We try to avoid gender stereotypes in our family…boys and girls of all ages play with building toys, love science, compete in sports, make crafts and bake. That said, there’s one area where my hubby exhibits some stereotypically male behavior: love for his big-screen television.
To be fair, the guy spends almost no money on himself. He wears his sneakers until they have holes in them (ditto for his jeans); drives at ten-year-old car; and has been known to duct tape a broken snow shovel. And it’s not that he’s cheap…in fact, he’s one of the most generous people I know. He’s just largely immune to the lure of material goods.
Except for the TV.
I have to give him credit. When flat-panel plasma TVs burst onto the scene more than a decade ago, he held off. The technology was new and the sets were heavy. With the advent of LCD, his resolve was tested even further, particularly because he’s a die-hard football fan who faithfully watches three games every Sunday and one each on Monday and Thursday nights.
Finally, about seven years ago, he relented and treated himself to a 40-inch state-of-the-art TV. I’ll never forget the first year we had it: on the Sunday of the Big Game, our three-year-old daughter flounced into the room just before the coin toss, grabbed the remote and changed the channel, saying, “Daddy, now let’s watch ponies!” My poor husband. That may have been the last time I heard him tell that girl “No.”
Our set has served us well over time but lately it’s seemed…kind of small. And I don’t think our family room is expanding. I’ve also noticed that whenever there’s a big sporting event, my husband tends to go to one of his friends’ houses to watch on their (much bigger) TV.
So this time, I relented. Last week, I accompanied him to the big box electronics store where he and a passel of other men stood in front of a wall of LED’s, agog at the offerings. My only requirement was a price cap (easy because the costs have plummeted), and the stipulation that the TV not be larger than our eighth grader (a challenge).
I have to say, the new set looks pretty great. It’s vivid, simple to use and nice and big. Even a movie theater purist such as I can see that it will do justice to some of my favorite silver screen epics. Best of all, this year, my hubby will be firmly planted on his own couch for the Big Game, hosting his friends for a change. Now if I can only get him to spring for a new pair of jeans….
Feeding a gang for the Big Game can be easy and economical with these tasty, crowd-pleasing popcorn recipes.
Blazing Buffalo Ranch Seasoning Mix for Popcorn
Yield: about 2 tablespoons seasoning mix
1 tablespoon ranch dressing or dip mix (from a 1 ounce package)
1 tablespoon seafood spice mix (or celery salt)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon powdered sugar (or sugar)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
6 quarts popped popcorn
Cooking spray, optional
- In a small bowl, blend ranch dressing mix, spice mix, garlic powder, powdered sugar and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle with vegetable oil and blend until well incorporated.
- Place popcorn in a serving bowl and spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle seasoning mix over popcorn to taste and toss. Store leftover seasoning mix in an airtight container for future use.
Sweet and Salty Popcorn Party Mix
Yield: 14 cups
10 cups popped popcorn
2 cups miniature pretzel twists (or another small pretzel shape)
1 cup pecans
1 cup peanuts
2 cups rice, wheat or corn cereal squares
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place popcorn, pretzels, pecans, peanuts and cereal in a very large bowl; set aside.
- Heat butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir mixture over medium heat until it begins to boil. Boil 3 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture will foam).
- Pour syrup over popcorn mixture in bowl and stir until evenly coated. Pour mixture onto a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake 30 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. Stir mixture a few times as it cools on baking sheet. Store in an airtight container.