Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Poppycock!


Hi everyone, Quay Lo here.  Quay Po took the day off. It seems only fair to start by explaining the meaning of the word “Poppycock”. Here is what the Miriam Webster’s on-line dictionary notes:
pop·py·cock
noun \ˈpä-pē-ˌkäk\ informal + old-fashioned: foolish words or ideas :
: empty talk or writing : Nonsense

Examples of usage for POPPYCOCK
“The congressman imagined that he had given a great speech, one that speculated would be remembered in history, but he will more likely be remembered for uttering two hours of poppycock.”

“Starting with the cherry tree, much of what was written about George Washington's life by his early biographers was pure poppycock”

Origin of POPPYCOCK
Dutch dialect pappekak, literally, soft dung, from Dutch pap (soft)  + kak (dung)
First Known Use: 1860s

So why in the world would I be talking about “Poppycock” in, of all places, a food blog? Given, as mentioned above, that it is an old fashioned term and its origin is scatological, and that it follows the well-established connection between words that mean dung, and words of beliefs, or assertions that are untrue or nonsensical. Let me explain. Firstly the word "poppycock" is largely an American term and in its American English sanitization of use, it became more a humorous expression used to describe the nonsensical, the absurd, or the outright fabrication.  Nobody reallly cares about where the word came from or its relationship to the Dutch ward for dung. If you make this recipe you'll understand why that is a good thing. 
How it came to be the name of a favorite confection of mine is a bit of a puzzle.  The word "Poppycock" as a proper noun was first used by a man named Harold  Vair, a Detroit candy shop owner. He was selecting a name for a snack he invented initially for his own use. He was looking for something that he himself would like to munch as he made automobile trips around his region. In 1960, the Lincoln Snack Company of Chicago (whose roots were in a Swiss firm called The Wander Co. founded in Berne in 1865), bought the rights to Poppycock, from Mr. Vair. I'm guessing he retired and munched on "poppycock" for the rest of his natural days.  Several more corporate deals later and Poppycock is today made by the same Lincoln Snack Co which is presently owned by the huge food conglomerate ConAgra. It is a proud trademark in a huge family of products. Did I mention that it had been a favorite snack of mine?  I didn’t consume a lot of it, as it is one of those sugary, buttery trifles with zero nutritional value, high calories, and huge amounts of pleasure value. In fact, I had not had any since well before I came to Malaysia. Imagine, then, my surprise to see it on the shelves of a local grocery here in Kuala Lumpur, a few years back. I quickly bought up four containers of the stuff and parsed it out like a scrooge saving pennies. Alas, it was a fleeting moment in my love affair with Poppycock as it disappeared again from local shelves. Slowly but surely Poppycock receded in my mind until just recently when I ran into an article about caramel corn. From that one article I did more searching. By time I had tired of it, I had learned that there are a million caramel corn recipes and almost as many companies that will ship to you (for a price of course) their version of “Gourmet” caramel corn. They almost always say that word in their name or their descriptions: “Gourmet”. Many of them add some nuts to their mix. Some of them added flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, and even coffee. All of them were expensive. VERY expensive. But the one thing I noticed was that all those recipes I read featured pretty much the same recipe and instructions for the basic caramel corn. That was when I decided that making the caramel corn was easy, and that insinuating some nuts into the mix seemed to be just as easy. I ended up having to tweak the recipe a little but not much. A little extra step and the addition of some vanilla and some sea salt seemed in order. It wasn’t enough to alter the basic flavor profiles of roasted nuts, popped corn and caramel candy). If you want to add a favorite nut (no, I don't mean your husband), or drizzle tempered chocolate over the whole batch instead of working with hard caramel, feel free.


Poppycock Caramel Popcorn, Almonds, and Pecans



1 cup pecan halves
1 cup whole almonds
10 cups popped popcorn 
2 cups brown sugar packed tightly
1 cup butter
1 cup corn syrup
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Medium course sea salt to taste

Place almonds and pecans on a cookie sheet and roast in an oven set to 150°C (300°F) for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool in a large mixing bowl.

Pop the popcorn (about ½ cup raw kernels to make 10 cups of popcorn), When finished add the popcorn to the nuts, (discarding uncooked kernels) and toss to distribute throughout.

In a heavy pot with a candy thermometer affixed or ready at the side, heat sugar, cream of tartar, butter, and corn syrup, bringing the contents up to hardball stage. Take away from heat and immediately add baking soda and vanilla, stirring to blend. Just as quickly pour caramel mix over the popcorn and nuts, tossing until the caramel is formed on all of the popcorn and nuts and large clumps begin to form. Wash and grease your hands with a bit of butter. Press the clumps into a cool cookie sheet so that contents are reasonably spread across the pan evenly (but not exactly). Sprinkle medium-course sea salt to taste. Allow to cool completely, then break apart with your fingers into smaller clumps of nuts and popcorn.  Store in a zip lock bag or a large cookie container. Turn on a favorite movie and enjoy with a friend. (This snack goes especially well with a cup of tea or coffee)

28 comments:

  1. I know plenty of people who talk poppycock and a load of dung as well.

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    1. Thanks for the good point Windsmoke. I used to say that you could always tell when a politician was lieing. (It is when his lips are moving). But you are right, it is a trans-profession phenomena.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you yummychunklet , you are very kind. Incidentally your spaetzle looks delicious. That is something I must try. We have dishes in Malaysia that seems to parallel spaetzle. One of them i called rat-tail pasta which uses rice flour. In addition, another big favorite here is called "char tow kuay" that involves wok fried rice dumplings with dried prawn, garlic, chilis, bean sprouts, preserved radish, black sauce, soy sauce, pepper, etc.

