Sara’s Kitchen: Popcorn

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When my sister and I were small, my mom would put us to bed – and, thinking she finally had some time to herself – would get out the air popper to pop some white fluffy corn, intending to relax with her favorite snack after a long day.

Inevitably, the wonderful aroma would waft upstairs and lure my sister and me downstairs, much like you’d see in a cartoon. Ever kind, my mom would indulge us a few handfuls of the freshly salted popcorn before sending us back to bed.

My mom’s love for popcorn was passed down to both Keri and me – my mom says it’s because she ate so much of it while pregnant with us. Whether that’s true or not, popcorn is, hands down, my favorite snack. And one of my favorite household appliances is the air popper my mom got for me when I first moved into my college apartment. image from www.howtomakepopcorngreat.com

We’re not doing any hard math here, but that makes this trusty little beaut more than 10 years old. I still have the same one, and I use it easily at least once a week.

I do not share popcorn. Please do not ask. If I must, I will make you your own bowl.

A few years ago, my stepmother gifted my sister and me our first Whirley Pops. Privately, we both shunned them at first, knowing our air-popped corn was tops, but I soon discovered the secret to this little stovetop wonder and passed it on to Keri. Then, we sold my mom on it as well.

These days, we simply buy kernels. I get a BJ’s Club-sized container of Orville Redenbacher for the air-popper and explore with more artisan corns with the Whirley Pop.

**UPDATE** I found a way to take my love of eating local to popcorn and have been equipped with a gallon-size container of Weiser Farms popping corn — bright white and almost as fluffy as O.R., but even more delicious.

Here are some of my favorite ways to make popcorn:

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Sara’s Classic Popcorn

1/3 cup Orville Redenbacher kernels (or other heavier kernel)
Sea salt
Garlic salt
2 tsp butter

Pop that popcorn in the air-popper! Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave in a microwave-safe cup with a spout (for ease).

Once popped and melted (respectively), work in shifts. Lightly drizzle 1/3 of the butter all around the kernels, trying to get as many as you can. Sprinkle garlic salt. Shake. Repeat until butter is gone, but use sea salt instead of garlic salt (trust me).


Pour: Vineyard at Hershey’s Oaked Chardonnay would pair nicely with this.

Sara’s New School Popcorn (This is my current go-to)

1/3 cup Orville Redenbacher kernels (or other heavier kernel)
Sea salt
Malt Vinegar Sea Salt
2 tsp butter

Use the same technique as above, but instead of garlic salt, use malt vinegar sea salt

Pour: Appalachian Brewing Co.’s Root Beer. Spike it with vanilla vodka for an extra kick.


Sara’s Must-Have WhirleyPop

1/3 cup Boulder Popcorn Co. Cambria’s Cream (hull-less!)
1 T sunflower oil
Sea salt

Add oil and kernels to Whirley-Pop. Close lid and place on burner and crank handle slowly until popping stops or it becomes difficult to crank. Using a potholder to open the lid, pour the hot popcorn away from you into a serving bowl. Grind fresh sea salt all over and shake to distribute.

(Notes: Please read all Whirley Pop instructions before use. If you have an electric stove like me, you’ll want to pre-heat the burner to save some cranking time. Please let others know you’ll be turning on an empty burner – be safe!)

Pour: A tall Ice Pick will wash this down well. Try Crystal Light Iced Tea and spike it with orange vodka.

Savory & Spicy

1/3 cup Archer Farms Ruby Red Blend (sold at Target)
1 T popcorn oil
Chili powder
Cayenne powder (optional)

Add oil and kernels to Whirley-Pop and pop using instructions above. Carefully pour popcorn into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with tumeric and chili powder evenly to taste. Lightly sprinkle cayenne. Cover bowl with foil and shake your little heart out. Enjoy!

(Note: Turmeric has wonderful healthy properties; however, be warned it may stain your fingernails a bit yellow for a day.)

Pour: Troegs DreamWeaver Wheat would wash this down deliciously.


1/3 cup Crate & Barrel Midnight Popcorn
1 T popcorn oil
Malt vinegar sea salt
Old Bay

Add oil and kernels to Whirley-Pop and pop using instructions above. Carefully pour popcorn into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with malt vinegar sea salt and Old Bay to taste. Shake for even distribution.

Pour: A Dark & Stormy will make this the perfect movie night. Combine ginger beer and dark rum (try Gosling’s or Myers’) over ice and add a healthy slice of lime.

Sweet surprise

Not that experimental with spices? Toss in some Snowcaps or Milk Duds for a sweet surprise among your buttery kernels.

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How do you like your popcorn? Sweet or savory? Plain or loaded?

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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