Time does fly when you’re having sun…er, fun! We’re moving towards the end of summer and for us, the end of summer means that my daughter’s small garden is now teeming with nature’s bounty. Since she was five, she has looked forward to this time of the year when she would usually harvest her vegetables. I can only guess that she gets a kick out of pulling the carrots, picking the cherry tomatoes or plucking the basil leaves.
But more than the excitement, it is the annual ritual of sowing the seeds during spring and harvesting the fruits of her labour during summer that has taught her so many virtues. For example, she had this realization that the food that she eats entails a lot of hard work. She appeared to have gained some sense of responsibility by consciously watering her plants daily and occasionally checking for weeds. She learned to be more patient and caring (she read stories to them almost every day!); realizing that growing food takes time.
And when I cooked our beef stew, she also knew that the delicious stew had her share when we added her fresh basil, tomatoes and carrots! Indeed, food preparation and cooking can sometimes be a family affair and teach our kids life’s important lessons!
Harvest Beef Stew
(Adapted from Crock-pot: The Original Slow Cooker)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ pounds of beef for stew
Fresh cherry and roma tomatoes (or 32 ounces of canned or stewed tomatoes)
10 pcs of baby carrots
3 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 stalks of celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
8-10 pieces of fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried basil)
2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
¼ cup all-purpose flour (optional)
½ warm water (optional)
1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. Brown stew meat on all sides. Drain excess fat.
3. Before serving, thicken gravy, if desired. Combine flour and warm water in small bowl stirring well until lumps are gone. Add mixture to liquid in CROCK-POT slow cooker; mix well. Cook 10 to 20 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove and discard bay leaves before serving.
*I usually serve the stew without the gravy but my wife cooks her own gravy and adds this to the cooked stew. Her ingredients include 2 tablespoons of melted butter then add 1 tablespoon of flour. Whisk and add some of the broth from the stew. Season with Lea-Perrins Worcestershire sauce then add these to the rest of the stew and mix.