An American Cooking from Scratch in Estonia- Recipe Kolm (3)

Recipe Kolm (3) - Easy Snack Edition

I remember the moment, as a teenager, when I realized how unhealthy one of my favorite snacks was. One of the most popular talk shows in America was attacking our addiction, as a nation, to movie popcorn.

Oprah stood on her well-lit set as a nameless guest dietician flashed a cup full of fat and a huge number of calories on the screen. The propaganda and Oprah's convincing tone was enough to keep me from ever buying popcorn at the movies again.

Since moving to Estonia, however, I decided to try to make my own popcorn from scratch.  No microwave bags.  No special air pop or whirley pop devices would fit in my suitcase from the States.  

So, I've been making this recipe for two years now, and my kids (and their friends adore it) for play dates and game nights.  We even have a special huge bowl, reserved for popcorn, that Nick and the kids sit down with whenever they have a chance to watch a movie at home.


1/2 cup coconut oil (In Estonia, I buy it from BioMarket) *This is a healthier option than traditional vegetable oil

1.5 - 2 teaspoons of salt

1 cup popcorn kernels

Butter (to taste and optional)

*Tip 1:  In Tallinn, popcorn kernels can be difficult to find.  I get bags of popcorn kernels from Mark & Spencer's in Kristiine or Rocca Al Mare malls.

*Tip 2:  I love to keep my popcorn in a clear container on my kitchen windowsill. I think it's practical and adds a cute/ fun aspect to your kitchen. I keep it in this glass storage container I got from IKEA.


  • Take out very large soup pan with lid. Heat stove top to medium heat, and add coconut oil and salt. Adding salt at this stage helps distribute the salt better throughout the popcorn. Each kernel will get an even amount from the coconut oil.

  • Heat until all coconut oil is melted.

  • Add only 4-5 kernels of popcorn into heated oil and cover with lid.

  • Wait for 4 kernels of popcorn to pop, then remove pan from heat (but keep heat source on). This allows you to get the oil to the correct popping temperature with just a few kernels.

  • Add the rest of the popcorn kernels into heated oil and let sit (off the heat source) for 1 minute. Shake the kernels 2 or 3 times during this minute. This technique allows all the kernels to heat evenly before putting them back on the stove to pop. This helps prevent the common problem of some kernels popping too soon and burning while the other kernels pop.

  • Place pot back on to stove top heat source and cover with lid.

  • Shake the kernels every 30 seconds or so until they start to pop.

  • Let them pop until the sound of popping kernels becomes random and a few seconds apart.

  • Remove from heat and immediately pour popped popcorn into large bowl.

  • If you desire buttered popcorn, immediately add butter into the heated popcorn pan (no need to make another pan dirty) and let it melt. Once melted, pour it on to the popcorn and stir/ mix to evenly distribute the butter. The healthy option would be without butter, of course. But, we all have our vices. ;)

As parents, I think one of the funnest things we can do for our kids is to create memories and traditions they always associate with home. I can imagine Oliver returning one day from college, crashing down on the couch with his long legs propped up on the coffee table, and asking for a bowl of homemade popcorn - something that reminds him of childhood Friday nights with family and friends.  

Go out there and create your own memories and traditions that remind you of home!  And...if popcorn helps at all, by all means, get poppin'!