Presidential Palates, Part 13

At an outdoor news conference, George H.W. Bush (1989 – 1993) revealed his distaste for broccoli stating that he wouldn’t eat it.  His distaste for broccoli raised quite a stir among parents and health professionals concerned that the public, and particularly children, would limit consumption of broccoli.  In March of 1988, when President Bush expressed his fondness for fried pork rinds dipped in Tabasco sauce in a TIME magazine profile, pork rind sales jumped 11 percent.  As a result, he was crowned “Skin Man of the Year” by pork-rind manufacturers.  These opposite reactions to a sitting president’s food preferences, demonstrates the interest that the American public has in what their leaders eat, even if their food choices are a little offbeat.

Andrew Johnson (1865 – 1869) became president following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  He assumed the office of the presidency at one of the darkest times in American history, the reconstruction era following the end of the Civil War.  As a result of the deep divides in the government, Johnson became the first US president to be impeached.  He survived the impeachment trial by just one vote.

In spite of the turmoil Johnson faced while in office, this native Tennessean enjoyed light-hearted entertaining in the White House.  It turns out that he was ahead of his time when it came to throwing a party because one of his favorite forms of entertaining was to throw a popcorn party for his guests.  These parties were much like the Popcorn Bars that are popular today.  Pretty cool, right?

While your students create their own version of a Popcorn Bar, you can share information about Andrew Johnson as well as the science explaining why popcorn pops.  If you need to refresh your memory on the science, this site can help. http://www.popcorn.org/Facts-Fun/Our-Story

Perfect Popcorn

3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil (high smoke point)

1/3 cup high quality popcorn kernels

Butter to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a 3-quart, thick-bottomed saucepan, which has a tight-fitting cover.
  2. Put 2 or 3 popcorn kernels in the oil.  Cover.
  3. When the kernels pop, add the remaining 1/3 cup popcorn kernels in an even layer over the bottom of the pan.
  4. Cover, remove from heat for 30 seconds. This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
  5. Return the pan to the heat.  The popcorn should begin popping soon, all at once.  Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner.
  6. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release, producing drier and crisper popcorn.
  7. Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.  With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop, and nothing burns.
  8. If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but not hot pan.  Drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and toss to distribute.
  9. Salt to taste

Yield:  2 quarts popcorn

Suggested toppings for your Popcorn Bar:

  • Gummy bears
  • Skittles
  • M & M’s
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Powdered Cheese
  • Cocoa powder
  • Mini Chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles
  • Cinnamon and sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Crumbled cookies or cake

Organizing your Popcorn Bar

Display popcorn and toppings in attractive, see-through jars/containers or shakers.  Label each jar to make it easier for guests to make their choices.  Provide a serving scoop or spoon for each topping container.  Guests will also need bowls or bags to hold their popcorn concoctions.

 

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