My mother often made popcorn balls from scratch the night of Halloween to coax me to stay in and not roam the neighborhood with my brothers and friends. I think she worried they did more tricking than treating and she didn’t want the daughter of the high school principal to get into too much mischief. Of course, I was nearly four years younger than my closest sibling and neighborhood friends so maybe she just feared for my life.
In small towns, tricking residents and businesses was epic back in my childhood. Helions soaped front windows with spooky and sometimes naughty words, kids stole rotting veggies from local gardens to hurl at one another and often the local school (or home of a school administrator) was a target for the most grievous offenses. When I was in high school, some kids (still not naming the culprits) stole nearly all of the pumpkins in town and lined them up on the roof just above the entry to the gymnasium. Too bad we didn’t have cell phones to capture that impressive field of orange when we entered the school-house doors the next morning. Or capture on video the act in the making. All we have are our memories and every time I get back with my high school friends, the story gets richer and the number of pumpkins pulled up on the roof gets bigger.
My dad, a school official, was not a fan of these tricks since they bordered on (ok, maybe they crossed over) breaking a local ordinance. And he had the responsibility of upholding law and order. That part of his job stunk for us Hauck kids. But we still managed to pull a few tricks of our own. I think, unfortunately, that today Halloween is so much less about our youth and so much more of an adult party. Although, I understand why many of us still enjoy the fun of dressing up for Halloween (see evidence below). But what happened to crafting your own costume and repurposing it for multiple children? Growing up, we had a box of costumes and leftover accessories that Mom brought out a few days before Halloween and then expected her children to design something suitable to wear out for trick-or-treating from these disparate parts. Unfortunately, the sum of the parts didn’t make for the whole, so we often resembled a homeless person or a zombie but hey, it was our own.
This year on Ashland, we are focusing on the little ones on our block and hoping to make this year, trick-or-treating, door-to-door the nexus of the Halloween experience. And we will have a hand-carved pumpkin lit and waiting for the little ones. RM and I always make the kids tell us about their costume before they get their candy. We think we are teaching them the art of communication and a little bit of practice at delayed satisfaction. They think it is torture.
We have a few tricks up or sleeve this year and I will be making popcorn balls. Can you say, “BOO”!
- 1/4 cup Peanut Oil
- 6 Tablespoons Popcorn Kernels
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 6 ounces, weight Mini Marshmallows (about Half A Package)
- 1 cup Shelled Unsalted Peanuts or Pistachios
- Cooking Spray
Add the oil to a medium saucepan (one that has a tight-fitting lid) over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn and shake the pan gently to make sure the kernels are coated. When the oil starts to sizzle, but before the corn starts popping, add the sugar to the pan. Shake the pan again, and when the first couple of kernels pop, place the lid on the pan and shake the pan gently with the other hand while you hold the lid in place. Keep doing this as the popcorn pops, until the popping slows down.
When almost all the kernels have popped, pour the popcorn onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, separating the kernels slightly with a spatula or spoon. Let the popcorn cool slightly.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a separate pot over low heat. Add the marshmallows, stirring as they melt. Stir it to combine.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the popcorn to the pot, stirring immediately to coat it as quickly as possible. Right after stirring, add the peanuts and stir until nuts are totally worked in.
Spray your hands lightly with cooking spray and form the popcorn mixture into individual balls 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Set them aside and let them cool and set completely! Serve at room temperature.
Happy Halloween Y’all!