I have always loved popcorn. When I was little, my mother made it in a heavy saucepan. After heating up some oil, she would drop two kernels in. After they popped, the oil was hot enough to add more kernels, put on the lid and begin shaking the pan back and forth to pop but not burn the corn. Then they invented Jiffy Pop and my brother and I were old enough to use it by ourselves. We held the pan over the burner and shook it back and forth until the package expanded to reveal a foil wrapped bowl of popped corn.
As a young mother I bought an air corn popper which shot the popped corn out into a bowl and beyond! This proved an endless amusement to my young daughter and her friends and supplied lots of pop corn for very little money. Some years later I fell victim to the newly available microwave popcorn bags. These little bags went straight into the microwave where they proceeded to pop into a large serving of flavored popcorn. I learned that not only were these toxic to the user but also were causing illness in the factory workers producing the product.
That left the movies as the only really convenient fail safe way to get popcorn. Of course the small box is only slightly less expensive than the huge box, so we had to get the huge box. A very expensive addition to already expensive movie tickets.
Then one lunch time I caught Rachel Ray demonstrating making popcorn in the microwave. Using just a brown paper lunch bag and 1/4 cup of popping kernels, she made a heaping bowl of fresh popcorn to be flavored afterward to her heart content. It didn’t even use oil. And it was inexpensive. And it worked.(I admit I thought it was not going to work!)
How is it done? In a small paper bag with the top rolled down or in a large bowl covered with a paper plate, microwave 1/4 cup kernels on high until the popping slows, about 1 minute 30 seconds in the bag or 1 minute 45 seconds in the bowl. Makes 6 cups.