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Substitute and Solve: Getting rid of that burnt popcorn smell

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 imaginable solution to get rid of the burnt smell (it is much better but I can still detect an odor). 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 odor. 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 odor 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.

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, light drizzle of maple syrup, Ranch or BBQ dressing powder, cinnamon/sugar, peanut butter or a variety of grated cheeses.

Stovetop Popcorn

Heat stove to medium. Melt 3 tbsp. butter or coconut oil or peanut oil in a heavy pot on the stove. When grease is hot, drop one popcorn kernel into the pot and cover with a lid. After the single kernel pops, add half cup un-popped popcorn kernels and half teaspoon salt. Gently shake the pot so that the kernels don’t burn. When popping slows down, remove pot from stove. Salt and butter to taste, pour into bowl and serve.

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.

Carmel popcorn

Into a saucepan melt 1 cup butter. Stir in 2 cups brown sugar, half cup corn syrup and 1 tsp. salt. Stir while mixture comes to a boil. Stop stirring and allow mixture to continue to boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add half tsp. vanilla and half tsp. baking soda. Toss sauce and popcorn together. Spread onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour being careful to stir every 15 mins. 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.

Storing Popcorn

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

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!

Popcorn Trivia

Without adding butter and salt, popcorn is a healthy snack, it is high in protein, iron and calcium!

Dear Reena,

Is it possible to thin stiff homemade marmalade by adding frozen concentrated orange juice, or do you have a better idea? — Dorothy

Hi Dorothy,

Frozen concentrated orange juice added to the mixture is a smart solution for thinning your delicious marmalade.

Hi Reena,

I have some rust on my chrome shower bar. How can I take it off? — Monique

Dear Monique,

While there are rust-off products and chrome polishes available in home hardware stores. Try making rust-off cleaner, using products that you already have on hand. Combine water and baking soda to create a paste. Scrub the paste onto the chrome. Repeat until you are satisfied with the result. Oxalic acid is another option for removing rust on chrome. If the stain remains, chrome paint is a good option. Protect chrome from future rust by spraying it with WD-40.

Hi Reena,

I just read your column in the paper and it came at a perfect time. We lifted our dining room carpet to find it has left imprints of the carpet in the hardwood flooring and I don’t know how to get them off. The carpet has been there for a long time, do we need to sand the floor? I sure hope you have some other ideas that will help. I look forward to hearing from you. — Sybil

Dear Sybil,

The most popular cure for dents in hardwood begins by; wetting the area with water. Next cover the dent with a tea towel and press with a warm/medium heat clothing iron. While many had success with this technique, the outcome depended greatly on the finish of the floor. Some people have found that the iron stripped the finish but, Tung oil helped to shine the floor. Use with caution.

Feedback from Smart Readers:

Re: Applying lotion to back

Dear Reena,

I also often have itchy skin on my back and have found that applying the lotion to a small paint roller works perfectly to apply lotion evenly across the back — much better than a wooden spoon. It is also good for applying suntan lotion to the back if you are alone. Look in your local hardware store. ­— Vivian

Re: Activating ball point ink pens

Dear Reena,

Most ball point pens sold in stores today have a very, very small plastic cap on the end of the instrument to protect its writing ability. Take a soft tissue and pull it off. — You’re welcome, Alan

Re: Quilts carrying mothball odor

Dear Reena,

It’s okay to wash handmade quilts in the washing machine on the gentle cycle. Using ‘Retayne’ will limit color bleeding. Quilts should never be sent to the dry cleaners where chemicals are used in the cleaning process. It’s also okay to dry handmade quilts in the tumble dryer. Wet quilts should never be hung to dry as this is too stressful on the stitching. Hanging a dry quilt in the sun might help get rid of the smell but could fade the colors in the fabrics. Laying the quilts in the backyard or on a deck with a bed sheet underneath and another one on top is another safe option for drying. Sincerely, a concerned quilter. — Beryl

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

Reena Nerbas is a rural Manitoba home economist is a lab coat - and she’s not afraid to use it. Keep your questions coming:


(204) 320-2757

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 8, 2014

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Hi Reena,

I look forward to reading your column the minute our paper arrives. I need help!

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I look forward to reading your column the minute our paper arrives. I need help!

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