Over the last couple of weeks, I have been experimenting with some old-time snack foods. I don't know what got in to my system, but I've been in the mood for boiled peanuts, a big pot of popcorn, and apple butter. They all remind me of Fall, so I'm going to use that as my excuse. It finally feels like Fall here today. Finally!)
I don't think people appreciate old-fashioned popcorn any more. We're all so used to popping that bag filled with preservatives into our microwave, we don't realize how simple it is to make popcorn. But it can be simple. I mean, today I saw that new chick on the Food Network making popcorn as part of her high paid cooking show. So if it's good enough for there, it's good enough for here.
The thing I learned a long time ago is your portion of popcorn can be small to huge, depending on the size of the pan. You could make two cups worth in a small saucepan. I've done it.
You need a pan with a tight-fitting lid, some canola or veggie oil, and some popcorn kermels. The topping of your choice comes later -- I just want salt, most of the time.
Put your pan on the stove and cover the bottom with oil. That's the secret to no stick -- it doesn't have to be an inch thick, it just has to cover the bottom to a sheen. Then, turn the heat on high and add popcorn to make one flat layer on the bottom.
When the first kernel pops, cover the pan tightly and begin to shake it on the heat. It will pop furiously, and after about a minute, turn off the heat. It will continue to pop for about two more minutes. YOU MUST KEEP SHAKING IT OR IT WILL SCORCH (do as I say, not as I do). When it stops, pour into a bowl and salt (or butter). If you're a fan of Kettle Corn, I have made a passable sugar free Kettle Corn by adding Splenda while it's very hot.
I never dreamed I'd make boiled peanuts, really. I just buy them from gross-looking old men at roadside stands. But I've had a Jones for them a lot, of late. Flash back to a conversation I had with Marianne Edwards (shoutout!) and her husband, Bo Sibilsky a few weeks back. Marianne and I seem to always run into each other at the store, and she had a huge bag of green peanuts in her cart. We got into a discussion of boiled peanuts, and she said, "Bo makes them. It's really easy." So when I saw them two weeks ago at a wedding, I engaged Bo in a recipe for Boiled Peanuts (or in Georgia, Bawled Peenuts).
Which reminds me of the song we used to sing in Fifth grade music..."Eatin Goober Peas. Eatin Goober Peas. They are so delicious, eatin' Goober Peas." Sung to "Bringing in the sheaves"...but I digress.
Get a BIG pot (I used my stock pot) and put in washed peanuts to three parts water. (I made about two pounds of peanuts I think. $1.29 a pound at Kroger.) Then the tricky part -- you need a salty brine or water. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of table salt (really) and, if you're into spicy boiled peanuts, a handful of red pepper flakes. I used plain on Morton's salt here, and after the 1/4 cup, tasted the water. It wasn't very salty, so I added the other 1/4 cup. It gets more concentrated as they cook, but Boiled Peanuts are about salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium so they continue to boil. Leave on for at least three hours before you taste them (green peanuts=yuk). Start tasting at three hours...I actually dished up a bowl to eat during the second part of Forrest Gump, and they were good. But I turned off the heat and let the remainders steep for a while, and they were even better. Drain most of the bring and store them in a zippy bag when cooled. I won't be eating my leftovers for a couple of days, though. I ate WAY too much yesterday and I'm paying for it big time today. My lips are shriveled from all the salt and hot pepper...
Crock Pot Apple Butter
I have always loved Apple Butter, but it has so much sugar and HFCS in it, I won't buy it any more. But fall for me calls out for Apple Butter. I really thought I'd made up this recipe, but then I looked at Cooks.Com and found a bunch more like it. But mine is a little different.
When I've made it before, I did it stove top, and it takes time and energy. So I thought, how could I go this faster? Voila!
One large (or two) jars of unsweetened applesauce (I used one I got at Wal Mat. No sugar added)
1 cups apple cider (I used Simply Juice, no sugar added). Use 2 cups for two jars.
1 cup Splenda and 4 T. brown sugar Splenda (again double as needed)
2 T. ground cinnamon and 1 T. ground cloves (OR if you have apple pie spice, you about 3 T. of that).
Place in your Crock Pot and cook all day, stirring occasionally. Scrape down sides often.
Mine made under a quart of apple butter (from about twice that amount of sauce/juice). Store in refrigerator.
Much love, and Happy Fall!