Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homestyle Goodness. Mushroom, Bacon & Ale Soup

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi 

Mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, cream...and beer. Beer on the side too, of you wish!

There’s nothing that hits the spot on dreary days quite like soup. This soup will lift your spirits regardless of the weather. It’s basically a cream of mushroom, but dramatically changed.

This soup got my “tingle of approval. “ I think I’ve mentioned that phenomenon before. I have this strange thing that happens whenever I first taste something that my taste buds bleieve is really good. It’s kind of like a cross between a shiver and the hair standing up on your neck. 

It’s the “tingle.” I don’t get it often, and when I do it means a lot.

500 g of mushrooms seems like a lot when they go in the
pot, but they reduce a great deal when fried.
This recipe started off as an ordinary enough mushroom soup. What came out of the pot was something quite different. It’s amazing what happens when you just keep adding things... within reason.

The first addition was lots of bacon. I wanted this soup to be filling so meat was in order. I’ve often rendered fat from a couple slices of bacon for cream of mushroom soup. It gives you something to fry the mushrooms in, plus some flavour complexity.

I also had a couple tomatoes on the counter. Had to use them.

Where I really took a chance was with the beer. I was a little apprehensive when it went in, but all worry evaporated (with a little of the alcohol content) when it all came together.

In fact, if you didn’t know it, you would never guess this soup had a whole bottle of beer in it. Mushrooms and beer seem to be made for each other.

Another less than usual step was thickening the soup with grated bread. A few days ago I had made ciabatta rolls. One was left over. It was just enough to use for that purpose, and make some croutons.

Thickening with bread is a medieval technique. In fact there were many recipes for “bread sauces,” many of which used cream and spices mid with the stale crumbs. It was an economical way to use up leftover bread. 

I will be using this technique again. It’s not only resourceful, but adds an excellent body to soup, which often can be unsubstantial.

This time I used a beer by Rickard's® called Oakhouse. It's not too bad. Next time I think I go "whole hog" and use a Guinness!

All in all, this soup turned out better than good. Not too bad for a basic cream of mushroom soup that seemed to take on a life of its own.

If you try this soup, I can almost guarantee that you’ll find it in your pot more than once!

Simmering for 20 minutes breaks down the tomatoes and
melds all the flavours together.
Mushroom, Bacon & Ale Soup
Prep: 6 min  |  Cook: 30 min  |  Serves 4-6
250 g naturally smoked bacon
500g white mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
341 ml ale (1 bottle of your favourite)
1 cup beef broth
1 cup grated stale country bread
3/4 tsp thyme
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
370 ml evaporated milk (1-1/2 cups)
olive oil
optional: grated parmesan or gruyere cheese

Cut the bacon into 1” wide pieces. Fry in a heavy bottomed soup pot until the fat renders out and the bacon has begun to brown. Remove the meat to a dish, leaving the fat behind. (All of it.)

Slice the mushrooms in four pieces. Add to the fat and cook for about 3 minutes. Then add the onion and garlic and sauté until the mushrooms begin to brown.

Add the chopped tomato, beer and broth. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Then stir in the grated bread. The soup should thicken up instantly.

Stir in the thyme, pepper and salt and let cook for about 20 minutes, until the tomatoes have completely broken down.

Stir in the evaporated milk and bring the soup back to steaming. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if desired.

Serve with croutons pan fried with olive oil, and grated cheese if you wish.


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

You say turnip, I say rutabaga. And a recipe.

I call everyone 'Darling' because I can't remember their names. – Zsa Zsa Gabor 

Some homestyle recipes just can't be beat.

It seems simple enough. You go to the grocery store, mindlessly wander to the section that has the squash, cabbage and root vegetables and pick up a turnip for dinner.

Wrong. What you have in your hand probably isn't a turnip. It's most likely a rutabaga.

Now before you start saying “you say po-tay-to and I say po-taa-to” there actually is a difference. It may be subtle, but it’s true.

