More often than not, those suppers consisted of toast and tea or cocoa – and popcorn. We’d make a huge bowl of it and gather in the den to watch the two hours of TV time we were allowed during the week, which we usually spent watching either nature programs or Disney’s Wonderful World of Color or The Wonderful World of Disney.
Our childhood was largely spent outdoors where we explored and played in all kinds of weather, sometimes just as a family and sometimes with a whole passel of other kids from the neighborhood.
It was a far less complicated time, and we learned to entertain ourselves with simple things, such as sleds for wintertime sledding and cardboard boxes for summertime sliding, trees for climbing and making forts, snow for making houses or snowmen, ice for skating, marbles and bottle caps for simple games in the alley.
And then there was the make-believe play.
And the books.
Lots and lots of books. It’s amazing the worlds that children can create when they have books, a little imagination, and a few props or tools.
But I digress. Back to the Sunday evening eats.
As I’ve mentioned, popcorn figured heavily in the light supper we ate. In those days, there were no pre-popped bags available in the grocery store, and Mom wouldn’t have paid the money for them anyway.
We were a large and hungry brood, and she could not afford the luxury of convenience on our family budget.
So we always made our own popcorn from scratch over the stove burner.
It was attached to a stirrer that rotated around the bottom of the pan and lifted the kernels to prevent them from sticking and burning.
We all took turns doing the the cranking, so it was not such a chore, and the end result was well worth the effort as far as we were concerned.
Since then, I’ve seen the arrival on the scene of the air popper and, of course, the microwave and the ubiquitous flat envelopes of popcorn you see in every grocery store.
And now there are also all kinds of gourmet popcorn on the market, everything from cheese varieties, to spicy ones, to decadent chocolate ones.
Those are all delicious, but typically extremely pricey, and often downright fattening and unhealthy, so I try to avoid them. It’s really better to skip all that expense and calories.
Popcorn, by its very nature as a whole grain, is a healthy snack, as long as you don’t add a lot of extra calories and unhealthy ingredients, such as butter, large amounts of salt, or other fats and sugars.
And there’s really no reason to own an appliance just for popping corn, particularly if you have limited counter and cupboard space.
Of course, you can really use any saucepan to make popcorn on the stovetop. It takes a little effort, but yields good results.
However, with the microwave, it’s truly a breeze to make your own popcorn from scratch for much less effort and a fraction of the cost of any of the processed varieties.
And you get results that are a lot healthier.
Either way works fine. If you use the brown lunch bag method, buy the cheapest ones you can find, in regular lunch size.
The dollar store often has them available for about 2-5¢ each, and you can also get very good deals on them even in the grocery store.
And by all means, reuse each one several times before throwing it away. I fold the used ones up and put them in a drawer near the microwave to use the next time.
COST: This method makes about 4 cups of popcorn and costs less than 15¢, using the store brand popcorn that I can get for about 50¢a pound, to which I add a small amount of oil and a sprinkling of salt.
By comparison, the envelopes of popcorn you buy in the grocery store typically cost at least 50¢ for 3-4 cups of popped corn.
That’s more than 3X the price of this method. Save yourself some money by trying this approach instead. You'll be amazed that you haven't done it sooner.
Here’s the method:
Microwave- Safe Porcelain or Glass Dish with a Cover
1 brown paper lunch bag
¼ cup popcorn kernels (approximately)
½ teaspoon canola oil
Sprinkling of salt and/or any other seasoning that you'd like
- Measure out the ¼ cup of popcorn into a regular cereal bowl or the microwave-safe, covered bowl you’ll be using to cook it.
- Measure the ½ teaspoon of oil over the kernels.
- Stir the oil into the kernels to coat them well.
- Sprinkle a little salt over the kernels.
- If you’re using the brown paper bag, pour the oiled kernels into the opened lunch bag and fold the top over twice. Make sure to run your fingers along the crease to give it a nice sharp edge that will keep the bag closed during cooking.
- If you’re using the bowl, empty the kernels into it and cover it.
- Place the bag or the bowl in the microwave. Cook it on high for 2-3 minutes. The exact time will vary, depending on the power of your microwave. If you hear the popping slow down noticeably, so that you can count a couple of seconds between pops, it’s time to take the popcorn out. You don’t want it to scorch. And you can always return any unpopped kernels to the microwave for additional time if need be.
- Remove the bag or bowl from the microwave, taking care not to burn yourself.
- Open the bag or bowl very carefully to avoid getting scalded by the steam.
- Empty the bag contents into one big bowl and add any additional flavorings that you’d like. Some alternatives might be black pepper, chili powder, onion powder, garlic, curry, etc. Personalize it however you’d like.