Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Making Your Own Flavored Popcorn

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

making-your-own-popcorn

Autumn is a great time to experiment with making your own flavored popcorn. If you pop it yourself in a large pot on your stove, it costs way less money, and it’s super fun for your kids to look through a clear lid to see the popcorn kernels popping around like crazy! It’s not that hard, really.

First pour 1/4 cup of vegetable oil into the pot to coat the entire bottom of the pot. Put it on medium heat. Pour 1/2 cup of popcorn into the pot. Don’t forget to put the lid on the pot. One time I was making popcorn at my friend’s house with her kids, and we were watching the popcorn on the bottom of the pot. The phone rang and for some reason we all walked out of the room without covering the pot. Five minutes later there was popcorn all over the kitchen! The air was full of flying popcorn! And it was impossible to put the lid on the pot when it was spitting out boiling hot kernels in all directions. We laughed hysterically, accidentally crushed popcorn under our feet, and finally got the lid onto the pot. It was a lot of work to clean up.

So don’t do that. Remember to put the lid on.

popcorn

Let me back up to say that you need to take the pot off the heat for one minute after you hear the first popcorn kernel pop. Then return the pot to the heat. Shake the pot continuously back and forth, taking turns with anyone else in the room, making sure their turns are longer than yours so that you do less work.

As soon as the popcorn stops popping, shut off the stove, open the lid, and dump the popcorn into a large bowl. If you are having a party, everyone can make their own toppings in their own bowls or paper bags. My favorite flavor of popcorn is cheese popcorn, you know, the kind that actually looks orange. Well, I had no idea that you can get the same basic flavor by shaking Parmesan cheese on some air-popped popcorn. And it’s not bad for you, because it’s real cheese. It contains calcium and protein. Of course cheese has calories, but at least they’re not empty calories.

If you eat the air-popped popcorn with salt on it, it has almost no calories at all. Only do this if you’re on a diet, because it’s a whole lot better with butter. Real butter. Melt butter either on the stove or in the microwave, and pour it on top of your popcorn. Yum.

I’ve tried making mixtures of chili popcorn by using chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin, but I didn’t really like it that much. Maybe if you mix it with Parmesan and don’t go overboard on the chili powder, it would be more delicious, if you are in a spicy sort of mood.

make-your-own-popcorn

Of course, the grand finale is caramel popcorn, which takes longer to make, but it’s delicious. Cook 1 cup of brown sugar, 4 tablespoons of margarine, 1/4 cup of corn syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan under medium heat, stirring continuously. When it bubbles, stir another five minutes. Pawn this task off to your children, who have way more energy than you do. At the end of five minutes, stir in 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Then pour it over the popcorn that is on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake an hour at 200 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes.

If you are impatient and want to eat the caramel popcorn without baking it at all, go ahead. It’s a lot stickier, but it’s still yummy. Especially if you’re pregnant and you have a craving for caramel popcorn, you definitely wouldn’t want to wait an entire hour!

 

Multitasking Burns Your Dinner

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

multitaskingAs I was cooking dinner one night, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss the buzz of the dryer, because the load contained shirts that I didn’t want to wrinkle. Meanwhile my husband called and said he was going to be home late because of traffic. I hung up the phone, and my 11-year-old son started talking to me while I said, “Just a second. Rachel! Set the table please!” and I heard a “Yes, Mommy.” Meanwhile my son was talking, but I have no idea what he was saying because I heard the dryer buzz. I set down my spatula from the stir fry to go to the dryer. I quickly and efficiently folded all the shirts as fast as was humanly possible. My head felt thick as my son continued to jabber on and on. I still wasn’t listening to him because… oh, no! Dinner was burnt! I lifted the pan and turned off the burner, looking toward the dining room to make sure that my daughter had obeyed me about setting the table. She had. I set the pan down. I decided to serve the dinner burnt.

We have come to think of multitasking as being efficient with our time. Especially as mothers, we tend to be doing between three to five things all day long. We try to juggle to get everything done, but the truth is that we have forgotten to focus. And we have forgotten how to live in the moment. The saddest part of all this was that the only thing of eternal value in this scenario was my son’s open heart to me, wanting to share something with me. He is soon going to be a teenager, and if I don’t listen to him now, he won’t bother to tell me things in the future, the things that matter. Because what’s important enough for him to say to me, I ought to be able to listen to. But it seems like I don’t have time or brain space. My brain is juggling six things and can’t input more information without dropping something; in this case, burning dinner.

