes, rather than the recommended 3, because my microwave cooks a bit hot. I stood by (luckily my kids were napping) and it actually worked. Pop, Pop, Pop! I thought, hey what a simple way to make low-fat, no chemical organic popped corn. Until the microwave beeped and I opened the door to see a side of the bag on fire, and burning the inside of the microwave.

I quickly and carefully grabbed the bag with metal thongs, put it in the sink and doused it with water. I went around and opened all the windows and doors so the smoke wouldn’t build and set off the fire alarm (luckily the microweave is in a walk-in pantry). Then I tried to wipe out the microwave. Yikes. Lots of black soot, a big burn mark and a horrible smell. There was not going to be any wiping out. Yep, I cooked my microwave. I decided there could be a few reasons this recipe backfired (literally)…

1. The bag pushed against the air intake when the carousel went around at the end of cooking.
2. My microwave cooks too hot for this to work.
3. The bag was folded too tight and got too hot inside.

So, I’m sticking to the plain old stove top old fashioned method, see below:

If you have a pot with a clear lid you and your child will enjoy witnessing the “pop”. Note: The American Pediatric Association warns giving children under 4 years old popped corn as it is a potential choking hazard.

Stove Top Organic Popped Corn

Makes 7 to 8 cups

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/3 cup organic popping corn

Put oil and one kernel of popcorn in a large heavy-bottom pot. Cover and heat over medium-high heat. When the kernel pops (about 3 minutes), add 1/3 cup popcorn in a single layer and cover. Once pops are less frequent, move pot a few times back and forth over heat until pops stop. Remove pot from heat, carefully remove lid and transfer popcorn to a large bowl.

Add a sprinkling of desired topping. Or make separate bowls for each family member to dress and enjoy their own. Some suggestions include: cinnamon, cayenne pepper, parmesan cheese (sorry vegans), paprika, salt, pepper and sugar.
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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