And the Oscar for the best popcorn ever goes to…


It's Oscars time, and in addition to dressing for the occasion, we always like to set the table with award-worthy snacks. This year, we plan to honor the movies with their best-loved partner, popcorn.

Of course, because it's the Oscars, it couldn't be just any microwaved popcorn. Last week when I found some dried popcorn being cut off the cob at the farmers' market, I knew it was time to use my newly inspired love for spices to elevate popcorn to a starring role.

First, you must be willing to set aside the iconic melted butter and find the very best extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to dress the hot kernels. EVOO's intense flavor will lend an earthy, grassy, herbal flavor that just belongs with farm-grown popcorn.

Next, your choice of salt is critical to the perfect box of popcorn. It's got to be soft enough to cling to the kernels, but crunchy enough to hold its own on the palate. I found that the moisture of grey sea salt fit the bill perfectly.

Finally, adding variety with ground spices, grated cheeses and even cocoa powder creates an interesting mix of options for movie-loving guests. Any blend of favorite flavors will do, but my winning combination was hot salted popcorn tossed with grated pecorino romano cheese, sprinkled with Aleppo pepper flakes and doused with another healthy drizzle of olive oil.

Old-Fashioned, New-Flavored Popcorn

Serves 4

  • Ingredients
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste

 

Flavoring suggestions:

  • Grated hard or semi-hard cheese
  • Aleppo or Marash chili pepper
  • Cocoa powder mixed with sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Smoked paprika
  • Saffron
  • Freshly ground peppercorns

 

Directions

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 3-quart, deep saucepan. As soon as the oil melts and spreads evenly, add enough kernels to fill one layer on the bottom. Cover and increase heat to high flame. As soon as the corn starts popping, shake rigorously over heat until popping is complete.

2. Immediately dress with olive oil and salt and toss to coat.

3. If you are adding grated cheese, do so immediately after removing from heat to ensure that cheese clings to popcorn.

4. Sprinkle with other seasonings to taste.

How to set-up a guest room for out-of-town visitors


With the holidays just around the corner, some of us are getting ready to welcome out-of-town guests coming in to join the festivities. Having guests stay at your house can be fun, but it can also be stressful for both parties. Whether your guests will sleep in a spare bedroom or on a sofa in your living room, there are many easy ways to make their stay comfortable. You don’t have to follow all of these tips, but adopting even just a few of them will go a long way toward making your guests feel pampered. That way, they’ll be longing to return the favor one day. 

Let them know what to expect

It’s a good idea to manage guests’ expectations in advance, so let them know if they’ll be staying in their own room, taking over the home office or crashing in the living room. This could help them to know how much they should pack. It also gives them a chance to reconsider staying with you if they’d prefer the privacy afforded by hotel over a living-room sofa.

Make the bed comfortable

If your guests will be sleeping on a bed, maximize their comfort by adding a mattress topper. A memory-foam topper, or even a featherbed, can make even an old mattress feel new. Toppers also vastly improve the comfort of a sofa bed and, yes, even sofas. Instead of asking extra guests — or their kids — to sleep on the floor, consider purchasing an air mattress, which is not at all expensive and easy to store for future visits. 

Upgrade the bedding

Think of your guest room more like a boutique hotel and less like a roadside flophouse. Invest in soft, high thread-count cotton sheets and pillowcases. Try to offer two pillows per guest, one firm and one soft, as well as a couple of throw pillows for back support while reading. And iron the pillowcases for a fresh, clean appearance. In addition to a cushy comforter, make sure to have an extra blanket available, and leave it on the bed from the start — guests often feel bad about asking for things, so it’s better to anticipate their needs.

Have storage options

Although most guests expect to primarily live out of a suitcase, it can help them feel more civilized if they get a closet or other space to hang or store clothes. If you don’t have extra closet space, find creative options, like storage ottomans, over-the-door organizers or even clearing a shelf on a small bookcase that can double as a dresser. You can also insert a tension rod or pull-up bar in a doorway where guests can hang clothes — and remember to supply the hangers.

Get rid of clutter

Clear the area where your guests will be staying. Having your personal items around — be they clothes, tax statements or your collection of baseball cards — gives them the impression that they are imposing on your personal space. Let them know they’re welcome by offering a clean, minimally decorated haven.

Pamper them in the bathroom

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family of five kids, two parents and two grandparents sharing one bathroom, but one of my first questions when staying at a hotel or a friend’s house is always “What’s the bathroom situation?” Ideally, your guests will have access to their own bathroom, but if they will be sharing yours, make room so they can store their toiletries. Prepare a basket of essentials like a toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoo, and splurge on a few luxuries like scented soap or lotion. Provide a stack of plush towels, including washcloths. And if you’re sharing a bath, make sure the guest towels are a different color from yours so they’ll know which is which. 

Include the must-haves

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Keep Your Eyes Open


Kein v’ Lo: Snack Attack

YeLAdim talked to the LAPD and got these tips on what kids can do to stay safe — and maybe to help catch a bad guy:

  • Be aware of your surroundings on the way to and from school, at your synagogue and while hanging out with your friends.
  • If you find a note about someone wanting to hurt someone — or use a gun or knife — tell an adult immediately. If any of your friends wants to write notes like that, let them know that they could get in big-time trouble because threatening notes are no joke to the police.
  • If you see packages, boxes or bags with bottles sitting near the street or in a hallway don’t touch them.
  • If you see anything or anyone in a public place that looks like they don’t belong or is acting strangely, tell a parent, a teacher or another adult you trust.
  • When it comes to safety, there’s no such thing as a tattletale.

This section of the page is a way for you as kids to sound off about an issue.

This month’s Kein v’ Lo (yes and no) is about snacks at school. Many schools have removed candy, chips and sodas from campus vending machines and replaced them with what they consider healthier snacks and drinks. Also, many schools are telling parents that when they bring a treat for a child’s birthday, it should include a healthy snack, as well.

Should schools be able to say what kids can and cannot eat?

The Kein Side:

  • Many kids are gaining weight much faster than ever before, because of how easy it has been to get sugary-, fat- and salt-filled snacks during and after school. Eliminating those kinds of foods could cut down on kids’ health problems.
  • Most kids left to their own choices probably won’t pick veggies over cookies or bottled water over soda. Cutting out unhealthy snacks at school makes sure that at least during school hours, kids will be exposed to more nutritious foods.

The Zimms Can’t Wait To Go Back To School!

The Lo Side:

  • Removing sugary snacks won’t really improve health if, at the same time, schools are cutting back on time to get exercise during recess or cutting back on physical education. Offering nutrition classes would be a better idea, allowing kids to feel they have a little say in what happens to their snacks.
  • A birthday is a celebration — if a child wants to have cupcakes, they should be able to — parents shouldn’t have to spend additional money on granola bars or fruit.

Discuss your opinions in your classroom or around your dining table with your family. We aren’t saying which is right and which is wrong. We want to know what you think. Send your thoughts to kids@jewishjournal.com with Kein v’Lo in the subject line.

Back to School Shout-Outs

Get a head start on making new friends this year by sending a shout-out to your classmates, and we will print it here! Example: Sending a “Have a great year” to Mrs. Friedman’s sixth-grade class at Siman Tov Academy

— Josh A. & Laurie H. (names are optional).

E-mail us at ” TARGET=”_blank”>www.zimmermuseum.org.

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