July is usually one of the hotter months of the year. Most years, cool temperatures turn sullen and soggy, making everything wilt and everyone flee to cooler places. This July has been a welcome difference from previous years. Very few heat spikes and lots of refreshing breezes. Ask me how welcome this will be during the winter when there is a corresponding "coolness" to the deep freeze temperatures in January. I'll be looking back at July quite wistfully.
July is one of the busiest months of our year. With holidays, birthdays, summer events, and outings, it's been a blur. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Layering VBS with a day wading in the river and a bowling spree along side of a combined birthday party makes for some crazy busy days. We're all ready to kick back, relax, and enjoy the rest of summer.
When we first moved out here, Dog--born into metropolitan overpopulation--would ask when we were going to go to the park again. He was accustomed to a very small patch of green to run around on...shoes mandatory, since there were grass spurs. The only places for a child with that much energy to explode safely was an already overcrowded city park. After a few times of hearing this question, I led him to his back door, pointed to the sandbox, swing set, play house, and patch of woods that shade the back portion of our acreage and informed him that he lives at the park. I'm reminded of a billboard down the road a ways from us: "I'm not on vacation....I live here!" Yep. That's us!
July is the month for camping out. I grew up camping out, so I suppose the camping gene is in the pool. Dog loves to camp out. Actually, all of the Hobbits do. The shine has worn off for me--Princess informs me that I'm too old...among other things--but Tool Guy remains diligent to indulge. He has lingering memories of wanting to camp out with his father while growing up and can never fail to accommodate them when weather permits. So he pulls out the tent, which stays up until camping season is over. Yeah, it kills all of the grass underneath it, but we're raising kids, not a lawn. The memories will linger much longer than the bare patch where they were made.
Snacks during camping out are mandatory. There's always the fries to fall back on, but--would you believe it?--even a Hobbit gets tired of fries. Popcorn is always a great camp out food. Pity it is off the menu. Still, I kicked around some possible substitutions. A few suggestions floated around the Internet, like popped amaranth. A little coconut oil heated in a skillet and let 'er pop. I tried this with sorghum, but it soaked up the oil significantly and left a lot of unpopped kernels. Then someone gifted me with a used hot air popcorn popper. I did delude myself into thinking that I could rid it of all of the cross-contamination from the corn. Yes, this was complete self-delusion. But what I did learn was that a hot air popper makes superior and outstanding popped sorghum. It's well worth the investment in a new and uncontaminated popper.
"Popcorn" Popped Sorghum
Presto (or similar model) hot air popcorn popper, preferably new and just out of the box
3/4 cup sorghum
The instructions say to fill with no more than 1/2 cup popcorn, but since sorghum is a smaller and lighter grain than corn, a little more is necessary to hold the kernels down long enough to heat and pop. Pour into plugged popper and cover. Wait patiently. It always feels like it is taking longer than necessary, but it will happen. As it pops, the finished grain may need a little encouragement with a spoon to come into the bowl.
Popped sorghum, to our palates, tastes just like popcorn and can accordingly be flavored according to tastes and tolerances. Just the sort of packable treat that makes a wonderful mess inside of a tent, while listening to the deer migrate by and wondering if the bear will visit this time. Who needs ghost stories?