White turnips. Photo: Wiki CC
And there’s no shame in being confused. Both rutabagas and turnips are called by each others names. Quite commonly in fact.

What is a turnip?
The turnip or white turnip is a root vegetable with a swollen, smooth taproot. In the UK the turnip is also called a "neep." Just for confusion, “neep” often also is used as the name for the larger, yellow rutabaga.

Turnips have been used as food for a very long time. There is evidence that the turnip was domesticated before 1,500 BC. It is known to have been grown in India at that time for its oily seeds. The turnip was used in Greek and Roman times as well.

Rutabaga (or "yellow" turnip). Photo: Wiki CC
What is a rutabaga?
The rutabaga (also known as swede, turnip or yellow turnip – see the confusion?) is a root vegetable that originated as a natural cross between cabbage and turnip. Its common name in Sweden is kålrot (the translation meaning "cabbage root"). 

The first known reference to the rutabaga comes in 1620, from the Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin, where he wrote that he found it growing wild in Sweden. It is often assumed to have originated from Scandinavia or Russia.

Both turnips and rutabagas are from the family brassica, which also includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Both turnip and rutabagas are great additions to your diet.

Like white turnip, the roots are eaten in a variety of ways, and its leaves can also be eaten as a leaf vegetable. The greens of both are highly nutritious and should never be thrown away.

They are quite common in boiled dinners in both Canada and the United States. Most often turnips are used in homey, rustic dishes.

But not everyone embraces the lowly turnip/neep/rutabaga/whatever you call it. In Europe rutabagas (and turnips) were considered a food of last resort, because of an over-use necessary during World War 1. They now are often associated with being destitute.

A very creepy carved rutabaga. Photo: Wiki CC

Weird but true?
People from Ireland and Scotland have long carved rutabagas to ward off evil spirits. 

Apparently up until the 1980s rutabagas were commonly used at Halloween for candle holders – the same way we do in North America with pumpkins. After the 1980s they were readily available as imports from Europe. Why it took until just 30 years ago for pumpkins to be traded there in number is beyond me. If it's wrong, blame it on Wikipedia.

There’s a real creepy picture of a carved rutabaga at right. It makes me think of a horror movie poster.

So how does one best serve this confusing vegetable? How about my hands-down favourite "home" recipe...

Mother’s Beef Stew with Dumplings
Prep: 20 min  |  Cook: 30 min  | Serves 6
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lbs beef stew, with some marbleing
1 large white onion, chopped large
5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1” cubes
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped in 1” cubes
1 medium turnip, peeled and chopped in 1” cubes
water (see recipe and picture)
salt and pepper to taste
Dumpling recipe is below

Brown the beef well. Make sure the beef you
choose has some fat through the meat.
Heat the oil and butter in a large pot with a good fitting lid, like a Dutch oven. Add the beef, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides. Do the beef in batches so the pieces aren’t crowded. If you do they will steam and not brown.

Chop up the vegetables while the beef browns. Try to get them all relatively the same size so they all cook in the same length of time.

Remove the browned beef from the pan to a plate. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften. Add a little water to the pan and scrape to loosen the fond. This is where your flavour will come from in the finished broth.

After the onions have begun to soften add the beef and vegetables. Add enough water to just be seen under the vegetables. Don’t drown them. See the picture for how much water to use. Stir in some salt and lots of cracked black pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the dumpling ingredients.

Mom always made dumplings. I still have mine with
molasses dripping down over them into the stew.
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk
1-1/2 cups flour
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
cracked black pepper

While the stew is cooking, melt the butter. Whisk the egg with the milk and then beat in the melted butter. Mix together the dry ingredients and them mix into the liquids. Combine just until there is no more dry flour showing. Do not over mix.

At the end of the first 15 minutes, drop measures of about 1/4 cup of dumpling batter on the surface of the stew. Make sure the dumplings do not touch. You should get 8 dumplings. Immediately cover the pot and let the stew and dumplings cook for a further 15 minutes.

Do not peek. Seriously.

