I have a vague memory of a "Birth List" being given to us at the birthing center where Calvin was born twelve years ago now. Knowing what I know now, I'm certain it included "food for you during and after labor, and food for your birth team". But somehow we missed that part of the list. Twenty four years old, without a single other friend with a baby, let alone one not birthing in the hospital...I was just doing everything I could to wade my way into the waters of motherhood with what I hoped, and what I had. Arriving at the birth center that January morning in active labor - a few weeks earlier than I expected - I had the diaper bag packed, cloth diapers that I had no idea what to do with washed and ready to go, the car seat ready (though not at all installed properly, oh that's a funny Papa story we like to tell), and even the sling (that I had no idea how to wear) ready to go. We were blessed with a beautiful birth, an easy one, really ... save for the many hours of pushing I did that left me exhausted (and that in retrospect, I decided completely unnecessary). That, combined with the sudden, but wonderful thrust into parenthood, and oh my. After we were tucked into bed, and had settled down for a moment, my dear midwife gently asked where I had put our labor food. Labor food? I had none. I don't even think I brought a water bottle. She smiled sweetly, a little worried about us, I do believe, and wandered off to raid the staff refrigerator.
She returned with an english muffin smothered in butter (it was a small staff, and a correspondingly small fridge). And well, you know how this goes - I suddenly realized I was STARVING like I had never been in my life. And that was the most delicious english muffin I had ever had. I ate it so quickly, she had another right behind it, and then another. It was a small local bakery that made those english muffins, and only available at one out-of-the way natural foods store. But nonetheless, I became one of their biggest customers for the years that followed until the sad (sad!) day they went out of business. Were they really that amazing, those english muffins? They were very good. But the appreciation I had for them the very first time I tasted one carried into each muffin for years to come. It's true.
And that story only sort of relates to this popcorn today. A little bit, anyway. Because comparing birthing your first child to a day of antique shopping might be a bit of a stretch. Okay, a lot of a stretch. But surely you get the idea - you know that feeling I'm talking about.
And so it was, just a few weeks ago, that I made my way down to Brimfield. It was touch-and-go towards the end there, I was unsure I was going to go at all - to finish the work I needed to do to leave for a day, to arrange the travel, and on and on. Once I decided to go, I had great intentions of packing a lovely homemade lunch and travel food too. But at the end, getting out the door was the best I could do, and I did just that, practically empty-handed save for the all-important cash. An early (early!) morning start ensued with friends...followed by a whole lot of walking and shopping. After stretching it just as long as we possibly could, and right before the moment where someone was going to fall over, we returned to the truck for a tailgate lunch (thank goodness for friends who had it more together than I that day), and we feasted. And that, my friends, is the where I had this popcorn, prepared by Stacy. Popcorn made in a way I hadn't done before, popcorn that was so delicious that I stopped just short of sticking my entire face in the bag and devouring it all. Just short of that, I stopped.
I asked my popcorn-making friend, what's the magic in this miraculous popcorn that I can't stop eating? To which she sweetly smiled, and said "Old Bay Seasoning and nutritional yeast".
As simple as that. Popcorn with some spice. An english muffin with butter. Sometimes the simple things are just exactly what's needed.
I wanted to make my own seasoning - adding in the fresh spices we love, sourcing it all as organically as I can, and tweaking the seasoning just right to our liking. (We're fans of the offerings of Gryffon Ridge Spice Merchants.) You're welcome, of course, to skip all of that and just go right to the Old Bay Seasoning.
For the popcorn -
(Popcorn and oil ratios are sized for an 8 qt stock pot, adjust as needed for the size you have - the oil should coat the bottom of the pan.)
For the seasoning -
Add the oil to your pot, on high. Give it just a minute to warm up, and add the popcorn. Put the lid on and leave it alone (we've talked about this before). When the popping slows, and there is more than two seconds between pops, turn off the heat. Place popcorn immediately in a large bowl. Pour the butter on, stirring to mix thoroughly. Add the nutritional yeast, and half of the spices you prepared. Give it another stir. Store the remaining spice mix in a lidded glass jar until next time.
2013, in popcorn: