If you’re of French decent, you’ll know the word Memere. If not, grab a cup of tea, and snuggle in, I’m going to tell you about my Memere.
In French it’s pronounced Meh-mare. You’ve gotta roll the r. RRRR. In English, we call her Meh-may. If your name is Aedyn, you call her Mer-may. It sounds a lot like “Mermaid”. My Memere is my maternal grandmother.
Memere is the most amazing lady. She’s almost 85 years old and has to be one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. She is forever knitting toques for the newborn babies in the hospital, volunteering with the elderly, and going out of her way to do kind things for others. She came to stay with me right after I had Aedyn because it was an emergency cesarian, and she was worried that I’d be unable to do the things I needed to do with a newborn and a husband at work! She’s always sending us home with treats, insisting on cooking for us and hooking us up with sour cabbage leaves from the old babas she knows.
She’s been living on her own for years, and hasn’t kicked her outgoing and thoughtful habits. One day, while over there for a visit, she was saying to me “Oh yeah, I am busy tomorrow, I’m going to help the old folks!” And I just about fell off my chair. I was like “Memere, I know you’re young at heart, but you do realize that you’re 78 now, and you’re probably older than the old folks you’re helping?!” We all had a good laugh and the conversation moved on. I’ll never forget that simple exchange, though. You’re never too old to do good for others.
We are fortunate that we get Memere for most major holidays. She has 7 kids, and I know we should really share, but we can’t help it. My mom always calls Memere months in advance of the holidays and tells her “dibs on Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter”. We like dibs.
A few years ago, back before we had kids, Kevin and I brought our Wii over to my mom’s place over Christmas. Memere kicked everyone’s butt at Wii bowling, Wii tennis and Wii boxing. We were all embarrassed, but my goodness was it a blast.
We have a little routine during the holidays, Kate goes the morning before the holiday and picks up Memere and the two of them spend the entire day in the kitchen. Baking, cooking, creating treats for everyone to enjoy during the holiday. One of the ones that Kate always requested was Memere’s famous Caramel Popcorn. Unfortunately for Kate, she’s now unable to eat Memere’s recipe caramel popcorn due to food allergies; so I decided to come up with an alternative, just for her!
According to Memere, you need the baking soda in the caramel and you need to bake it. It doesn’t work otherwise. That’s the decree. Trust us.
Preheat oven to 325f and prepare a baking sheet with a silicone mat.
Heat sugar to a boil, and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes.
Add coconut ilk, vanilla, and salt, and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, pop the popcorn in an air popper, and place in a large bowl.
Once caramel sauce has thickened, add baking soda and whisk quickly before pouring over popped popcorn and tossing to coat.
Spread in a single layer over the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes - until the caramel sauce has set and the popcorn is nice and crunchy!
If using honey, watch that it doesn't burn in the oven!