At the end of 15 minutes, remove from the heat and serve. I’ve been told it’s a “South Shore (of Nova Scotia) thing” but my favourite way to have the dumplings is drizzled with molasses. I also mash all the vegetables together with butter and pot juice. Yum…


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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter BBQ! Pulled Pork with White Tiger Slaw

That outdoor grilling is a manly pursuit has long been beyond question. If this wasn't firmly understood, you'd never get grown men to put on those aprons with pictures of dancing wienies and things on the front... – William Geist

The finished beast: pulled pork with white tiger slaw on a ciabatta bun.

Yesterday I posted about ciabatta buns, so today I’m going to post about how we used them.

We had barbecue – in the dead of winter. And not just any barbecue, but pulled pork.

When life gives you lemons... This is a pork loin.
It really should be a pork shoulder (butt) roast.
At this juncture I have to admit to a “seniors moment,” even though I'm far from being a senior.

I thawed out what I thought was a pork shoulder. It was covered with frost and it was pork. Later on – after it was thawed – I discovered that it wasn’t a shoulder. It was a loin. Dejection.

That’s a big difference in the world of pulled pork. What in Canada we call pork shoulder (also known as pork butt in the USA) is the preferred cut for barbecuing pulled pork.

The process of making pulled pork requires low and slow cooking. The fat marbling and sinews in the roast break down and tenderize from within, making succulent meat that almost melts in your mouth.

Pork loin, on the other hand, has very little fat at all through the meat. That means it can be one nasty, dry piece of pork if you’re not careful. It’s about the last piece of meat to use for pulled pork you would ever want.

Pretend this is a shoulder, nicely browned.
So there I was, staring at a loin roast. I just had to make the best of it so I blithely carried on, undeterred (but a little apprehensive). Thank goodness it still had its fat cap on and was on the bone. Those two facts may very well have been my saving grace.

So when you look at the photos with this post, think shoulder, even though you’re seeing loin... The result wasn’t really all that bad. I’ve had more moist pulled pork, but the flavour was excellent. So it will work well with shoulder.

It had just the right amount of spicy smokiness. Since this was all done in the oven, the smokiness came from the use of “liquid smoke.” That product is made by distilling smoke through water and then concentrating it. It’s probably terrible for you, but at least it’s not a man-made chemical.

Besides the fantastic buns to hold the pork I made a “two for the price of one” recipe. 

I’m sure many readers have heard of Baltimore tiger sauce. It’s a horseradish-based sauce for on pulled pork sandwiches. Lots of people also add cole slaw for some crunchiness either on top or on the side. 

I combined the two into the spiciest cole slaw you’ve ever had. It was a perfect accompaniment to the sweet smokiness of the barbecued pork.

This meal does take some time (like this coming Saturday), but the majority of it is hands-off cooking. So it’s not involved. Even yesterday’s buns weren’t much work. They rise overnight.

So if you want to have a great meal for your family that looks like a lot of work (but really isn’t) think barbecued pulled pork, in the dead of winter.

Just make sure you start with the right cut of meast!!

The end result was fall-apart tender, even with a loin.
Barbecued Pulled Pork
Time: 5.5 hours  |  Serves 6-8
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
1.5 kg (about 3 lb) pork shoulder roast
1-1/2 cups vinegar
1 tsp liquid smoke
1-1/2 cups barbecue sauce
Spice rub
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp powdered garlic
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Pace the pork roast in a container and sprinkle with the 1/2 cup of salt. Add enough water to just cover the meat and brine for 1 hour.

At the end of the hour, remove the meat, rinse well and pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the spice rub ingredients together and firmly rub into the surface of the meat.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven (or other heavy ovenproof dish with a cover). Brown the roast on all sides.

Mix the liquid smoke with the vinegar and pour around the roast in the pan. 

Cover the pot tightly and place in the oven. Braise the pork for 4 hours. Keep checking periodically, especially for the last hour, and add a little water if necessary for the pot not to dry completely.

