Bob Hopkins Firehouse Oven Stew

This was Evie’s request for supper today. This stew has stewing beef, which Evie calls steak, all beef to her is steak and she loves steak. Unless it is ground beef that is hamburger, or hangerburger as she called it until recently.

This recipe came from my uncle, a retired paramedic, who made this stew in the firehouse where he worked. I think Evie likes this because she thinks it is cool because it is what they ate at the firehouse. The original recipe that I have written down just calls it oven stew, but we changed it to include the firehouse, Evie eats it much better that way.

This stew is very easy and quick to put together, but it is slow food, cooks for 3-4 hours in the oven. Basically you put it in the oven and forget about it until it is done. You can check on it and stir it once or twice if you feel like it, but don’t have to.

I am not sure if my pictures will show properly, I always has trouble inserting them and they preview differently than when they post… I don’t know what you are going to see here, if it is too messed up I will repost.

Take 1-1/2 lbs stewing beef and cut into small chunks
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, slices (I use 3)
1-2 potatoes, chunked

7 &1/2oz can tomato sauce
½ cup beef broth
¾ tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper
I add a few splashes of Worchestershire sauce too.

Combine all ingredients in a roaster or casserole dish.





Cover and cook at 300F for 3-4 hours until tender. Makes 4 large servings or 5 smaller ones. We serve with crusty bread or rolls.


This was quite thrifty for us to make because we had the meat in the freezer and had everything else in the fridge and cupboard. Everything other than the meat is quite cheap to buy, but usually stuff you would have in the kitchen.

Stew was good today because it was freezing outside, again. We went for a short bike ride to the lake and walked along the edge. The lake has been drained quite low and we could walk on the ground that is normally under 3-4 feet of water. It will be full again soon and we will be there to see the ducks, geese and loons. We did have an exciting find, a rock that had plant fossils in it!




Rotini Pie and Maple Sap

Today we were going to visit an old working sugar bush to see maple syrup being made the old fashioned way, but it was a bust, sort of. We went got kind of lost found another sugar bush that was finishing up production, the new way, with tubing and vacuum. Not very exciting for a 4 year old. We did see some friendly, very curious cows and did see a few taps and buckets.




I was planning to have some nice pictures and stories from the sugar bush, but some adventures just don’t pan out.

We came home and made rotini pie for supper.

I have been making this recipe since I was very young, at least early teens. I think the original recipe came off a pasta box or sauce jar and has been adapted and changed many times. I am always asked for the recipe. It is quite simple and thrifty, could even be adapted for a vegetarian (as long as cheese and eggs were ok).

Basically, make a meat sauce (or meat free).

I just sauté lightly a small onion finely diced with a large clove (or two small ones) of garlic. I finely chopped, but you could mince.



I add a little pepper and some dried oregano (ours we dried from our garden last summer). Add pasta sauce and simmer.

Sometimes I also add a splash of balsamic vinegar.


Cook 3-4 cups of rotini according to package directions. Drain and add back to the pot and let cool for just a couple of minutes.

Stir in two eggs that have been lightly beaten, a handful of shredded mozzarella, and about ¼ cup finely grated parmesan.


Stir together and place into a 9 or 10 inch pie plate.


Sprinkle another couple of handfuls of mozzarella on top of pasta and sprinkle of parmesan.


Top with meat sauce, then more mozza and parmesan.


Bake in 350F oven for 20-30 minutes until hot and cheese is melted and bubbly.


Let cool about 10 minutes before cutting into pieces.


Very Yummy!

Cinnamon Rolls and Weaving

We have been trying to update our blog for weeks, but it has been very busy with March Break, Easter and birthday parties.

Evie has been requesting that we make cinnamon rolls for about three weeks now, but since they take hours of rising time we haven’t been able.  Finally today we found the time, somewhat unexpectedly and made the rolls. 

Here are the ingredients for the dough.


3 eggs; ¾ cup buttermilk, warmed; 6 tbsp melted butter, cooled to just warm; 4 cups flour; ¼ cup sugar; 1 envelope yeast; 1¼ tsp salt

This is for the cinnamon mixture for the rolls.


¾ cup brown sugar; 2 tsp cinnamon; ¼ tsp cloves; 1 tbsp melted butter

Evie is my whisker, and she loves to whisk the eggs and wet ingredients in recipes. Whisk the eggs, buttermilk and butter.Image

In a large bowl, of stand mixer, mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  Then add the wet mixture and mix for about a minute until the dough comes together, Then mix on medium for 8-10 minutes until dough is elastic and leaves the side of the bowl, but is still a little sticky.


Knead the dough on the counter a few times to get a smooth ball, then turn it into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a tea towel and small blanket.  Let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, should double in size. 

While the dough is rising, in a small bowl mix brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves.  Set aside.

When 2 hours is up put dough on counter and press out into a 12×16 inch rectangle. 


Brush with 1 tbsp of melted butter. 


Sprinkle the rectangle with the sugar mixture.


Roll the dough along the long end and even out to about an 18 inch log.  Slice the dough into 12 even pieces.  Place cut side down in a well greased 9×13 inch metal pan.



Cover again and let rise to double in size another 1 to 1 ½ hours. 


Bake in 350F oven for 20-25 minutes, until well risen, puffy and light brown. Image

Turn out onto a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling mix 3 tbsp each of soft cream cheese, milk and 1 and ¼ cups of icing sugar.  Place this in a zip top bag and snip a small piece off the corner and squeeze over warm rolls.  They were very good! Image


Very proud moment, can’t wait to eat it!

In the meantime, while the dough was rising Evie wanted to go weaving on her loom and has been asking to learn to crochet.  She just weaved by herself all afternoon, off and on between playing with other things. 


When she finished her square, she got to learn how to crochet!



All done, a little “potholder”! 


That is going to be a pad for Mell’s orange teapot that we gave her.  That was her plan and she chose those colours to match it.  She has already started her next one and can’t wait to crochet again.