Monday, February 15, 2010

Drive-In Memories

When I read that the drive-in theater in my hometown was closing, I was filled with a flurry of emotions. I feel sad that it won't be opening again, even though I don't live close enough to go to it anymore, and I feel really happy that I had the chance to be a part of it at all.
The first drive-in movie I ever went to was at the Puget Park Drive-In. It was summer of 1982 and I was 12 (or just turned 13) years old. A neighbor took her 3 kids and a few of us from the neighborhood to see E.T. We were rollin' sweet in her early 70's Buick station wagon and when we arrived we climbed on top of the wagon's roof, laid out some blankets and enjoyed our first drive-in experience. I loved it! I loved being outside in the open air, seeing the stars above the movie screen and feeling free to talk during the movie without disturbing others.

During my teen years I would go again once or twice, but it really wasn't comfortable in a two-seat sports car. My drive-in love was renewed again around 1997 when my husband and I would spread out sleeping bags in the back of his Toyota 4Runner, open a pizza box, some sodas, a bag of microwave popcorn and enjoy the double feature. At that time Arnold Schwarzenegger was starring in the movie, Eraser. Luckily it was a pretty good flick because we saw it about 5 times as it went through the drive-in rounds; first as the feature film, then a few weeks later as the second movie shown in the double feature. It really didn't matter what movie was playing though. The drive-in experience is all about atmosphere.

The nearest to a drive-in experience here is the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. It's a 650 seat outdoor theater, with a marble floored stage, where Shakespeare's plays are acted out nightly from June through September. Ticket prices vary depending on where you sit. You can sit in the bleachers, box seats with outdoor tables and chairs or in the nosebleed section, which in my opinion is the best of all; a grass-covered area above the tables and bleachers. You can bring in blankets or a tablecloth, a picnic basket, a nice bottle of wine (or your beverage of choice) and enjoy the outdoor entertainment.

No matter what you're seeing or where, there is one food that always comes to mind when you hear the word, movie; popcorn. There's nothing better than movie theater popcorn but these days I'd rather have something with less fat, without sacrificing flavor. Below is a flavorful and unusual popcorn recipe I like to snack on instead.

Cranberry-Orange Popcorn
5 quarts popped popcorn (I use an air popper to pop 1 cup of raw kernels)
½ cup sunflower seeds, shelled (I buy them in the bulk bins)
½ cup pumpkin seeds (also sold in bulk bins)
½ cup orange flavored dried cranberries
½ cup butter, melted
¾ cup orange blossom honey
2 Tablespoons fresh orange zest
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (ground works as well)

Preheat oven to 300°. Sift the popcorn through your fingers to sort out any kernels that didn’t pop, and then stir popcorn, seeds and the cranberries together in a large roasting pan. In small bowl, combine melted butter, orange zest and nutmeg. Pour over popcorn and toss to coat. Bake in 300° oven for 15 minutes, stirring twice. When done, stir again and then serve or allow it to cool and store airtight. The whole mixture will fit into two large Ziplock bags.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Coconut, Papaya & Pineapple Scones

Deliciously moist and light, these beautiful jewel-toned scones have bright colored bits of candied papaya & pineapple, scattered throughout to add a burst of color and sweetness that perfectly complements the coconut.
The inspiration for this recipe was Stacy Garwood's winning recipe in Food Network Magazine's Secret Ingredient contest. I read it and copied it down while visiting my mom for the Christmas holiday & knew that her recipe for Coconut Scones With Coconut Glaze sounded so delicious I had to try it.

When we returned home I realized I didn't have any pecans & didn't think the plain coconut could stand alone. I began thinking tropical flavors for substitutes & then decided on cutting up candied papaya & candied pineapple rings in place of the nuts. The result is beautiful! Despite the amount of coconut items in this recipe, the final product doesn't have an overpowering coconut flavor. Even my coconut-hating husband loved them! The fruit used can be dried or candied but the candied isn't too sweet for this recipe & can easily be found in the bulk section of the supermarket.
I did make the full recipe but wanted the triangle shaped scones I prefer instead of round. Since I only had enough candied fruit to make up for half the nuts, I divided the batter in half. For the second half I stirred in some chocolate chips, divided the batter again and made half round and tested the other half in my new brownie pan.
So for me, the original recipe made 10 round scones, 8 triangle scones & 12 square scones in the Perfect Brownie Pan. I had coconut scones coming out my ears! LOL I've since re-crafted the original recipe, cutting it in half to suit my circumstances and preferences. I hope you give them a try!

Coconut, Papaya & Pineapple Scones

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar, divided in half
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed (1-1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (found in Asian section of supermarket in cans)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup candied papaya, finely chopped (about 4 strips)
1/2 cup candied pineapple, finely chopped (about 2 rings)

2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, HALF the sugar (1/8 cup) and coconut.
With pastry blender or hand mixer, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles. In small bowl, whisk the eggs slightly then add in the coconut milk and the coconut extract. Whisk until combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Stir just until combined and then stir in the candied fruits. The dough will be wet and lumpy. Scrape the dough out onto the center of the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Using a spoon or spatula, pat & form the dough into a circle about 8 inches around & 1-1/2 inches high. (Doesn't have to be precise.) Sprinkle the top with the reserved amount of sugar (or less) and bake in center of oven for 12 minutes. Remove pan from oven & use pizza cutter or large knife to gently cut the circle into 8 wedges (like a pizza). Return pan to oven & bake for an additional 3-5 minutes or until scones are not wet in the center & are slightly browned.
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TinksTreats by Lorilyn Tenney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License