Popcorn is a gardening favorite and its popped kernels make a great snack. Growing your own in your garden can be very rewarding and popcorn requires little more than basic care. Popcorn comes in many varieties and colors including white, yellow, red, black and blue. Regardless of the seed color, all popcorn pops up white when cooked. Growing your own popcorn will result in a healthier, more delicious snack than you would get from the chemical laced kind you find in the microwave popcorn section or your grocery.
Store yoru unpopped popcorn correctly. When stored in a sealed glass jar in a cool cupboard, unpopped popcorn can maintain its freshness for 6-12 months. Popcorn pops because it has a bit of moisture trapped in each kernel. If the corn dries out, more of the kernels will stay closed. You can try to store the corn in the freezer to extend the freshness a few months, but eventually it will lose most of the moisture and you will end up with unpopped kernels and, potentially, a slightly stale taste.
The boxes come with six 3.3 ounce bags; depending on your microwave you might be able to get one of these popped in about two minutes. Since this was the first time I was trying this I set it for the usual 3:33 and stood in front of the microwave until I heard the popping slow down. It smelled great and I couldn’t resist reaching in the bag for a quick taste. The first thing I noticed was there wasn’t a lot of grease on the inside of the bag; most people wouldn’t care about this but to me, that means I can eat it right out of the bag without having to get a bowl dirty.
I started my party hopping at the Burnett house. Several friends who returned from years past greeted me and offered to have me stay and enjoy myself for a bit. On the menu…rattlesnake. For those that have not had the luxury to try those “not so common” wild meats, well; you know the saying. Done over an open flame, it falls from the bone if grilled properly. To me it had more of a taste closer to turtle or alligator. It tasted nothing like chicken. Preferably, you want a slightly charred piece from the exterior close to where the skin would remain at the edge. A treat to the taste buds indeed.
Arizona farmers continue to work through the summer and visitors to the market will still find plenty of tomatoes, summer squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, and many other herbs and vegetables. In addition to fresh produce, shoppers may find prepared food items including honey, balsamic vinegar, canned tuna and salmon, grass fed beef, hummus, jams, olive oil, salsas, baked goods, tamales, eggs, dried beans, BBQ sauce, pistachios, dried fruits, coffee, pickles, pasta, Kettle Corn Concession, fudge sauce, and tortillas. Crafters also show up at the markets, selling crocheted scarves, bronze bells, stitchery, jewelry, pottery, wooden spoons, glass tiles, and many more items.
One of the lesser-publicized things to do during August in Saratoga is have breakfast at the Track. There is free admission, so if you don’t buy food you actually don’t have to pay. It takes place every day the Track is open, 7:30 – 9:00 a.m., except on Travers day. You can watch the Paddock Show and Starting Gate Demonstration and take a tram tour of the Backstretch Area – great fun for the kids who love horses or those who want to get a clue which horse to bet on later in the day. If you leave before 10 a.m. they refund your parking fee, and you will have to exit the Track area and re-enter, paying admission, if you plan to spend the day at the Track.
After a few minutes, you will notice that the popcorn kernels are beginning to smell like popcorn, although they haven’t begun popping yet. This is the time when you want to add the sugar to the pot. Remove the lid, disperse the sugar (not in one big lump, but poured as evenly as possible throughout the pot). Replace the lid, and continue sliding the pot back and forth on the burner.
If you are on a tight budget, then watch for special discount offers. Call your local credit union for specially discounted tickets or pick up a Coca-Cola can for $10 off per admission. Be sure to wear a sweater or jacket (or an extra shirt) because Six Flags over Texas does get chilly at night during this time of year. Coats really aren’t necessary, however, because Six Flags is built down in a hole, which helps with the wind, so it’s not really cold in this Texas theme park, even in December.