Yesterday we went apple picking and pumpkin selecting at Jaswell's Farm with a friend of ours and his daughter, who is a year younger than Julia. The two girls get along really well, and they leave Alex alone, and we adults don't have to get involved in any altercations, so everyone's happy.
After the hunting and gathering, we came back to the house - all of us - and Bill and I set to work fixing a late lunch for we three grown-ups. The kids had feasted on candy apples and were all set for the time being.
I preheated the oven and threw in a frozen kale pie from my supply in the freezer, Bill started reheating pho he'd made for Sunday's dinner, and I - crazed baking lunatic that I am - threw together dough for a pie crust, sliced apples, sprinkled cinnamon, and had a pie in the oven like THAT (insert sound of fingers snapping).
We ate dinner and sat at the table talking while the pie was in the oven, and at some point Julia came in and asked if she could have her popcorn.
A few days earlier, Bill had brought Julia to Lowe's to get things he needed to anchor the gutters to the house, and there was a pack of Boy Scouts earning some sort of merit badge by selling little plastic-wrapped packages of microwave popcorn that were not intended for individual sale. Well, they were also selling full boxes of popcorn, but Bill wasn't about to shell out ten dollars for that when we don't even ever buy microwave popcorn anyway, but Julia was sweet and persuasive, so he bought one of the little packages for a dollar.
That's the popcorn Julia wanted to eat. So, fine, less work for me, right? I took the plastic wrapper off, looked all over the microwave bag for some sort of directions - how long do I nuke this? - but there was nothing. Just something telling me the artificial butter taste was healthy or some such nonsense.
3 minutes sounded about right, a memory from days of microwave vending machine popcorn at work, so I set the timer, told Julia it would be ready soon, and then sat back down at the table to chat.
Somehow we'd gotten onto the topic of this site, and, more specifically, the name. Barefoot Kitchen Witch. Where did that come from?
It's actually not easy to explain, because I don't entirely remember. I came up with the name a long time ago when I first started on blogger. I do remember the struggle. I wanted to start a blog, but I needed a name for it, and until I came up with something, I was stalled. And it had to be something I liked and could live with for...well, who knew how long?
Anyway, I tossed around ideas in my mind...can't remember any of them but I know some were clever plays on words...cryptic phrases...things that were supposed to make me seem smart and mysterious or something equally silly.
Alex was a baby back then, and we were planning to have a second child, so pregnancy was on my mind, I'm sure. I think "barefoot and in the kitchen" may have crossed my mind, leaving the "pregnant" element out but hinting at it in the phrasing. But...no. I wasn't planning to be constantly in that state.
But the "Barefoot" was accurate - I only wear shoes when I absolutely have to. Even in winter. Outside. In snow. I have my dumb, stubborn streak. But still – Barefoot” rang true.
And then the whole "Kitchen Witch" part. Well, I'm in the kitchen a lot. And the witchcraft I refer to is whatever magic I create when I'm cooking and baking.
That's what I was saying as we sat around the table talking. I sort of laughed as I said it, because it sounds a bit egotistical, perhaps, to claim that my cooking is magic. I'm not comfortable talking about myself in that way. Really - I am fighting the urge to delete this whole thing. But I can't, because. Well. Because that's what was happening.
So here I am, talking about making magic in the kitchen, when I smelled something.
Something bitter. Harsh.
I went into the kitchen and I could see a yellowish stream of smoke flowing horizontally about a foot above the counter toward the open window above the sink.
"Where did all this smoke come from?" I said out loud. Dumb, stubborn, and not all that bright at times.
"How ‘bout the popcorn?" Bill offered from the dining room.
The microwave popcorn. Did the timer even go off? I didn't remember hearing it.
I opened the microwave and more gunky smoke billowed out; the acrid fumes stung my eyes. I carefully carried the microwave popcorn bag out of the house and dropped it in the trash. When I went back into the house, the kitchen was filled with a yellow haze, my eyes burned, and Bill was opening windows.
"What was that you said about making magic in the kitchen?" he called.
Oh, the timing could not have been better.
I laughed. I love stuff like that.
And once the smoke had cleared a bit, I got out a pot and a lid, a little vegetable oil, a jar of popcorn, some salt, and some butter, and I made popcorn for Julia and her friend.
And it was very good.
So was the pie, by the way.
Yes, the crust is a bit dark.
I blame the boy scouts.