“You know, I once scored 41 points on a league championship game. … Yeah, and on the same day I invented the space shuttle and microwave popcorn.” – Gabriella, High School Musical
Okay, I don’t really want to talk about why I can quote lines from High School Musical off the top of my head. But I do really want to talk about the mistaken belief that microwave popcorn is the greatest thing since sliced bread (and, come to think of it, the mistaken belief that sliced bread is the greatest thing since … ?).
Popcorn is the greatest thing. Curling up on the couch on a winter afternoon with a bowl of hot, crunchy, whole-grain popcorn is one of life’s little pleasures (whether or not you have to watch High School Musical, or Camp Rock, or The Hannah Montana Movie for the hundredth time). But microwave popcorn … who needs the chemicals?
I know it’s supposed to be a convenience, but popping corn yourself is so easy. You don’t need a special popcorn popper, just a pot with a lid. And please, not an air popper. Cooking the kernels in just a small amount of olive oil makes the difference between eating something that tastes like Styrofoam packing peanuts and eating a really satisfying snack.
It’s also a lot cheaper. Grab a bag of white popcorn kernels (they’re sweeter than the yellow ones), a bottle of olive oil, and a container of sea salt, and you’re good to go for a million batches, at least.
So, here’s how I make popcorn for one. And by “one,” I mean “one grown-up, plus one dog, plus the one of my kids who doesn’t have braces and is therefore not banned from eating popcorn.” This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled … just use a bigger pot.
Perfect Popcorn for One (Plus)
 Put 1 tsp. olive oil in a non-stick pot over high heat. Put in 1 white popcorn kernel. Cover the pot.
 As soon as the kernel pops, add 1/4 c. white popcorn kernels to the pot. Give them a quick stir to coat them in the oil, and then cover the pot.
 As soon as the popping slows down to a few seconds between each pop, remove the pot from the heat.
 Dump the popcorn out into a bowl. Add your favorite seasonings. Mine are sea salt and chili powder. If you like butter on your popcorn, by all means go ahead and melt some and pour it on (before you sprinkle on the seasonings). Eat your delicious snack. I promise you won’t miss the chemicals.
p.s. Popcorn is the official state snack food of Illinois. Who knew? Other states with official state snack foods are South Carolina (boiled peanuts), Texas (tortilla chips and salsa), and Utah (Jell-O! I’m not kidding!). Think I’ll stay here in corn country…