Popping Visas

My life is actually quite exciting at the moment. I am in the process of acquiring a visa so I can go work and live in Canada for a year. It’s been a bit of a long and arduous journey so far, and it’s not quite finished yet. I’m still waiting on the vital decision of whether or not they actually want me. I won’t go on about it too much because personal stuff isn’t why I set up this little blog, but a big move like this is going to change my perspective on food (and life…obviously). 

I’ve never been to North America, I’ve never been to South America either, but you know what I mean. Having not been I really don’t know what to expect, I have only small insights from Canadian/American food blogs and TV really. In simple English, I know very little about American food, and even less about Canadian food.

My mini rant is relevant I promise, it made me think of all the North American imports we have over here in the UK. Some ones I like, cupcakes, maple syrup and barbecued everything, and some I don’t like so much, corn dogs, and clam chowder. So for my lunch the other day I decided to wave my own little flag towards the West, in honour of my hopefully imminent departure.

I know the tagging may look a little odd at the moment, but I noticed a few sneaky people stealing some pictures so I felt it necessary to add my little mark.
The reason I chose to use this little picture today? Because it is my own little homage to the US – Ben & Jerry’s ‘Oh My Apple Pie’, with home-made shortbread (the recipe of which is here) and chocolate bark. 
The realisation that i’m leaving most of my possessions behind did sort of dawn on me earlier too. I’m not a hoarder by any means, but I do have a lot of cookbooks, and any free or bored moment I flick through my mini library and i’ll always find something interesting to read about. I can’t exactly lug this huge s.o.b collection around with me, so I figured out a way that I can keep all of my recipes along with me. Last year, both my sister and my best friend bought me recipe keepers for Christmas – oh, how well they know me. So i’ve decided, i’m going to take each of my favourite recipes and collate them all into this behemoth of a book. Like a bible, except factual. I’m not going to lie, in an entirely geeky way, i’m quite excited to get it all together.If you follow ‘The Damson Tree’ on Facebook, you may have seen I hosted a competition not too long ago. The prize was to win the top 5 flavours of popcorn, submitted and voted by all my lovely readers. To do a little follow-up on it, the winner was Cinnamon-Sugar, and it looks a little something like this: 

I’ll be honest, most popcorn photographs look very similar to me, unless they have something really distinctive like toffee, chilli or chocolate. I could be masquerading salted popcorn, i’m not, but I could if I was feeling somewhat rebellious. I thought i’d share with you the basics of making popcorn. It’s not exactly difficult to do, but you can refine it with a few tips. You can use this for any flavour really, the tips still work. If you’re making salted or savoury popcorn you need to switcheroo the order you put the ingredients in a little! If you put the salt in the oil before everything else, it helps to distribute it more evenly, but you have to alter it slightly for sugar, because it burns to the pan quite easily, and nobody likes the smell of burn in their kitchen.
Cinnamon-Sugar Popcorn
Feeds two little ‘uns, one greedy person or two people capable of sharing.
50g Popcorn kernels (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons mild tasting oil (either sunflower or vegetable oil works well, but whatever you have in the cupboard will do really)
50g golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Although the amount of ingredients isn’t huge, you need a bit of space, so use a heavy bottomed medium saucepan for this recipe!

– Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a little bowl to start with and keep to hand by your pan.
– Add the oil to the pan and spread around evenly, put the heat on medium-high. Drop two or three kernels into the oil, give it a bit of a swirl around to get it coated and pop the lid on. When all of the kernels pop take the pan off the heat for a moment, take the popcorn out and put aside for a cook’s snack. 
– Put the rest of the kernels into the bottom of the pan and coat evenly in oil, making sure they’re all in a level layer at the bottom. Put the lid on and pop it back on the heat.

– The kernels will pop quite quickly so don’t run off to make a brew or anything. 
– After about a quarter of the kernels have popped, chuck a teaspoon of the mixed sugar into the pan and shake (holding the lid down still!). Because you can’t open the lid to look, just count to ten after the first kernels have started to pop and it should be enough, but use your common sense, if you’ve only heard one or two kernels pop, wait a little bit longer. 
– Turn the heat down to low-medium heat and after another quarter of the kernels have popped, chuck another teaspoon in, and shake shake shake.
– After the third quarter, add one more teaspoon and shake well again. Turn the heat down to just above low heat, it helps to reduce the risk of the sugar sticking. 
– It’s difficult to judge sometimes when your kernels have all popped, the best advice I can give is to wait until the time between each pop is longer than three seconds, and it should be done. Add whatever is left of your sugar and shake well to coat.
Well there you go my dears. Serve in a stylish bowl, watch some del Toro and have yourself a wild evening. Hooray.