Caramel Corn

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Happy New Year Friends! I hope you all are starting the year healthy and happy, now that 2020 is truly, “hind-sight”! I, for one, am more than ready to look forward to anything resembling what we might consider to be “normal”. 2020 offered us more than our fair share of pain on many different levels, but I choose to believe that we have brighter days and great food ahead of us!

Comfort food has always been popular, but these days, with more of us cooking at home, the term comfort food encompasses more than just the food (as in an actual meal), but also includes the warmth in the home and the love that comes with it. There are days when all I need is a comfy sweater, a cozy blanket and a big bowl of popcorn. For those of you shaking your heads, saying popcorn doesn’t really count as food, I must disagree!

One of my favorite memories as a child is snacking on popcorn with my dad. We had a “campfire popcorn popper”…you have probably seen them; a steel mesh basket (with a top) attached to a long handle so that you can shake it over a campfire. Now mind you, mine was not a family of campers! I think my parents originally bought this to use in our fireplace, but my memories all involve shaking over the stove top. Yes, that method did, indeed, make a mess in the kitchen, but the mess was always worth it, as it was so good! My Dad was a lover of popcorn, any day, any time, so all we had to do was mention the treat and his eyes lit up. I would go so far as to make the noise of shaking kernels and popping noises (you know the sound…chi chi chi chi pop pop pop!!) to put the idea in his head. The next thing you knew, the yummy smell would waft through the house!
To me, popcorn is associated with happy times. The wonderful smell of popcorn when you walk into a movie theater on a first date, the scent of popcorn wafting from a concession stand at a High School football game as you cheer for your child (be they on the team or in the band), a basket of popcorn and a tall beer with my husband at our favorite watering hole, or simply an evening at home with my family and friends, reminiscing about good times, great friends, and family members that remain now in our hearts, if not our arms.

Tonight, my friends, I will be making a batch of popcorn, sharing it with good friends, raising a glass to the better days to come, and saying a prayer of thanks for my dad having given me the love of something so simple, yet comforting!

Caramel Corn

  • 6-8 C popped popcorn*
  • ¼ C butter
  • ½ C sugar
  • ¼ C maple syrup
  • ½ t vanilla
  • ¼ t sea salt

*you can pop the popcorn yourself, or use a bag of pre-popped cornbMix caramel ingredients together in a sauce pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes (until mixture begins to simmer).

Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and toss to coat completely (remove any un-popped kernels you might come across). Spread coated popcorn on a (sprayed) baking tray and bake at 300* for about 15 minutes.

Let cool slightly before breaking apart. When completely cooled, store in an airtight zip bag or container.

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.