Nothing exemplifies Americana quite like the local, state, or county fair.
Far from the high-tech world of theme parks, the fair relies on simple pleasures to please. Strolling sets the pace for the day, past barkers who challenge you with a ring toss game, to the Ferris wheel which offers a cool breeze on a warm summer night. Heading to the fair means an affordable day of family fun and chance to feel connected with your community.
Fairs offer a taste of local agriculture and remind us how the foods we eat every day make their way to our tables.
The smells of the fair are an integral part of the lure, from the livestock barn to food tents. Kettle corn is an old fair favorite and fills the air with an intoxicating aroma. Eating a handful of sweet kettle corn is the real payoff, but watching it being made is still half the fun.
As the name implies, kettle corn is cooked in a large kettle over an open fire, much as it was when it first originated. Adding a sweetener, like sugar, molasses or honey to the pot as the popcorn cooks gives kettle corn its signature flavor.
If you can’t get to a county or state fair, you can make your own version of kettle corn right at home. A sweet glaze of sugar and cinnamon make this a crunchy popcorn favorite.
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or table salt)
Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl; set aside.
In a large pot with a lid, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add popcorn kernels and cover. When kernels begin popping, carefully lift lid and sprinkle in confectioner’s sugar.
Replace lid and continue cooking, shaking pot frequently, until popping begins to slow. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Replace lid and continue shaking pot until popping has almost stopped (be careful not to burn). Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
For more popcorn recipes, visit www.popcorn.org.