Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Difference, Kids, and Argentinean Beef Cook Up

When I was growing up, I was a frequent flyer at my local library.  Though I read wide and deep, there were a few books I remember checking out again and again, like a chain-reader: Louisa May Alcott, Girl of Old Boston ... Free Stuff for Kids ... and Many Friends Cooking.

Many Friends Cooking was published by UNICEF as a "hey, look how much fun other cultures can be" educational tool for kids, back when we thought intolerance could be overcome by international cuisine immersion.  Though we are now a little more willing to admit that food and "cultural dress-up day" isn't the answer to getting kids to appreciate and embrace diversity, I still like the book; it gets kids to think about sampling new, non-threatening but different foods and making that experience fun.

When my son was about two, I started to hunt for Many Friends Cooking, wanting to pass on to him my love of cooking and international foods and stories from around the globe.  I found a used copy online, along with its companion Many Hands Cooking, and every once in a while we pull them out and cook something together; most of the recipes are extremely kid-friendly, so much so that a child can take the lead in the kitchen.  I hope that I can teach both of my kids that difference isn't insurmountable; that we can learn each others' languages; that we can work alongside one another in the kitchen and in many places; that we can be friends.

This recipe isn't all that "different" from a traditional stew you'd find in the U.S., but its origin is Argentinean (hence the meat ... which is apparently what the cowboys eat). You can veganize it by omitting the meat and tossing in some beans after sauteeing the onions and pepper.  It's a perfect dish for the chilly nights that are starting to become more the norm now here.

Beef (or Bean!) Cook-Up

2 lbs. stew meat, 1" cubes (or equivalent beans of your choice)
1 large onion, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
6 potatoes, 1/2" cubes
3 ears corn, 1" rounds (1 c. canned)
3 T. vegetable oil
4 c. broth
1 bay leaf
1 T. oregano
salt and pepper to taste
4 peaches or apples, sliced

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat and brown meat on all sides.  Remove it to a plate.

Add onions and green pepper to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Return beef to the pan and add the tomatoes, potatoes, and seasonings.  Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 1 1/2 hours.

Add corn and fruit to the stew and cook 5 minutes longer.  Enjoy!
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  1. I used to LOVE Free Stuff for Kids. I would literally look through it and just dream of all the stuff I could possibly received in the mail. :)

    This stew looks amazing. I wonder if I could substitute turkey or chicken?? Anything that has apples/peaches as an ingredient has me sold.

  2. ah, miss alcott was a favorite of mine as well :)

    & the stew looks awesome. i love a one pot dish!!!

  3. I worked in a school that was extremely diverse; only 3 of the children had parents who were born in this country. And while I definitely agree that "dress up and eat food" isn't enough to embrace diversity, it sure was amazing to watch those kids and their parents glow and share at the yearly multicultural festival! That stew looks warm and hearty...perfect for crisp fall evenings.

  4. I am ready for fall stews and soups! Yesterday I made a big ol' batch of chicken stock, and I'm eager to put it to use. ;)

    I love that you cook with your son and involve him in the recipes. I wear Arlo a lot of the time when I'm in the kitchen, and I narrate to him as I go, with hopes that it is a learning experience. (Like, "this carrot is orange", and "can you smell this ginger?") Maybe it means nothing to him, but I just hope it normalizes his place in the kitchen and builds a healthy connection with food.

    I am totally going to do a little digging around for this book. I wonder if my library has it? Do you read Cooking with My Kid? (I'm sure you do!)

  5. Oh, libraries...may they be around for a long time more. I love the sound of that cooking book, and of the two of you whipping things up together. (Food is truly one of the great joys of life.)

  6. Isn't it fun revisiting the books from our childhood? I loved rediscovering some of my favorites when the girls were young. I loved Louisa May Alcott too!

  7. This looks so good. What a thick and heart-some soup. Thank you for sharing it with me...and thank you for visiting my own blog. And I loved Alcott too :-)

  8. Soup... mmmmmmm, winter, yeah! We had a gorgeous Halloween, high of 80 degrees, lol. Ready for fall already.


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