At the end of the cooking time remove the roast and shred the meat into long strands using two forks to pull it apart. (Hence the name, pulled pork.)

Gently heat 1-1/2 to 2 cups of your favourite barbecue sauce. Toss the meat with the warmed sauce and serve immediately. 

You can also toss with cold sauce and reheat the shredded pork when ready to use. Add a little water and cover tightly with aluminum foil to keep in the moisture.

Like all cole slaws, this comes together in minutes.
White Tiger Slaw
Time: 5 min  | Servings: 6-8 sandwiches
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup creamed horseradish
1-1/2 tbs dry yellow mustard
2 tbs sour cream
2 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup grated carrot

Mix the mayonnaise, horseradish, mustard and sour cream in a bowl. Grate or julienne the carrot and shred the cabbage.

Mix the vegetables together with the sauce and serve.

If making this as a side dish, as opposed to a sandwich topping, double everything.


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Monday, January 28, 2013

Breaking Bread: Ciabatta (Slipper Bread) Rolls

I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around. – James Beard 

Nice result.

I’m getting a lot of practice making bread lately (once a week), and it’s really paying off. I guess practice does make "perfect."

There was a time when all my bread turned out the same, boring and even, but no more. It may be confidence, or a so-what-if-I-fail attitude, or perhaps even tarragon... but something has changed. I’m getting pretty good results.

This recipe is a revisit to one of my initial forays into bread on this blog, ciabatta bread. Don’t look it up. I’m a bit ashamed. It’s like looking at very early Julia Child episodes on PBS.

The recipe is nearly identical to that one. I thought it would be a good place to start for what I wanted to do. I’ve been eyeing expensive ciabatta rolls at the grocery for a while thinking “I can do that.”

You see, they’re square, so they’re “special,” and therefore a target for me.

Ciabatta dough is highly unusual. It's extremely wet, with nearly the same amount of water and flour. This makes for a very loose dough. If you make regular white bread you would be shocked.

Left: the dough when just mixed. At right: after 12 hours.
Significant rising and the dough is very loose.

This is the surface of the dough. If yours looks like this, you're on the right track.

This is the dough. It kind of plops out onto the board. But you CAN work it.
Fold the dough over with your dough scraper until it starts to obey you.
Then flatten and cut. My rectangles of dough were then "pushed" into squares.

Believe me when I say it’s impossible to knead in any traditional way and the look of it will strike fear into the heart of any baker that isn’t expecting this sort of dough. It looks like abject failure.

Traditionally, the dough was slapped on a floured counter or folded over itself. Since I’m a little short on counter slapping space I opted for using a dough scraper to coax the dough up and over itself.

It works. And the result? A crusty exterior and a chewy, moist interior. Wow.

Maybe my favourite rolls so far. Just maybe...

And as Julia would say: Bon appetit!

Ciabatta Rolls
Rise: 12 hr  |  Active time: 15 min  |  Bake: 25-30 min  |  Yield 8 buns
3 cups unbleached flour
2 cups water
2-1/2 tsp yeast 
2 tsp salt

Convince the cut pieces of dough they want to be squares.
The day before you want to bake mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. The mixture will be very wet. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Let rise for 12 hours.

At the end of the 12 hours, scoop the dough out of the bowl and place on a very well floured surface. the dough will be full of air bubbles and very, very loose.

Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using a dough scraper, fold the dough up over itself until it becomes somewhat less sticky, about 2 minutes. It will still be very loose and look almost impossible to deal with.

Pat the dough out – with a well-floured hand – to a square about 14” x 14.” Use the dough scraper to cut the square into eight even pieces.

Place each cut square onto a well floured (or parchment lined) baking sheet. This will be difficult. Try to reform the dough on the baking sheet back out to roughly square shape.

Let the cut rolls rest for one hour in a warm spot.

20 minutes before the resting period is over, preheat the oven to 450°F with a pan of water on the bottom rack.

