About 30 years ago we lived in a town, which I will not name, and had next door neighbors, who I also will not name. The woman was a delightful person. She was sweet to our kids, let us swim in their pool, and she even let me thaw out my frozen hamburger an hour before dinner, when she owned a new gadget - microwave - and we didn't. We lived there for four years, and every Christmas she brought us a tin of caramel corn. At that point in my life, I didn't realize mere humans could make the stuff in their own kitchens.
Anyone who knows me, really knows me, knows popcorn in any form is in my top ten foods on the planet. I could eat caramel corn for supper, or breakfast for that matter. So her having a recipe for the stuff (plus new-fangled appliances) was a strong plus to cultivating a next-door-neighbor sort of friendship.
Her husband, on the other hand, seemed a bit creepy. He seemed decent. Well educated, well spoken, good job, friendly, but something just wasn't quite right. Too much observing, not enough words to ever put you at ease. At some point they asked me to house sit their dogs, in their home, and I saw confirmation that my suspicions of him were right. Creepy. Not to be trusted alone with our children. Today he'd be arrested and go to prison. That discovery changed our relationship - our kids didn't go over to play anymore. It didn't change that his wife was nice, and her caramel corn was wonderful.
My recipe book has a card with her name on it, but you can just call it:
The Caramel Corn Bev
consumes in mass quantities recommends:
15 cups popped corn (I use a hot air popper)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
Divide the popped corn between 2 - 9 x 13 pans, sprayed with pam. (Do not put them in one pan or the caramel stuff will not cover the corn well.) In saucepan heat the brown sugar, butter, syrup and salt. Stir occasionally, being careful not to let it brown too much (golden amber is the goal, not brown). Stir tip it is bubbly around the edges. Continue cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove the saucepan from heat. Stir in the baking soda tip foamy. Pour the caramel sauce over the two pans of popped corn, stirring til the corn is well coated. Bake one hour, at 200 degrees, stirring every 15 - 20 minutes. Let cool and store in a metal or plastic container. Peanuts or M&M's can be added to the cooled corn if you'd like. This is also a fun recipe to let your kids whip up, package in those cute metal tins, and deliver to friends and neighbors. I don't know anyone who doesn't love caramel corn, unless they maybe have dentures, which would make it a bit tricky to eat the stuff.
Be careful who you let watch your kids, no matter the first impressions. And make the caramel corn for somebody, even if it's yourself. Disclaimer: your dentist will likely not endorse this recipe.