Popcorn and surviving home/alone

My New Year and geographic relocation has brought with it a chance to work from home. What some view as an exciting opportunity others see as a living hell; I guess I sit somewhere in the middle leaning precariously towards the former. By chance another member of my family has, in a way, found himself in the same position although his comes in the fortuitous form of early retirement. Despite the different reasons and workload within the boundaries of our home/work environment I can see, in his behaviour, a real battle with the unstructured nature of the typical weekday.

The last time I took a journey down this road it was over a three month period during an English winter. The expense of heating resulted in a decision to attempt to survive without said heating for six hours over the middle of the day. Not the easiest task when it was snowing outside.

It did however, in a funny way, help me create a structure to the day built around keeping warm. My day became a carefully scheduled mix of percolators of bubbling hot coffee, exercise, a hot shower, hot lunches and steaming hot tea and  wrapping myself in a woollen clothing and/or blankets. It was a bit ridiculous but it became a challenge to get through the day without feeling the cold. At one point I actually went running while it was snowing.

In fact I’m starting to think it was less of an experiment in what kept me warm and my day structured and more a demonstration of my slow drift into insanity. However, I did really enjoy it and one of my favourite cold weather snacks was popcorn. And my love of popcorn continues in my current work/home environment.

Tips and hints for a good crop of popcorn.

  •  Always start with fresh corn (if it’s been sitting in your cupboard for a year or two it ain’t going to work)
  •  Make sure your pot has a lid.
  •  Pre-heat your pot (make sure your pot is hot before you put your corn in)
  •  Don’t forget the fat (whether it’s oil or butter you need something, but only a little of it, to get a good puff to your pop)
  •  Don’t over load the pot (Once the fat is heated pour in enough corn to cover the bottom of the pot, one layer only. Too much and all you’ll be left with is burnt offerings)
  •  NOW listen to the popping – the best bit apart from the eating – the pops will become less and less as the pan fills with popped corn.
  • Once you think it’s all popped take the pot off the heat but leave the lid on and listen. There will always be one or two pops to go.*

Plain, salted or sweet it’s a sensorial delight. The popping, the aroma and finally, and most satisfyingly, the taste.

*Warning: There will always be one or two kernels that won’t play fair and remain unpopped. You may be tempted, like me, to gnaw on the unpopped kernels – do so at your teeth’s own peril.