Actually, whenever I focus on only one thing, I get a lot more done. This includes being with people. When I am in my room, sitting on a chair, and my son wants to talk, I can focus great, and we have the most wonderful, deep spiritual conversations. Like the other day he was telling me how frustrated he was with his brother, who would over-react. This would infuriate him, but he had enough self-control not to show his anger. I told him he didn’t need to give in to the temptation to become angry; that God always provides a way out so that we don’t have to sin. “Look for the way out,” I said. We brainstormed ways to do this. Then we prayed that God would transform all of our hearts to help us to overcome sin. You see, I was paying attention to him because I wasn’t multitasking.

Being scatterbrained is no way to live. I was never scatterbrained until I became a mother, and I felt like there was no choice. But we do have a choice. We can choose to do laundry at the beginning of each day so that it doesn’t interfere with dinner. We can ask God how to eliminate action clutter, things that don’t matter that we happen to be doing. And we can learn to be present, to live and breathe, and to do one thing at a time.

Strawberry Crepes

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

strawberry-crepes

These heavenly strawberry crepes taste delicious. They just melt in your mouth. I made them for the first time last summer, after my children picked fresh strawberries at a local farm.

First mix 8 oz. Mascarpone cheese, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon of dried basil, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Fold in 1 ½ cups of sliced strawberries. Put it in the refrigerator for half an hour.

Meanwhile, get the topping ready. Mix 2 cups of sliced strawberries, ½ cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Now make the thin pancakes, which are called crepes. Mix together 3 eggs, slightly less than 1 cup of milk, ¾ cup of flour, 5 teaspoons of melted butter, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Heat up two 8-inch frying pans over medium heat. Put a tablespoon of oil into each of them. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each pan. Flip when lightly browned. Brown both sides.

Place the crepe on a plate. Put the Mascarpone mixture inside the middle and fold the two sides over. Pour the topping over it. Enjoy your strawberry crepes.

Mahogany Wings

Monday, March 19th, 2012

mahogany-wingsOne of my family’s favorite dinners is mahogany wings. They are absolutely delicious, and I serve them with homemade potato chips and raw veggies.

Get about 3 pounds of chicken wings, already cut. If you have to cut them yourself with a pair of kitchen shears, you might as well not do it because of the pain in your fingers, the extra time, and the ridiculous amount of effort. So make sure that the chicken wings are already cut into “drumettes.”

I cut the skin off the chicken wings with the shears. I do this while listening to an audio to make the time pass faster. I don’t want my family to swallow all that nasty skin, after all.

Okay, now you’re ready to marinade the de-skinned drumettes. Mix together:

  • ½ cup of soy sauce
  • ½ cup of honey
  • ¼ cup of molasses
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic

Pour it over the chicken wings and let it marinade overnight.

Line your broiler pan with aluminum foil, and heat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken wings on the broiler pan and bake uncovered in the oven for 25 minutes, occasionally brushing with marinade. Flip them over for 10 more minutes. Yum.

For the homemade potato chips, heat oil deep enough to throw in some thinly sliced potatoes. I use a wok because I don’t have a deep fryer, and even if someone gave me a deep fryer, I would get rid of it because I don’t want to store it. I don’t like clutter, you know. When the potato slices are golden brown, take them out with a slotted spoon or tongs, whichever you feel like. Set on a plate with a paper towel to absorb excess oil, and press another paper towel on top, being careful not to burn your hand. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Sprinkle with a generous helping of salt and pepper. Enjoy.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what else is in the picture, I made barbequed ribs, but I cheated by buying one of those that you just had to heat up. That’s because I realized I only had half the chicken wings that I needed to feed my family. My husband probably went to the store to buy the wings, and not knowing how much to buy, bought a ridiculously small amount. Yes, I’ll blame my sweet husband for the fact that we had barbequed ribs the day I snapped this picture. (If you click on the picture, it will enlarge enough for you to see the mahogany wings, which is the whole point of this article.)

And one more thing: you might want a stool to sit on while you are flipping the potatoes. Otherwise you’re standing there for ages, and you can’t pawn the task off to your children because they’re so short (at least mine are for a couple more years) that they’ll be hit in the eye with hot oil. So be forewarned of that as well. You should be amply rewarded by their squeals of joy at dinnertime, though, which will make all the standing around flipping potatoes and brushing mahogany wings worth it.