Saturday, June 27, 2009

favorite thing friday

When Charlie and I first started dating, one of the (many, many) things that drew me to my future-husband, was his family. They are a great group of people and I really admired the way that they celebrated the family unit and embraced certain traditions.

For instance, at the end of every day when his father would walk in the door from work, he would give a little whistle to indicate that he was home. And every evening, just before dinner, his mother and father would freshen themselves up, and sit down with a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn at 6:00 PM.

Charlie's mom would put on a clean dress and powder her nose. Charlie's dad would change his shirt and shoes. Then, they'd pop open a bottle of wine and sit down to reflect on the day, while dinner finished cooking.

It was a simple thing ... yet, very bonding.

All of their children, and any friends that were visiting, were invited to join in on this "cocktail hour" and depending upon their ages, they could either have a glass of juice - or a glass of wine - along with the patriarch and matriarch of the family.

According to my husband, this was such a standard thing that his family did, that it was really no big deal to him. But whenever friends would be visiting - and his parents would furnish a big bowl of popcorn and drinks - they would think it was the coolest thing ever.

Some of the fondest memories my husband has as a child growing up, were times spent, sitting with his parents and just chatting during cocktail hour. It is for that reason that when we were married in 1994, the very first thing that we registered for was the same style Electric Popcorn Popper that Charlie had growing up.

This was the gift that Charlie's brother Steve and his wife, Kathy, gave to us and we have used the same popcorn popper approximately 200 nights a year, for the past 15 years. Although we don't make popcorn and drink a glass of wine every night, we do it often.

There are a lot of different opinions on when you should feed children popcorn.

The popular consensus is that children shouldn't be fed popcorn until they are at least four years old. We've been feeding popcorn to our children since they were about 18-months old, but we've been very careful to break the "kernels" off the popcorn, before we let them eat it. (OK. Sometimes, not always. But we do try. Does it make us more responsible that we don't ever let them ride bikes without wearing helmets??)

To cook, we pour a tablespoon full of vegetable oil in to the base of the electric popper and add approximately 1/2 cup of Orville Redenbacher's popcorn. Because Orville's the best.

Then, we turn on the popper and let it spin until all the popcorn has finished popping.

This is always a fun event for everyone involved.

We flip it the popper over and transfer our popped corn in to a large bowl. Then, we top it with just a slight sprinkle of kosher salt. At first I thought it was a little dry without butter dripping off each piece. But, with time, I have come to embrace this healthier - and tastier - version of the popped corn. It's certainly better than any microwave popcorn I've ever had and it doesn't leave an oily residue in your mouth.

I suspect that as our children grow older, cocktail hour - whether with a bowl of popcorn, or perhaps some cheese and crackers - will be something that we will fully embrace as an evening ritual. Along with that evening ritual of eating a small ice cream cone just before bath time.

But that one comes from my side of the family.


  1. I love that. Every family should have a sit, unwind and reflect on the day time. And the popcorn makes it fun.

  2. I have always hated movie popcorn. We have two popcorn poppers. I don't use them as often as I should because it's easier to clean up (throw away a bag) than wiping out containers, but I love fresh popped lightly salted popcorn. MmM!

    Have y'all tried the kernel seasonings? We have the cheese and garlic/parm flavors. Sometimes it's a nice change on the palette.

  3. Hi Jen,

    The age related popcorn question is a good one. Way back in the 70's when kids were small, I too enjoyed frequent "popcorn parties."

    My oldest Matthew always had a healthy appetite and never experienced any digestive problems. He really enjoyed popcorn. He was only about 2. {It was so long ago, I don't really remember}.

    Well, over the course of about a week, he developed a little nagging cough. It did not go away. There was no other symptoms. Then a slight whistling noise developed.

    We took him to the ER and an x-ray that detected a small "spot" on his lung. He was brought into surgery, and during an emergency bronchoscopy, discovered a tiny piece of popcorn kernel. {really, it was not very big at all}.

    The doctor told me that kids should not have any type of seeds until they are at least 5. Needless to say, I felt awful and put my popper away for a few more years.

    Please, be careful of the kernels.

    Peg O.

  4. Oh my Gosh! Reiner and I do this too with our kids!

    Our choice is usually chips and salsa. He drinks a beer and I have water. (okay. fine. Diet Coke)
    ;-) Marg.

  5. Once again, you're kids are so cute. What a great tradition!

  6. Love this post! My husband comes from a cocktail hour family, and I come from an ice cream cone family as well.

    But the popcorn is an awesome addition. We make it right on the stove with oil and kernels. Similar to your popper...and it really does taste amazing. And doesn't take much longer than microwave.

    I can not wait until the baby is here so we can start popping open the wine again ;)

  7. I love that popcorn popper. It's so awesome! :)

  8. What a lovely tradition to carry through the family! It's so much fun to find new ways to just celebrate everyday life and family through little things like this. My family wasn't much into traditions, so we're having fun creating our own. We might just have to add this one to the repetoire.

  9. This is such a beautiful post. The traditions and the photos.

  10. I love this idea! My family doesn't have any daily traditions like that... but I'd love to include something like that with my own family in the future. It's such a nice way to bond, as you say, and just to unwind.

    My best friend's family always ordered pizza every single Friday night, and if friends were around they were invited to have pizza too. They did this with all six of their children, all the way until it was just my best friend left in the house (she's the youngest). "Pizza Every Friday" reminds me of Lindsay's family every time I think of it. I was always a little jealous that they had a little tradition like that and my family didn't (mind you, my family is still very close and we do lots together, we just never had an on-going tradition nightly or weekly to boast about).

  11. I remember a popcorn tradition too ...
    I remember eating big bowls full of popcorn after a full day of swimming in the pool at my Aunt Mary Lou's house. I think I remember watching Mark Spitz win all of those gold medals, while crammed around the TV with a roomful of tired kids munching on warm popcorn (thank you Chef Beth!). Maybe that's the other half of the reason the tradition lives on. It felt familiar!!

  12. I remember a popcorn tradition too. Our popcorn popper wasn't as good looking and innovative as yours though. I remember when my mom would pop popcorn and then put a layer on a baking sheet topped with caramel and put in the oven to melt. Ohhhh sooo goood. Home made caramel corn, there is nothing better!

    Thanks for sharing another Favorite Thing Friday.

  13. it's 5:15. It'll take me about 45 min to get there... see you soon : )
    but really, lately we've been eating our tiny ice cream cones at 5:15 p.m. after swim practice and before dinner just because I've been sitting in the hot sun while they've been in the pool. At least you can wait until after dinner to eat the ice cream....

  14. Praying for Jimbo...and your entire family.

    PS Love the tradition.

  15. Love that tradition...very bonding to a family!