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Solutions and Substitutions: popcorn edition

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Hi Reena,
I look forward to reading your column the minute our paper arrives. I need help!
I burnt a bag of microwave popcorn in our new microwave. I have tried every solution imaginable to get rid of the burnt smell (it is much better but I can still detect an odour). Worse than that, I scorched the back of the microwave wall, and have tried and tried to get rid of the "yellow" area but it is still there. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
Jack

Dear Jack,

You are not alone, this happens all the time! Your best bet is to overpower the burnt smell with a pleasant aroma. Soak a sponge with water and a few teaspoons of vanilla for baking. The more vanilla, the stronger the smell. Heat for two minutes, let sit for a few hours. Wipe the microwave out with a generous amount of vinegar and a few drops of lemon juice. Dry the microwave and unplug it. Stuff the microwave with LOTS of crumpled up newspaper. The ink in newspaper will absorb the stubborn odour. Leave newspaper for at least a few days. Remove the newspaper. Store a bowl of baking soda in your microwave when not in use. The odour will eventually dissipate. In terms of the stain, wipe the interior with acetone-free nail polish remover. Next, thoroughly clean your microwave with dish soap and water.
 
Stovetop Popcorn
Heat stove to medium. Melt three tablespoons of butter or coconut oil or peanut oil in a heavy pot on the stove. When the grease is hot, drop one popcorn kernel into the pot and cover with a lid. After the single kernel pops, add half a cup of unpopped popcorn kernels and half a teaspoon of salt. Gently shake the pot so the kernels don’t burn. When the popping slows down, remove the pot from the stove. Salt and butter to taste, then pour into a bowl and serve.

Popcorn with a Twist
Top off popcorn with one of the following: Melted chocolate and salted nuts, melted garlic butter, hot curry powder, chili powder, taco seasoning salt, a light drizzle of maple syrup, ranch or barbecue dressing powder, cinnamon/sugar, peanut butter or a variety of grated cheeses.

Popcorn Trail Mix

Set out a table full of treats at your next popcorn party. Choices can include: M&M’s (plain and with peanuts), peanuts, raisins, chocolate and caramel syrup, mini marshmallows, ice cream and pretzels.

Caramel popcorn

Into a saucepan melt one cup of butter. Stir in two cups of brown sugar, half a cup of corn syrup and one teaspoon of salt. Stir while the mixture comes to a boil. Stop stirring and allow the mixture to continue to boil for two to three minutes. Remove from heat and add half a teaspoon of vanilla and half a teaspoon of baking soda. Toss sauce and popcorn together. Spread onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for one hour, being careful to stir every 15 minutes. Cool and eat!

Popcorn for Packing
Because popcorn is becoming a popular packing alternative when sending fragile and breakable items in the mail, there’s a good chance you’ll get a parcel filled with the fluffy stuff. If you do, don’t throw it out, simply add it to your compost pile — it’s biodegradable.

Soothing Popcorn
Fill a clean sock with popcorn kernels. Close with a rubber band. Store in the freezer. Next time someone needs a soothing icepack, give them the popcorn sock!

Storing Popcorn
Popcorn kernels may be stored in the freezer. The secret to long-lasting popcorn storage is to pour the kernels into a sealable bag or container before freezing. Freezing popcorn often results in a lower percentage of popcorn kernels popping.

Popcorn Trivia
Without adding butter and salt, popcorn is a healthy snack — it’s high in protein, iron and calcium!

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can’t remember a solution? Need a motivational speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my website Reena.ca.

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