As I have come to realize I may be living without magic for quite some time, I have decided that humans (the Ryan kind anyway) are actually quite interesting, and so I have taken to studying their ways a little. If I can think like a human, perhaps I might be better able to learn how to do things without magic. I mean, they have been living without it since they were born from mud, right? Surely they have figured out a few things.
And in my study of human behavior, I have two nearby subjects to observe.
My neighbors have been quite interesting the last few days, and I am glad because staying inside of the house and trying to figure out how to best perform the actions of life without magic is becoming most tedious. I am very grateful to them for the entertainment they are providing to me. I can hear them very clearly from my bedroom if they a arguing in their living room, as it is about six feet from my living room window, and though a lot of it makes little sense without understanding what they are really talking about – humans talk in circles so much; I wonder how much easier their lives might be if only they were to speak plainly about things, but instead they insist upon talking about subjects that are quite unrelated.
For instance, I am almost positive that the lady neighbor was not actually upset about having to remove a lipstick stain from the man’s shirt collar, and yet she kept talking about how difficult it was for her to forget about, but how hard can it be to get lipstick from clothing? Surely it is not memorable in difficulty? I will have to investigate.
Anyway, I have noticed that when they don’t want to refer to something very directly, they use the word “It” – that is a word they enjoy using. It and another word that Flora has informed me is not to be used in polite company, so I shall pretend they are saying “puck” instead, since Puck the Mischievous is a greatly admired character among our culture, and from what I can tell to “puck up” is to make a mistake or to mess up things very well, both things Puck of the stories was indeed very renowned for. I believe my polite replacement will work well.
I have also been informed that the backyard is an eyesore, yet again, by the lady neighbor. She marched over here after a very loud but unintelligible shouting match… Well, that is not entirely correct. I have discovered a most amazing human delicacy called “popcorn”, which is dried corn kernels you pop into little crunchy balls of delight. They can be coved in just about any flavoring and munched on, and I have learned they are best enjoyed while being entertained, such as when attending a theater movie or listening to a screaming match while leaning out the open window to hear them better on a lovely night.
So there I was, listening and eating pieces of popped corn from a bowl, (I had these sprinkled with melted cow’s butter and dried lavender blossoms), and the lady walked out her front door in the middle of the yelling. She got to her car and had the door opened when she saw me. I waved and smiled; it really was a pretty evening last night, and if I had a driving machine I would take it for a ride with the windows down and let the breeze table my strange yellow hair. Anyway, she saw me and got all frowny and then walked over to the window and stood in front of me with her fists on her hips like she expected me to do something.
I offered her some popped corn kernels, but she got even more frowny and informed me that the front yard being neat now only shows how awful the back yard has become, and that I needed to get that taken care of very quickly (I was polite and did not inform her I almost have that taken care of).
Then, she turned quickly, making her hair fling out behind her in a dismissive fashion. And believe me, I felt very dismissed. I spent the rest of the night practicing the move, thinking it would be most useful the next time my dear sister decides to share her dear ideas about how I am choosing to spend my time and how I am choosing to live in my humble human dwelling and my “even more humble human body”. She gave a meaningful look to my bosom when she said that, and I did not tell her that many men seem to think my human body is not so humble.
I am improving at not saying things that might get me in hot water, which is useful.
Well, I practiced that hair swing almost all night until I was too dizzy to stand. I even tried it on The Cat, but The Cat was much less than impressed and wanted me to brush her instead. Hopefully my powers of hair dismissal are good enough to work on Flora.
The lady neighbor has not returned yet today, and I wonder if the argument was about whether or not he could track her – according to my memory, she is not due for another “business trip” for at least another day. Maybe she is hiding and he will have to guess where she is? She, at least, is not a Council spy, or she would be friendlier to me, I would like to think. The man, though, he seems to enjoy trying to see through my windows at night. I have taken to wearing a robe instead of walking about in nature’s own for now, but I really must see to getting more secure window coverings. Perhaps this weekend.
How to make popcorn on the stove:
You will need:
- A pot for cooking with a lid – I have a rather large pot that Flora used to make soup in, which was quite satisfactory in this endeavor. I I’d try it in a shallower pan at first, but that ended in a rather messy disaster and I prefer to not have to sweep the kitchen so often as I have been needing to. Plus, if you use a larger pot than you think you will need, you can use it as a mixing bowl as well. I will explain.
- Popping corn – I found some very pretty kernels that are all different colors and they pop up to be slightly different colors, which is simply charming.
- Fat that can take high temperatures – I choose a kind of cow butter product called ghee, which is basically butter that has had all the things that can burn removed from it. It is a marvelous invention, and can get very by hot without burning.
- Seasoning for the popped corn – this can be just about anything edible.
- A large bowl to hold the pop corn.
- A mixing spoon
Now, of course, in the store you can buy bags of popcorn that simply can be microwaved and will pop up into a little bag of joy, but they are more expensive and limit one to so few choices of flavoring. Plus, the Internet tells me they might contain harmful chemicals, and after going to so much trouble choosing cleaning chemicals that are not toxic, it seems a shame to ruin it by ingesting poisons.
So I shall pop corn on the stove instead for now. Besides, it is some of the best fun I have had yet in my kitchen. If I ever get my magic back, you will still find me with a pot and fire popping corn, because it is better than poking skeskes with sharp sticks for an evening of enjoyment. And that is hard to beat with how their eyes shoot our purple sparks when they get mad.
Anyway, get your things ready to begin with, because this all happens really fast once you get started. You will want to have your pop corn measured – I used 1/3 cup – and the ghee or oil in your pan – 3 tbsp for the 1/3rd cup popping corn, and the bowl convenient to receive the pop corn once it is fully popped. You’ll also want to have butter and salt and any other seasoning you enjoy at hand.
Put your pot on the stove at medium-high heat and drop in 3 tablespoons of ghee. This seems to be a minimum, but I imagine if you would like, since ghee is basically concentrated unsealed butter, you could add more and leave less work of buttering later. If you like salt, this is an excellent time to add it so it can mix with the ghee and then coat the popped pieces evenly. Don’t add anything that can burn though, because the oil is very very hot.
When the oil seems hot, drop in a few kernels of pop corn, and wait for them to pop. They might jump out of the pan, which makes me giggle a lot. Don’t touch the oil or ghee to see if it is hot. This leads to sadness and hurt fingers.
When the sacrificial testing kernels have popped, then the oil is hot enough. Drop in the 1/3 cup of popping corn and cover with the pot’s lid, or else there will be popped pieces of corn shooting all across the kitchen and getting everywhere. So cover the pot, then pick up the pot (you may want to have some of those protective mittens for this), and shake it away from the heat for a count of thirty, then return to the heat and shake it while the corn pops and makes fantastic sounds.
It really is great fun.
It helps to keep the lid loose for crispy corn, but make sure it isn’t so uncovered that the popping corn does not spring out – it is clever and escapes easily.
As soon as the popping slows, uncover the pot and deposit the corn into your waiting bowl so it cannot burn. Burned popcorn smells awful.
Then, put the pot back on the stove and turn off the stove. Melt your butter with the remaining heat and then mix in whatever seasonings you would like to use before dumping the popped corn back in the bowl and stir with a long-handled spoon.
Pour back into the big bowl, find something entertaining to enjoy (like neighbors arguing) while you eat it, and snack away.
I have made three bowls of the stuff today!
If anyone has any recommendations for more flavorings, I would love to know what they are.