The only thing that can possibly temper this salty/sweet addictive bit of popcorn madness is a splash of iced chamomile. It's your only hope against slamming down fistful after fistful of this buttery, sweet treat. I have a weakness for popcorn and always wanted to make my own caramel/cracker jack version. I fell hard for lightly caramelized corn while living in Southern India of all places. Each weekend, we'd go to see a film at the local theater and they served impossibly scrumptious caramel corn at the concession stand (usually we were viewing some bawdy American blockbuster or far out Bollywood number). In India, they have an intermission during the movie and everyone scuttles out to refill their snack treats. We always went back for another caramel corn . . . Making it back to our seats just in time for the second half.
The iced chamomile tea is soothing and familiar, especially great with a few muddled blackberries to liven things up. I love making a big batch in a leftover sparkling water bottle and simply filling it up with water and a few tea bags. It's not hard, and will add delight to any day. Drinking this beverage makes me feel like I'm at a spa, not a bad place to transport oneself to!

Caramel Corn
Adapted from October's Martha Stewart Living
Makes a big bowl of popcorn

4 tablespoons butter
10 cups plain unsalted popped (from 1/2 cup kernels) popcorn
1 cup peanuts
1/2 cup large coconut shreds
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
flake salt (I like Maldon or Jacobsen Salt, made here in Portland)

Preheat oven to 300. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place popcorn, peanuts and coconut in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring butter, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons water to a boil, stirring constantly. Working quickly, drizzle popcorn with sugar syrup, and toss.

Spread popcorn evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake, tossing occasionally, until golden and shiny, about 30 minutes. Let the popcorn cool and serve in cute paper bags.

A Cuppa with Suzanne Fuoco

Suzanne Fuoco is the dreamer/creator of Pink Slip Jams, a company celebrating small batch jams with the most inventive flavor palette. Suzanne creates concoctions that read as a fairy tale narrative, spinning flowers with fruits grown in secret gardens, mixed with spices and floral essences! These confitures will down right revolutionize your morning toast. Pink Slip jams make the perfect pairing to a piping hot cup of tea . . . And when Suzanne and I connected over our beloved brew, I knew I had to interview her for this series.

What is your favorite type of tea and how do you take it? While I have many 'most favorite' teas, I absolutely love a great cup of Assam, or English Breakfast, served with cream if I'm feeling indulgent, or good quality milk if I'm feeling frugal! I do not put sweetners in my tea unless I have a cold & then I like to add whatever local honey is in the cupboard.

How does tea punctuate your day? Tea is like my early morning friend! I love the steamy fragrance, the heat of the cup in my hand, and the way tea eases my way into a busy morning. It doesn't jolt me awake & jittery the way coffee used to do this. In the afternoon, especially when it's chilly, tea is a comforting way for me to take a break. In the afternoons, I really love jasmine tea or a black tea blended with rose petals that I used to buy in Berkeley. The perfume helps me to realize that my work day is nearly finished.

My tea accompaniment of choice is: My tea accompaniment of choice?? Well, there are lots! I love crispy, buttered English muffins served with jam (!) in the morning. When I'm by myself on a chilly afternoon, a lunch of choice is to saute some onions till they're caramelized with some thyme, some crisp bacon & a fresh egg - fried, along with some toast...served w/a strong cuppa seems to me to be the perfect early dinner! Another tea memory I love comes from one of my favorite bakeries in Berkeley, CA, Crixa. This is a bakery like no other...very mysterious Eastern European pastries incorporating saffron, and lots of ancient recipes. I used to love to ride my bike there to enjoy a cup of Rose Congou Tea & a slice of a very light, lemony cheesecake made with farmers cheese & some fresh lemon. If you ever get the chance to go there, do yourself a huge favor: GO!

Usually OPB/NPR is on when I'm having tea, but I also like to listen to all sorts of music while drinking my cuppa... I like Iron & Wine as well as older music, like some Billie Holiday, especially if it's Sunday morning . . . is on when I'm having tea.

I first started drinking tea when . . . I first started drinking tea as a child, then lapsed for a long time . . . drinking too much coffee! I returned to my tea love about 17 years ago while pregnant with my first son (who is now an avid tea drinker & often drinks all of my stash!).

My dream tea party would include . . . lots of lovely friends in my garden (once the garden is in good shape!). I would love some great linens on the long table, lots of mismatched chairs, napkins & lots of flowers. I would like to serve all sorts of tea cakes that have flowers baked in, big pots of tea served with cream, an assortment of sandwiches like watercress & herbed cream cheese, bowls of berries, and lemon curd tarts with little violets on each slice for dessert. I think it would be magical to start in the late afternoon & as it got to be dusk, little fairy lights would begin to come on from the tree branches. Some sort of fun music, too! Probably a local band with an accordian, too! I like the idea of a little less chaotic Madhatter Tea Party! At my party, well behaved animals would always be invited!

When I sip from my tea cup, I . . . dream up my day.