Harvest Beef Stew

     Summers in Stafford County always meant taking meals to the field during wheat harvesting. Despite the hot weather, my dad wanted a large, hot “dinner” at noon. Therefore, mornings were spent cooking in the kitchen. This easy baked stew was one of his favorite dishes. Mom usually made coleslaw and her signature cobbler to go with it. And there were always wide-mouth quart canning jars filled with iced tea – they were “icy” and thirst quenching!
     Fried chicken and meatballs were other favorites. And a popular side -- garden green beans with new potatoes. Mom cooked them together with bacon and onions – long and slow until the flavors melded. Another favorite was sliced cucumbers and onions, pickled in a vinegar and water solution. And, her wilted lettuce salads were tart, tangy and absolutely delicious.
     My stew was made in the slow cooker and the smells wafting through the air took me right back to the kitchen in the rural home where I grew up. I put our stew in the slow cooker around noon on the auto setting (alternates between low and high) and it was ready by “suppertime”.

Cooking for Two – the beauty of this recipe is that you can vary the amounts. Chuck roast was on sale — bought a smaller one; cut it in half and chunked one portion for this recipe. Wrapped the other and put it in the freezer for a slow cooker roast beef dinner later.

Harvest Stew
Stew meat, cubed
Salt & pepper to taste.
Celery, sliced
Carrots, peeled and sliced into about ½ or ¾”   rounds
Potatoes, peeled and cubed or sliced
1 (10.5 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
Onions, sliced (I like relatively thick slices)
(I also added some fresh herbs – oregano, rosemary and thyme)

1.  Grease or spray a casserole — select a size to suit the size of your family.
2.  Place a layer of cubed beef in bottom, sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
3.  Add a layer of chopped celery; a layer of sliced carrots; a layer of cubed or sliced potatoes. 
4.  Mix a can of tomato soup with a half can of water and pour over the vegetables. 
5.  Add a final layer of sliced onions. 
6.  Bake at 300° for 3 hours or more in the oven. Or, bake in the slow cooker (see my notes above).
Harvest Stew w/ coleslaw and foccacia bread.

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