Best Caramel Popcorn! A Family Favorite Recipe That’s Sure To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth!

Best Caramel Popcorn!  A Favorite Family Recipe That’s Sure To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth!!

As promised, my family’s favorite caramel popcorn recipe!  This was what my mother loved best to satisfy her sweet tooth!  It’s a yummy, easy recipe…and yes, a bit addicting!

Caramel popcorn with cashews!

Soft Glazed Caramel Popcorn with Cashews:

Prior to making caramel, pop 2 regular sized bags of natural (no salt or flavoring added) microwave popcorn.  Empty into a large mixing bowl and let cool, picking out any kernels that didn’t pop.

1 cup light Karo syrup

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup butter or margarine

2 cups whole cashews

Stir all above ingredients together (except cashews) in a medium-sized sauce pan until the mixture comes to a soft, rolling boil over medium/high heat.  Continue stirring for 3-4 minutes.  (A sure way to check that the caramel ends up being the soft consistency you want, just drop a spoonful of the caramel into a cup of cool water.  It should form a gooey ball.  I have never had it fail however, if I just boiled the mixture for the 3-4 minutes that the recipe recommends.)  Make sure the popcorn and cashews are tossed together well in the mixing bowl, then stir in the caramel glaze, making sure that all the popcorn gets lightly coated with the mixture.

Let the warm popcorn set for a few minutes to cool, then enjoy this scrumptious treat as you have a fun game night! (One of our favorite games growing up was “Yahtzee”!  Keep a damp napkin handy or the dice get a little sticky!)  It’s especially good for a weekend movie night, or you can wrap some up to give as gifts!  (Warning: You’re sure to earn the title of most “favorite neighbor”!  Oh, it’s a good idea to wrap popcorn in wax paper first, then place in gift sack.)  If you do have any left over caramel popcorn–store it in a seal-tight, plastic container to keep it soft and fresh!

Caramel popcorn gift bags!

My granddaughter Makena, is a new generation of appreciative caramel popcorn connoisseurs!

Yummy caramel popcorn treat!

To this day I think of my mother every time I make this recipe!  We could have had licorice ropes, M&M’s, or any other assortment of goodies spread out for a festive game night, and all I ever remember my mom munching on was the caramel popcorn with cashews!  In fact, like any good mother, she usually threw a veggie tray into the mix!  Enjoy!

If you make this caramel popcorn recipe, let me know how you liked it.  I’m sure you could get creative and add other yummy things to this caramel popcorn recipe and it would be just as good, we just happen to like the cashews best!  What are some of the game/party treats your family likes best?

I’ve also had a few email requests for a copy of my mom’s reading “The Meanest Mom”!  I’ll have that ready to post in a couple of days.  Be prepared to have the best laugh!

–Mary

The Fruits Of Our Labors…Take Time To Enjoy Them!

The Fruits Of Our Labors…Don’t Forget To Take The Time To Enjoy Them 

Vintage lawn mowerOf all the things my parents taught me about cultivating a good work ethic, working in the yard and gardening are ones that I enjoy the most!  Even as a young girl, I looked forward each weekend to working in the flower beds while my dad mowed the lawn.  I liked going to the garden nurseries with my parents to help pick out the beautiful flowers and plants that gave a much needed burst of life and energy to a winter worn yard!  I’m also impressed that my parents seemed to listen to my input with genuine interest while picking out their plants.  I’m not sure I gave that much credence to my own children’s gardening ideas.  They did however, indulge my passion for yard work and were good to contribute their part to the upkeep and maintenance of our yard…if asked, they might suggest that they really didn’t have a choice!

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(My youngest daughter had many opportunities to mow the lawn and help in the yard after her older sister and brother left home!  Mandi now lives in New York City in a small tenth floor apartment; she’s told me how she sometimes misses the days spent working in our yard!)  

My Grandma Mecham (my mom’s mom) was my most adept mentor as I grew up and first started developing my gardening skills.  My grandma had a calm demeanor and kindly taught me, even as a young energetic child, the art of planting vegetable seeds and flower start-ups.  Grandma MechamMy grandparents had a long, more narrow backyard, with a winding stone path that curved down the middle of their beautiful garden.  The garden’s artistic mix of vegetables and flowers became my own “secret garden”!  My mom often went to help my grandma with her gardening tasks so our family could reap some of the rewards at harvest time.  Countless hours were spent working together with my grandma in her garden, but one very distinct memory I have that left a lasting impression on me was that my grandma always took time after we were finished for the day, or before the sun went down, to sit on one of her garden benches or her front porch swing to enjoy little homemade treats with a tangy fruit drink.  She’d talk about all we’d accomplished and how beautiful everything looked.  Sometimes, even before she took her dirt-caked garden gloves off, she’d reach over and hug my shoulders and tell me what a wonderful day it had been.  It was hard not to be totally enchanted as I magically seemed to see things through my grandmother’s delighted view of the world!  Too often, I just run from one task to another and forget to take time to enjoy what I have done.

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Long before it became such a trend, my grandma made beautiful planters out of unique items found in a storage shed.  All the more reason to take time and really enjoy the “fruits of our labors”!   

