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Crock Pot (or not) Beef Stew

I was almost ready to finish up this post yesterday and hit “publish” when I got the information about the Welcome Home Blankets. So this one sat waiting. The storm is over; no trees lost; no power outage. But there’s always next time! 🙂

Wow. It is stor-or-ormy out there! The evergreens that surround our house (and I mean surround … as if they were swat-trees with a bullhorn, trying to talk me into releasing some hostages) look like they’re in the middle of an intense zumba class — bending, swaying, wiggling their evergreen hips. I’m just hoping none of them have an evergreen heart-attack and keel over in my direction. (Are two similes in one paragraph one simile too much?)

Whenever it gets stormy like this, I go into “we’re all gonna die” mode. Well, maybe not that drastic. It’s more of a, “we’re all gonna be shower-deprived” mode. That’s because we’re on a well, and the well runs on an electric pump, and whenever Snohomish county has power outages, our long, potholed country road is the absolute last road noticed. We’ve gone four days without power before. So I have to be prepared. That means filling up every container in the house with water, doing all the dishes and laundry as fast as I can, and getting in one last shower. If the outage lingers long, I can always go down to our church for showers. And yes, now that we have a gas stove top, I don’t have to cook on the wood stove anymore … but give me my Walnut Grove fantasy, willya? It’s the end of the world.

Windstorms (and potential power outage) always make me think “stew.” That’s because in the old days, when I really and truly had to cook all our food on the wood stove, stew was a storm staple. They just naturally go together in my mind. So guess what’s cooking today? Lasagna. Haha! No … it’s stew, of course.

This is a very simple recipe. You can add things you like and take away things you don’t. You can do it on low on top of the stove (even the wood stove 🙂 ) or on low in the crock pot. You can even cook it on high in the crock pot if you’re pressed for time. And because it’s just that versatile, I like to call this:

Crock Pot (or not) Beef Stew

  • 1 1/2 lbs stew meat (any kind will do)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup deglazing liquid: red wine, broth or water
  • 15 oz can diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 can water and a healthy scoop of bouillon OR 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp porcini powder OR sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 or 6 potatoes
  • about 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 can green beans

In a gallon-sized baggie, add the flour, garlic powder, celery salt and paprika.

If your stew meat came in big pieces like this:

Cut each into 2 or 3 bite-sized pieces. Then drop into baggie and shake around till they’re completely covered in the flour mixture:


Now shake a little olive oil around the bottom of a Dutch Oven (or your favorite soup/stew pot) and let it get hot. Add the beef pieces in two batches and cook till brown:

When you’ve browned all the pieces, deglaze the pan by adding whatever liquid you choose. Use a metal spatula to scrape up all the browned parts–you want every one. If you’re transferring to a crock pot, do that at this time. If it helps to get all the browned bits, add either the beef broth or the water and bouillon at this time and swirl it around.

Here’s that scoopable “Better Than Bouillon” I mention in every other post. I can’t imagine not having this in my pantry:

To either the soup pot or the crock pot, add the tomatoes, the water and bouillon OR beef broth (if you didn’t add that to the pot above), and the porcini powder if you took my advice back in November and made a batch. Otherwise, you could always saute some fresh mushrooms and add those. But I’d like to take this opportunity to describe for you how nice and leisurely it is to just reach in the cupboard and pull out a batch of no-mess, work’s-already-done-for-you mushroom flavoring. Just sayin’.

Now add the bay leaf and seasonings, and the potatoes, cut into small chunks like this:

Add at least two cups of baby carrots. Who doesn’t love baby carrots?

Now decide how you’re going to cook the stew.

Stovetop: cover and cook for at least 2 hours on low, watching carefully, stirring often, and adding water as needed. During the last half hour, add the peas and green beans.

Crockpot: It’s best to cook this on low for 8-10 hours. But if you’re in a hurry, you can cook this on high for about 6 hours. Either way, add the peas and the green beans during the last half hour.

Serve with a nice loaf of crusty, buttered French bread.

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