Did your grandmother have a signature dish that she used to bring to all family gatherings? Mine sure did.
Memere (French for "grandmother") used to walk through our front door with a platter of popcorn cake in her arms. I remember devouring the stuff in large, sticky bites. It makes me warm with memories just thinking about it.
My memere no longer attends family gatherings; at ninety-seven years old (in 4 days), it's difficult for her to leave the nursing facility she calls 'home.' I don't visit her as often as I should. It's one of those things I kick myself over when I'm staring at the ceiling at night, thinking about how much I haven't done.
Anyway, Memere can't come to birthday parties or Christmas celebrations anymore, and, in addition to missing her charisma and wit (the woman is hilarious), we've also come to miss her popcorn cake.
The last time I had it was before she moved to the nursing facility, so: when I was 13 years old. Over half my life ago, then. Not cool.
I've recently had the pleasure of sifting through my memere's recipes and was tickled (in the way adults get tickled when there's no touching involved) to find the recipe for the Popcorn Cake.
I called my mom up and told her that I knew what I making for Dad's birthday: Memere's Popcorn Cake. Oh, he'll love that, she said.
Random good ideas are the best.
(Second only to carrot cake ice cream, as mentioned previously and as mentioned again and again probably a lot in the future.)
Yesterday was my dad's birthday and I had the honor of making the cake with my sister. It's been years and years since I've seen M&Ms, popcorn and marshmallow all getting along so well.
Here's my Memere's Popcorn Cake recipe. It's easy-peasy, gluey and gooey. (Yeah. I hereby declare the sixth of June as Unnecessary Rhyming Day. Consider it 'observed.')
I won't share it with you in its original state; my memere left a lot up to common sense on this one. I'll spare you the minutes of head-scratching I endured.
4 quarts (or 16 cups) of popped corn
1 package (10 oz.) of marshmallows (not mini, not gigantic. normal-sized)
6 tbsp. margarine
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 man-handfuls of regular M&Ms (man-handfuls are a small handful plus a little bit more. man-handfuls are appropriate forms of measure when dealing with M&Ms and regular handfuls aren't enough.
2 man-handfuls of peanut M&Ms
Unless you have copious amounts of popped corn around the house, go ahead and pop a bunch right at the onset.
In a non-stick pan, melt marshmallows into the margarine and oil over medium heat. Stir constantly.
Once melted, continue stirring while pouring over all the popcorn.
Have fun mixing the marshmallow melt into the popcorn. Work those biceps. Don't even try to remain un-sticky.
Add man-handfuls of both types of M&Ms and continue mixing until it looks about right. You'll know it when you see it.
Press the mixture into a lightly-greased bundt cake pan or an equally-lightly-greased springform pan with a glass set in the middle to create a hole. Let it set. This should take about half an hour.
Cut into marvelously large pieces and attempt to enjoy it as much as I did in 1998, which is pretty unlikely, but there's no harm in trying anyway.
My dad was tickled. Tickled in the way that an adult gets tickled when there's no touching involved. Except (I suppose) there was just a little bit: a full-of-love birthday hug.
So, how about you? Do you have any signature dishes in your family? Do you get hyper-sentimental around birthdays?
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