Friday, April 29, 2011

Recipe: Caramel Popcorn Balls

When I was learning to cook and bake, I thought of popcorn balls as a bit of a mystery. I had eaten homemade popcorn balls from time to time in school and at family occasions. Some were delicious and some were nearly inedible. Oh well, somehow, I managed. 
Whenever I made them, I worried. Recipes required boiling sugar syrups. I always popped the corn myself and tried to pick out any kernels that didn't pop.  After I found this recipe, my worries were over. It is written out at the end of this post.
 The recipe starts with two 6.5 ounce bags of popped popcorn.
The contents of the bags I have are only six ounces, but I still use two bags, as the recipe calls for.
The recipe calls for a pound of caramels and my bag was 14 ounces. I just used one bag and peeled the wrappers off.   
Two 10 ounce bags of marshmallows and my bags were 10.5.
I melt the ingredients in a large kettle over low heat. The one thing that could happen to ruin these is scorching. Watch and stir scraping the bottom of the pan. 
Pour the caramel over the popcorn and lift the popcorn with the scraper as you pour to distribute it evenly. Then grease your hands (or grease gloves if you wish) to mix. The goo is hot, so be careful, but mix it as quickly as you can because it sets as it cools.
At this point I often add a treat. Although they are delicious plain, about a cup of a favorite treat can make these popcorn balls extra special. I use jelly beans, small gumdrops,  trail mix, or peanuts. 
Form into balls squeezing firmly as you shape the balls . Popcorn balls can also be formed around suckers. Just peel the sucker and press ball around the sucker. The sucker turns into a "surprise" treat in the middle of the popcorn ball.
These popcorn balls have never failed. Just be sure to stir as you melt the goo. The recipe makes about two dozen popcorn balls.
Bag each ball in a zip lock sandwich bag. In the summer time they are a favorite treat in our bag lunches. 
And now, the recipe:
Caramel Popcorn Balls
2  6.5 ounce bags of ready to eat Popcorn
1 pound (16 ounces) Caramels
2  10 ounce bags Marshmallows
1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil (I use Canola Oil)
Peel wrappers from the caramels. 
Melt butter, oil, marshmallows and caramels over low heat, stirring often and being careful not to scorch. 
Pour over popcorn and stir slightly to coat. 
Form into balls as soon as it is cool enough to handle with buttered hands. 
Yield: about 24.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Settling for Yard Work

Waiting for fields to dry out means there is time for yard work. 
After a long Winter there is lots to do. 
You may recall that we have new shingles  Up on the House Top. The snow covered the stray nails and scraps from the job.
Now that the season has changed there is a little extra mess to clean up. 
 Shirtsleeves and snow banks are the order of the day.
Robbie is mowing while pulling a cart. 
So he can collect debris 
While he mows. 
He is watching the ice melt from the lake. 
And enjoying his first Spring day on the farm. 
While he waits for the fields to dry out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Farm Inspector on Spring Start

The Farm Inspector gave a farm tour to her best farm friend (BFF). BFF also has roots in GriggsDakota, so was excited to take a look.
The Ag Analyst joined them as they gave their approval to our improved Salford.
As she demonstrated tractor driving, we asked the Farm Inspector when she thought we would be able to get out into the fields.
There is a long standing formula that holds the answer to that question.
For better or worse, the GriggsDakota farmsteads are near a lake.
Long before there were farms, this gravel bottomed finger lake carried water to the Sheyenne River.
Earlier this Spring, it spilled out over the road.
Now, the road has been repaired and the water flows under the road.
And out the other end of the culvert.
Despite the fact that it has been flowing for weeks, there is still ice on the lake.
The water is just too cold.
According to Grandpa Sonny's dad, we will be in the field two weeks after the ice is gone from the lake.
So get the equipment ready to go, I think we'll be in the field two weeks from tomorrow.
Take that to the bank.
It works in GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beautiful In Season

Last Winter it was easy to marvel at the beauty of the snow. 
But now that we are well into Spring, it can go away. 
And it is going away. 
But a little too slowly. 
In GriggsDakota there are  four distinct seasons, but we never know when one will start or stop. They do not abide by the calendar. And some years, one season tends to dominate the calendar.
 We haven't had fresh snow for a week and we hope we are done with it. 
 The deer are enjoying the camouflage of faded landscape with no snow.
The roads are damaged, but most are open or nearly ready for repairs. 
The wait for Spring has been long this year.  
But as Grandpa Sonny tells us:  In a late Spring at least you know you'll have moisture. An early Spring is often dry.
As Spring melts away and we are anxious to get into the field. 
We're watching the sky and waiting. Spring is late.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Spring Day

 The clouds broke up over the weekend and we enjoyed sunshine.
We wished as hard as we could. 
 We concentrated on Summer.
 We put on our shorts. 
 We made a plan.
The dipsy doodle spin shot missed, but the temperature went up to nearly 60 degrees fahrenheit.
There is still snow in sheltered areas, and water standing in most fields. 
The snow is even on the south side of tree rows or hills, but our rain has melted it down quite a bit. 
We are hoping the blue skies will prevail, we need sunshine and a warm breeze. 
But the game goes on.