It's cold, gray, and raining buckets here in Northern California, causing me to feel distinctly snacky. Problem is, the SOLE food lifestyle doesn't really support the quick, salty, fatty comfort food like I crave right now. I eyed a persimmon – too healthy. A couple of walnuts failed to satisfy. Then, while digging through the cupboard in search of cocoa for hot chocolate, I came across a bag of organic popcorn I'd bought at the market a while ago from Full Belly Farm. (The Wikipedia entry has more than anyone could want to know about popcorn.) What with "King Corn" the movie, crop subsidies, and all the vilification of high fructose corn syrup around here, it's easy to forget that corn in its natural state is not "bad."
Believe it or not, I had to look up how to "make" popcorn, having relied on the microwave variety for so long — that is, until I discovered it was full of trans fats. But making it on the stove takes literally the same amount of time as sticking a bag in the microwave, and you're much less likely to burn it.
Put two tablespoons of oil, or if you have it, good lard, in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Turn heat to high. When oil is hot or lard has melted, toss in three kernels and cover. Meanwhile, melt a few tablespoons of butter on the stove or in a microwave.
When you hear the three kernels pop, wait about 10 more seconds and then pour in a half-cup of popcorn. Cover and return to heat. As soon as the kernels start popping, hold pan and lid off heat and shake. Put pot back on flame for a few seconds. Repeat until you hear the kernels slowing down, at which point take it off heat entirely.
Pour it in a bowl, drizzle butter over the top, salt to taste, and mix with your hands. I like grated parmesan in mine, but I discovered it's better if you use a zester to grate it so it's very fine. Makes about 10 cups worth. And yes, I shared it!