What you see here is rockstar level caramel corn. It is also proof that there are some things in life that you simply cannot learn from a book. I feel like a traitor saying that but it's true. Even for a capital R Reader like me. There are some things that just need to be learned by doing.
My friend Marsha, back in Colorado, is not only one of my all time favourite people, she also makes the best caramel corn on the planet. I don't even need to try every single other one to know that this is true. Her caramel corn is both salty and sweet. Crunchy and chewy. Soft but not sticky. Buttery but not cloying. It's heaven in snack form and I lovelovelove it!
She used to make it with a fair amount of frequency and knowing how much I loved it, she would, every time, drop off a zippy bag of it for Tim and I to enjoy. Well, she intended for both of us to eat it, but poor Tim never got any. Despite my best intentions to save half of it for him, somehow, mysteriously, without me even realizing it, all of it would be gone. Poor Tim. He never gets to eat any of the caramel corn or the yellow jelly beans. It's really very sad. And clearly I am a horrible person.
Now that Marsha and I live two thousand miles part, give or take a few miles, Marsha can no longer just drop off caramel corn for me to hog. So she very kindly took a photo of the recipe and texted it to me. I was so excited to get it. Until I read it. It was a list of ingredient. Not including popcorn oddly enough, an oven temperature and bake time. That was pretty much it. Hmmmm. somehow, it seemed incomplete. I had questions. So the next time that we talked, I mentioned it to her. She was surprised until she actually read the recipe again and then we both just laughed for awhile. Because it is an old family recipe for her, and everyone around her had been making this her entire life, she didn't need a lot of details. Just a guideline. And because I didn't grow up watching it done, I needed a wee bit more. After we giggled together over this awhile, she filled me in on the missing information and yesterday, I dove in. It turned out pretty darned good. And Tim finally got to have some. (He loved it!)
Oh, I don't blame Marsha one bit. We have probably all done something similar. I know that I have. More than once. For example, it wasn't that long ago that one of my wonderful daughters-in-law had asked me for a recipe. It wasn't something that I ever actually follow a recipe for. I just kind of, I don't know, I just make it. I don't think about it. But of course, as requested, I guesstimated everything, wrote it all down for her and thought I had done a pretty good job, until she actually started to make it. We spent a good deal of time texting back and forth that day. We still giggle about it. The last time they visited, I decided to make biscuits, another recipe of mine that she had asked for a long time ago. We were both working in the kitchen as, together, we knocked these biscuits out. Afterward she told me that she felt much more confident about making them in the future. It was the doing of it that worked, not just reading the recipe.
I think this applies to most everything a person does for the first time. First time driving? I was terrified. Of course I read the manual, and the Driver's Ed textbook, and paid attention in class. Technically, I knew what was supposed to happen but until I actually sat behind that wheel I had no real idea of how to, for example, step on the brake without making my passengers lurch against their seatbelts. It took actually doing it myself, multiple times, to get that pressure exactly right. It didn't matter how many books I read on the subject, I had to get out there and do it myself to get it right.
Pregnancy? I don't care if you memorize the book, "What to Expect When You are Expecting" until you carry that baby around inside your body for nine months yourself, you do not have a clue. And childbirth? It's only after you actually produce that child from your own body that you really understand. Until then, you can empathize, you can know anatomically and medically what happens but you do not know what it's like. You just don't.
Same thing goes for parenting. Unless you have children yourself and are actually involved with them (sadly, some people are not) please do not give unsolicited advice just because you read a book. Unless you have spent the last 48 hours walking the floor with an inconsolable colicky infant until you are sobbing too, you don't have any idea what you are talking about. Until you have starred into the eyes of a stubborn two year old who refuses to be potty trained, keep your lip zipped. The list goes on and on and on ad nauseum.
All of life is a lesson and if we are smart, we continue to learn until the day we die and I suppose even that is a lesson of sorts. If we are lucky, we only have to make the same dumb mistakes once or twice before we catch on. And if we are really, really fortunate, we have people in our lives that we can learn from. Whether it's how to make a batch of the best caramel corn ever or how to be the best version of ourselves that we possible can. And the absolute most perfect way to learn these things, is standing right by their sides, asking the questions and watching how they do it. And when that's not possible, well all I can say is, thank goodness for texting, telephones and Skype!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.