December 17th, 2011


Just Like Dad Used to Make

Popcorn. That perfect father-son snack that only dad could make. Until hot-air poppers. And microwaves. And HFCS. Preservative-laden, artificially-flavored triple-butter deluxe "movie style" in 90-seconds flat. Zero magic in that. Zero interaction. The son pops in another Xbox game and the father's eyes glass over at the game on the television.

BUT ALL IS NOT LOST! There is a man - a great man - a man in a hat; Mr. Henry, proprietor of Texas Olive Ranch and he is bringing back the past for a better future: He's manufacturing magic.

Let me explain. Everyone in the house was eating popcorn. Out of those characteristically uncharacteristic pleated blimps of tell-tale microwave bags. Now I rarely eat popcorn for this reason - the lackluster lack of effort in its creation. Nonetheless, its addictive aroma confused me, and I reached for a bag. And the empty box was the turning point in my life.

One of the clear glass containers in the back of our pantry was half-filled with plump yellow kernels. I plucked it from the shelf then pulled out a deep, broad pan with a glass lid. I'm going to need oil for this. I thought. And that's when everything came together. I used a generous amount of Mr. Henry's Mesquite Smoked Olive Oil and carefully laid a single layer of kernels in the oil. High-heat, cover, shake-shake-shake. I was a boy again in my kitchen, watching my father cook over a real gas stove with flames and everything - not these newfangled glasstops - listening to corn pop amidst the shake-shake-shake of unpopped kernels in a Chiquita-banana maracas dance. Shake-shake-shake. Shake-shake-shake.

Soon, everyone in the house was standing around me in fascination - not saying a word, just....watching. Listening. In-taking with all their senses. I waited just long enough, not too long, and removed the pan from the heat. Opening the glass lid in a flair of the dramatic a mushroom cloud of steam arose high into the kitchen but all eyes were on the popcorn. I dumped everything into a large bowl - not a single upopped kernel - and it was not only devoured, but declared The Best Popcorn Ever! My father would be proud. As I popped the popped corn in my mouth, I knew I had re-written my history.

Over the next several weeks I recreated this feat experimenting with different flavored oils - Rosemary Olive Oil popcorn. Garlic Olive Oil popcorn (and the new second favorite in the house, the 1/2 & 1/2 Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil popcorn! But being Texans, what can I say, our favorite remains Mesquite Smoked. We are very fortunate indeed, and popcorn has seemed to bring our family back together again.

Thank you for your magic, Mr. Henry.