Michelle stepped up to the door and nervously plucked at the hem of her dress. She adjusted the bowl in her hands. “Hi, I’m Michelle. I brought popcorn.” She said it quietly, out loud and to herself. No. It didn’t sound right.
She cleared her throat. “Hey, it’s Michelle! I brought popcorn! There’s bacon in it!” Her voice sounded strangely high. She coughed and caught a glimpse of her dress, her bare legs. She could hear the party happening on the other side of the door. Her dress was all wrong, she was sure of it. Everyone in the house sounded like they were wearing jeans. Why didn’t she wear jeans?
“It’s Michelle, omg I’m here! I know, right?”
“What’s up?” She positioned a sneer on her face and put her hand on her hip. “Whatever, it’s just popcorn. Whatever. It’s just… God.” This was the worst- THE WORST. Why did she go there? What had she been thinking? She stared down at the bowl. What if he didn’t like bacon? What if he had a girl in there? What if she was-
Behind her on the path that led to the door, someone cleared their throat. Someone, a person, a human being, with ears! SOMEONE WHO COULD HEAR THINGS! They had heard the whole thing, every word.
Michelle took a deep breath. She put a smile on her face and turned around, her heart doing the Rumba in her chest.
FIRST some “bidness”, as the kids say and then we talk food.
We are closing our Facebook Group and are transitioning to a traditional Facebook Page, so we can do more apps and fun stuff. So you should go there and “Like” us! I made you S’more Cookies! Please be our friend, we’ll have so much fun!
In Book World, my brother who is a wonderful illustrator and an even more wonderful brother, made a cover for my first book The Secret Ones! It’s beautiful and it makes me so, so incandescently happy. He also did an amazing illustration of the theme park where the book takes place. Seeing it actually drawn out (it’s real! It’s alive!) gave me goosebumps. To celebrate, I’m giving the first 100 pages of the book away for free. You can read it at work on the sly (it’s a simple PDF, it looks like a real Worky Document), I won’t tell a soul.
I’ve also started working on Book No. 3 which is about a girl who wants to play professional baseball. I am subsequently learning… a lot about baseball. I’m still in the research phase so there are a lot of baseball movies to watch, books to snag from the library (who knew there was so much to learn about pitching?) and I’m slowly, slowly turning into a monster who only wants to talk about Title IX. It’s also making me increasingly nutso over the approaching Olympics and strangely patriotic (AMERICA!)
But enough about all that. Let’s talk about bacon. And caramel.
Bon Appetit did a handy slideshow a few weeks ago on salty and sweet desserts. The End. Judi is dead. She went on Pinterest, shared every single photo from said-slideshow and then promptly died. Please bury her in a pile of salty, sweet delights. Specifically, please bury me in bacon-y, cashew-y Caramel Corn. THIS Caramel Corn.
When Nicole came back from her honeymoon (in my head, she walked into the loft, dropped her old-fashioned suitcase on the floor and moved promptly to the laptop to email me. What? It’s entirely plausible.) she asked what we should make first and I sent her pretty much every link from that slideshow. She graciously agreed to make this recipe for Caramel Corn with Bacon and Cashews but I don’t think she’s too sad about it because then they got to eat it all. Such is the plight of the intrepid food photographer, what a world, what a world.
Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn
1/2 Cup of unpopped popcorn kernels*
2 TBsps of vegetable oil
6 Ounces of bacon, chopped
1/2 Cup of unsalted raw cashews (one 2.5-ounce package)
1 Teaspoon of coarse kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1/4 Teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/4 Cup of heavy whipping cream
1 Oolong tea bag
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 and 1/2 Cups of sugar
1/4 Cup of water
2 TBps of light corn syrup
*You can buy popping corn online or at select supermarkets. We like Wisconsin Made because, well, our hearts belong to the Midwest (and Maine. And Philly. And New York. What?) If there’s a brand you prefer, please share it with us in the comments!
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Heat popcorn and oil in covered heavy large pot over medium-high heat until kernels begin to pop. Using oven mitts, hold lid on pot and shake pot until popping stops, also remember that you can get the best multicooker kitchen utensils that you can use for this same purpose. Pour popcorn into very large bowl.
3. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until almost crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain; cool.
4. Add bacon and cashews to bowl with popcorn. Sprinkle with coarse salt and cayenne; toss to coat.
5. Bring cream and tea bag just to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat; let steep 15 minutes, occasionally pressing on tea bag with back of spoon to release flavor. Discard tea bag.
6. Prep: Line rimmed baking sheet with foil; coat with nonstick spray. Coat 2 wooden spoons or heat-resistant spatulas with nonstick spray; set aside.
7. Stir sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and corn syrup in large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high; boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 13 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir until blended.
8. Immediately drizzle caramel over popcorn mixture; toss with sprayed spoons until evenly coated. Transfer to sheet.
9. Place caramel corn in oven and bake until caramel is shiny and coats popcorn, tossing mixture occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on sheet on rack, tossing occasionally to break up large clumps.
10. Become hit of party. Dance with many people. Accept many compliments over caramel corn.