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  3. Looks good. I may have seen this before or eaten it even, but I don't think it was the same brand - first time seeing that!

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    1. Arthur, thanks. Other brands that come close to the same confectio are "Crackerjacks", "Fiddle Faddle", and plain old "Kettle corn". But none of them have the rich quality buttery caramel flavor that "Poppycock" has.

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  4. This looks so good (albeit probably very fattening)no poppycock here.

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    1. Thanks Magnolia, you are probably right. Although I am far from the right person to lecture on this and I show poor control, the key to good eating isn't always abstination. But in this case, it can't hurt you if you do abstain. It is the degree of lack of control that measures how fattening the product is. (^^,)

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  5. Hi, great posting. Thanks for sharing. Popcorn,pecans,almonds these are excellent combination, guess hard to stop munching....awesome!

    Happy New Year to you and Quay PO. Have a lovely day ahead,regards.

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    1. Thank you back Amelia and a Happy New Year to you as well. You are right, this confection has superbly matched flavors. However, there is room to play with the basic caramel corn from which other possibilities come to mind. Smarties or M&Ms anyone?

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  6. I think we can add some pork lard in there too :X

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    1. Hi KY, thanks. The caramel depends on pure butter so a fat replacement like lard is a gamble in my humble opinion. However, lard in substitute, and maybe some pan fried "lardons" could take this dish into the savory spectrum.

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  7. Happy New Year to you Quay Po. Sorry for the late wishes as I just came back from my Europe holiday yesterday. Hope to see more posts from you in 2013. :)

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    1. Hi Li Shuan, thank you and best wishes for a very Happpy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year to you and yours as well. (P.S. I love Europe in cold weather, especially around Xmas).

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  8. I love popcorn! Happy New Year to you and Quay Po.

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    1. Carolyn, psst - me too. Lots of it. And a good movie. Maybe even a double feature (of popcorn of course). Many thanks!

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  9. Caramel popcorn is one of my fav. The pecan addition is a great idea!

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  10. The pecan is, along with the dash of vanilla, and the use of real butter, is the secret to this one. I have a special place in my heart and stomach for pecans. They grew everywhere in my home state of Oklahoma. Every Autumn before Thanksgiving holiday my father would load us up in the family car and drive off with several empty pails and a large sack. By the tiime we would return in late evening our pails and the big burlap sack were full. Dad would pull up to one of his favorite trees and while I and my two brothers and one sister scattered to hunt the ground under a promising tree, my Mother and Father would spread an old blanket and pour coffee from a thermos while keeping a watchful eye on us. "Don't even think about going over the fence boys. It isn't ours! Besides, somewhere over there is a mean old bull" he would holler at us. Yes....it is true, my father was a child labor agent, haha. But we loved him for it and for the chance to run about in the brisk weather, and see the gorgeous Autumn colors of of the native hardwoods and statuesque evergreens. The next day we gather to break open the thin shells of the pecans and extraxt the meaty nuts inside. The trick was to try to remove the meat in two complete halves, which were the best for beautiful pastries. But nevermind the broken ones, all were put to good use. I think of my Mom's pecan pie and cinnamon rolls and for that matter, all of the above memories in every bite of a pecan.

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  11. I just love Poppycock though I haven't eaten it for quiet sometime :P A tad overpriced imy but absolutely delicious :D Your version looks really good !

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    1. Hi Anne, thanks, you bring up a good point. Pooppycock is too expensive, even in the U.S., let alonee the price if you find it on shelves here in Malaysia. Thus the recipe. By my reckoning you can have the same delicous snack for a proper snack price by mastering the recipe abobee and at about 15% of the cost of the imported price. If you prefer all almond or substituting the pecans with peanuts, then the cost becomes whollly negligible.

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  12. Oh my goodness! I have forgotten all about poppycock until now! I had them many, many years ago, my uncle bought them from overseas. They were absolutely delicious and I tried looking for them here but to no avail. Hah! Hah! "favourite nut (not your husband)". Quay Lo, I am very excited over this recipe. Pecans are very expensive but I will spare no expense for this poppycock!

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    1. Great! Those that have been seduced by even one memory of "Poppycock" such as yourself are the most likely to get excited about this recipe (erh...such as yourself...) It is one of those rare recipes where everything just comes together and elevates popcorn to an ethereal level. We are investigating local prices of pecans to discover if it is worth hauling pecans back from the U.S. One would intuitively think that bringing them back would be cheaper than buying them here where they are about RM12.20 for 100g. We will keep you posted (and anyone else interested). If there are enough folks interested maybe we can import some through an agent here. We have already found a price of RM90 for a kilo from an importer in Klang. That would save approximately 25% off the little 100g containers at the supermarket here. Phong, please do let us know how your attempt at the recipe goes while we keep poking on the price. Good luck!

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  13. That looks delicious! Perfect party snacks. :) Happy New Year to you. Wish you and your family a blessed and prosperous 2013! I look forward to reading your posts.

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    1. Thank you Amy, and Happy New Year to you and yours as well. We are blessed and celebrating it all!

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  14. I would want to have this during my late night movie. I heading to Garrett now..How I wish soon, Gary will have his own popcorn house.heheheheheh

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  15. Mmmmm that looks so yummy, on my list to make when I have lost the weight I put on in Casablanca:) Happy New Year Diane

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  16. I just loved this recipe. Beautiful pictures and detailed recipe makes all your posts so special!
    http://cosmopolitancurrymania.blogspot.in/

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  17. I totally agree that those Gourmet popcorns are seriously overpriced but yet there are people who are queueing up to buy them. I haven't tried making caramel popcorn before but normal butter popcorn turns soft the next day. How long can this recipe last? I wonder what was added into those gourmet popcorns for it to last 1 week

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