Winter time, snow days, cuddling on the couch, movie nights and … popcorn. What could be better for a middle of February snack than a slew of fun and different popcorns to round out a night of movie/sofa time?

Of course, if it were served to you on the beach in Costa Rica (where many of my lucky friends are right now), you wouldn’t complain, but if you have to be here in the middle of a cold winter, why not have some fun with it?

Popcorn is of course something that most households make, but how many of you remember how to do it on the stove-top rather than in the microwave? As the FDA indicates, one of the top five foods that still contain trans-fats is microwaved popcorn. This may be enough to convince you to head back to the old-fashioned way of popping. If you do, here’s how:

BASIC RECIPE FOR STOVRE-TOP POCORN

2 tablespoons salted butter

11/2 teaspoons canola oil

1/2 cup corn kernels

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Have both a large bowl and the melted butter ready before beginning. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Your pot must have a lid, and if it’s a glass lid, even better. Add two corn kernels to the pot and wait for them to pop. At the same time they pop, the oil will begin to smoke just a little bit. This means it’s time to add the rest of the corn kernels. Cover with the lid and shake the pot with potholders or a kitchen towel holding each handle. Shake the pot every 20 seconds or so until the popping sounds have diminished to every 1 or 2 seconds. Immediately transfer the popped corn to the large bowl and drizzle the melted butter and salt over all. Use tongs or a spoon to coat thoroughly. Serve immediately with lots of napkins!

Makes WAY more than you think (about 16 cups).

LIME CUMIN POPCORN

To the basic recipe add:

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons lime zest

Add the cumin carefully and quickly once the kernels begin to pop. Add the zest with the butter and salt at the end.

TRUFFLE SEA SALT POPCORN

To the basic recipe substitute:

Truffle oil for canola oil in equal parts

Truffle sea salt for the regular salt in equal parts

PARMESAN AND BLACK PEPPER

To the basic recipe add:

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

CURRY AND RED PEPPER

To the basic recipe add:

1 teaspoon curry

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Add the curry and red pepper flakes carefully and quickly once the kernels begin to pop.

STOVE-TOP KETTLE CORN

3 tablespoons canola oil

1/3 cup corn kernels

1/3 cup sugar

Big pinch sea salt

Have a large bowl ready before beginning. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Your pot must have a lid, and if it’s a glass lid,even better. Add two corn kernels to the pot and wait for them to pop.

At the same time they pop, the oil will begin to smoke just a little bit. This means it’s time to add the rest of the corn kernels, sugar and salt. You need to add them all at once and stir for just 10 seconds or so. Make sure to get that lid on before the first one pops; your goal is to just barely coat the popcorn with the sugar.

Cover with the lid and shake the pot with potholders or a kitchen towel holding each handle. Shake the pot every 20 seconds or so until the popping sounds have diminished to every 1 to 2 seconds.

Don’t wait to make sure that all the kernels get popped. Instead, err on the side of not burning the sugar and a few more unpopped kernels.

Immediately transfer the popped corn to the ready bowl. Use tongs or a spoon to coat thoroughly. Serve with lots of napkins, and be careful to wait until the sugar has cooled.

Makes WAY more than you think (about 16 cups).

COCOA AND CINNAMON KETTLE CORN

To the basic recipe add:

11/2 teaspoon cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add at the end while you are waiting for the sugar to cool.

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at:

[email protected]