Make Your Own Microwave Popcorn

Mmmmmm, popcorn!  It's salty, it's buttery (at least at our house it was), it's crunchy and it's cheap!  My Grandpa Dee looooved popcorn. 

Ok, Grandpa Dee looooved food, but he really was especially fond of popcorn.  It was a nearly nightly ritual for him to make a batch of popcorn and  put it in the special wooden popcorn bowl (which was really a large wooden salad bowl but come to think of it, I don't remember him eating many salads).  Then he would drizzle (or douse) the hot popcorn with melted butter and a generous sprinkling of salt.  He (and the rest of us) snacked on that bowl of popcorn all night.  And the next day.  That's right, the same bowl of popcorn with melted butter would sit out over night and people would graze off of it until there was nothing but the unpopped kernels at the bottom of the bowl, studded into the remains of the melted butter.  Until later that next night when a new batch was made.

Today, when most people want to snack on popcorn, they go to the pantry, throw a bag of pre-packaged popcorn in the microwave and 3-4 minutes later, voila!   But growing up on the farm, we did not own a microwave. My mother was fiercely opposed to them, for reasons I will not get into,  so we made our popcorn 1 of 2 ways:

1.  The air popper. We had various models over the years but they all basically work the same way- by heating the kernels in a chamber that spins them around, keeping them from burning.  Or...
2.  On the stove top in a big pot. You drizzle in some oil, scatter a handful of popcorn in the bottom and turn up the heat.  Put the lid on and shake the pot every minute or so to keep the kernals from burning.  Soon, you will hear the plink-plink-plink of kernels bursting in the pot.  I tell ya, it is music to my ears and it takes me all the way back to my grandparent's kitchen.  This was and is to this day, my preferred method of popping corn both for taste and fun-factor.

As a matter of fact, I don't even like microwave popcorn, it tastes like fake-food to me.  And it's no wonder, here are some of the ingredients found in an average bag of pre-packaged microwave butter popcorn:  partially hydrogenated soybean oil, artificial flavor, color added, propyl gallate....huh?!  I just want popcorn, oil/butter & salt!

But that doesn't mean you can't use your microwave to make tasty, healthy popcorn!  There IS a way, and it's super easy with no cleanup!  Are you ready????  Here it is:

Take 2 brown paper lunch bags, open them up, one inside the other.  This is to prevent oil leakage.  Add approximately 1/4 cup popcorn kernels to the bags along with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil (or vegetable oil) and 1 teaspoon salt.  Gently shake the bag to coat the kernels.  Fold the bag down twice to close and use tape to secure (some say it's ok to use a staple but it makes me nervous).  Microwave on high for approximately 3-4 minutes, keeping an ear out for when the popping slows.  When there are approximately 5 seconds in between pops, it's done!*


Now, if you want to get creative you can add all sorts of flavors and spice mixes to your bag for even more flavor.  A few I like:  herbs de Provence, chipotle powder, cinnamon & superfine sugar, italian seasoning, etc.  Just add a pinch of your spice mixture to the bag AFTER it has popped (I learned that lesson the hard way, burnt spices- blech!)) and shake to coat.

If you want to take the low fat route, you can omit the oil or just use a couple shots of cooking spray.  Enjoy!

*recipe adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/plain-brown-popper-recipe/index.html