Monday, September 9, 2013

Guest Post: "Who let Doc in the kitchen?"

Welcome to the first installment of (hopefully) my monthly guest posts... "Who let Doc in the kitchen?". Today we'll be starting with a classic recipe in an ode to my dad. You may be asking yourself, "By classic, you really mean easy right?". Yes. Yes I do. But it also means absolutely delicious and I could eat it every day.

History of today's dish:
Being from Nebraska, I sometimes feel like I am a lone representative of my state to the outside world. And it's not far from being true, after all the entire population of Nebraska makes up only 0.59% of the US. Or, put another way, for every 1000 Americans you meet, odds are that only 6 will be from Nebraska. So it falls on me to answer burning questions from all over the world about our culture, our habits, and our good old fashioned sensibilities. Some common questions I field:

"Do you have cars in Nebraska?" *sigh* Yes.
"When did you get electricity?" *sigh* Before my parents were born.
"Who comes from Nebraska?" I do, apparently.

And one thing that Nebraskans know is corn. One of the very best things that you can do with corn?
Popcorn. My dad may not have cooked many dishes, but he could make a pot of popcorn with the best of them. He would make a big bowl of popcorn just about every night, and we would flock with our small bowls for a fill-up. It was a part of life and of growing up, and even though I've now been in charge of my own popcorn for years, it never tastes quite as good as when my dad would pop it.

But this leads me to a surprising fact for all of you Nebraskans out there - most people
do not know how to pop popcorn on a stove. In fact, almost all of my numerous roommates throughout the years chalked up my stovetop popcorn popping as one of my (many) eccentricities. But fear not! Popping your own popcorn is not only easy, but it's delicious and cost-effective. Plus, there's no simpler way to add those finishing touches that only you like. So let's pop some popcorn.

Recipe: Stovetop Popcorn

1 Stove
1 large pot with lid (preferably heavy duty)

1 Tablespoon of cooking oil (I'm fancy and use olive oil, but there's no wrong answer)
1 cup (or more) of popcorn seeds



1) Add olive oil to pot, making sure that olive oil completely covers bottom of pot
(Tip: heat pot on low first to get olive oil to spread more easily.)
2) Add popcorn to pot (spread as evenly as possible at bottom), put lid on, and heat on high.
(Optional step: when the popcorn starts to pop, give the pot a good shake.)
3) When popping becomes less frequent (more than 2 seconds between pops), remove pot
from heat, put into a bowl and enjoy!

Making it fancy: 

From a very basic salt topping to melted marshmallows mixed in, there's no wrong way
to dress up your dish. I typically take my olive oil and sprinkle it over the popcorn
and then salt it. But just as easily you can melt 2 tablespoons of butter and pour
that over the popcorn instead of olive oil. The French are really big fans of adding
both salt and sugar on their popcorn (I don't do this). Or if you'd like to get really
fancy, melt some marshmallows mixed with butter and pour it over the popcorn, adding
a light layer of salt over the top at the end. Whatever your topping of choice, as
long as you like it, there's no wrong way to go.

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