Pinches That Pop
This is a picture of my work station (a.k.a. dining room table) taken a few days ago. I was getting ready to put our   thoughtful pinches     together. The calm before the storm.

This is a picture of my work station (a.k.a. dining room table) taken a few days ago. I was getting ready to put our thoughtful pinches together. The calm before the storm.

I was running on a treadmill in my basement when I randomly remembered that I may have some red and white popcorn containers made out of lightweight cardboard. After my run was done, I opened up a cabinet and found twenty-one popcorn containers. Yippee, I knew it! The colors were perfect and fit my theme for Valentine’s Day.

The small popcorn containers will be given to teachers but the two larger ones with print are reserved.

The small popcorn containers will be given to teachers but the two larger ones with print are reserved.

So I jumped onto the Pampered Chef website where I planned on supporting my cousin Jay-Jay’s business by buying the teachers bottles of popcorn toppings. My intention was to slip the jars of topping into the red and white popcorn containers, attach a cute note and that would be our thoughtful pinch for Valentine’s Day. Um, not so fast. Two issues: 1. Each bottle of popcorn topping cost $8 and 2. I thought they only sold Ranch Popcorn Topping but there are two flavors. Without a doubt, each of the teachers deserve more than an $8 Valentine’s Day gift. But collectively it adds up when we give thoughtful pinches to over twenty teachers. I will also share that having a choice of flavors added an unexpected twist - buying Ranch for everyone would have been a lot easier if I hadn’t discovered the French Toast Popcorn topping. So I did what most Americans do when they need to find something at a competitive price without leaving the comfort of their warm home, I hopped onto Amazon. That was worse! Of course the popcorn topping was easily half the cost of Pampered Chef but I didn’t know anything about the quality of the products and besides, Amazon offered way too many flavors to choose from. I don’t know what flavor each teacher would prefer. It’s not as if I could put a note on the thoughtful pinches that says, “Feel free to trade flavors amongst yourselves.” I decided it was best to abandon the idea.

Where does that leave me? Why was I insisting on doing something with these red and white popcorn containers? I was at a complete fork in the road. Movie passes or Netflix gift cards would cost more than the popcorn toppings. Think Barb, what else can you do with these containers without spending a ton of money? Meanwhile, my daughter was given an air popper for her birthday and has been making popcorn every day since. One day she ran out of kernels and that led me to dig deep into our pantry cabinet. I found a big bag of red kernels. My daughter tried to use the red kernels in her air popper but the popper wouldn’t work because it didn’t recognize the kernels. Not because they were a different color, Silly! But because the size and texture was different from regular corn kernels. I knew immediately that this red popcorn had to be incorporated into the teachers’ Valentine pinches.

This bag was purchased at the Largest Candy Store in Minnesota (that’s the name of the store) on our way to Mankato.

This bag was purchased at the Largest Candy Store in Minnesota (that’s the name of the store) on our way to Mankato.

I put two tablespoons of red kernels into a plastic bag and taped it shut so the kernels wouldn’t spill out. I added washi tape over the tape as decoration.

I put two tablespoons of red kernels into a plastic bag and taped it shut so the kernels wouldn’t spill out. I added washi tape over the tape as decoration.

Next I scooped out one tablespoon of nutritional yeast and put it in another plastic bag. According to Wikipedia: “  Nutritional yeast    is a deactivated    yeast   , often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is sold commercially as a food product. ...    Nutritional yeast    has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes .” And according to  healthline.com , “  Nutritional yeast    is a highly nutritious vegan food product with various potential    health benefits   . It can be used to add extra protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to meals. Studies suggest that    nutritional yeast    may help protect against oxidative damage, lower cholesterol and boost immunity .”

Next I scooped out one tablespoon of nutritional yeast and put it in another plastic bag. According to Wikipedia: “Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is sold commercially as a food product. ... Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes.” And according to healthline.com, “Nutritional yeast is a highly nutritious vegan food product with various potential health benefits. It can be used to add extra protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to meals. Studies suggest that nutritional yeast may help protect against oxidative damage, lower cholesterol and boost immunity.”

Again, I used tape first to secure the nutritional yeast from spilling out of the bags. Then I decorated it with washi tape.

Again, I used tape first to secure the nutritional yeast from spilling out of the bags. Then I decorated it with washi tape.

It took some thinking outside the box, but I’m happy to report that the red and white paper popcorn containers will be used for Valentine’s Day. Besides staying within budget and still making sense for the theme, I should point out that when I am deciding on what to give as thoughtful pinches, I have another criteria. I always want our gifts to be unique, something they won’t get from other students or from their families. I already know that candy will be prevalent because Valentine’s Day is like Halloween without having to go door to door.

The kids and I like to pour our chocolate candy directly into our movie theater popcorn containers when we go to the movies. Specifically, Raisinettes. In this tiny kit made for one, besides the M&M’s, we have provided two tablespoons of Amish Red Kernel popcorn (bag with hearts) and 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast*(bag with XOXO). For this single serving, just use 2 teaspoons of oil to pop the corn and when finished popping, top with butter, salt and sprinkle the entire packet of nutritional yeast over the cooked kernels. If you do not have coconut oil and/or Wilderness Family Naturals popcorn oil, just use whatever oil you prefer and butter.

The kids and I like to pour our chocolate candy directly into our movie theater popcorn containers when we go to the movies. Specifically, Raisinettes. In this tiny kit made for one, besides the M&M’s, we have provided two tablespoons of Amish Red Kernel popcorn (bag with hearts) and 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast*(bag with XOXO). For this single serving, just use 2 teaspoons of oil to pop the corn and when finished popping, top with butter, salt and sprinkle the entire packet of nutritional yeast over the cooked kernels. If you do not have coconut oil and/or Wilderness Family Naturals popcorn oil, just use whatever oil you prefer and butter.

Each of the Valentine pinches will include my family’s favorite recipe found in Popular Popcorn plus a note that says, “ In case dinner at a fancy restaurant on Valentine’s Day turns into a Netflix night instead, we’ve got you covered.”

Although the Valentine’s Day cards that my son is giving out to his classmates already come with stencils, I wanted to add something sweet, but not candy. I just couldn’t resist continuing the popcorn theme!

Although the Valentine’s Day cards that my son is giving out to his classmates already come with stencils, I wanted to add something sweet, but not candy. I just couldn’t resist continuing the popcorn theme!

You could say that I spent a lot of time thinking about this thoughtful pinch. I agree. But in the end, I am so happy it turned out this way. I feel like the gift is original and personal. My hope is that it enlightens some about red corn kernels, butter-flavored coconut oil and that nutritional yeast can be sprinkled on popcorn for flavor and added vitamins. You know, just a pop of knowledge!

Pinches,

Barb

The Writer

The Writer

Honestly, Girlfriend.

Honestly, Girlfriend.