Bake the rested dough in the hydrated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the water pan and continue baking for a further 20 minutes. The rolls will be puffed and brown.

Let cool slightly (or completely) before serving.


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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Homemade Booze: Strawberry Cream Gin

Each of us needs something – food, liquor, pot, whatever – to help us survive. Dracula needs blood. – Frank Langella 

This may look "girly," but don't be fooled. It's about 13-14% alc. vol.
What a weird quote from a good actor. Maybe all the intelligent lines come from another’s pen…. Many celebrities are like that. Have you ever seen a reporter ask a model about fashion? It's painful.

But that’s neither here nor there. The reason for my post is that It’’s been a while since I’ve bottled up some booze, and even longer since I’ve attempted a “cream” liqueur.

I believe I have cracked that last particular nut. Or at least it appears to have been cracked by my end result. That bodes well for a whole series of liqueurs I have in mind.

This particular blend of ingredients ws an accident – because I was in a rush at the liquor store and not paying attention. I knew I was going in to buy "not vodka" and in my haste grabbed a bottle of gin.

I wanted to make a homemade version of “Baja Rosa®.” I was supposed to be buying tequila, not gin. Thank goodness gin makes just as good a  liqueur. It’s just not tequila. To rectify my stupidity I now have a batch of “tequila rosa” steeping.

But back to the “cream” business.

I have made actual liqueurs with cream, or cream to be added before drinking. I have made infusions with part-whey part water, but I have never used whey in this volume before. What would happen?

The short answer is that it works.

I was reading a few days ago about Portuguese milk liqueur. It sounds really good (and easy). Essentially you put milk, vodka, sugar and lemon in a jar and let it sit a few days. The curds separate out from the milk, and after you filter several times, you get a clear liqueur.

The “creaminess” comes from the mouth-feel of the whey as opposed to what we think of here as a creamy drink. I have to admit using a lot of whey is the “way” to go.

I would imagine that the whey adds some shelf stability to the finished liqueur as well.

But don’t quote me on that. It's pure speculation.
The strawberries always look so gross after the alcohol
leeches the colour out.

Strawberry Cream Gin
Time: 3 days  |  About 13% alc. vol.  |  Yield 1250 ml
1 lb strawberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 lemon
375 ml gin
2 cups skim milk
juice of 1/2 lemon

Stem and slice the strawberries. Place them in a saucepan with the water and sugar. 

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and let it cook for 5 minutes.

Remove the cooked strawberries from the heat and let cool. Then pour the fruit and liquid into a large jar with a well fitting lid. Pour in the gin, and drop in half a whole lemon.

Make sure both jar and lemon are well washed beforehand.

The liquor, whey and  bonus cheese.
Seal the jar. Let the infusion sit on your counter, out of direct sunlight, for three days. After three days, strain out the solids.

Heat the milk nearly to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat. 

Let the milk curdle and cool.

Strain out the curds through a piece of clean fine cotton. Add the whey to the infused liquor, mix well, and bottle.

The yield is three 375 ml bottles plus a not so small “reward” for the cook.

There’s another benefit to making this much whey as well. Knead a little salt and herbs into the curds that are leftover and use it as a spread while you enjoy your liqueur!


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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Asian: Beef and Shiitake Noodles

Whatever dressing one gives to mushrooms, to whatever sauces our Apiciuses put them, they are not really good but to be sent back to the dungheap where they are born. – Denis Diderot, L'Encyclopedie (1751-1772)

Dungheap? I think not. (It is steaming, though...)

I guess M. Diderot was not a fan of mushrooms… L’Encyclopedie (full title, translated: The Encyclopaedia, or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Crafts) was a general encyclopedia published in France. It was meant to disseminate all the knowledge of the Enlightenment.

Not very enlightened about mushrooms, apparently. I’m assuming his quote was a personal observation and not a "scientific" entry. But appear it did, as far as I can gather.

There’s a ton of old books meant to enlighten cooks that take a swing at mushrooms.

