salted caramel popcorn

Ages ago, when friends of Jason’s got married, I perused the registry and was elated to see they’d requested an air popper for popcorn. Something about an air popper makes me smile—even though I’ll be the first to admit that popcorn properly popped with oil in a pot is crisper and infinitely better—so I jumped at buying it for them. That year, Jason surprised me with my own air popper for Christmas. I don’t make popcorn all that often, and sometimes I still opt to cook it on the stovetop, but the air popper is always magical.

This weekend I decided to make a batch of salted caramel popcorn for a friend as a pick-me-up after she’d gone through a rough time last week. Out came the air popper and a look at Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for spicy salty caramel popcorn. I modified the recipe enough that I wanted to jot it down here for posterity—I just know the next time I go to make it I’m going to see “3 cups of sugar” and balk again, but I won’t remember if I successfully changed the recipe and just how. Turns out that is far more than is necessary to coat this much popcorn! The recipe below doesn’t have any spiciness; just add some cayenne to taste if desired.

salted caramel popcorn

Salted Caramel Popcorn
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
Pam spray oil
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Pop the popcorn in  your air popper! Catch it all in a giant bowl that you sprayed with Pam. [alternatively, pop the popcorn with some oil in a pan.] Spray two large baking sheets and two spatulas with Pam and get them in position on the counter. Combine the sugar, butter, salt, and about 6 tablespoons of water in a saucepan over high heat. Leave it to bubble until light golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the baking soda, and give it a good whirl in the pan to combine (it will bubble up). Pour it over the caramel and start tossing with the spatulas until all the popcorn is covered. Transfer to the baking sheets and spread out and separate into small clumps or individual pieces. When cool, store in an airtight container.

wip wednesday

crochet

I’ve been crocheting. I have no idea where this project came from, really. Years ago (in 2010!) I loved my friend Diana’s Frida skirt. I had knit several skirts and bought the same yarn as her to make my own. In a khaki color. That is not dissimilar from my own skin tone. In truth, I know what I was thinking: I have a khaki skirt that I practically lived in for years each summer until holes finally separated the waistband from the body of the skirt, and I thought to knit myself a staple that I’d wear just as much. I knit nearly the entire thing before getting up to the waist and worrying that it wouldn’t fit. Apparently instead of really trying it on and making a decision, I shoved it in a bag and hid it at the back of the yarn shelf.

Last week in a fit of pique I decided to straighten up the bookcase I use for a few yarns, ones that haven’t been packed up and stored in the closet properly. The piles were meant to artfully mimic those in a yarn store, but what I was ending up with was a waterfall of yarn that threatened to spill over any time I touched it. Some cleanup was in order. And lo and behold I found a few nearly finished projects languishing at the back, complete with needles in the stitches. One was this skirt, which I pulled off the needles and tried on. And it was terrible. The color looked horrendous on me, and while the waist was definitely destined to fit OK, I knew I would just never wear it. So I plopped down and ripped the whole thing out.

But what to do with such a yarn? No garment would make sense, as I do not want to wear that color on my body. Maybe a sophisticated baby blanket. Yes, that’s an idea. The yarn is lusciously soft and buttery so despite being cotton I think it would make a nice blanket. So I flipped through some crochet books and settled on a motif in Edie Eckman’s Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs. I happened to pick a square one, ha. It’s easy to memorize, I can bang out a half-dozen in an evening, and I feel pretty empowered to make a whole (baby) blanket (something I’ve never done before). We’ll see how long I last before I bore of the squares!

a woven scarf for dad

plain weave scarf

Last October, I browsed the halls of Rhinebeck with nothing in particular in mind. I wasn’t really knitting too much, so I mostly went to spend a day with friends and see some sheep. But then we passed through Oasis Farm Fiber Mill‘s booth and petted their yarn and came to a screeching halt. It was so so soft, despite its rustic appearance, and we all wanted it. I decided it would make a lovely gift for Dad for Christmas. So I called my mom and asked her if Dad is allergic to angora and what color she thought he’d like in a scarf. I debated among their colors for a time before settling on a pretty heathered blue. The yarn doesn’t have labels so I truly have no idea which yarn I bought, but I think it’s the “Classic Bunny” (because I don’t recall picking one with silk content, but who knows).

There was no way I would knit something up in time, nor could I be sure my hands could handle it, so I brought out my little 10-inch Cricket and got to work the week before the holiday. I worried about warping it with this yarn, as it felt delicate, but I didn’t know how to resolve that issue so I just barreled ahead and crossed my fingers—I realize that I’m lucky it held up just fine. I know just enough about yarn to be concerned, but not enough about how weaving works best nor what my personal preferences are to know what kind of fix would be right. (Obviously, choose a stronger yarn for the warp, but how would I find one in just the right color? Would I want warp and weft in different colors? There were just too many variables.) I know confidence and knowledge will come with time, so for now each foray into weaving is another experiment, and blind luck and a hopeful attitude makes up for actual planning. (I could never imagine approaching knitting this way! Egads.)

plain weave scarf

As I say, my weaving experience is very limited so of course my skills are, well, in need of practice, but I think I did okay. I tried not to beat the weft down too hard (which is my instinct) in order to keep the gauge relatively even in both directions. Truth is, a different-dent reed was probably in order but I only have the one. The edges are not exact but they’re not drastically bad, either! I think dad liked it a lot, and he immediately donned it when we exchanged Christmas presents a few weeks ago. I only wish I’d bought more of this yarn to weave a scarf for myself, too.

plain weave scarf

liftoff

I’m on the West Coast for our industry trade show and managed to schedule my flight from NYC exactly at sunset. Note to self: All future travel to coincide with sunrise or sunset, preferably on days where those events will be colorful.

WIP wednesday

cutting fabric

I spent my holiday assembly-line cutting and chain-piecing a quilt I’d planned out ages ago. This is a gift so I can’t show anything yet, but I should be able to very soon! It’s all solids and I’m really happy with how it’s coming out, though I continue to have issues with basting: I was more careful and meticulous than ever, not stretching things too much but what I thought was just enough, only to be thwarted. The only fix I could come up with was to basically re-baste coming off each quilt line. I’ll get this down pat someday.

pin-basted