Here's the little prototype I built from popcorn, mini-marshmallows, and a handful of extras for things like eyes and buttons......I made him ahead so I could work out any problems that might arise while my grandkids joined me at our snowman-making table yesterday afternoon.
The boys, age four, devoted fans of any kind of machine or device with moving parts have expertly operated my little air popper for a long time. I could trust them to take turns pouring and pushing the button to yield the 10-12 cups of popped corn (1/2 cup unpopped) we needed per recipe. (This amount will make one 8" snowman like mine, built from a 3.5" lower body, 2.5" center, and 2" head - or several smaller ones like the kids made.)
In the meantime, I gently melted together, on low heat, 1/2 cup butter (or margarine) followed by the 10.75 bag of mini-marshmallows required as a binding agent.
We spread the popcorn out on a foil lined baking sheet, being very careful to remove unpopped kernels.
Once the marshmallow concoction was melted, I slowly poured it over the popcorn, using a wooden spoon to cover as much as possible, while also making sure the kiddies didn't touch the hot mixture. They waited patiently, hands coated with cooking spray, for grandma to give the okay once the quickly dropping temperature was just right for shaping. Careful vigilance is required here for popcorn that's safe to handle, while still warm enough to stick together!
The best part was diving right in to form the mixture into three balls per snowman. While the kids played around, nibbled, and enjoyed the tactile experience, grandma worked quickly to shape and stack because kids this age can't work that fast!
|Popcorn Snowman Test Kitchen!|
Next it is time to bring out a tray offering a selection of paper hats and mittens pre-made by grandma, chocolate chips, red hots, pretzel braids, scraps of ribbon for colorful scarves and orange "Mike and Ike" candy noses. (Buy the $1 box and eat every other color in there before grandpa or the kids see it!) Use a wood or metal skewer to drill into the body (if needed) so the nose and arms can be snugly pushed inside....grandma does that, of course! In fact, be ready to take orders on placement of attachments because this part also is better suited for kids older than my two year old granddaughter.
|Popped 'em, decorated 'em, gave 'em multiple arms, and now awaiting permission to eat 'em!|
And finally....if you think ordinary "helicopter moms" are annoying, you have never compared them to "Black Hawk Grandmas!" For this project, here's my.......
NERVOUS GRANDMA ALERTS!
1. Be certain that no unpopped kernels remain in the batch of popcorn you'll use. Little kids don't need to bite down on one of those if they are allowed to eat the finished snowmen. (WHAAAT? We might not be able to eat these? Well, ummm.....read below - alert #3 - before you make your final decision!)
2. Let the kids watch you pour the hot mixture, but make sure they aren't close enough to reach in. It cools quickly so start testing right away until it's safe for them to handle comfortably.
3. This stuff is going to end up between the teeth of your grandkids. Are you really okay with that? As I type this I can picture the look on the face of Darcie, my lovely dental hygienist and friend for over twenty years. Add to that expression her likely thought that, "Well, my three grandkids won't be eating these! You lost me at 'sticky mess!'" Perhaps there might even be a final regret that my grandkids were dismissed from their last cleaning appointments with, "See you in six months!" instead of, "See you in three!"
The best solution is to let parents decide if these little guys will be cannibalized upon completion while sturdy toothbrushes lie in wait, or just snacked upon at the out-of-the-popper stage with an understanding that completed little sentries will serve as winter decorations only!
In the end of course, we ate them all. They tasted exactly like what you would expect from indoor snowmen...they melted in our mouths!
Nick...my cute little "squirrel-man!"