First: The Pot
I didn't know where to begin to look, I was just barely 20 and had no experience in such things, but I knew someone that would. My brother Carl! If you had know him, you would know that he was quite thrifty, and loved to find unique items at thrift stores. This was back in the day when going to thrift stores was not cool. Well, what would you know, but one day he surprised me and said that he found just what I was looking for! He found this pot on the shelf at our local Goodwill Store, and I think I had to pay $17.00 for it, which seemed like a lot back then. I was willing to part with the money and I have never regretted it! I have used this dutch oven countless times over the years, and though I know that cooking experience has much to do with it, you cannot beat the flavor of anything slow cooked in cast iron.
Recently, like many things (and people) over the years, my much loved dutch oven needed a face lift. Another brother, Tom, has obtained a wealth of knowledge on all things cast iron, and has perfected a technique for restoration. He took this dutch oven and a couple of skillets home with him last fall, and shipped them back to me all pretty and black, and slick as a whistle. I am a happy girl!
Can't you almost smell the beef stew in the pictures above? Look, really look at the second picture. Now, click on the second picture and take in all of those tender chunks of beef, the beautifully cooked potatoes (no mushy potatoes here), look at the perfect carrots. Doesn't this make you want to run out and grab some Dinty Moore? NOT! It makes you want to cook up a batch of this super easy, super delicious stew! Don't worry, if you do not have my dutch oven, just use the heaviest pan you have with a tight fitting lid.
This recipe came from my good friend Kasi. I have heard her talk about it for several years, and I decided it was time to try it. I will say, it is the best stew I ever ate!
1 cup of celery, sliced
1 onion , chopped
3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thick
1 can stewed tomatoes (juice and all)
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 TBS. salt
3 TBS. Instant Tapioca
***What I did different***
My stew meat was closer to 2 lbs, and I used it all. I did add more potatoes (2 more) and more carrots (2 more--wish I had added 4 more, they were g-o-o-o-d). I cut the celery, potatoes and carrots in large, uniform chinks. I then decided to add another can of stewed tomatoes, (mine were 14.5 oz cans).
I put this in this morning before I got ready for church. After church and some errands I checked it for the first time (5.5 hours). I decided to take the lid off and let it cook another 30 minutes uncovered while I made corn muffins and got everything ready.
***Why I love it**
I am actually amazed at a few things. First: it is just so easy. You do not brown the meat or fuss with anything. Second:I did not even stir this for over 5 hours. Third: everything cooked perfectly. Tender meat, vegetables cooked perfect, not mushy, not crunchy. Last, but most important: It is delicious!