The $3000 Stew

Mar 22

beefstew.jpgWhat’s for dinner?

Tonight we are having a $3000 stew.

Well, actually, it’s only $2895.97, not counting the spices. But who’s counting.

It started with the stove. The old one was, well, old, and looked really dated. Those little plate things under the burners were burnt, and the burners beyond burnt. I could have ignored all this (denial in the kitchen comes easily to me), but the “cooker,” as the British say, started making funny clicking sounds that wouldn’t stop. Very unnerving when you’re trying to debone a duck (NOT).

Not being Julia Child, who would have been deboning a duck at the very least, I turned off the clicking cooker and ordered dinner from the diner. Next day I called Diana and got the lowdown: Forget the really big expensive stoves — too many bells and whistles (who needed more noise), and they’re a bitch to get repaired.

She suggested a somewhat more modest solution, a top of the line GE that would fit in with the décor of the kitchen. Sounded good. I got a second and third opinion from Kerri and Cris. They all agreed, and gave me a ballpark figure of what it would cost. About $1400.

Didn’t seem too bad, considering how much those high-end numbers cost. But when it comes to appliances, I am about as savvy as I am about curtains, and we all know how well that works out (ITS CURTAINS FOR ME ). So, when the salesman at PC Richards hit the “ballpark figure” right out of the store and into an outlying borough, I wasn’t that surprised . . .

The High Cost of Cookers
Actually, they had one that wasn’t sky high, but it didn’t fit the space. Another one fit, but it looked weird. Who knew that a stove could look weird? Who notices these things? I only pay attention when they catch fire or start clicking. The cooker that fit the space and looked pretty good (I can’t get too over the moon about appliances, but it wasn’t aesthetically objectionable) didn’t fit the budget. Of course.

dreamstime_8690165.jpgAt this point, I seriously considered going back to my cavewoman roots  Hey, we have a fireplace. I could roast a chicken, right? Who needs stew at these prices? But the caveman of the house wasn’t buying it. He had researched stoves online, and knew that we weren’t going to find anything better. Or cheaper. But even with some serious bargaining (cavemen are good at that), it still cost a little south of three thou.

The Pot & I
Meanwhile, they were having this great sale at Kitchen Klassics . . .. Of course, the stew pot I liked best was from All Clad, the most expensive one in the store, so even on sale the price was obscene. But I got it. What the hell, it was cheaper than the stove.

Where’s The Beef?
I hadn’t even gotten to the butchers. Yes, yes, I know, I could shop at the supermarket and get meat good enough for stew (you do cook it forever), but the beef from the butcher is of the divine, fall apart on your fork variety, and besides, I like to support my neighborhood stores. Having a butcher around the corner has changed my life and I want this store to stay in business. For the veggies, I had to go to the supermarket (which is a lot less than “super” in my neighborhood), but hey, a girl does what a girl has to do.

So now I had a stove, a pot, stewing beef, carrots, celery, and oh, you know, the usual suspects. I use a pinch of nutmeg, but that’s our secret.

The stew smells incredible, but then it always does. Even with the cheap pot and the old stove. But we are going to enjoy the hell out of this one, and hopefully, many, many more. 

I figure that to amortize the cost, we only need to have beef stew 129 times. Besides, this stew is not nearly as costly per bite as the chocolate cake I made a few years ago with the mixer I just had to have and have never used again. That cost $300, or about $25 a slice. So look on the bright side, the $3000 stew was a bargain.

Never mind. In the words of Jeff Goldblum in The Big Chill, you can’t get through a day without at least one juicy rationalization. And this one should be plenty juicy.





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