March 07, 2010

Pop pop popcorn popper

It seems silly to spend too much time thinking about popcorn, but ever since I found myself popcorn-maker-less, I've been devising ways to make my favorite snack without actually buying another hot air popper when I already have one — even though it's far, far away in another state. I tried microwaving it in a paper bag, popping it in a stainless mixing bowl and making it in my wok. The microwave was disappointing, and I gave it up. The bowl, once I adjusted the amount of oil and salt, worked well but required aluminum foil, which seemed wasteful. Plus it was awkward holding and shaking the bowl. The wok wasn't bad, once I learned to spread out the kernels in a single layer instead of a pile. But there was still the pan-shaking and the slowness. My son, who is very picky about his kitchenware and cooking, kept telling me that the Whirley Pop he got at Goodwill (brand new and still in the box — he's lucky that way) was the best way he's ever found to pop corn.

The next time I was at Goodwill I found one, but it was in someone else's cart, and, well, good manners forced me to leave it there. Recently, I found another one at Goodwill and this time it was on a shelf! The inside was perfectly clean — much cleaner in fact than it is now — though there was a little oil residue on the lid, but I handed over my $2.99 and took it home. I cleaned it up, did a little Internet research into the fine points of using a Whirley Pop, and got popping. My son was right — this IS the best way to pop corn.

Honestly, the popper looks like a piece of junk — it's so thin and lightweight you'd expect it to burn up with the kernels — but it works just as the Whirley Pop Web site says it will. You turn a little wooden handle in the lid, that's connected to a thin thingyjig that sweeps the kernels around the bottom of the pot so they don't burn. It takes no time at all for the corn to start popping, and within two or three minutes it's all popped fluffy and tender. I love it. You can pop the corn with as little as one teaspoon of oil so you're not adding that many calories. I had to do a little adjusting of the metal latches and spinner of my used popper, but it works perfectly, now. So, would I abandon my old Presto Air Popper? Probably not. It's easier, and I'm profoundly lazy. But, duh, I might just get used to this whirley-thing.

I made a batch of no-knead bread dough (basic recipe in "Healthy Bread in Five" subbing 1 cup potato starch for one cup unbleached, 2 teasp. yeast, 2 teasp. salt) and made some of the finished dough into an English muffin. Used a cast iron pan and it was ready in under 10 minutes. It tasted just like an English muffin, only better!

Here's another of my "big bowl" lunches. It consisted of broccolini, mushrooms, dried tomatoes, soy curls and rice noodles in the last of the dashi. I could eat this every day, except maybe the soy curls. I like soy curls, but not every day!


  1. I am always so jealous of people's thrift store finds...whenever I go to the Goodwill on the hunt for some treasures, I come out empty handed. Your new popper looks great!


  2. First time I see this energy-savor machine. Pop corn is less popular in Europe and I'm afraid I will never find this kind of treasure. Who says "never"? Good Pop Corn to you!

  3. Lol, that reminds me of the candid camera episode where they went grocery shopping in other peoples carts ;)
    That english muffin looks great, I've been meaning to try making some.

  4. Courtney,
    At least you're not filling your home with lots of extra junk! :)

    Saturday I stopped into a thrift store near where I was doing errands, and there was the exact round fine mesh strainer (brand new) that I was wanting, for $2. I couldn't believe it.

    We do like our popcorn, here.

    I remember that episode!

    You should try the English muffins. I think I may make another one for breakfast since I still have some dough in the refrigerator. They taste so good.

  5. Never heard of a whirly-pop, but it sounds like a great contraption! And I am even more amazed that Goodwill had not one, not two, but THREE of them for sale in such a short time span! ;)

    Your English muffins looks wonderful. Sigh--I miss English muffins!

    PS I've been meaning to email you since I got back from my vacation--where does the time go??? Basically just wanted to whine that I didn't get to Hippocrates after all, or anywhere other than my dad's apt while in Miami, really. Thanks again for the great suggestions, which I guess I'll have to save for next time. ;)

  6. We have one of those - K got one for her bat mitzvah or something!

    I'll be in Philadelphia this weekend for a Bat Mitzvah, by the way, and I'll think of you!

  7. Ricki,
    I never heard of them either!

    Someday you'll be able to have a spelt English muffin, won't you?

    I didn't get there either, if you recall, but it sounds like you did find other great places. Maybe we'll be in FL at the same time and can meet up at Hippocrates.

    Do you use it?

    Hey, have a great visit to my home town. Will you get to see K? Her mysterious posts have me really curious about her next move!

  8. Very cool! I will keep an eye out for a Whirly Pop next time I'm at Goodwill. (You can find some really good stuff there!) I think I would eat way more popcorn if I owned that fun gadget. Popcorn balls?! Yes!

  9. I always swore by my air-popper myself, but lately whenever I use it I find what I think is an excessive amount of unpopped kernels at the bottom. Not sure if that's due to a weak microwave or the plastic degrading over time, or if that's perhaps just always been the case. These days I usually end up make popcorn in a big pot on the stove, shaking constantly, but I'm sure that gadget would do an amazing job. Good find!

  10. Mary,
    It was fun the first few times but last night I was thinking how much easier the hot-air popper was. Then I tasted the great popcorn, and realized I'm just too lazy for my own good. (And I always eat the popcorn before there's any chance to make popcorn balls out of it.)

    I used to find those unpopped kernels, too. The Whirley Pop does an amazing job of popping nearly every kernel, and there's NO shaking the pot or burning my fingers. Yay.

  11. I wrote a paper for my sociology class my freshman year of college about shopping out of other people's carts. My research partner, a huge football player, and I actually took items out of other customers' carts. One woman threw a grapefruit at me. No one messed with my partner, though.

  12. HA! I remember that, Noah.

  13. who knew that goodwill was a conduit for whirly poppers. I use a small pot w/ a lid. nothing burns unless I try to do more than 1 task at a time :).

    I love pan fried bread dough. I would only get it if I was around when my mother made bread. early bird gets the worm or something like that.

    one of these days when I'm not sick (ha!), we should hang out again.

  14. The Ballard Goodwill is a bargainmania wonderland. I try to stay away as much as possible.

    I never thought of English muffins as pan-fried bread dough but I guess they are! Except there's no oil added to the pan. I really don't understand why they don't stick.

    Get well soon, Bethany. We can go to Goodwill and out to lunch at the new Jhanjay in Ballard. Or not.

  15. Hello

    I am new right here at and was wondering if anybody knows anywhere I can find some Arnette Sunglasses like a cheap or discount cost.

    I am going on a skiing vacation in a month's time as well as I have heard that these types of eyeglasses are fantastic but I can't afford much.

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    Phil Smith


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