Posts Tagged ‘Benjamin Weisel’

Slightly Spicy Super Popcorn

Friday, February 5th, 2010
From left to right: Jackson, Michael, and Benjamin at the stove

From left to right: Jackson, Michael, and Benjamin at the stove

I’m getting ready for Game Day.
I’m not a football person; I’ve never actually understood the appeal of this particular sport. I get tennis. I get baseball. I get hockey. I even get golf (a good excuse for walking). I especially get bridge. But guys running up and down the field in those huge pads and jumping on each other…?
Nevertheless, as a lover of popular culture I view the NFL’s big display every year. I can’t resist the spectacle of it all—the halftime show, the brand-new ads, the excited if broke fans (the prices on those tickets are scary!).
I even watch most of the game itself although I try not to listen to the “experts” as they blather on and on about it.
I don’t plan a huge menu for Super Bowl Sunday, but I do like to make something special in honor of this annual sports fest. I originally thought of making nachos for Sunday. I love nachos: they’re salty and fatty and satisfying and versatile (you can put just about anything you have in the house into them!).
After looking at the elegant, creative nachos in Wednesday’s Washington Post, however, I abandoned the nacho plan. I didn’t need the shame: my nachos were going to be pedestrian in contrast. And actually my family didn’t need the calories.
Instead I decided to spice up a little popcorn. I love popcorn almost as much as I love nachos. It’s flavorful. It’s cheap. And it can be made with relatively little fat (although I draw the line at air popping; the kernels need SOME fat).
My nephew Michael had a snow day from school on Wednesday so I enlisted him and his friends Benjamin and Jackson to help pop the corn.
Popcorn is a great project for kids as long as they are careful (which our boys were) and adults are supervising. (I know you can’t see us in the pictures, but there were three of us in the room!)
I decided to work with Indian spices. The first batch of popcorn we tried went a little overboard in the spice department: we threw in cumin, turmeric, garam masala, curry powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes as well as salt.
Michael ate one handful and went running through the house shouting “Water! Water!” The other two boys just kept their distance and laughed.
I tried it myself and found it spicy (although not overly so) and a little too busy in terms of flavors.
The second batch used the combination of flavors below. Its subcontinental flavor was subtle rather than “in your face”—perfect for young (or timid) football fans. It should complement rather than overwhelm any other munchies we consume as we watch the Saints and the Colts battle it out.
Enjoy the popcorn—and the halftime show—and the commercials. If you must, even enjoy the game!
spicy popcorn web
Tinky’s Indian Corn
Here are a few hints before I start:
Check with your guests about allergies before you make your popcorn. Peanut oil is ideal for popping the corn, but canola will do if someone has a peanut allergy.
Popcorn pops best in a cheap, not-too-thick pan. Put away the Le Creuset and the All-Clad if you’re lucky enough to have them and get out an old aluminum pot. By the time the fancy pots heat up the popcorn will burn. A wok with a lid works very nicely.
The lid should be on your pot (so the popcorn doesn’t pop right out and hit you) but the pot should have a little room to breathe. Keep the lid slightly ajar so that steam can escape. Place one hand on the lid as you shake the pot with the other hand so the lid will stay in position.
To make your own popcorn salt (I got this hint from watching Alton Brown: thanks, Mr. Brown!) put kosher salt in a small food processor and pulse it 10 to 12 times.
enough peanut or canola oil to line the bottom of your pot (3 to 4 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon popcorn salt (a tiny bit more if you must)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup popping corn
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Place the oil, the salt, the cumin seeds, and 1 kernel of popcorn in your pot and stir to combine. Put the pot over fairly high heat (see above remark about the lid) and start moving the pot gently back and forth over the burner.
When the initial popcorn kernel pops add the remaining popcorn, the turmeric, and the curry powder. Stir to combine and return the pot to the heat. Continue shaking. In a little while you will be rewarded with the sound of popping corn.
Listen carefully. (This was the hardest part of the whole recipe for the boys, who have the enthusiasm of youth and like to talk loudly through most activities.)
When the popping subsides enough so that you hear a pop only every few seconds remove the pot from the heat and pour the popcorn into a bowl.
Serve the popcorn immediately or cool the popcorn and then store it in a sealed plastic bag for up to a week.
Makes just under 2 quarts.
BY THE WAY, if you’re looking for a few more Super Bowl ideas, here are a few suitable posts:
Mexican Chicken Pizza
Apple-Sage Cheese Spread
BOLTs (in honor of the COLTs)
Red Beans & Rice (in honor of the Saints)
(Courtesy of ebay--I can't afford the darn things myself!)

(Courtesy of ebay--I can't afford the darn things myself!)

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Community Easter Bread

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
Leigh watches Michael and Benjamin place their eggs in the bread.

Leigh watches Michael and Benjamin place their eggs in the bread.


Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without the Easter egg.


This symbol of spring represents fertility, youth, and new beginnings—all the hopes that suddenly arise in our breasts when the sun rises higher and earlier again in the spring.


This braided loaf is made more festive (and more seasonal) by the inclusion of eggs in its folds. Plain eggs work just fine, but I always welcome an excuse to get kids coloring things so I asked my nephew Michael and his friends Benjamin and Carson to dye some eggs for my loaf. 

Carson rolls an egg in his dye.

Carson rolls an egg in his dye.

I got extra help from my sister-in-law Leigh, who is MUCH better at braiding bread than I am.

So my Easter bread is a community event. I hope yours will be, too!

Leigh braids the rolls of bread.

Leigh braids the rolls of bread.



2/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons sweet butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 packet yeast

2-1/2 cups flour (approximately)

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs for the batter
4 to 5 eggs in their shells for the braiding (dyed if you like)





In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter just to lukewarm; the butter will be soft but not melted.

In a medium bowl combine 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the yeast. Pour the milk/butter mixture over them, and leave the yeast to proof for 5 to 10 minutes.


Beat in 1/2 cup flour, the remaining sugar, the salt, and the 2 eggs; mix well. Add 1-1/2 cups more flour, and stir.


Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead it for 1 to 2 minutes, adding a bit more flour as needed.  Allow the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes; then continue kneading, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.


Grease a medium bowl, and place the dough in it. Cover with a damp towel, and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.


Uncover the dough, punch it down, and divide it into 2 mounds. Let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Stretch each mound into a roll at least 24 inches long.


Form a rounded braid with the two rolls, sealing them at the ends. Place the bread on a greased (or parchment-covered) baking sheet. Insert the eggs in their shells into spots in the braid. (If you wait to do this until the bread has risen again, the eggs will pop out of the bread; this happened to us!)


Cover the braid with a damp dish towel, and let it rise until it doubles, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees about 15 minutes before you want to bake the bread.  

Bake the braided bread until it is a golden brown, between 35 and 55 minutes depending on your oven. Makes 1 loaf.