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Ask Martha: Making popovers pop, storing glassware

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Q: Why won't my popovers pop over?

A: Unlike baked goods made with leavening agents such as yeast, popovers get their impressive height from steam. Give the requisite heat some help: Make the batter with room-temperature ingredients, and then pour it into a preheated popover pan (most recipes call for 425 degrees to 475 degrees), which has deep, narrow cups — these channel the steam upward.

As tempted as you might be to take a peek at the popovers as they cook, don't open the oven door. Use the oven light to see the action.

Popovers deflate as they cool, so serve them straight from the oven. If that's not an option, slit the top of each one to keep it from becoming mushy; then remove it from the pan.

Q: How should I store mugs and glasses: rims up or down?

A: In most cases, the answer is right side up. "The rim is the weakest part of a glass," says Jorge Perez, national spokesman for Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton tableware. And that thin edge can chip if set against a hard surface.

It's also easier to reach for upright vessels — no flipping required. And they will look nicer when displayed in glass-front cabinets. But there are some instances in which bottoms up might be your best bet. You may want to go this route if you have open shelving, where there's more dust. And inverting pieces you don't use often will keep them clean.

And cover shelves with nonskid shelf liner for additional protection. Arrange vessels one-half to one inch apart, so you'll be less likely to knock them into one another in the cabinet.

Always avoid nesting (stacking glasses one inside another), which can make them get stuck — especially full-lead crystal; the material expands and contracts slightly with temperature changes.

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