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A Fine Mess

I am a neat cook. I clean as I go hoping to contain my mess as much as possible. My husband uses three pans, four bowls and five forks to make an egg sandwich. Furthermore, these dishes remain thrown about the kitchen overnight, which makes me insane. Somehow, I can ignore the fact that I could occasionally grow a science experiment in my tub, but I digress.  I try to overlook Ryan’s cooking habits whenever possible because I’ve been known to skip a few chores in the cleaning department. Ryan, however, is methodical when it comes to other household chores. In fact, my mom recently shared her idea as to when she knew Ryan was in love with me. “It was that night you said you fell asleep in the living room and woke up to find Ryan scrubbing your refrigerator clean at 2 a.m. No one does that unless they are in it for the long haul. Trust me.” This was about 6 months into our relationship . I caught him doing this and fell back asleep and was too embarrassed to ever acknowledge it. Hell – at that point he probably also saw the crusted cauliflower mash stuck to the kitchen ceiling as well. Clearly the gig was up. Always a contradiction in terms, I continue to be somewhat neurotic about containing the mess when I cook. 

This weekend, I had the pleasure of cooking with my five-year old niece. She recently started taking cooking classes at the Y and I thought it would be fun to do a little “baking.” My mother’s kitchen doesn’t see a lot of action (it is still recovering from the homemade pasta incident of the mid 80’s) and certainly not much of the baking variety. With three generations on hand, I decided to shake things up, throw caution to the wind and make a big old mess.  Under nan’s supervision and camera support, my niece and I made a batch  of popcorn balls – I don’t think we’ve ever laughed so hard together. Covered up to our elbows in a sweet, sticky concoction of melted marshmallows, butter and popcorn, we did our best to assemble these decadent treats. Melted marshallow stuck to our hands, clothes and an endless array of pots, pans and bowls like crazy glue.


I finally understood the joy of making a mess and rolling around in it. In the end, we made about ten popcorn balls – Katie refused to eat them saying they were “gross” (they were intensely sweet but good), but when I asked her she had fun she let out a sweet genuine belly laugh. Yes Nan and Katie – I had fun too and for the first time ever I didn’t even care about the mess.


Popcorn Balls (adapted from “Real Simple” Popcorn Bars, October 2009)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup popcorn kernels or one 3.5-ounce package plain microwave popcorn

1 10-ounce bag marshmallows

Pop the popcorn. Melt butter and marshmallows in large pan for about 5-7 minutes. Add popcorn to mixture and coat. Roll popcorn into the shape of a ball and place onto parchment paper or flat surface. We decorated ours with candy corn in the spirit of Halloween. Enjoy!


6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Molly #

    Love it!
    Sadly her cooking classes are over – it was part of the Y’s summer program. She has always been my little helper whenever I cook or bake.
    I have pictures of her when she was not even 2 covered in brownie batter!
    She helps me make dinner almost every night – I think we might have a future chef on our hands!!I am glad you guys had fun and I hope Nan’s kitchen recovers in time for her to cook Thanksgiving dinner!!

    October 5, 2009
  2. MIL #

    Yes, I seem to remember making popcorn balls ONCE. hmmmmm super glue is an apt description.

    October 5, 2009
  3. Fran LaSpada #

    It was a glorious mess and so much fun! I felt like a OR Nurse buttering up your hands so you could dig your hands into that delcious goo and Katie’s belly laughs were priceless. Thanks for all the fun and laughter!

    October 5, 2009
  4. Patty #

    another great blog! please post those pictures …

    October 13, 2009
    • cherala34 #

      Hey Patty – they’re up!

      October 13, 2009
  5. Patty #

    sorry, I must have missed them first time around. they’re so cute!

    October 14, 2009

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