filling the empty nest with food
Well, not real dinosaurs. Just me here feeling like one. It’s one thing to marvel at how someone else’s past is so far removed from present realities (as was my grandmother’s youth in the roaring 1920s), but my age becomes real when it’s my actual past that includes something no-one does anymore. And hardly seems possible that anyone ever considered doing–at least in the past century.
When I was a kid, we used to make popcorn balls to hang on our Christmas tree. Gooey, sticky caramel popcorn that we shaped into balls, usually forgetting to tuck the ribbon into the popcorn before it hardened. That came after stringing popcorn and cranberry garlands. And that was after we had made popcorn balls to hand out to trick-or-treaters at Halloween.
But, I was feeling nostalgic for caramel corn and popcorn balls the other day. So, I got out my Betty Crocker cookbook from 1972 and found a familiar recipe.
It turned out not to be all that difficult or time-consuming to make, and is quite delicious. As you will be able to predict from the prodigious amount of butter in the recipe! I highly recommend a batch to accompany your next movie night–or when you want to show your kids what life was like back in the days when Mom was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth. I don’t, however, miss stringing those garlands, which involved more needle sticks to the finger than I could count. Those can definitely become extinct!
8 cups popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped)
*You can easily double the amount of popcorn and still have plenty of caramel to coat.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup blanched almonds
Butter a 15 1/2″ x 12 ” baking sheet (or two if making 16 cups popcorn)
Measure popped corn and nuts into a very large bowl. Mix together.
Combine sugars, corn syrup, water, vinegar, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Cook, stirring occasionally, to 260 degrees on a candy thermometer (or until small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a hard ball).
Reduce heat to low; stir in butter until melted. Pour syrup in a thin stream over popcorn/nut mixture, stirring until popcorn and nuts are well coated.
Spread mixture on baking sheet. Cool. Break into pieces.