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TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2007
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How To Do Stuff
Always wanted to learn something? Here are answers to a few questions:

By Danielle Komis Palmer
dpalmer@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

When you sit at your favorite breakfast dig and the server brings your ham and cheese omelet, you can’t help but stare at it in wonder. How do they make their omelets so darn fluffy? And more importantly, why is it that when you make one at home it never looks that way?

Puzzling questions like this just scream for answers that often are never found. They lurk in our minds like an annoying itch we can’t scratch.

In hopes of bringing relief, we’ve compiled a few of those questions (and finally, their answers!)

How do I ...

Argue a traffic citation in court?

If you’re not guilty of a traffic violation you were cited for, you have the right to argue it in court.

First, head to municipal court on the scheduled date on the citation. There, you can plead not guilty to the offense, and the judge will schedule a second court date for you. At that court date, you may defend yourself or hire an attorney.

As for your defense?

Well, police spokesman Sgt. Steve Campbell of Decatur police said he has heard them all — from faulty equipment defenses to the claim that the defendant did not commit the offense.

The judge will make a ruling either on your side or the police officer’s. Even if you are still found guilty, you typically will owe the same amount of money you would’ve owed if you had just paid the ticket, though sometimes it will vary, Campbell said.

Pronounce tricky words?

Save some face while eating out by not falling victim to these commonly mispronounced menu items:

Espresso: e-SPRESS-oh, rather than the incorrect but all-too-common EXPRESS-oh

Sherbet: shur-bit, rather than what we often hear at the ice cream shop: shur-bert

Au jus: Oh-zhoo with the long “O” sound, not aw-zhoo with the short “O” sound.

Open a bottle of wine?

To pull off opening a bottle of wine like a pro, use a two-step waiter’s corkscrew, also called a wine key, suggested Victor Melonas, owner of Café 113 in Decatur. (If you request one at a liquor or party store, employees will know what you are talking about.) Avoid using a clunky double-action or wing corkscrew, because the effect won’t be the same.

First, holding the bottle at your waist for proper leverage, slide the small knife portion of the wine key around the bottleneck and gently pull up with the foil to slide if off. Next, place your corkscrew in the center of the cork and firmly screw the corkscrew into the cork most of the way.

Then, use the first “stop” or lever on the wine key to gently pull the first portion of the cork out of the bottle, then use the second “stop” to finish pulling it out gently.

The two-stop process is typically the most confusing part for beginners, Melonas said, though with practice the process will quickly become a breeze. If you’re interested in learning more, Café 113 offers a wine club for wannabe and accomplished wine connoisseurs.

Make a gourmet cup
of coffee at home?

While making coffee is second nature to many, non-coffee drinkers often find themselves in a bind if they do not know how to brew the popular drink for coffee-loving houseguests.

Head to any major retailer or coffee shop to pick up a French press coffee maker and a gourmet grounds blend, suggested Bunk Price, owner of Java Jaay Café on Sixth Avenue Southeast. A French press is easy to use and considered one of the best ways to make excellent coffee.

First, place a rounded teaspoon of grounds in the French press per every 8 ounces of water. Pour in hot water, and steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Gently press down on the plunger evenly, separating the grinds from the liquid coffee.

Let the coffee sit for 30 seconds to allow sediment to settle before pouring. Pour the coffee into mugs and offer cream and sugar with it.

Make a fluffy omelet?

The key to this classic breakfast dish is whipping the eggs in a blender first, said Wendy Brewer, kitchen manager at the Cabin Grill in Hartselle. Once you’ve blended the eggs for 2 to 3 minutes, pour them into an oiled skillet on medium heat and immediately start shaking the skillet.

“That helps make it form that pillow,” Brewer said.

Once the outside edges are cooked but the center is still liquid, flip the omelet. Now, add the filling you want and then put the finished omelet on the plate and fold it with the help of a spatula.

Clean jewelry myself?

When you don’t have time to drop by the jewelers to have the pros handle your engagement ring or other fine jewelry, try to get by using these tips from Billy Mitchell, owner of Billy Mitchell Jewelers in Moulton.

Any cleaner that is ammonia based works really well, as does Ivory soap and water, Mitchell said.

“It’s usually best to put it in a container or jar, and agitate it as much as you can,” he said.

Also, for bits of dirt or other sediment lodged in small crevices in a ring setting, try using a toothbrush on the stone.

“This is a good way to clean it until you can get to somewhere where you can do it professionally,” Mitchell said.

Keep in mind that a home-cleaned ring simply won’t shine as much as professionally cleaned jewelry, because the processes used are entirely different.

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