“What would my mom do?”

I’ve got a parenting dilemma on my mind, so I’ve been surfing the net and having a think about ethics, decision-making and how to raise ‘morally courageous’ children.

There’s a nice PBS story here (watch the video) about a fella who spends his life teaching people how to make ethical decisions. Not just any old decisions, but life’s tricky and less obvious ones. When a question has two right answers, which one is REALLY right?

He advises taking the ‘stench test’, which is a gut level response to something. How badly does does a particular response smell? And beyond that you can take the ‘mom test’ which is “what would my mom do?” Which is great advice, except when you’re the mom and you don’t know what to do.

Not that my problem is large – it’s just that Miss F has qualified for the next round of her year 2 public speaking competition. Which of course isn’t the problem. The problem is that her speech focuses on what a MEANIE her mum is, and spins an entertaining story of her horrible mum FORCING her to do ballet instead of karate. It’s a thrilling tale, full of arabesques and kung-fu kicks that was a hit with the 7-year-olds. And now in the next round, I can go along to cheer her on.

The problem for me is that the entire speech isn’t true. Not a word. She doesn’t do ballet OR karate. She does netball. And that was her choice. So do I stand in a hall and cheer her on as she slags off her mum in front of 3 classes of kids and their parents? Do I suck it up and clap and cheer for her at the sake of my own humiliation?

The STENCH TEST tells me that I have to. Other ethics articles I read talked about keeping a strong sense of ‘ethical goals’ in mind. Which for me, means that I want to be a supportive parent and regardless of subject matter, I need to be there for my child. The WHAT WOULD MY MOM DO test is tougher. My mum would definitely have been there. But to be fair, I would never have made a fictitious speech out of being mad at her. Tricky.

Your dilemma this week is simpler. Do you make this beef goulash in a pot in the oven or in your slow cooker? It’s another yes/yes decision and whichever you choose, there are instructions below. Best yet, there is no stench test, just a delicious aroma to enjoy.

Finish up winter with this delicious dish.

Beef goulash (two ways)

2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp plain flour (omit this for slow cooker)
1 kg chuck steak, cut into 2-3cm cubes
2 onions
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
1 parsnip, peeled, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp brown sugar
1 litre beef stock (slow cooker variation: ½ litre)
400g tomatoes
¼ cup tomato paste

You need a stove to oven casserole dish for this version of the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 160C.

1. Heat the oil in your casserole dish over medium/high heat. Toss the steak in the flour to coat. Shake off excess and cook in batches, turning to brown on all sides. Remove and set aside. Repeat until it is all done. (Take your time, it’s worth doing this properly – I always get this bit underway then chop up the rest of the vegies in between turning). Remove and set aside.

2. Add more oil to the pan if needed and sauté the onions, celery and carrot for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften. Add the parsnip then the garlic, stirring constantly.

3. Return the meat to the pan. Sprinkle over the paprika and sugar. Cook for another minute or so before pouring over the stock, tomatoes and tomato paste.

Cover with a lid, transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours.

Remove, season to taste and serve with pasta, peas and sour cream.


Heat a frying pan over medium/high heat. Add some oil and follow step 2 from the regular recipe. Pour this mix into the base of your 5.5-6 litre slow cooker.

Toss the meat in the paprika & sugar then pop straight into the cooker (yay – no need to brown). Pour over ½ litre stock, 400g tomatoes and ¼ cup tomato paste.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

SERVES 2 ADULTS & 6ish KIDS (or you’ll probably get enough for two family meals – stock the freezer).

20 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Natural New Age Mum said,

    that is hilarious!! My kids both do well at the ‘expo oratory’ at school, my son has won it three times in a row….. a lot of their speeches contain exaggerated truths about our home life! My daughter’s speech for this week is about a dodgy road trip with mum and dad – of course you can imagine the worst!! They tell me it’s a comedy routine and that’s what the kids like hearing!! 🙂

    • 2

      wendyblume said,

      yes, I mentioned to the teacher that I was very happy for her, but a little unsure about the subject matter. She assured me that humour goes a long way with 2nd class.

      Actually it still goes along way with me now. Like monkeys dressed in clothes and driving cars. ALWAYS funny. And farts – funny. And cartoon drawings of penises – HILARIOUS. Especially when drawn into not-yet-set concrete.

  2. 5

    Laura said,

    Miss F needs a disclaimer……

  3. 7

    Do you think she would be willing to tack an “Unfortunately this was just a tall tale because I really play Netball.” on the end? If not I would grin and bear it. I am sure lots of people will know it’s not true because a) kids make stuff up and b) I am sure she would have mentioned netball in the past at school.

    Either way, I am planning on doing this in the slow cooker for dinner tomorrow night 🙂 Must get the meat out of the freezer. Thank you.

    • 8

      wendyblume said,

      yes, i know i have to just cop it. but really, all the other kids have done lovely sensible talks about the Olympics and “my best day ever”. Not sure why she felt compelled to tackled “why my mum’s a bitch”… ummm….

    • 9

      wendyblume said,

      also, this recipe makes HEAPS. You could halve it if you need just one meal.

      • 10

        It’s in cooking right now and smelling great. It is rather liquidy (maybe because I didn’t have any parsnip) so I think I will serve it with cous cous.

        Yes, I will need to freeze some 🙂

      • 11

        wendyblume said,

        In the slow cooker? Did you use the smaller amount of liquid? You can always remove some liquid, mix in cornflour and return that through for the final hour. X

      • 12

        Yes, I used a bit under 2C water. I think I have figured it out though, I used a 400g can of tomatoes, not fresh ones.. I think I will give the cornflour trick a go, thanks 🙂

  4. 13

    […] “What would my mom do?” (vegiesmugglers.com.au) […]

  5. 14

    meganthorley said,

    thanks for the recipe, looks great

  6. 15

    Kim said,

    “Mom” ?! Im sorry but when I go to buy a book or card these days often it has the American spelling…………..its terrible!!!!!!!

  7. 17

    beccyb said,

    loved this, we did slow cooker, and it was a little liquidy, so will decrease for next time (sopped up nicely in mash though). Kids loved it too which was great because they haven’t been casserole-y kids before and I’m desperate to use the slow cooker more. The slow cooker packet stuff is so full of hideous numbers so this was great. thanks

    • 18

      wendyblume said,

      Glad the kids liked it! Sounds like I need to cut back the liquid recommendations a bit too – thanks for letting me know – you’re the second who says its too much.

  8. 19

    […] out of it is rich and unctuous – perfect for warming up from the inside out.  I whipped up this absolutely delicious Beef Goulash tonight and it might possibly be my favourite slow cooker recipe to date (I did play with the […]

  9. 20

    Caroline said,

    Really enjoyed this tonight. I love that it’s a slow cooker meal that I can put on before leaving for work and it can stew all day.

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