Over the years, me and my cousin were inseparable. Because we were born on the same day, in some ways we were raised like twins, being dressed alike and attending many of the same events. We were definitely not raised as conventional cousins, more like sisters.
On the weekends, we would stay up giggling with our cheeks stinging and our bellies hurting until one of our mothers would hang their weary head into the bedroom and give us until the count of three to go to sleep. With covers flailing over head, we would lay as still as possible. The light would click off and we would listen until their footsteps softly padded away. After a few minutes one of us would whisper, “Are you asleep?” with which the other would reply, “no.” We would sit there whispering in soft half breaths, trying not to giggle out loud, which of course made everything 100 times funnier.
On more than one occasion, we would just look at each other and spontaneously burst into laughter, eliciting sideways stares of disapproval. There are so many memories that I have with my cousin, honestly, I could fill a book.
I swear if I shut my eyes, I can go back to the floor picnics of popcorn and candy, snuggled up in front of her TV. Sitting close enough, one of us could reach up with our toes to turn the channel dial during commercials. The left sides of our faces warming to the crackling embers in the old cast iron potbelly stove. My cousin unconsciously humming while crunching on her salty, buttered popcorn.
What would be more appropriate than my mother’s recipe for caramel popcorn. To me, the winter holidays wouldn’t be the same without a batch of this popcorn. A family favorite for sure.
5 quarts freshly popped popcorn, unsalted
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
Add popcorn to a lightly greased roasting pan and set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan; stir in sugar and corn syrup. Bring to boil; boil for 5 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in soda, salt and vanilla. Pour sugar mixture over popcorn mixture. Stirring until well coated. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.