When I was a child, as I have mentioned before, my Grandpa Otis would pick blackberries every time he could get a chance to get out and do it. The old farmhouse he lived in would have buckets of berries sitting in the enclosed back porch they had. In fact, he would pick so many berries that at times he would have more than Grandma could put up, or he could get rid of. I remember one time that another local farmer gave him a recipe for making some wine out of those berries. It had something to do with using sugar, yeast, and a balloon placed over a cider jar and waiting so long, and then you would have wine. A crude method but it worked.

When I became an adult, I came up with the bright idea of making homemade beer for my friends and myself. I can’t remember how I did it, but it was some crude method as well. I’ll never forget when the day came to test the homemade beer, my late wife Bonnie and I, had invited some friends over to the house for some kind of a party, probably a cookout or birthday party, when I brought out the homebrew for me and my friends to test. I went down to the basement and got a quart bottle and brought it up to kitchen to open and let my friends have a taste. Well, anyone who knew Bonnie, also knows that she was not shy about being involved in any celebration and was gathered in with the rest of us for the opening ceremony. So I proceeded to unscrew the lid off the bottle, and when I did, it shot off like it came out of sling shot, and struck Bonnie in the forehead leaving a large red whelp and spewing home brew all over the kitchen. Well those that knew her also know that what transpired next was not pleasant as she proceeded to stop the rest of the opening ceremony.

A few years later, I met an Eagle Picher retiree named Jack Adams. Jack was avid wine maker and knew how to do it the right way. After visiting with him, I would learn the secrets of making wine the correct way and started making my own for a while. I found out that there was a lot more to it than using a gallon jug and a balloon, that there was a technique involved and special recipes. Jack once told me that most of the wine he made was from using blueberries. He said that the blueberry was the closest thing to a wine grape you could use for making wine, without actually using a wine grape. Well, I made wine for a while but finally realized, that for drinking purposes, it made much more sense to just go buy a bottle, so I quit, but I do have a bottle or two left that I made, which is probably 25 to 30 years old now.

One thing I have also learned about wine is that there are many cooking recipes out there requiring wine, and I have tried several. Yes, wine can make a huge difference in the flavors of food whether adding it to the recipe, or having a glass to accompany your meal, the food and wine complement each other. I make a simple ragu using wine, and to be honest, without the wine in it, it would be fairly drab. The recipe I’m sharing today is one I found online, tried, and liked so I thought I would share it. But remember this, if you choose to cook with wine, always choose a wine you enjoying the flavor of when drinking it, and also lengthy cook time of the dish is generally required to get best results. Not that the lid of the pot is going to blow off and hit you in forehead or anything.

Short Rib Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients

3 to 4 lbs boneless Beef short ribs

½ cup diced bacon

2 white onions, sliced

4 shallots, quartered

1 lb mushrooms

1 cup celery

2 carrots, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup flour

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups red wine

4 cups beef stock

3 bay leaves w/ thyme twigs

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Salt and pepper the short ribs and brown in a Dutch oven. Remove ribs from the pot and add the bacon pieces and brown. Now add the onions, shallots, mushrooms, celery, carrots, garlic, and salt. Add the butter and continue sautéing the veggies. Add the flour and mix well. Now add the tomato paste and wine, stir together well. Add the ribs back to the pot along with the beef stock and bring to a boil. Add the thyme and bay leaves to the pot and cover with the lid. Place in a 350F oven to cook for 2 to 3 hours.

Serve over pasta