Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's Fair Time! (Kettle Corn Recipe!)

I know that it has been fair time all summer, but Fall is when the really good fairs happen.  In my neck of the woods, Fall is the time for the country fairs.  They are full of real artisans and craftsmen selling their wares.  My all-time favorite is the Johnny Appleseed Festival.  They have strict requirements that don't allow anything modern in appearance.  There are wood carvers, blacksmiths, civil war era reenactors, along with every kind of traditional craft you can imagine.  Then there is the FOOD:  fresh apple cider, caramel apples, corn on the cob, ham & beans, apple dumplings, funnel cakes, sausage burgers, and one of my favorites, caramel/kettle corn.  Around here, there is a church that does caramel corn in a big copper kettle over an open fire at all the fairs.  It is not the heavily coated traditional caramel corn, but it more closely resembles the lighter coated kettle corn.  It is so yummy to get fresh while it is still hot!  If you have never tried kettle corn, you need to.  Put that on your bucket list.

Did you know that making your own kettle corn is a piece of cake and you can do it right on your stove-top at home?  Once you try this, you will wonder why you never did it before.  The other bonus, is that it is a Cheap Eat.  I mentioned it before when I was talking about Cheap Eats: Popcorn a while back.  Since then I have made it quite a few more times and tweaked the recipe a bit.  I make mine in a Whirley Popper.Wabash Valley Farms 25008 Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn PopperIt has a stirrer inside that keeps the popcorn from burning or sticking.  I just throw 3 simple ingredients in the pot, turn the heat on high, and turn the crank.  Now, I have never tried it, but I don't see any reason why you could not just do this in a big pot.  I would probably keep a wooden spoon or spatula handy to stir it at least until the kernels start popping.  At the fairs, all they have is a big copper pot and a big wooden paddle to do just that.

Kettle Corn
1/4 cup oil (vegetable, corn, canola)
1/4 cup sugar
Scant 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn

Throw all of this in a stovetop popcorn popper or big pot.  Place over high heat and stir until popcorn pops.  As soon as the popping slows, remove from the heat.  Otherwise, the sugar will burn.  Dump it in a big bowl and lightly salt with regular table salt.  Don't forget this step; this is what makes it magical!  Salt it while it is still hot and sticky.  The combination of the sweet and salty together is pure bliss.  I will warn you, though, don't sit with a big bowl of this in your lap - you will regret it because before you know it, you will have consumed way more than you intended and will feel helpless to put the bowl down.  (Please, don't ask me how I know this.)
Go forth and enjoy this fun time of year at the fairs.  Then let the fair food live on in your kitchen making many, many bowls of yummy kettle corn. 

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