Beef Stew for Eleven

I am not used to cooking for eleven people.  For some reason, when I think of lots of people coming for dinner, I almost always think soup.  Take the baked potato soup last week as an example.  Other options included corn chowder, tortellini soup and lemon chicken soup.

So when our parents, ZNS, SJM, MJM, HS and CS came for dinner this weekend, I decided on beef stew.   Mom had just made it a week or two before, and it sounded like a good idea.  Especially since the plan for the rest of the evening was to wander around downtown.   And usually it's cold.  Not warm-ish and rainy.

Even though the weather isn't great, we still wandered downtown, and the rain thinned out the crowds, at least some.  I almost finished Christmas shopping!

(Thanks for PLS for the pictures!  I didn't think to bring my camera . . . )

The whole stew thing worked out pretty well.  I had enough time to make it when I got home, then stuck it in the oven for 4 hours, and had plenty of time to clean in the meantime!

Also, after watching the new Sound of Music last week, I decided it was time to watch the old one.  I might have done it while I was cleaning/cooking.

The interesting thing about this stew is that it has bread in it to help it thicken.  There's tapioca, too, but the bread just helps it get nice and thick.  It just disappears.  It's kind of amazing.  I used some nice honey wheat bread.

Also, can you believe the size of this onion?  It was HUGE!  I used it in place of three medium onions.  And was crying like a baby by the end.  Have I mentioned I don't like onions?

I may have overfilled my small dutch oven -- it overflowed and left a large burnt blob on the bottom of my oven.  It's caused lots of burned smells and the fire alarm to go off since I made the stew.  Oops.  I need to fix that.

The stew itself was much more successful.  We had enough for 11, plus a couple extra meals!  Not to mention all the other food!

There was cranberry fruit dip from Mom,

Greek salad from HS and CS,

the famous mint brownies from SJM and MJM,

and bread and tasty, tasty pumpkin cheesecake from PLS and GWS!  (How did I not get a picture of the cheesecake?!)

We weren't lacking food, that's for sure!

I've been making some creations with the leftovers.  But that's for another day.

Oh, and I've been itching to share this, but I wanted it to be a surprise when the visitors came!
I just made 6x6 inch pinwheels, and attempted to pin them onto a 12 inch foam wreath form with push pins.  The paper I was using was so thick that the pinwheels kept popping back out.  After fighting with some craft glue for a long time, I gave up and started using straight pins.  Amazing.  They worked!  Then I glued buttons on the ends of the pushpins.  Voila, wreath!

Beef Stew
from Darthea Brown

1 slice of bread (any type will do!)
1/3 cup celery, chopped
3 medium onions, chopped
2 cups sliced carrots
2-3 potatoes, chopped
1 1/2-2 lbs. stew beef, cubed
2 cups beef broth
3 tbsp. tapioca
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
black pepper
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
dash thyme

Mix all the ingredients in a large dutch oven or casserole.  Cover.

Bake for: 5 hours at 250 degrees OR 4 hours at 300 degrees OR 3 hours at 325 degrees.

Serves 4.  Will serve 6 or more if the broth, tapioca, salt, sugar and bread are doubled.  (That's how I made it!)


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