By Heidi Lewis
In 1961 Robert Moog invented a voltage-controlled synthesizer keyboard that would change our auditory landscape forever. The Beach Boys played with it in 1966, two years later Wendy Carlos transposed Bach for it, and by 1972 the electronic song “Popcorn” became a global hit. “Popcorn” stayed on the charts in Europe indelibly leaving a fingerprint on EuroPop for years to come.
In our Central TakeHome cases this week is an old world/new world cooking sensation: Popcorn! Not just any popcorn, but tiny popcorn. It’s called Tiny But Mighty by the Mealhow family in Shellsburg, IA, who have been safeguarding and cultivating this special heirloom popcorn variety for three generations—a genuine Iowa family farm product. U.S. corncobs have become larger over the years, as it primarily used for commercial products like cereal, corn syrup, and fodder. Tiny But Mighty kernels are smaller and denser, and the hull of the kernel is cooked away, resulting in highly digestible and tasty popcorn.
Popcorn became the prevalent movie-going snack during WWII when sugar rations for candy precipitated the switch to a more local and abundant snack. Popcorn is a very healthy food, depending on its adornments, of course. Air popped with light salt, curry powder, or brewers yeast is high in fiber and low in calorie. Smothered in butter, coconut oil, or caramel tips the scale the other way. However you like it, have fun listening to your popcorn dance.
Preparation (from the farmer, Gene Mealhow): On the stovetop, add 2 tablespoons peanut, sunflower, safflower, or canola oil to a heavy lidded pot. Put several “test” kernels in pot—this will indicate when the oil is the correct temp. Heat at medium-high. When you hear them pop, remove from heat. Add 2/3 cup kernels, and shake to cover them with oil. Return to heat, but don’t shake. When there are 2–3 seconds between pops, remove from heat.
Storage: Farmer Gene wants to remind folks that popcorn kernels should not dry out. Keep in pantry or the crisper drawer of the fridge.