Comfort in a Crock

It’s officially fall here in Chicagoland, and the cooler weather has me wanting nothing more than beef stew and pot roast. At the grocery store yesterday, I picked up a package (about 1.5 lbs) of very lean stew meat, and made the decision that today would be a beef stew day.

Growing up, I always knew it was fall and winter when, after a day at school, I would come home to the unmistakeable smell of my mom’s beef stew. Her recipe was perfect, and only after I started cooking did I truly understand the time it took to make it. It was an hour on the stove with just the meat, onions, celery, and about 2 cups of wine. Then another hour with the rest of the ingredients, then it only got better as it sat.

I knew that when I got home from work today, I was not going to want to cook a 2 hour dinner. So I decided, I’m going to crockpot mom’s recipe! Alas, I had forgotten to get wine at the grocery store, so I substituted extra beef broth. Here is the full recipe:

Perfect Beef Stew


1.5 lbs. lean stew meat (I used bottom round)

2 cups beef broth (or 1 cup wine, 1 cup broth)

10 small red potatoes, washed and halved

2 medium yellow onions, cut into small chunks

1 small bag baby carrots

2 ribs celery, cut into a few pieces

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. oregano

1/2 c. ketchup (or tomato paste)


In a large crockpot (mine is 5.5 quarts), place all ingredients and mix well. Cook on low for at least 6 hours, but the longer, the better. Stir well before serving. Enjoy!

Simple. Perfect. And so satisfying. This hit the “exhausted teacher” button, in that I came home to dinner being done. It also hit the “my mom’s going on a 2-week vacation to southeast Asia and I’ll miss her” button in that it was so nostalgic, and I feel very accomplished that my stew tasted so much like hers.

One other thing I’m realizing as I’m cooking more family recipes, is that both my mother and grandmother were not only outstanding cooks, but they were healthy cooks too! I never thought it was odd that my mom would’ve rather served us “Egg McMimis” instead of Egg McMuffins…hers were real eggs, real cheese, and a whole wheat english muffin with a slice of smoked turkey. Grandma always measured her oil, kept her chocolate in the freezer out of reach, and saved baked goods for special occasions. Grandma’s “special occasions though, included “The grandkids are here, break out the banana-chocolate cake!”

I’m quite mellow and nostalgic today… *sigh* …


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