All posts in category “How To’s”

  • Shell Game: How to shuck an oyster like a champ

    This story was originally written for my How-to column in Niagara Life magazine.

    Jonathan Swift said it was a bold man who first ate an oyster.

    It could be argued it was a bolder one who took on that prehistoric-looking shell, seemingly impenetrable when closed.

    To the faint of heart, oysters can be tough to crack, and Mike Langley, owner of the Tide and Vine Oyster Co. has painful tales confirming it. The 2013 Canadian Oyster Shucking champ has suffered a few nicks on his way to becoming the fastest, cleanest shucker in the land. He’s also seen others suffer more serious gashes — even a broken ankle — in their quest for shucking glory.

    Langley’s need for speed while prepping shellfish compelled him and partner Katrina Steeves to host Oyster Fest Niagara every June in Niagara Falls. But done at a slower pace, shucking an oyster doesn’t have to be a blood sport. It’s one of those life skills that’s handy when you want to treat yourself to the delicacy of a fresh, briny mollusk, dazzle friends, or if you find yourself hungry on a desert island.

    We caught up with Langley to walk us through how to shuck an oyster like a champ.

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    Category How To's


  • Peach Tree
  • How to serve sparkling wine like a sommelier

    The only shutterstock image I could find of someone pouring sparkling properly.

    I originally wrote this story about how to serve sparkling wine for Niagara Life magazine.

    You could say I have a bit of a Napoleon complex with Champagne. I’ve always wanted to know how to sabre a bottle of bubbly like the French emperor did when he was victorious in battle.

    Problem is, I don’t have a sabre, and as it turns out, I’m not good with sharp objects anyway. The words “bomb” and “shrapnel” also don’t sit well with me, and both flowed freely from David Hulley’s mouth as he explained the risks of putting blade to bottle of any sparkling wine.

    The director of customer service at Vineland Estates Winery, who trained under a master sabreur, has successfully sabred many a flagon. He’s also experienced the nerve-shattering explosions and cuts when the spectacle has gone awry, so he was quick to put my inner Bonaparte in his place.

    Instead, Hulley offered a safer technique for opening and serving sparkling wine, requiring no sharp objects or first aid kit within reach. Best part is, unlike Napoleon, you won’t spill a drop, making it a truly revolutionary way of serving that méthode classique.

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    Category How To's


  • Peach Tree
  • All-star cast: Caring for cast iron pans

    Cast iron pans are an essential kitchen tool, loved for their even heat distribution and the iron they add to food. Here’s how to keep the at their best.

    I always drink an oatmeal stout from a glass.

    That way I can marvel at its murkiness, impenetrable even when held up to light.

    I inherited my love of dark beer from my Oma Walter. No one else in my family would touch the stuff. And even me, as a child, couldn’t fathom drinking something so cloudy, black and mysterious — a mindset informed by living in a home where water-clear Labatt Blue was enjoyed in amber stubbies.

    But the bitter coffee and sweet chocolate synonymous with stout grew on me as I got older and every time I drank a dark beer that I really loved, I’d think of my Oma as she smacked her lips after a pleasurable first sip, looked upon her glass with approval, and said “Oooh, dat’s a gut beer,” in her German-flecked English.

    I also credit her with my appreciation for the cast iron frying pan. Continue reading

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    Category How To's, Reviews