Enjoying Delicious Fruits Of Our Labors

rhubarb plantsAlthough my parents didn’t plant a big garden like my grandparents, they did grow rhubarb plants along the back fence of our yard.  When the plants were ready, my mom would ease the rhubarb gently out of the ground, then it was my job, along with some of my siblings, to cut the leafy tops off and rinse away any dirt left on the stalk.  I know I didn’t really appreciate the value of this rhubarb ritual at the time, but I have a transplant from my parent’s yard in my garden now.  One of my favorite desserts is made with rhubarb. rhubarb plants My thoughts are flooded with special memories each time I smell rhubarb cooking!  It’s something my whole family really enjoys and now many friends and neighbors do so as well, since we have shared our rhubarb cobbler at many neighborhood gatherings.  We serve it warm with vanilla bean ice cream.  Talk about literally enjoying the fruits of our labors!   (I wish I could say that all my gardening endeavors produced abundant crops, alas, that is not the case!) 

strawberry rhubarb cobbler

Rhubarb-Strawberry-Raspberry Cobbler

Biscuit Topper:

1 cup flour   2 tbsp. sugar   1/4 tsp. salt

Cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Combine 1/4 cup milk and 1 slightly beaten egg.  Add all at once to dry ingredients, stirring just enough to moisten.  Set mixture aside.

Fruit Mixture:

sliced rhubarb

2 cups 1 inch cut rhubarb

2 cups sliced strawberries

2 cups fresh raspberries

Combine 1 cup sugar  2 tbsp. cornstarch 

 1/4 tsp. cinnamon  1 tbsp. water  1 tbsp. butter.  Bring to boil. Cook and stir for one minute.  Pour filling into 8 1/4 X 1 3/4 inch round baking dish (or comparable square dish).  Immediately spoon on biscuit topper in 6-8 mounds. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  So good, you’re gonna love it! 

What I’m learning now is…

Just like the Dr. Seuss quote in this past entry, sometimes it takes getting a little older to recognize that you really are wiser and truly appreciate so many of the things that your parents taught you.  What I’m learning now is that although your children may not verbalize aloud that they are glad they’ve learned a few things from you, I think that deep down in their hearts, (maybe in a crevice that may never surface in our lifetime-ha!) they really are grateful that you helped them know how to work.  I just hope my kids are doing a better job at taking the time to “enjoy the fruits of their labors” more than I did when I was younger!

Please share any rhubarb recipes you love.  Also, any gardening tips that make the yard work process easier or how you stop to take a breath and “enjoy the fruits of your labors”!  

–Mary

To Every Thing There Is A Season…Some Seasons Are Just More Preferred!

Ecclesiastes 3:1: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” is referencing the “seasons” of our lives; or perhaps for some of my generation, it cues memories of the song “Turn Turn Turn” by the Byrds–ahhh, good times!  But for the purpose of this journal entry, I’m referring to the seasons of the year.

Glimpsing out at my world lately…you’ll see a sort of Dr. Zhivago movie-type view, but without the intrigue and adventure…!

 

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The air is murky and the cold chill seeps quickly into the layers of sweaters and coats worn.  Right now I dream of being here…

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Where I grew up, winter, spring, summer and fall all seemed to hold their own special fascination; I never wished one away before the other arrived!  As we get older, I guess it’s human nature for us to sometimes think that our lives will be better enriched with the essence of another time and season that’s just around the corner!  As this winter lingers, I’ve tried to remember how my parents went about fostering their regard for mother nature’s personality fluxes!  Days spent playing outside in the snow always seemed to end happily with my mom’s warm hands rubbing my cold fingertips as numb toes were placed over blowing furnace vents.  To top things off, yummy homemade soup was often served for dinner.  Reading or homework was done later while sprawled out by the living room fireplace.  It seemed so magical then.  I’m sure I’m romancing the memory a bit, but it still serves as a good reminder to do a better job at appreciating the unique qualities of each season, and to try and do things that will help make them more enjoyable for others too…including the winter months–ugh, that’s a tough call right now!

There really is nothing like the warm “comfort foods” of the winter months.  More important is the special tradition of getting together around the dinner table.  It seems like this is harder to do after your children are grown, but it’s something that my husband and I try to do, and find it’s well worth the effort, especially after being out and about in the cold weather!

I hope this scrumptious family recipe of Hamburger Soup helps you enjoy a bowl together with family members or other loved ones!

Mom's soup 015 (1)FAMILY FAVORITE HAMBURGER SOUP

1 pound hamburger and 1 cup chopped onion

Brown both together in a stove top skillet 

Put hamburger in large soup pot and add:

1 cup cubed potatoes  

1 cup sliced carrots  

1/2 cup diced celery  

1 cup shredded cabbage  

1 large can stewed tomatoes  

 Small bay leaf crushed  

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried basil 

2 tsp salt & 1 tsp pepper

Add 1-1/2 quarts water and simmer approximately 1-1/2 hours

Enjoy a warm bowl of soup and maybe a new perspective on the winter season! 

What I’m learning now is…

Winter really is over before we know it, as is every other season that comes and goes each year.  They all hold favorite aspects we enjoy about them, along with the more unpleasant ones that we don’t particularly look forward to as much.  Although it sounds cliche, what I’m learning now is that the quote on a plaque in my husband’s office states it the best…“Nothing is a waste of time, if you use the experience wisely.”

Share some unique activities you do to make the winter months more fun.

Hey, bring on the snow!

–Mary

February 7, 2013:  Just thinking…and I bet you’ll agree, that a winter afternoon could be fun spent here with a cup of warm soup and a good book!

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