Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Me So Corny

Starting around 1995 or so, midway through my college career, I pretty much stopped eating popcorn, except at the movies.* I stopped eating popcorn not because I stopped liking how it tasted but because I became repelled by how it smelled. Hot, fresh buttered popcorn smells quite delicious. However, burnt microwave popcorn smells horrible. Horrible. Plus, the smell of burnt microwave popcorn lingers and seeps into your hair and clothing (in the same way that the smell inside a Subway restaurant does--how did Jared go all those years with that Subway stank?). There was a microwave in one of the common rooms of my college dorm, and it was frequently used for microwave popcorn. I'm telling you, spend ten minutes in there after a fresh batch had just been popped, burnt or not, and you ought to take a shower if at all possible.

Now I admit I am extremely smell-sensitive. My husband actually gets angry/frustrated with me when I complain about particular scents because they either do not bother him at all, strike him as "not that bad," or are not strong enough for him to detect period. I can't help it though. My smeller is my smeller so I avoid eating at Subway and run like the wind if I smell Bath and Body Works Cherry Blossom lotion.

Loyal NTB readers know I am no purist when it comes to food and no stranger to convenience foods. I am sure if I knew how to pop popcorn the old fashioned way (I do not and fear I would burn my arm with hot oil if I tried and burnt flesh would have to smell worse than burnt microwave popcorn) or owned an air popper, I would have started eating popcorn again a lot sooner. With microwave popcorn as my main option, I had just cut it out of my life. Until recently . . .

For whatever reason, I am now so corny. I am eating popcorn like it is my job. I have learned that if you read the directions on the microwave popcorn package and actually listen for and time the pops toward the end, you can avoid burning it. I have also discovered this whole new world of microwave popcorn. There are, for example, these Orville Redenbacher Naturals. The bags are small (perfect for one, in my opinion) and come in cool flavors like "Buttery Garlic" (more buttery than garlic-y) and "Buttery Salt & Cracked Pepper" (very tasty, lots of pepper). Orville also makes a nice microwavable Kettle Corn that is low in fat.

Speaking of Kettle Corn, how did I never know how stinking fantastic it is? Sweet and salty. Salty and sweet. Just like me. Of late, my corny self is constantly craving Kettle Corn. Instead of popping it, I have been buying it in bags. I started out with the kind in the red bag made in Popcorn, IN (apparently such a place really exists). They sell it as CVS, which means I have an average of five chances per week to re-stock it as the Bub and I don't often go two days without visiting CVS. Then, I bought a bag of Kettle Corn at Trader Joe's, and I think I'm in love. The TJ's brand is a tad saltier and the kernels are much bigger. The greatest thing of all is that while Kettle Corn is not a health food, it is not all that bad for you. Say, for example, you polish off an entire (non single-serving) bag over the course of the day . . . it's nothing to be proud of but it's really only an extra 500 calories or so, which leaves you better off than if you ate a whole bag of chips.

I also really love caramel corn, and I am fortunate to live very, very close to the main location of Nuts on Clark which sells some awesome caramel corn. Kind of like me and Dunkin' Donuts though, I can't really go there. I don't trust myself to enjoy caramel corn or donuts except on special occasions. I could easily develop a daily donut or caramel corn habit, and I have to guard against such food obsessions as I have enough already (see this and this for proof).

And speaking of corny, PITA hooked me up with my own copy of one of my family's favorite films: The Parent Trap starring Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills. I could go on all day about how much I love the original Parent Trap. I found Hayley Mills' hair as Sharon to be beautiful and her hair as Susan to be dreadful (what a crime that Sharon's had to be cut). I never cease to be amused by the scene when Sharon and her camp friends cut the back of Susan's dress at the dance and you see her granny pants. I love when the twins sabotage their father's engagement on the camping trip. Obviously, I love the "Let's get together" musical number. If you haven't seen it, you should. I pray that the Bub, Baby Boy, and whomever else comes along humor me in a few years when I try to get them to enjoy this movie. The best thing about the DVD PITA bought me is that it also includes The Parent Trap II, also starring Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills, which was a Disney Sunday Night Movie when I was growing up. We taped it and watched it quite frequently as well. Good stuff.

So me so corny, but what about you? Any food obsessions to share or corny movies to recommend?

*I love how many theaters now have the butter-your-own popcorn machine. As Sandra Lee says whilst piping store-bought icing out of a ziploc bag, "Be generous."


Gretchen said...

Aloutte Sundried Tomato and Basil cheese spread. Just about the greates condiment to hit the shelves since ranch dressing. Crackers, sandwiches, pretzels, bagels - I really could just spoon it up and eat it by itself. Gross, I know, - but I'm a Wisconsinite - I LOVE CHEESE!

