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Monday, February 9, 2009

I'll Sing Along and You'll Like It

In search of inexpensive entertainment, I've been checking out my local paper's calendar section. It's surprising how many things I've missed, just because I've been too busy, or I just haven't taken the time.

Times are tough out there, I feel like I've had the "bad economy" shoved down my throat. Every errand that I ran yesterday, I heard from the clerks that times are rough, business is slow. They're scared and I'm scared for them. Time for everyone to start living within their means, something that I was raised to do. But, for now, rather than comment on all that, I wanted to escape. And escape for me means a good musical.

I'm the eternal cheapskate, though. I like to save, so that I can have other things. Lately, I've been watching the Broadway musicals march through town. I just haven't had it in me to spend on them as I have in the past. Little known fact, many famous musicals are tested here in Minneapolis before they hit Broadway in New York. Lion King? It was a hit here long before it every opened in Manhattan. They don't call us the Minnieapple for nothing!

I love a good musical. I was raised on West Side Story, A Chorus Line. Imagine several giggling teenage girls watching Dance: 10 Looks 3 aka Tits and Ass being performed at a musical theater. If you haven't seen a A Chorus Line, get your kids out of earshot and watch this. (Sorry, I think it cuts off at the end, but you get the idea) Cats, Phantom of the Opera, got me started, I then moved on to Aida and one of my favorites, Rent. The Sound of Music and Spamalot were recent dates with D. I've got tickets to The Color Purple in March and I've practically worn out the soundtrack to Wicked.

I can't get enough of them, but the price for those tickets takes a lot of scrimping and saving. I want Young One to have my love of musicals too. He's a great cello player, doesn't like the spotlight, so I doubt he'll ever be stage center, but he just might be in an orchestra pit one day.

Bethel University, about 5 miles from my house, has a wonderful music department. When I saw that they were going to do Brigadoon and that tickets were only $14 for adults, $7 for kids, I was sold. My mom purchased the tickets, so she could get hers for a senior discount (see, I told you cheapskate is genetic) and we put it on the calendar. I don't know why we haven't done this before.

It was wonderful. Every bit as delightful as the troops that travel the country. The set design was amazing and I wondered at how I've missed seeing this one. For a third of what we paid for one ticket to a traveling performance of Rent, we all got to go. Two of the actors had amazing voices and I wouldn't be surprised if they were Broadway bound soon.

The only thing I didn't like about it is that the college kids all looked about a smidgen older than Young One and I feel like it was just yesterday that I was there. Have I gotten that old? (Don't answer.)

Community Calendars are great resources for inexpensive entertainment. If you really want to cut that expense down to nothing, just check out a copy of the movie Brigadoon (or any other musical that you think they're old enough to appreciate) from your library. Set your kids down, make lots of popcorn, and enjoy it with them. If your kids are like Young One, they'll start out hesitant, but by the end of the story, he was sitting on the edge of his seat.

(If they really balk at it, start out with all the kids getting a turn to pick a movie for movie night, then when it's your turn, whammo! This works with husbands too, although you may have to sit through Alien vs. Predator to be fair.)

Popcorn Heaven

Popcorn is a Weight Watchers friendly food, but the oil you pop it in or the toppings you put on it may not be. Treat your family to old fashioned popcorn for movie night. NOT microwave popcorn. Heat up a pan, add a little oil, salt, and popcorn, cover and shake until it's done. Your family will LOVE this and will think you really did something special. A big bag of old fashioned popcorn is extremely inexpensive and will last a lot longer than a box of microwave popcorn. Microwave poppers are very inexpensive and well worth the investment for Weight Watchers. You can add your oil allowance for the day, plus the popcorn, or use no oil at all, and enjoy a great treat!

12 cups of popped popcorn (1/3 cup unpopped popcorn, either air-popped or popped in 1/4 cup corn or vegetable oil)

1/3 cup melted butter--leave out or use Butter Buds or Molly McButter as a substitute if you're on Weight Watchers


Add one of the following seasoning combos to the butter and warm thoroughly so the flavors meld. Drizzle the butter/seasonings over the popcorn, salt to taste, and toss.

Herbed Popcorn: 1 teaspoon each dried sage, fennel, marjoram, thyme, basil, summer savory, and rosemary, and 2 teaspoons minced garlic
Lemon-Dill Popcorn: 2 tablespoons lemon zest and 1 teaspoon dill weed
Tex-Mex Popcorn: 1 tablespoon each cumin and chili powder. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Pizza Popcorn: 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Here are a couple of hot and spicy popcorn seasoning recipes:

Pepper Popcorn: 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon paprika
Hot Mustard Popcorn: 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon thyme

Like a little sweet, a little salt?
Kettle corn: This is a huge favorite at our house.
Simply add sugar (about 1/4 cup white or brown, white tastes like popcorn balls, brown more like caramel corn), 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn to a pan, cover and shaking continuously until popcorn is popped. YUM!

Mix Ins

  • Peanut M&Ms (wait until the popcorn is cool
  • Raisins and peanuts
  • Mixed nuts
  • dried cherries and chocolate chips

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