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.


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