My granddaughter Rebecca, who is 5 ½, came to spend the night last Friday. The day before she arrived I asked her what she wanted to do. Here are her replies:
1. Dinner? Mac and Cheese and Hot dogs
2. Movie? Ice Age
3. Activities? Movie, reading, painting, and cooking
4. Snack? Grandma Martha's Caramel Corn
5. Breakfast? Blueberry Pancakes
6. Book? The Land of the Big Red Apple (Laura Ingels Wilder's continuing series, Little House, about her marriage and her own little girl, Rose.) It's a chapter book we’ve been in the process of reading for several months. The caramel corn takes 1 hour to cook, so we did the prep work before dinner. My mother used to make a big bowl of this when we had family parties. It’s delicious and fool proof and cheap.
While I popped two bags of popcorn, I thought about my mom and how much I miss her and how she would have loved this little girl and that I made her recipe with my granddaughter.
Here's the recipe: Grandma Martha's Caramel Corn
1. Pop 3 1/2 quarts of popcorn in the microwave (2 bags) and then preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2. Pour the popped corn into a deep turkey pan or some kind of a deep disposable pan that is at least 4 or 5 inches deep and large. Try to avoid unpopped kernels-take them out if you can because you don't want to break a tooth! Set aside while you made the caramel.
3. In a deep sauce pan put 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup soft butter, 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1/2 tsp salt. Mix together.
4. Cook on stove top low to medium heat until bubbly-cook for 5 minutes
5. Take pan off the stove.
6. Put in 1/2 tsp. baking soda, mix it in (it will rise up to the top-this is very dramatic, like a science fair volcano). This is our favorite part.
7. Pour the mixture all over the popcorn, mix it around with wooden spoon (it's really hot so be careful).
8. Place in 200 degree oven for 60 minutes (set the timer for 30 minutes at first and turn it all over again)
9. Take out of oven, stir into a large bowl, and mix again, breaking up the big pieces. Let it cool.
10. Put it in an airtight container to store. It's so yummy! I let Rebecca mix the butter, salt, syrup, and brown sugar. The rest is just too hot for a little child to handle.
Ice Age, the movie, was really good. When the viewer thinks Diego, the saber-toothed tiger, is dead, Rebecca's eyes got all teary and her mouth turned downward. I told her, "Don't worry, darling. The movie has a really happy ending or I wouldn't show it to you." She loved the baby in the movie just as much as I did.
Together we watched the end of Ice Age and ate our caramel corn and drank lemonade. After the movie, we continue to read 1 or 2 chapters of Little House on the Prairie after she gets into pajamas, brushes her teeth, and gets under the covers. I read it out loud to her using different voices.
Rebecca fell asleep listening to me read at 8:15 p.m. which is a record. Usually she drags bedtime out until it's 10 or 11 p.m. and we are both bleary eyed in the morning. She fights me and tests me a little bit each time she comes. She wants to see how far she can push it. Mostly I’m a pushover and she knows it. This morning we ate blueberry pancakes and drew pictures and painted with my watercolors. I particularly liked the drawing she made of herself, little sister, and cousins wearing bright red clothing. I brought her home at 11:30 a.m.
As I write this on Saturday night, my house seems so still. I'm missing her presence, but really needing the rest before work the next day. I wonder about all those grandparents who are raising their kids and how they do it.