Wow. 2010 is a year of changes in my world, and last week I reached a new milestone: my first day in my first job as an RN. The days leading up to that initial evening shift on Friday were full of nervous excitement, trepidation, and appetite funkiness.
All I wanted to eat this week was corn. Kix. (Processed in a facility that also handles wheat, but I’m lucky in that I don’t have to worry *too* much about cross-contamination.) Corn Chex. Polenta with parmigiano reggiano. Sweet corn in my black bean chili. Corn and sweet potato chips with sharp cheddar cheese. Something about the bright starchiness and high glycemic index must have been comforting.
When I was a sophomore in college, I lived in the campus’s vegetarian co-op. 19 (or so) of us shared a kitchen, grocery funds, and cooking duties. I learned to cook at the co-op. For 20+ people. Beans and rice and veggie pies and salads and Annie’s Goddess Dressing (alas, no more! It contains soy sauce with wheat!). Diving for bruised peaches and baguette before Whole Foods started locking down their dumpsters. Dancing to The Current in the kitchen while mixing up peanut sauce. I lost my freshman 15 (er, 30) while living at the co-op. I’m staying decidedly nostalgic and sticking to the positive memories because, on the flip side, I was 19 and going through the existential and developmental crises expected at that age. While writing this post, I decided to check my alma mater’s website to see if it boasted any info on the Co-op; not only does the co-op have a page, one of the images for the co-op is OF MY $%#@ING ROOM!!!! THAT’s trippy. There’s my pink teddy bear that my great grandmother gave me.
And sometimes the co-op kind of sucked.
But! I learned to make this popcorn. A few of my co-op-mates were familiar with the recipe independently of each other; some from Washington state and one from southeastern Minnesota were unfazed by the addition of soy sauce and nutritional yeast to the freshly popped kernels. But I, having come from the world of 97% fat-free butter flavor microwave popcorn, was happily amazed. So was my almost-pa-in-law when I made a batch a couple weeks ago. It’s a good memory, something positive, that I’ve brought with me as I approach this crazy transition year. Along with that teddy bear.
I’m calling it that with a major smirk. I’m not sure if anyone I lived with back in the co-op would seriously call him/herself a hippy–not without a hefty trail of descriptors and qualifications. But that’s how we thought the outside saw us, I think. And if any of my former co-op-mates are reading this, they’re likely to disagree on principle. Wink.
Fresh oil-popped popcorn, 2 big batches from a six-quart pot
1/2 c soy sauce (wheat-free for me!)
1/2 c nutritional yeast (Bob’s Red Mill sells a nutritional yeast that was cultivated on sugar beets, so it’s gluten-free; many other brands that you’ll find in the natural foods/bulk section are cultivated on barley)
1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
While popcorn is popping, mix the dry ingredients together. Pour popped popcorn into a paper grocery bag. Now, get ready to move quickly so the soy sauce gets distributed among, rather than soaks a few, of the kernels: add dry ingredients to popcorn in the bag, a third at a time, alternating with a splash of soy sauce. Fold over the top of the bag to close it off and shake the living daylights out of it to mix the kernels with the seasoning. Continue until all ingredients have been incorporated into the popcorn, or to taste. You might find that you like yours a little sweeter, or a little hotter, or a little cheesier. Makes enough for a crowd… or for almost-pa-in-law and me for a couple days.