Celebrate National Popcorn Day with Caramel Corn

When driving down the road in the Midwest during growing season, many people think the endless acres of corn they see could be picked and eaten for dinner, or dried and popped for a snack.  However, the majority of those acres are field (dent) corn, which is used for livestock feed and other products.


99 percent of corn grown in Iowa is “Field Corn”.


461 million bushels or 21 percent of Iowa Corn went directly into livestock feed in the 2014/15 marketing year. In livestock feeding, one bushel of corn converts to about 8 pounds of beef, 15.6 pounds of pork, or 21.6 pounds of chicken. (Source: Iowa Corn)

Sweet corn and field corn differ from popcorn.

Sweet Corn Stand 2016

Sweet corn is harvested when the kernels are still tender.


Field corn is harvested when the kernels are dry or begin to dent.

The Popcorn Board does a great job explaining the different types of popcorn here.


Photo credit to The Popcorn Board.

Now to learn a little more about popcorn!  When Emily was in 4-H she gave a presentation on popcorn. POP, POP, POP!


Nearly all of the world’s popcorn is produced in the United States.

Each kernel has water inside it. When the kernel is heated, the water turns to steam. Because of the kernel’s hard coating, the steam has difficulty escaping. The steam eventually escapes, causing the kernel to explode, or “pop”.

The average American eats about 60 quarts of popcorn each year. (This is illustrated by the 5 gallon buckets in the picture above.)  As a whole, Americans consume 17.3 billion quarts of popcorn each year.  Popcorn is said to be America’s favorite snack food. Popcorn is a healthy snack.  (Yesterday, at our church’s after school program, we served popcorn for the snack!)

Find other great information about popcorn from the Popcorn Board.


We like to eat popcorn for supper on Sunday nights; however we also support the dairy and beef industries by adding a little butter and  serving beef sticks on the side!



1 c. brown sugar

1 stick of butter

1/4 c. corn syrup

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla

16 cups popped popcorn

  1. Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in a 2 qt. glass bowl.  ( I use the 2 qt. Pampered Chef Measuring Bowl.)
  2. Place bowl in microwave. Bring to a boil (about 2 minutes), then cook on high for another 2 minutes.
  3.  Remove from microwave and stir in soda and vanilla.
  4. Put popped corn in brown paper grocery bag.
  5. Pour syrup over corn.  Close bag and shake.
  6. Cook in bag on high in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes; shake.
  7.  Repeat, but shake every 30 seconds.
  8.  Pour into wax paper lined pan and allow to cool.

This recipe is from the Silver Anniversary Cookbook from Community Reformed Church, 1983.  

(I actually combined two different recipes.  When I make this I think of these two families.  I have fond memories of working with them in the Sunday School department several years ago!)

As we come to the end of another gloomy day here in central Iowa, I think it is a great evening to curl up with a great book or a movie and enjoy some fresh popped popcorn or maybe even some caramel corn!

Have a great evening!





A recipe from my Great Great Grandma Bunse: German Brown Cookies


My mom’s parents both have German roots, and most of their ancestors are from Germany. In fact, my grandpa was born in Germany when his parents were back visiting. So, of course we need to have a German recipe included in our Christmas goodies. My Grandma Bunse bakes these cookies a lot, but she told my that the recipe originally came from my Great Great Grandma Bunse. Beware this recipe makes A LOT of cookies.

We thought that this might even be the perfect cookie for Santa tonight!



Merry Christmas!

Love, Emily

Homemade Oreos


Tonight, I am sitting in the living room while watching Christmas movies with Mom, Dad, and Snickers. Between commercial breaks, I asked mom and dad for a few quotes about the Oreos. Here is what they came up with:

“They taste good.”

“Mighty tasty.”

“They are easier than they look.”

And I’ll I got from Snickers was a groan.



The Oreo tops fresh out of the oven. The Oreos are also pictured in the bottom center of the top picture.


Love, Emily

Cherry Chip Candy

fullsizerender-13 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

Mom and Dad both remember their mothers making this candy around Christmas time when they were younger. Mom likes this candy because it adds color to snack tray, and dad likes it because it has chocolate. The most challenging part of this recipe has been finding the cherry chips. They can be difficult to find as it gets closer to Christmas.


Mom has a few tips to help with this recipe:

  • Stir constantly while the mixture is boiling
  • Make sure chocolate is not too warm as it is spread over the cherry layer, or the cherry layer could melt.








Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle


Last minute Christmas shopping and Christmas baking are in full swing at our house. If that is the case for you too, then you might be looking for a fast and easy last minute holiday recipe. My grandma got this Peanut Brittle recipe from one of her neighbor ladies almost 25 years ago and it stood the test of time.



Love, Emily

* Picture from allrecipes.com.


A Night of Father/Daughter Bonding & Trying Out an Old Family Recipe


Butter Crunch

Tonight mom is busy doing end of the year book work before the tax appointment. Guess when the tax appointment is… it’s tomorrow. (If you know my mom at all, you are probably not surprised by this one bit.) While mom is busy doing getting ready for the tax appointment, dad took over the kitchen with me tonight. First, we made Grandma Van Manen’s Savory Potato Cheese Soup, which is delicious and hits the spot – especially on a cold winter evening. After supper, dad really wanted to try out an old candy recipe that his grandma use to make. So, we (mainly dad) set to work making Butter Crunch candy. This candy resembles a Heath bar. We were pleased with how the recipe turned out, but did a few tweaks along the way.



Dad cooling off the candy and making sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Throughout the course of the evening mom could be found doing book work, which she will continue to do into the wee hours of the morning.


Love, Emily


Aunt Kelli’s Taco Dip


A week from today, we will be wrapping up our last family Christmas celebration of the year. Traditionally, we have had Christmas at Grandpa and Grandma Van Manen’s on Christmas Eve Day. Part of that tradition would always include a “coffee time” (a dutch tradition) full of lots of goodies and munchies. One of the savory munchies that is always present is Aunt Kelli’s Taco Dip. This dip is a delicious chip dip that includes both pork and beef. Beef and pork both have a large presence on our farm, so when we find a recipe that includes both, that’s just perfect!



Love, Emily