what a prize!

A few weeks ago the Today section of the paper ran an article about food blogs and mentioned Jennifer Reese’s blog tipsybaker.com and her book “Bake the Bread, Buy the Butter — What you should and shouldn’t cook from scratch”. The article went on to discuss her book which documents her various successes (and failures) in making everyday foods from scratch. Foods such as ketchup, bagels, ginger ale and camembert cheese. What?!… Hello!… this woman is speaking my language, she could be my long lost soul sister! If I’ve told my husband once I’ve told him 30,000 times that my fondest wish is to learn how to make cheese, a few weeks ago my son and I made and bottled homemade root beer and I was seriously just talking about attempting to make a batch of bialys (the not so distant cousin if the bagel) from scratch just the other day!

So naturally I ordered the book.

When it arrived I immediately thought, so many choices…how do I decide what to make first? I opened the book to a random page, read the words Caramel Corn and thought “it must be fate!” You see, Santa just brought my children a super-duper retro style popcorn maker for Christmas. We’ve made (and enjoyed) popcorn nearly every weekend since it’s arrival, but so far our creativity has been limited to sea salt and grated cheese. And while I ordinarily try to make snacks for my kids that are both healthy and delicious, sometimes unhealthy and fun is just what the day calls for. Last Saturday, amid our first snow of the season, was just that kind of day. And so it seemed my choice had been made…

Homemade Caramel Corn
This recipe produces a caramel corn which more closely resembles Poppycock than a traditional Cracker Jack.

1 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups salted, roasted peanuts
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Add the coconut oil to a large pot and allow to melt. Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and allow to continue warming. As the popcorn begins to pop, shake pan. Once the popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops, immediately remove the pan from the heat.
  2. In a large bowl combine the popcorn and half the peanuts. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda.
  4. Immediately pour half of the sugar mixture over the popcorn and peanuts. With a large rubber spatula gently stir everything until it is well combined. Spoon the popcorn onto a jelly roll pan, spreading it out as evenly as possible. Drizzle the remaining sugar syrup over the popcorn and sprinkle with the rest of the peanuts.
  5. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool and break into bite size chunks.
  6. Store at room temperature in a glass container or resealable plastic bag.

* adapted from bake the bread, buy the butter

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