Cooking With Liz: Kettle Corn


Liz Berndt, Staff Writer

The first quarter is almost over and now what? There’s always Thanksgiving break to look forward to, but that’s one month away.  Homework is endless, so who knows if I will actually survive to eat turkey this year. I have started asking myself how does a Miramonte student survive? For me the answer is simple: cooking. This month my favorite recipe is classic kettle corn, a simple snack that may just make your day. This delicious treat made my coveted top three favorite foods, along with pizza and carrot cake.

On Aug. 30 I decided to drop Physics, possibly the best decision I have made this year. In my utter joy I found myself sitting in the kitchen around 2:30 p.m., wanting to make my day even better.  Of course that was going to involve cooking. I went to the pantry and saw the popcorn kernels screaming my name. I had never before thought about making kettle corn myself since it always sounded time consuming, but I discovered it isn’t. It only took me about seven minutes and the recipe I followed only requires three ingredients: ¼ cup oil, ½ cup popcorn kernels, and ¼ white sugar.

So on this glorious sunny afternoon, I made up my mind to make kettle corn. Unfortunately, I made a couple mistakes. First, I heated the oil up with the stove set on high. This was foolish; it’s very important to heat the oil up completely on MEDIUM heat before adding the popcorn. This prevents the oil from getting too hot and catching on fire or splattering when you add the kernels.

After the oil is hot (you can test this by getting your hands wet and dripping water into the oil and if it sizzles it’s ready), add the kernels. Here’s where I made my second mistake. The recipe said to add the kernels and sugar at the same time. Don’t do that. If you do there is practically no way to keep the sugar from burning. Instead, let the popcorn kernels absorb heat and get closer to popping. After about two minutes spread the sugar evenly over the popcorn, and cover the pan with a lid.  (This is also very important. You don’t want oil and popcorn going everywhere when the kernels start popping.)

After you have covered the lid the absolute most important step comes. You must immediately begin shaking the pot back and forth across the flame. This prevents the sugar from collecting at the bottom and burning. This is a solid arm workout, justifying eating the kettle corn; burn the calories, put it back on, burn the calories, put it back on, that’s my motto.

If you don’t work your arms hard enough and it burns (turns caramel brown) throw it away; it’s not even worth trying to salvage it. It usually takes me about five to seven minutes from the time I add the kernels to when the popping slows down. When there are two-three seconds between each pop, remove from heat and immediately remove from pan. Again, this is a very important step to prevent burning. Sprinkle a little salt on top and serve.

It is an easy and satisfying snack that beautifully distracts anyone from school. Although every day is stressful and at times it seems as if there is nothing to look forward to, remember the small things that can make you happy. Maybe taking seven minutes to pop a little (or a lot of) kettle corn will be just the thing you need to refocus and get back to work.

Recipe from