Holiday time with Grandkids – making family times memorable – how do you do it? We cook with the kids!

Cooking with kids is one of my favorite things to do. Although the grandkids call our Little Farm Camp Grandma during the summer, during the winter there are still lots of jobs to do – and wonderful things to cook together.

Today we went through a whole box of old recipes and decided on something that everyone liked which we could cook for dinner on the weekend that the children slept over. This can also be cooked in a slow cooker – which makes the house smell divine. It is a slightly different version of beef stew that adds some varietal tastes. Tell me if this works for your family too?

Beef Stew with Tomatoes, Orange Zest, and Olives

Make this stew in a large, heavy-bottomed soup kettle measuring at least ten inches in diameter. If the kettle is any smaller, you may need to cook the meat in three batches rather than two. Or you could do all the browning in a deep pot or large frying pan, and cook over time in the slow cooker – the only problem with that approach is that you have to clean TWO pots ( the frying/browning pot or pan and the slow cooker) but the benefit is that the home smells wonderful for hours.

Serves 6 to 8


pounds chuck-eye   roast , cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 1/2

teaspoons table   salt 


teaspoon ground   black pepper 


tablespoons vegetable   oil 


medium   onions , chopped coarse (about 2 cups)


medium   cloves garlic , minced


tablespoons unbleached   all-purpose flour 


cup red   wine (preferably full-bodied but I use whatever red wine we have in the fridge that is an unfinished bottle)


cup chicken broth 


cup canned   chopped tomatoes , with their juice


strips orange   zest 


bay   leaves 


teaspoon herbes   de Provence   (you can buy them already made up and dried from most markets – or Williams Sonoma on line -or make them yourself from chopped fresh thyme, basil, savory, fennel and lavender in equal amounts)


cup black   olives (such as Kalamata), pitted – in oil not in water


cup minced   fresh Italian parsley leaves 


1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place beef cubes in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; the kids can do this part – toss to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in large pan or pot; add beef in two separate batches. Brown meat on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding remaining tablespoon of oil if needed. Remove meat and set aside. Add onions to now empty kettle; sauté until almost softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic; continue to sauté about 30 seconds longer. Stir in flour; cook until lightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to kettle. Add stock, tomatoes, orange zest, bay leaves, and herbs de Provence; the kids can add all these ingredients – bring to simmer. Add meat; return to simmer . Cover and place in oven or place in the slow cooker.

2. Simmer until meat is just tender, about 2 hours (4 hours in slow cooker). Remove stew from oven or just take the lid off the slow cooker, add olives, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. (Can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated up to 3 days.)

3. Stir in parsley, adjust seasonings, and serve.

This serves well with basmati steamed rice, or brown rice or even fried rice with raisins added  ( sweet and spicy go well together) – and a fresh salad. Our grandkids love to add the raw rice and water and salt to the rice steamer – and to turn it on and watch the steam come up! It is so wonderful when you are young that everything is fun – my whole life is full of joy because of those little ones.
Below is a picture of our Little Farm salad greens – grown Aquaponically – Clive my husband is a whiz with new ideas – and this winter we have had wonderful fresh lettuce all through the cold months – as it grows in little wholes over our fish hatchery -no soil just water. Amazing!


About Grandma

I have reinvented myself many times during my life -teacher, lawyer, business woman, CEO, Entrepreneur, Board member, Professor, Mom, Wife, Farmer, Chef, Musician, Author and now my best role of all – Grandma to multiple grandchildren, grandnephews and nieces worldwide.

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