Monday, September 23, 2013

The Science Chef Makes Popcorn Balls

He's a scientist. He's a chef. He loves to do science experiments and he loves to cook. I decided that I should get him a book that connects science and cooking, so we got a copy of The Science Chef. The first experiment he chose to do was to make popcorn balls.

He says:

I have one major problem with this book. It always says to use margarine instead of"butter" or "margarine or butter". One of the most annoying recipes was for strawberry butter. It said here is a recipe for strawberry butter that doesn't even use butter. It uses margarine! In another place it says, they substitute applesauce for margarine and oil,, but then they use margarine! That is just plain idiotic.

The first recipe I chose to make was popcorn balls. I chose this because I like popcorn balls. You need to use an edible adhesive.

The science behind popcorn popping is this: Popcorn kernels pop, after they've been dried, because of a small droplet of water inside the kernel. It turns into steam and it cracks the hard outer shell with explosive force resulting in fluffy popcorn. This also explains the dud kernels. No matter how much you heat them they just won't pop. This isn't a problem with your popping strategy, but simply that the water droplet has evaporated, and/or because the outer shell has already cracked. You can show this by hitting an un-popped kernel hard with a hammer to crack the shell. Then, if you try to pop that, it won't pop.

The first thing I did was pop 10 cups of popcorn.

Then what I needed to do was melt a half cup of butter (or "margarine")in a pan over medium heat. Once the butter was melted I added 11.5 ounces of marshmallows and turned the heat to low.

Ingredients: popcorn, butter, honey, marshmallows (little sister "helper" optional)
When the marshmallows were melted I added 1/4 cup of honey and waited for it to melt in. After that happened I took it off the heat and let it cool for five minutes. Then I poured this on the popcorn and tossed the popcorn to get it well coated. Next I moistened my hands with water and started forming the balls which I put on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Finally, I let them cool in the refrigerator for one hour.

rolling the popcorn balls
The marshmallows were stale the first time and so they didn't melt properly. They ended up turning into a big pile of silly-putty-like goo. So, I threw that away and waited a couple of hours for my mom to take my baby sister (She insists she is not a baby) to soccer practice and on the way home she would pick up some marshmallows (non-stale ones). When she got home I  continued with the recipe and made some popcorn balls. I rolled them up, let them cool, and put them in a bag.

I learned that I should not give any popcorn balls to my baby sister because she only ate half of it and the other half got thrown away. The next day, I told my mom not to let her have one, but she gave it to her any way. There was another one thrown into the trash!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


 Today I have a guest post from my 11 year old son. He is homeschooled and in the 7th grade. He has been working on origami for fun (and I'm counting it as art).

Origami is the art of Japanese paper folding. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of origami. I’ve created birds, mushrooms, dragon, cicadas, tables, and many more things. I learned a lot of these from the website The rest of it I came up with myself.

There are many names for different kinds of folds. A few are the: accordion fold; petal fold; and inverse-reverse fold. These basic folds help you read instructions so that it can just say, “do a petal fold”, instead of saying, “fold side AB to center. Repeat on other side. Fold point E downwards. Crease well. Unfold. Carefully pull point F upwards. Crease extra flaps to center.” Much simpler, right?

Bird Base
There are also many “bases”. These are common positions in origami, given names. These include: The fish base; the boat base; the frog base; and the bird base. It makes it much simpler, so instead of showing all of the folds it can just say, “Start with an origami bird base.”

This is a dragon. It was my hardest fold, and my first attempt at it, so it did not come out perfect, but it still came out okay.

I fold a lot of origami for people including: my sister; kids at Sunday school; and people at the doctor’s office. The kids at Sunday school even want me to give them a lesson! I left birds perched on the doctor’s office counter. Here is me with my perching bird: 

Origami is a very fun activity to do and learn.