Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Gift Ideas and Homemade Kettle Corn

If you are looking for inspiration for holiday gifts, you don't need to look far from home. This weekend, head over to the Lane County Farmers Market next to the Eugene Holiday Market for some great finds. For beginning and experienced cooks alike, I recommend Elin England's new book Beans, Grains, Nuts and Seeds: Further Adventures in Eating Close to Home, which is a treasure trove of recipes including such gems as her famous Elkdream bars. You can pick up copies at the Lonesome Whistle Farm booth (or find it at local sellers, such as Tsunami Books).

While at the Lonesome Whistle Farm stall, check out Kasey White's line of Cultivation jewelry, which celebrates the natural kaleidoscope of colors in their heirloom beans and corn.

And pick up a bag of Lonesome Whistle Farm's Dakota black popcorn. It make delicious kettle corn, which I recently discovered is easy to cook at home (recipe below). Keep browsing and you'll find the perfect item for everyone on your list: homemade jams, pickles, fudge, or a rosy apple for the bottom of a stocking. Let's support our farmers this holiday season.

Kettle Corn
Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup neutral oil (like vegetable)
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until hot. Add 3 popcorn kernels and cover. When these pop, dump in the rest of the kernels and the sugar, and stir to coat. Cover the pot, and shake it frequently until the popping becomes much less frequent. The minute you hear that, take it off the heat so as not to burn. Turn the kettle corn out onto a parchment-lined tray for the sugar to dry -- and before it does, sprinkle generously with salt.

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