Steven came in from a blustery December evening and asked, “How about a beef stew for dinner some time this week?”
“You mean like Dinty Moore?”
I’ve never made a beef stew in my life. I don’t even like beef stew. I can make a decent chicken noodle soup and a great sausage soup and unbelievable lasagna soup that taste a lot like the sausage soup, but beef stew? Bleh.
I could tell from the expression on his face that Dinty Moore was not what he had in mind, but he didn’t complain or roll his eyes. He’s way too smart to piss off the person who feeds him. Instead, he shot me puppy-dog eyes.
“Oh. Yeah,” he answered, resting a cheek on his fist, “the canned stuff is fine.”
Ugh! If one of the kids had tried that move I would’ve yelled, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!” But this was Steven. He has me wrapped around his finger, the bastard. So, Beef Stew was on the menu…God help us.
The recipe I googled seemed pretty easy and was followed by rave reviews from people all over the Midwest. At the grocery store I found some beef that actually said, “FOR STEW” on the label, so that was helpful. Then I grabbed the carrots, potatoes, garlic and spices and broth. It was all easy peasy, until the wine.
Here’s a shocker…I don’t really drink wine. I know as a SAHM, I’m suppose to guzzle it down daily with other SAHMs while our children play nearby, but, it’s just not for me. If it’s for you, good for you. No judgement. To each his own. Free to be you and me. Kumbaya. Chaka Khan. What have you. But, this did pose a problem at the grocery store.
Dry Red Wine. That’s what the recipe called for. 2 cups. I walked up and down the wine aisle half a dozen times before giving up and pulling out my phone.
Dry Red Wine for Cooking, I googled. And right there in the middle of the store, I read an article about the importance of wine in cooking and a list of wines to use in cooking. I found a name I recognized and then found a bottle of Pinot Noir on sale for 5 bucks. Winning!
At home, I browned the beef. I added balsamic vinegar and used my wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Next came the garlic and onion and tomato paste. I returned the beef to the pot and added the beef broth, thyme, and sugar. It was time for the wine. It was wrapped with a purple paper lining around the top and once I peeled it away I exclaimed, “Ah, shit!”
Funny thing about wine, for those like me who don’t drink it, they cork the fucking bottle! Is that really necessary? I mean, I know it’s wine and wine is corked, but for a $5 bottle that’s just going to be used for cooking? Damn it. I do own a corkscrew. I think we got it as a wedding gift from someone who obviously didn’t know we don’t drink wine, but I’ll be damned if I could tell you where it is. Before we moved, I remember letting the youngest play with it when he had the Play Dough out. But since we moved…yeah, no idea. The only thing I could think of was maybe my 10-year-old had one with his Cub Scout camping gear. I don’t know why a Cub Scout would need a corkscrew, but I wasn’t really thinking about that at that moment. He was at school, so I ran upstairs and tossed his room around looking for the thing. No such luck. But I did find some questionable pictures I’ll be asking about later on.
Back in the kitchen I grabbed a small pairing knife and went to town chopping the fucker out. When that didn’t work, I grabbed a spoon and tried to scoop it out. This is when I looked up to see my new neighbor was standing at her window ‘not’ watching me struggle hopelessly with a bottle of wine. Super. I’m sure that won’t turn into gossip. When the spoon broke, I returned to my phone and to Google.
How to open a bottle of wine without a cork screw?
I felt a little gross thinking about all the sad desperate people who have googled that phrase before. I’m now one of you, my wino brethren.
Quite a few results came up, but the one that didn’t involve string and screwdrivers, seemed like the best bet.
If you have a wooden spoon, use the handle to push the cork down into the bottle.
I gave it a try (it wasn’t easy) and HOLY CRAP, IT MOVED!
So I kept pushing and pushing until finally SPLASH!
The cork went through, but red wine went everywhere. All over my white counter tops, all over my white floor, and all over my face, my hair, and all over my wine-covered shirt (how lucky was that!). I patted my face dry and cleaned up the counters. Since my shirt wasn’t actually stained, I left it. I needed to get the wine into the pot and the stew into the oven. When I finally finished, I sat at the counter with my 4-year-old, and sipped a cup of tea. Before I finished my cup he turned to me and said, “Ooh, Mommy. You stink.”
Craziness aside, I gotta say, dinner that night was pretty good. Steven loved the meal, and loved my harrowing beef stew tale even more. Once he finished laughing at me, though, he said, “You know, you could have just bought the crappy canned stuff.”
I chucked my napkin at him and said, “Yeah, but what fun would that have been?”