By Wanda Baker

When I was a young child growing up in a small town, I encountered my first moose. Not in the woods or side of the road but in my father’s garage. My dad was a hunter and enjoyed heading out to the wilderness whenever his name was drawn. I had innocently wandered into the garage and found a moose waiting to be butchered. Whether I knew it was there or not, I was always curious. Over the years stew came to us in many variations: moose, deer and of course, beef.

When I left that small town, I started cooking for myself leading to all kinds of experimentation. My mom made her stews fairly simple using onions, carrots, potatoes — all the usual suspects. I stuck with beef, chicken or pork since game meat wasn’t readily available. I learned to brown the meat and add flavour enhancers like garlic and ginger.

Over the years my stews have changed to suit our family and our busy lifestyle. Slow cooker stews make dinners quick and easy when we have to eat and run. But I’ll always remember the moose from my childhood and the delicious stew that followed.

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew, Courtesy of Wanda Baker, bakersbeans.ca, Calgary, Alta.

Beef and Barley Stew Bakersbeans

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 6-8 hours
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1-2lbs beef stew meat (1 inch cubes)
Canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, medium size, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups beef broth
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1 cup barley
Salt and pepper

Directions:
1. In a skillet over medium high heat add your oil, and brown beef in small batches. Remove from pan, and place in slow cooker. Continue until all beef is browned.
2. Turn heat down, pour a little more oil into pan, and add your onions, carrots and celery stirring for about 5 minutes. Toss in garlic.
3. Pour in a splash of beef broth, and scrape up all the brown bits from the pan. Add contents into slow cooker with beef.
4. Add remaining beef broth, bay leaves, soy sauce, ginger, and a pinch of salt & pepper to the slow cooker. Toss in your barley and cover.
5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.

Bakersbeans
Wanda Baker is a Calgary-based lifestyles and food blogger since 2006 and has been cooking with her mom in the kitchen since age five. Look to Bakersbeans for delicious recipes and family adventures in Calgary and beyond.