Welcome to a slightly late (due to mild technical difficulties) Monday at the Manse, dear readers! Before another Monday rolls around, Halloween will have come and gone, and so I thought I’d tackle that topic today.
Now, until a short while ago I wasn’t going to tackle that topic; I was going to write about the new Manse cats, Teddy and Honey Bunny, and delight you with some decidedly cute photos of them, and maybe even a video or two. But I think that Teddy and Honey Bunny can wait another week or so for their adorable habits (and the proof that they have Raymond and me wrapped around their tiny little fingers) to be revealed to the world.
So yeah, Halloween. I’ve written about Halloween in Queensborough before, notably here, wherein I reminisced about the Halloweens of my childhood growing up in this very Manse. As I wrote back then – on the eve of my first Halloween here since those long-ago childhood days – the best part of the whole affair was the homemade candy that we kids could count on getting at many houses in the village. The fudge – maple and chocolate – was superb; “store-bought” candies like chocolate bars and chips and candy kisses paled in comparison.
But the best, the absolute best, of that homemade Queensborough candy was the popcorn balls that we’d get at Frankie (Frances) Cassidy’s house. I adored those popcorn balls – a wonderful mix of sweet and salty and sticky and soft. And Frankie was a lively grandmotherly lady who made us little kids feel welcome in her comfortable old home as she doled out those wondrous popcorn balls.
(I was reminiscing about that decades-old memory not too long ago with Pat, the current co-owner of Frankie’s house, during a chat in her front foyer. She has done a terrific job of preserving the place, and her gardens on the grounds are wild and stunning.)
So anyway, when the folks at New York Times Cooking – a section of that great newspaper and also a stand-alone app – featured a recipe for what look to be absolutely superb popcorn balls in their lineup the other day, I decided that Halloween, and not Honey Bunny and Teddy, would be the topic of today’s post.
Not only because the Times’s recipe brought back wonderful Halloween-in- Queensborough memories, but because this recipe means that you and I can now make those popcorn balls ourselves!
Here it is, and I don’t think you need worry about whether you can find cane syrup on the shelves of your local grocery store; as recipe-writers Julia Moskin and Kim Severson say, you can use good-quality corn syrup instead:
I lament the fact that no one gives out homemade candy anymore – that even if I made these wonderful popcorn balls, they would be frowned upon by parents as a dodgy prospect, not being labelled with the ingredients and all.
But hey, I tend to look on the bright side. If I can’t be like Frankie and give those popcorn balls out on Halloween – I can eat them all myself!