Autumn is the kind of season that needs to be savored.
I feel like I should apologize to anyone who doesn’t live somewhere with a pronounced seasonal change, who doesn’t get to watch the greens turn to yellows and crimsons, doesn’t feel the crisp October air.
It’s probably one my favorite things about the world. And every year, I think how much shorter fall has become, how quickly it’s flown by.
So every year after that, I try to make it last longer, try to enjoy every bit of it to the fullest.
How do I do that?
Partially, it’s talking: telling everyone who will listen that fall is the most beautiful season and – did you know when leaves turn colors, they’re just shedding their outer layer and revealing what was underneath all along? It’s true!
Partially, it’s slowing down: walking outside, breathing in the fresh air, opening the windows.
And partially, maybe mostly, it’s eating: pumpkin-flavored desserts, rich stews, hot apple cider. You can eat these things any time of year, of course, but they’re best when the days darken and you pull out jackets again.
Friday night, while watching the first presidential debate, I mulled apple cider and popped popcorn kernels, because it’s fall.
Here is what happened: In a very large pot on the stove, I poured two quarts of apple cider. Setting it on heat, I added cinnamon sticks (which are expensive but so pretty), cloves and brown sugar.
I would’ve added a slice of orange, but I forgot to pick one up from the store. (I would add a lemon slice later instead, for appearance’s sake, and immediately regret it.) I covered the pot.
Meanwhile, in another very large pot, I tossed in enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom. Then I threw in popcorn kernels and added a lid, careful to angle it so steam could escape.
Having never made my own popcorn, save for the kind you microwave in a paper bag, I doubted this would work.
Yet in minutes, the pot’s glass lid was steamy and I heard the gentle Pop, Pop, Pop! the recipe promised.
This rhythm continued for a bit, then it stopped. This was my cue. Off the heat came the pan, all the white kernels tossing into my greased bowl.
I poured a heated peanut butter & honey mixture on top, mixed it all with a wooden spoon and Voila!
The popcorn, all gooey and crispy, reminds me of that party mix people make, with rice cereal maybe?
It’s coated and creamy yet salty and savory. It’s tasty with the first bite but, I’d swear, better with each additional handful.
And, if I do say so myself, it goes wonderfully with a fresh, steaming hot cup of mulled cider. Try it, presidential debate or not, and see if you don’t feel more seasonally festive.
Would it hurt your impression of me too much if I told you I had some for breakfast the next morning?
Or that I brought some more to a friend’s house Saturday night?
What if I told you I have such little self-control that I easily ate 70% of the entire batch, which, honestly, was completely unnecessary, what with the other good snacks all around me?
I think once you make it, you’ll understand. When the peanut butter and honey meld together into a hot, bubbling mixture, when they make an almost caramel glaze all over the popped kernels, it’s just… well, really fall.
Peanut Butter Popcorn
Adapted from The Kitchn
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna has a Masters in Writing through Depaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.