Here’s another one:

Not being ambitious of martyrdom, even in the cause of gastronomical enterprise, especially if the instrument is to be a contemptible, rank-smelling fungus, I never eat or cook mushrooms.
- Marion Harland, Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery (1873)

Why such a hate-on for mushrooms? Luckily I do eat and cook mushrooms. I find it exceedingly strange that anyone wouldn’t. They’re amazing.

One particular variety of mushroom that’s amazing – and we use too seldom – is the shiitake. Unfortunately they're a little expensive to purchase fresh, and a little difficult to find fresh in Nova Scotia groceries anyway.

Fortunately you can purchase bags of dried shiitakes (dried Chinese mushrooms) at Asian groceries. They’re not really the same as fresh, but they do give you the benefit of being able to produce mushroom “broth” to use in your recipe.

This concoction does just that. It also uses a goodly amount of the quick chilli paste I made yesterday.

Shiitake mushrooms have a wonderful rich, almost smokey, flavour. They pair perfectly with garlic and chilli, and of course just cooked, thinly sliced, tender beef.

This is actually a very fast recipe. Much of the time is in soaking the mushrooms.

The flavours in this dish aren’t overly pronounced, but still complex. If you have an eater who’s a little afraid of “foreign” tastes, that may very well be one to try.

Beef and Shiitake Noodles
Prep: 20 min  |  Cook: 12 min  |  Serves 4
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb beef steak, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cups (about 16-20) sliced shiitakes (reconstituted)
1-1/2 tbsp black bean/garlic/chilli paste
3 cups bok choy, sliced
salt and pepper
Chinese wheat noodles for 4

1 cup mushroom soaking liquid
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
 2 tbsp natural vinegar
1 tbsp cornstarch

Hint: to thinly slice beef, refrigerate overnight or partially freeze. When it’s chilled it’s easier to do.

Cook the wheat noodles according to package directions and set aside in warm, not hot, water.

Slice the beef and set aside. Soak the mushrooms in enough boiling water to cover for 15 minutes. Drain, reserving one cup of the soaking liquid. Slice the mushrooms.

Heat the oil in a wok and fry the beef until still slightly pink, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and set aside.

Add the ginger and onion and stir fry for 2 minutes. Then add the shiitakes and fry for a further 2 minutes.

Place the beef back in the work, add the chilli paste and toss well.

Mix the sauce ingredients together and add to the wok. Then add the bok choy and cook for a further two minutes, until they soften slightly and the sauce thickens.

Drain the noodles and add to the beef mixture. Toss well to combine and serve.


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Friday, January 25, 2013

How To: Open a Wine Bottle without a Corkscrew!

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. – Douglas Adams 

I don’t know if this is foolproof or not, but I’m willing to give it a try.

I usually write about food. I write about gardening. I build the odd thing and post about it. Occasionally I even rant about something that gets up my nose.

But sometimes something so amazingly useful comes along that I just have to bring it to your attention. This is one. I suppose it is laterally related to food. What’s a good meal without a glass of wine?

A still from the video.
Have you ever had a bottle of wine sitting on the counter and no opener? I would imagine it’s the same feeling a dog has looking at the jar of treats on the shelf. Frustrating.

It can happen to the best of us. We’re at a picnic, or we go visit someone with a lovely wine gift under our arm. Or perhaps you've taken your friends up on their offer of their cabin for the weekend, only to discover there's narry a corkscrew to be found. Horrors.

Soon you will know how to open wine anywhere you finds yourself in the world without a corkscrew as long as you’re fully clothed. Watch this guy open up a bottle of wine – with only his shoe.

It’s in French, and although Canada’s an officially bilingual country, I haven’t a clue what he’s saying. Veuillez pardonner mon ignorance. Thank goodness that the short video is completely self-explanatory.

This only takes a little more than a minute to watch, but this is information you’ll carry with you for life. Be prepared to be truly amazed.

I’m assuming that other items can also be used, as long as they have the proper cushioning effect.

Just don't tap too hard... 


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