Food is something that draws a family together. It certainly does in our household and I’ve grown up with food at the centre of living.
The kitchen was where all the action happened. We cooked, ate our meals, played family games, had family meeting and generally did everything at the kitchen table.
Even thinking back to some of my happiest memories growing up, they pretty much all centred around the kitchen table and food. We would eat, feel full and laugh about all sorts.
Whether it be a Sunday roast and telling jokes, learning timetables with my dad over breakfast, or listening to my parent’s life stories while we ate a beef and ale casserole; meals in my household stick in my mind.
From those meals I learnt many things about life, I can multiply really fast and high numbers (like 27 x 86 – I just find it easy because of the daily practice) and I learnt to really love and appreciate my families meals.
The kitchen is the centre of our home
In the same way I did as a child, I expect all our meals to be eaten as a family, no matter what we’ve been doing in the day.
Even when it comes to having a cup of tea, we will head to the kitchen table, and drink it while nibbling on a biscuit – food is always involved.
It’s a great excuse for us to spend time together and really talk about what’s been going on. With social media nowadays, and seeming to work more and more hours, having a chance to really connect with each other is very precious to me.
It was all about the beef and ale stew
My mum was quite a good cook and, although worked all the hours, always prepared a fresh home cooked meal for us each and every night. At the weekends, she had more time and would usually make us a beef and ale stew.
It really was the highlight of my week as I knew we would spend more time together
My parents passed away before I was 18 so perhaps I look back so fondly of the time we had together. I’ve hung onto the memories and what they told me as we sat around and ate. These were the times we really spent together, learning from each other while we ate.
Slow cooked steak and ale stew
Working full time can make it difficult to make sure we eat fresh and cook from scratch, but by making a little more effort, it as certainly helped us cut our costs back.
However, even when we’re short of time, we make pretty good use of our slow cooker, and by doing so, it gives me a chance to enjoy a steak and ale stew any night of the week, not just when I’ve got hours to spend at home making a good stew, just like my mum used to.
Cooking in the slow cooker is so easy. Although I enjoy cooking, I really don’t like washing up so when I get to make a one pot dish, it makes me very happy indeed.
After chopping the onion, carrots and swede, it simply goes straight into the slow cooker with the beef.
I then stir a Schwartz slow cooker beef and ale stew mix with the water, tomato puree and ale and pour it over the main ingredients. Although I normally shy away from using packets; the Schwartz mix offers value for money (compared to making from scratch) and are full of flavour!
After it’s all mixed in, the slow cooker goes in low, I get on with my day. Eight hours later, my home smells delicious, we have a thick and warming stew to devour and a great excuse to sit around, and give me a chance to share stories with my own children, which I hope they treasure as much as the stories my parents told me.
I usually serve my stews with green veg, and depending on my mood, mash potato or a crispy baguette to soap up all the sauce.
What foods and recipes make you reminisce? And why do you love your favourite dish so much?
- 400g stewing beef
- 2 carrots
- 1 swede
- 1 onion
- Schwartz slow cooker beef and ale stew mix
- 50ml water
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- ½ bottle ale
- Add the chopped vegetables to the slow cooker with the beef.
- Mix the ale, water, tomato puree and the Schwartz beef and ale stew mix.
- Pour the liquid into the slow cooker and mix everything together.
- Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
Written in collaboration with Schwartz
Ricky Willis is the original Skint Dad. A money-making enthusiast, father, and husband to Naomi. He is always looking for unique ways to earn a little extra.