Maple + Cheddar Popcorn (And a bit on Quebec)

As a family we try to take two vacations every year -- one at the tale end of winter before spring hits, and with it the rush of busy season for Herm's business, and the other as summer makes way to autumn and we finally have Herm back again.

For our end-of-summer vacation we often visit new places. So far we've traveled Route 1 on along the rugged California coastline, visited friends in please-take-me-back-again-I-loved-it-so Portugal, and Myrtle Beach, where we were evacuated much too early due to a tropical storm, but loved our time there nonetheless. We've got a really exciting trip planned for our summer getaway this year. I can't wait to tell you all about it.

But that's not what this post is about today, so moving on...

People, especially those who live in the north, look at us a little cross-eyed when they discover that we don't head south in the winter like most do, but instead, always travel north. (As if upstate New York isn't north enough.) 

Every year we head a bit farther into the frigid tundra -- first was Lake Placid, NY, then Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and this year, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

Our thought process behind this is that we want our winter vacation to be a time of rest, where we don't feel pressured into constantly being out-of-doors and active, like we know we would, if we were say, somewhere south. We do get out and enjoy the snow quite a lot, but we also plow our way through books and play games and watch movies, cozied up, hot drinks in hand, in our Airbnb rental.

Of all of our vacations north, Quebec City was our favorite location. We stayed in the old part of the city, which was founded in 1608. The architecture of the city is amazing. It felt as though we were visiting a country in Europe, rather than our neighbors to the north. I'm sure the fact that everyone speaks French added to the European feel. 

We are already talking about visiting Quebec again, though next time we would like to go in the summer, as I'm sure the city is just a charming, and slightly warmer, than it was in February. 

When we vacation we often rent an apartment and try to make most of our meals there. It helps keep costs down, and also is a bit more relaxing for us with the kids being so young. Plus, it means we can splurge a little bit on coffees and treats... like the Maple + Cheddar Quebec-style popcorn we bought several times. It was the perfect marriage of sweet and salty, and when we got back home again, I worked hard to recreate my own version of it.

I can almost feel the cold wind that blew through the city, and hear the crunch of snow beneath my boots with every bite.


Maple + Cheddar Popcorn

1 cup popcorn kernels
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup cheddar cheese powder
2/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250.

In a large kettle with a lid, pour in oil and three kernels of corn. Begin heating. Once corn kernels pop, pour in the rest of the kernels and continue heating, shaking constantly, until all the corn has popped. 

Removed from heat and divide corn into two large bowls. Pour the cheddar cheese powder over one of the bowls and mix well. Set aside.

Melt butter with maple syrup, sugar and salt. Heat mixture to boiling point, then continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add maple flavoring and baking soda. Stir well. 

Pour mixture over the remaining bowl of popcorn, mixing thoroughly. Divide corn into two glass baking dishes and bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove corn from oven and mix both flavors together in a big bowl.

Grab a glass of grape juice and cozy in for a while with your favorite movie or a good book.

Try your hardest not to eat the entire bowl yourself.


A Few Things for Your Weekend

Alternatively this post could be titled Things That Distract Me When I'm Trying to Blog. 

This week it has felt like all creativity was emptied out of me, for every time I sat down in an attempt to write, words wouldn't come. It felt awkward and forced, which resulted in me being very distracted. 

Distracted by what, you might ask? 

Imagine with me, if you will, a morning of slight chaos and maximum noise, Carson morphed into a firetruck again, and his sirens are blaring; imagine a grumpy 10 month old Brooklyn who is on the verge of cutting two new teeth, and if that isn't bad enough, just face-planted into the wood floor, again, her balance hasn't quite caught up to her daring feats; imagine their Mom, still in her yoga pants (Who are we kidding? Let's just rename those house pants, for I never change out of them anymore, unless, say, I'm leaving the house.) who has managed to make the beds and wash breakfast dishes, but has already forgotten about the laundry waiting to be folded or what she was going to make for dinner, and is distracted and kept busy with her precious children, the ones who use her for a human tissue, wiping their noses against her while simultaneously begging her wipe their rears. Now imagine a blow-out that turned those classy house pants into toilet paper. Yeah...

Now that that scene is painted fresh in your mind, I'm sure you can truly understand why I look forward to nap time every afternoon.


Both kids have finally fallen asleep, and I sit down to write...

But, if I am writing a blog post, won't an iced coffee accompany that well?

Distraction number one: 

Herm's Aeropress coffee maker. I bought it for him for Father's Day, and now it's the only coffee maker we use. It makes coffee so delicious, in fact, that I've already made myself coffee to take along to a cafe. (Almost as classy as wearing house pants in public, something I will never do! I am ashamed.)

To make iced coffee, I fill a tall glass with ice cubes, all the way to the brim, then drizzle just a touch of real maple syrup over it. I brew a shot of coffee in the Aeropress directly onto the iced cubes, give everything a stir, and top it with homemade whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Delicious!

Herm gave me this whipped cream dispenser for Mother's Day. We tag-team gifts fairly well. :)

Distraction number two:

Craigslist. Perhaps you read the post previous to this one, where I rambled on and on about a living room makeover I've completed in my mind? It's still going full force. I've narrowed down the style of sofas I'm excited to welcome into our home, but nothing has been purchased yet. I've got to find a good deal, I can't help it, I'm both German and Mennonite!

Distraction number three:

While trying to find words for that blog post I intended to write, I remembered it's now April, the month Artifact Uprising usually gives away some free prints. I check their site... and guess what?! They're giving away a free Instagram photo book. Instead of writing, I compiled and ordered an entire album, all I paid was the cost of shipping.

That deal ends tomorrow! (4/7/2017) Visit this page to create your 5.5 x 5.5 book, then use code GPL397A at checkout.

You're welcome.

Distraction number four:

The Magic of Motherhood, a book I've been very excited to get was just released... I head on over to the black hole of Amazon, to see if it's there.

Distraction number five:

Chairish -- a site similar to ThredUp, in that it's second hand, but maybe even better, because it's home furnishings and decor.

Speaking of ThredUp, have you used my referral code yet? If not, click through this link and you'll get $10 off your first purchase. Go buy yourself something fun, after all, it's SPRING!

And that, my friends, is why the blog post I was planning to write --the one with a whole lot more depth and value to it -- did not happen this week.