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Friday, February 9, 2018

I Love Fridays!

Even though I don't work any more, I still look forward to Friday. I guess it is ingrained after so many years of busy lives! Even now though, I try to do things a little healthier during the week so Friday still holds some indulgences. And, for whatever reason - even though I can do the same thing any other day of the week - I pretty much let myself do only what I WANT to do - no judgement. That can actually mean all sorts of things because I am just now learning to give myself some slack and not feel bad if I haven't accomplished something awesome every day. I still pretty much like the feel of accomplishment. But, when accomplishing something can be super fun as well,...well, it's a really good Friday.

And today was just such a day. Tomorrow starts the kids' Valentine weekend. Once again, we will be starting a little later than we used to but I didn't find that out until I had things planned and prepped. And so, I am finding ways to still fit it all in. I decided that since they really like two of the varieties of cookies that we have made the last few years, I couldn't leave one out...but, I could get one of the doughs ready. With the chocolate cookie, the fun is in cutting out the cookies and then pushing the M&Ms into the dough before baking - not necessarily the making of the dough. So, I got the dough made this morning. There is something nice about being in the kitchen on a bright, sunny morning!

And then, I decided to make my "famous" red hot cinnamon popcorn to give as gifts again this year. I have been making this stuff for many years and have enjoyed giving it out to family, friends, teachers, hair dressers, scout leaders, etc. I don't make this with the kids around as it involves boiling sugar syrup and is really something where "the more is not necessarily the merrier".

It starts with just a few ingredients.

It's really just a matter of bringing the red hots, butter and corn syrup to a boil and then boiling it for another 5 minutes while stirring continuously. The stirring isn't even boring to me. It's fun watching the candy melt and then bubble into a red confection!

Then you pour it over the popcorn. The recipe says to put it on a cookie sheet but I have learned to use this disposable roasting pan as the sides help keep in the popcorn when you're doing the vigorous stirring. "How did I learn that?" you ask. Lol

It roasts in a 275 degree oven for about an hour with you stirring every now and then. It's really important to move the top layer of popcorn to the bottom each time you stir so all of the kernels get that yummy coating!

Once I don't see any more of the syrup on the bottom of the pan, I call it a day and spread the hot mixture on some wax paper on the counter. Let it cool completely and then break up the large hunks and pick through the popcorn trying to make sure there are NO unpopped kernels. They are sometimes hard to see and really give you a jolt if you mistakenly bite down on one. I try to do a pretty good job of picking over the popcorn before I pour on the syrup as well.

I will keep it in air tight containers until tomorrow when I will fill Valentine cellophane bags full and tie off with pretty ribbons. That is, if there is enough for me to do that after I keep "sampling"...just to make sure it is quality tested! It IS Friday after all!

Here's the recipe in case I have tempted you enough.

And, as if all of this fun wasn't enough to make my day, my camellia bushes are starting to open.

And, the hyacinths got so large and open that I am using them as cut flowers. They're still next to my family room chair and they smell so "delicious"!

 It's the simple little things like this that make Fridays and even being in the kitchen an extra happy day! Stay tuned.

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