Actchy said...

(Gretch, I am sad to see you seem to have moved away from your black bean dip phase?)

There is a man who has a popcorn vending business in the train station main concourse. I walk by him every day and while I never usually consider snacking on popcorn, meeting that scent during my end-of-day commute means a daily battle (I'm fairly good at waiting until I get home, though, and convincing myself that his popper never gets a thorough scrubbing.)

I, for one, can eat a quarter of a large tub of Tribe of Two Sheiks roasted garlic hummus by myself. I dip carrots in it, which means i go through a 1 lb bag of baby carrots more often than I care to admit. But this seems like a relatively healthy way to stave off starvation while I wait for my husband to come home before I eat dinner.

CaraBee said...

I am totally with you on the smell business. At my old job, we had a community microwave that inevitably someone would burn popcorn in about once a month. The smell would stink up the whole office and pretty much ruin my day.

Making popcorn the old fashioned way isn't hard, but when there is the super easy microwave variety to be had, I have a hard time talking myself into all of the work involved with the other way. And Kettle Corn is perhaps the yummiest thing EVER. I love it. We always have a box in our cabinet. I like the butter your own popcorn thing but its tough to get the bottom so you wind up with lots on top and none on bottom.

Anonymous said...

I do not go to the movies very often so I seldom resist popcorn when I go. It's aroma pulls me in each time. I am not a fan of buttered popcorn so I'd have to pass up that as much as you want butter machine. I will admit, the popcorn has left me a little disappointed lately but it's like soft pretzels at sporting events, I'll probably get one next time anyway. m

LAP said...

Lately I have been on a vanilla wafer with peanut butter kick. It perplexes me each time I feel myself reaching for it. Perhaps it's a pregnancy thing? I recently purchased some caramel Treasures and have been hitting those hard as well.

As for microwave popcorn, I've always been hesitant to trust the "popcorn" button on the microwave, but I will say that ours is very accurate. Just as I hear the pops start to dwindle, the microwave dings.

Absolutely agree with you on Subway. I always felt gross returning to work after lunching there. Wonder what it is about that place.

Anonymous said...

I have developed a taste for Fruit by the Foot as an afternoon treat. It is a kid's snack found in the cereal aisle near the fruit snacks/breakfast bars. You usually don't see a 30 something pulling apart one of these treats but I do enjoy it. I also eat a lot of broccoli slaw from the Junior League Cookbook of Cincinnati. My husband and I can eat it for lunch 4x a week. A little excessive but we love it and it is good for us. I also have developed a taste for Coke Zero... It may have overtaken my love of Diet Dr. Pepper. Thanks for the laughs. I love the Parent Trap movie too. I used to watch it at the Walsh's house. bdavin

Anonymous said...

When I don't think we could be anymore alike you prove me wrong! Just this past Monday I was popping a bag of Smart Pop Kettle Corn (using the popcorn option on the microwave) at work. I was pumped to dive into the bag...so eager that upon completion of popping I opened it without thinking causing some spillage into the kitchen sink. I cursed out loud and one of my co-workers, in a direct quote said, "Emily, it is just popcorn. You really should read "The Secret."" (Evidently, she thinks I have high stress, etc.)
Also, "The Parent Trap" is one of my all time favorite movies besides any of the "Anne of Green Gables" series. Ask my parents..."Let's Get Together" was one of my favorite songs to sing as a child and was forced upon my little brother. Sorry for the long post. xoxo etf

Totallyscrappy said...

I'm still perplexed. Would a daily donut habit at The Dunkin be all that bad?
Yup, basically if it has sugar, fat and a load of carbs... I'm your girl. What's that you say? With icing? Okay then.
That and a Diet Pepsi. But I saw what you said about Diet Pepsi. And I read on anyway. :)

cake said...

i had to pause in the middle of reading your post to go pop some popcorn. i freaked when it looked like we may not have any! but i found some. here's what i did:
poured a little oil in a pan. heated it up a little.
added some popcorn.
put on the lid.
when it started popping, i shook the pan a little.
when the intervals between pops slowed down, i turned of the heat and poured the fluffy kernels into a big bowl.
then i put some butter (generously) in the pan.
it melted quickly, and i drizzled it over the popcorn.
i sprinkled on some salt, tossed with my hands, and dug in.
it tastes so good.

i have also put regular pop corn in a brown paper bag, and stuck it in the microwave on the popcorn setting. it pops. it tastes like air popped. then you just melt a little butter in a dish in the microwave, drizzle it on, and you have a popcorn that is both yummy, AND convenient.

i really like to eat popcorn whilst drinking red wine.

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