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This is a true story about Grandma Baerg’s Easter tradition.  The happy memories that were created from these traditions continue to provide joy and comfort even years later.

Form traditions and memories that you can turn to on days when the beauty and joy may not be quite so easy to find.

Originally published  Sunday, April 08, 2012

My Grandma B. made the best coloured popcorn. It was even better than Lucky Elephant (if you ever had the childhood pleasure of enjoying a box of that sweet crunchy delight as a child).

That was Grandma’s Easter tradition. Ask any of her grandchildren, and even the great grandchildren who were fortunate enough to know her in this life, remember the candy jars on the back of her buffet, the caramel corn at Christmas and the coloured corn at Easter.

My Grandmother showed her love many ways, but one of her favourites (and I must admit ours) was with food. She could out cook anyone I know, well past the age of 90.

Anyway, at Easter we’d walk in after a 4 hour drive and she would bustle out from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel, or her apron. She always had an apron on, I have a couple of hers that I still wear. I cook my best when she’s beside me even if it’s only through memory. She would embrace me and then say, “Come here, I have something for you!” We’d go over to the buffet and she’d pick up a white paper bag and say, “Go on.  Open it. It’s for you.”

I already knew what was going to be inside, but each year, just for a moment, there was trepidation that just maybe Grandma had changed the tradition. She never did. For as long as I can remember going to Grandma’s for Easter, there would be bag of pink sweet popcorn just for me. (and of course bags for every other kid that was coming).

There were also an ice cream bucket or two in a cupboard that would invariably get pulled out for the adults to enjoy. Of course Easter was filled with much more than pink popcorn, but for me, Easter didn’t start until that little white bag was in my hands.

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Both my children were fortunate enough to meet their great grandma and she loved them to pieces. Sadly, she passed away while they were still too young to have strong memories of her. However, she lives on through the many traditions she passed down to us.

I was pregnant with my oldest when she decided, with help, that it was time to move from her apartment into a smaller place with more assistance. “Did anyone want her recipes?” she asked.  I thought there’d be a fight and was shocked when I was the only one interested in the history. All her cooking information and recipes filled a 4 cube moving box. I still have much to go through. Some of the old cookbooks are so historic the instructions are simply a pinch, a dash, a handful, cook in a hot oven.

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My Grandma was never without a small notebook in her purse. She loved to travel to visit family and friends.  She would keep notes, diary entries, quilt measurements, birth dates, and countless other information in her little notebook, including recipes picked up along the way.  Ultimately the books would find their way into her recipe file. These finds have brought tears of love and joy to me so many times because I get to see life through her eyes. In one of these, along with the measurements for my afghan, birthdays of some relatives I’ve never met, her Ontario trip diary and a number of recipes she collected along the way, was the entry for her coloured popcorn recipe. The tradition was born again.

In honour of Grandma B., here is her recipe (with some changes because Grandma never followed a recipe to the letter)

Grandma B.’s Pink Popcorn

1 pound popcorn, popped (unsalted or omit salt in part below). Note: I find that this recipe really coats this amount of popcorn, if you want a lighter coating then use more popcorn.

 In a small saucepan combine: 

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tbsp butter or marg

1 tbsp colouring (you can certainly use less)

1/4 tsp salt

Boil for 3 minutes, pour over popped popcorn and stir until evenly coated. Place on cookie sheets and put in warm oven (translation – ok like 225F) for a few minutes (translation – ok like 10). Keep and eye on it and toss the corn a few times. The oven is just to help dry the sugar a bit more. Note, you can just leave the pop corn in a big container and keep stirring it for a while to get it to dry out.

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