It's been another busy and kind of crazy week here at the Thompson household. We are back-up babysitters when our son and his wife need us in Frisco. Last week, we filled in a few days because their nanny got the flu. Mike and I are trying very hard to keep all of us free from illness. When our other Aledo grandchildren come over for dinner on Sunday nights, I know they are tired of hearing me say, "have you washed your hands?" But they now know the first thing they do when they enter MY kitchen is "wash up." I heard that proper hand washing is 20 seconds in duration, about as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday to yourself two times. Now that my hands are a little raw, so far no-one is sick around here.It's so refreshing to have dinner cooking all day long and the Crock-Pot is the perfect remedy and answer to that constant ongoing question, "what's for dinner?"Dee Dee's Slow-cooker Beef StewThis is so good, smells wonderful cooking, and feeds 6-8 people. However, leftovers are always great for a hearty lunch a couple days later.1/4 cup flour1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper2 pounds stew meat, cut into about one inch cubes1 Tablespoon olive oil1 and 1/2 cups beef broth (I like boxed organic low sodium)2 medium yellow onions, chopped3 garlic cloves, minced or chopped fine1 teaspoon paprika1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce1/2 teaspoon dried basilGenerous grinding black pepper4 medium carrots cut into chunks4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks1 bay leaf (remove before serving stew)Directions:Put flour, salt and pepper in a sealable plastic bag. Add beef and shake in the bag to cover with mixture. Remove beef, shaking off excess flour. Heat oil in large frying pan; add meat in bunches but don't crowd, and cook until browned. Add beef broth to the pan and stir, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.Put the beef and broth and remaining ingredients in a slow-cooker, and stir well. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 10-12 hours, until meat is tender OR cook on HIGH for 4-6 hours until meat is tender.The bay leaf gives a good flavor to the stew, just be sure you take it out before serving this great stew.Orange Pork ChopsThis is very tasty and goes well with rice, fresh green beans and a green salad.4 loin-cut pork chops, 1-inch thickLemon pepper1 teaspoon oil, like Canola1 large orange1/4 cup orange marmalade1/2 cup ketchupSprinkle pork chops lightly with lemon pepper. Quickly brown in oil and then place in slow-cooker.From the orange, you need 1/2 cup orange juice and 1 teaspoon orange zest. (grated rind but not into the white of the skin)Combine zest and juice with marmalade and ketchup and pour over pork chops. Cover and cook on LOW 6-8 hours or until meat is tender. This makes 4 servings.Tip: Pierce a couple slits or small holes in a lemon, orange, or lime and microwave for 9-12 seconds on a paper plate. Let cool. Slice and the juice will flow abundantly.My Weatherford friends, Carol Mc Nealy and Grenetta Bledsoe, shared this happy little treat. Bet you can't eat just one. Thanks to both these sweet ladies, former neighbors, who are not only good cooks but are expert gardeners.Rolo Pecan Pretzel CookieStack the following on a cookie sheet, working from the bottom up:Small pretzels (called "Snaps" on the package-about the size of a nickel)Rolo CandyWhole PecansDirections:Before starting, take the wrappers off the candy, as this takes time.Preheat oven to 250 degrees.Bake in warm oven until soft, about 5 minutes. Set a timer but check on them before timer goes off. When they are soft, remove from oven and press down a pecan so that the three stick together.Let cool and refrigerate for about 30 minutes so they'll harden quickly.Kids can join in on this recipe.Next week: I'll feature a recipe sent to me from another friend who resides in Aledo, Anne Kane; she generously sent me several delightful ones. I will be featuring some of hers over the next few weeks. I've also been working on a chocolate chip cookie that is working out nicely. I wanted to keep trying to get it just right, and now I think I've got it.Please stay well, keep healthy and keep extra chicken soup in the pantry, just in case.