I loved my fourth grade teacher. It was 1976, and Ms. Andrews was the coolest thing in my world.
Until then, my teachers had all been kindly schoolmarm types. Not Ms. Andrews. She was young, with long black hair, giant hoop earrings, and plenty of eyeliner. She wore fabulous clothes—elephant leg pants and jumpsuits in bold, primary colors. Her appearance alone commanded our attention. And she was fun; if we were good, she’d move our desks aside and give us Hustle lessons.
But Ms. Andrews was more than just a pretty face. By fourth grade, I had moved through five elementary schools. I was the perpetual new kid, always uncomfortable, and unsure how to fit in. Ms. Andrews guided me through that challenging year; she helped me sort out the complexities of making friends, and encouraged my love of reading and writing. She steadfastly refused to accept anything less than my best work, and even let me drop off missed assignments at her house. So even though I can no longer recall the name of that school (we moved again at that summer), I will forever remember Ms. Andrews.
Over the years, my kids have been blessed with a handful of these memorable teachers. While they’ve never been the new kids, they’ve had their challenges, even in our beloved neighborhood school. My oldest is a bit quirky, and it takes a special individual to understand and inspire him. The teachers who do are dear to my heart, and I’m thrilled when one of my younger children lands in their care. Last year, we said goodbye to our beloved first grade teacher as our youngest moved through her class. There were tears all around.
With June once again upon us, it’s time to thank our teachers for all they’ve done for our kids. It’s a busy time of year for everyone, but it’s important to let them know how much they mean to our families. We typically contribute to a class gift, but I also encourage my children to write a note thanking their teachers; I know for a fact these are treasured keepsakes. My kids also love rolling up their sleeves and making a handmade gift—a drawing, a friendship bracelet or, best of all, something yummy from the kitchen.
This recipe for Cranberry-Orange Caramel Corn fits the bill perfectly. My kids love helping in the kitchen, making a treat to present to their teachers on the last day of school. It’s a great way to thank them for their hard work, patience, and forever memories.
Cranberry-Orange Caramel Corn
Yield: 10 cups
- 10 cups popped popcorn
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup whole almonds
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/2 packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, undiluted
- 1 teaspoon orange or vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place popcorn, cranberries and almonds in a large bowl; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and orange juice concentrate over medium heat until butter is melted. Bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in extract and baking soda (mixture will foam).
3. Pour syrup mixture over popcorn mixture in bowl; stir to coat well. Spread evenly in a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake 30 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. Stir caramel corn as it cools on baking sheet. Store in an airtight container.