Dad is fun. Mum is mad.

I’ve become the ‘writing lady’ at my kindy reading groups. Each week, armed with white boards, markers and plenty of patience (I stay firmly focused on getting home afterwards to a cup of tea and a sit down) I teach rotating groups of 5 year olds (the groups rotate, not the children) how to write beautiful sentences. Unlike my verbose writing style, I’m finding at this stage that their sentences are much more statement-like. Stating truths and myths from life as a kindy kid. It’s pretty interesting. Fact.

Today they had laminated sentence starters that they had to copy down and then they got to finish off with whatever words they liked. Conversation starters like, “I can…”, “I went…”, “My family…”. And of course “Dad is…”, and “Mum is…”.

Without fail, Dad was fun. Every time. Sometimes fun. One was funy. Another funne. One other funee. But always upbeat, jovial, joking, FUN.

Generally, Mum was mad. One mum was nortee (naughty). One mum was sad.

Now, I’ve noted in my own life, that dad is fun and mum is mad. So perhaps it is a universal truth. What do you think, is this the case at your house? Or maybe the genders aren’t important and actually it’s the primary caregiver that has the shits most of the time and whichever parent arrives home in time to read a book and have a cuddle at bedtime finds it much easier to remain AWESOME.

Or perhaps it was just a morning for clichés. Even without overhearing each other, the same word patterns got repeated again and again. Pretty much all the kids had also apparently been shopping or to the zoo on the weekend (“I went…sopig”), and they all like treats (“I like… pinc cak”).

Which seems like a perfect segue into food clichés, except we don’t cast such a negative connotation on them if we call them ‘classics’, which is what this beef stew is. It’s a slow-cooker classic, bubbling away for 8 hours in its glorious simplicity. I’ve been trialing a bunch of fairly similar ‘casseroles’ and this is my current favourite. This version (based on a Women’s Weekly recipe) is gluten free, but if you prefer to toss the meat in flour before you brown it, feel free – you’ll end up with a thicker gravy. If you don’t, make sure you pat the meat with paper towel to dry it off before you chuck it in the pan.

slow cooker beef stew casserole

Before I could photograph it, it was eaten or frozen…

Beef & vegie slow cooker casserole.

1.5kg chuck steak, cut into large chunks
Olive oil for frying
2 large brown onions, cut roughly
2 large (or 3 smaller) carrots, peeled, chopped into thick rounds
3 stalks celery, chopped thickly
2 medium parsnips, peeled, chopped into chunks
1 swede, peeled, chopped into chunks
4 cloves garlic, crushed (use fresh garlic)
¼ cup tomato paste
400g can diced or crushed tomatoes
1½ cups beef stock (Massel brand is gluten free)
2 Bay leaves
Half a bunch of thyme
1 zucchini, sliced into rounds (optional)
8-10 button mushrooms, sliced (optional)

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium/high heat. Once hot, brown your meat in batches, turning to seal all sides (yes, this may take 20 minutes or so to get through all of the meat, but the flavour will be AWESOME, and you can chop up the vegies while you’re doing it). Tip each batch into a 5.5ish litre slow cooker after it’s done.

Add more oil then fry off the onions, carrot and celery for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic for another minute (add it later so it doesn’t burn). Tip into the cooker.

Add more oil and fry off the parsnips & swede for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, splash in a bit of stock to loosen all the yummy stuff stuck on the pan and and also tip this into the cooker, along with the rest of the stock, tomato paste & tin of tomatoes plus the herbs. Mix everything in, set the cooker to ‘low’ and leave for 8 hours.

If you’re out all day, then don’t worry about adding in the zucchini & mushrooms, but if you’re home after 6 hours, add these in, give everything a mix and leave it for another 2 ¼ hours (this extra cooking time makes up for you lifting the lid).


Have you got a link to a slow cooker recipe? Add it below – I’m going crazy with mine at the moment and am on the lookout for some tried and tested awesomeness.

10 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Sarah said,

    Thanks Wendy. I’ll try this soon! I’m not really a parsnip fan, so anything else I could use instead

  2. 3

    Barbara Good said,

    This looks like the same recipe I did in my slow cooker a fortnight ago – from the women’s weekly slow cooking book? I didn’t have parsnips ready in the garden and don’t grow swedes so I used extra carrots and a couple of turnips (I love parsnips so I would like to try it again when mine are big enough to pick). I found the sauce too thin for my liking, so I should have dusted the meat in flour first.

    I am currently writing a series of posts (every Thursdays) on using my newly acquired slow cooker, my current favourite is butter chicken but it’s a bit more involved than some slow cooker recipes. I’m also keen to try my boston baked beans in there and also adapting you beef pho recipe for the slow cooker. I also made the best pea and ham soup (super cheap too) which is in the freezer for lazy nights or weekend lunches.

    On the Mum is mad, dad is fun thing, I’m sure my three year old would say the same if asked, but it doesn’t actually appear that way in real life. True mum does get mad (me) probably more often just because I’m around more, but dad also almost always loses his cool during bath time… frustrating when the three year old you’re trying to dry refuses to stand up! And dad is HOPELESS as joining in the imaginary games she is so into at the moment, you know pretend phone calls and taking the dolls shopping or to kindy or whatever. He’s waiting for her to be into lego, I’m not sure what he’ll do if that never happens, I suspect he’ll get the ‘fun’ tag by taking them to the ‘chippy shop’!

    • 4

      wendyblume said,

      yep, from that WW book, with just a couple of variations. definitely with the parsnips – they’re my favourite winter vegie.

      It’s the best stew I’ve tried so far. I also tried their chicken hotpot from that book, but I didn’t like it as much as my red chicken from VS2. But also tried their poached pears and they were good, although needed more cooking time that they said. I’m trying a goulash tomorrow – very excited. Will check out your Thursday posts. x

  3. 5

    felicity said,

    Hi, i’m new to your site and i am loving it. Love a slow cook meal, so i thought i would try this. It was easy and i coated my meat in flour first 🙂 I have 2 girls age 3 and 1. My 3yr old didn’t want it, but my 1yr old loved it!! i couldn’t get it in fast enough lol. Oh and my husband enjoyed it too.

  4. 7

    Jo said,

    Hi Wendy, I love, love, love your recipes, they make up most of our repertoire!

    I havent unearthed my slow cooker after moving recently though: how do you think this would translate into a stove-top casserole in the chausseur?


  5. 8

    Dianna said,

    yay, i got a new slow cooker after my success with your pea and ham soup, soo i cant wait to try out the new cooker with this recipe! plus i love to try and involve different vegies, like the parsnips and swedes. still working thru your cook books… love love it all (husband even said last night ‘is this another vegie smuggler recipe..?’ lol 🙂 .

  6. 9

    mamacino said,

    I have had a slow cooker for years but have never really fallen in love with it (my husband says it’s because it’s ‘slow’) This year will be different! With an accent on real food and tummy loving meals, I have to get into it and this recipe looks like the perfect place to start x

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