Sometimes i just get stewed

When I first moved out on my own, I moved from the little Virginia town I grew up in, and was the only home I had known for 25 years, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. I got pretty homesick sometimes, and back then if you called outside your county limits you paid long-distance charges for the call. I had to budget out how often and when I called mom and dad. I think the rates changed after 8 o’clock in the evening, so I always waited until then to call and kept it to a quick 10 minutes.

One of those calls that first fall was to ask mom about the beef stew we had made several times. I don’t really know where the recipe came from, but she read if off to me and I scribbled it down. I still have that handwritten recipe. Usually you cherish recipes in your mom’s or grandmaw’s handwriting, but I still hear her voice when I read it and I feel connected once again. It makes me a little homesick still, but not for home so much as just a time long gone.

Old Time Beef Stew


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds of beef, cubed

2 tablespoons flour

2 quarts water

3 tablespoons Worcester sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

2 Bay leaves

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon allspice

dash cloves

6-8 carrots, sliced

4-6 potatoes, cubed

1 stalk celery, diced


In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Dust cubed beef with flour and toss to coat the meat. When oil is hot, brown beef. When beef is browned, add 2 quarts water to the pot along with Worcester sauce, garlic, onion, bay leaves, salt, pepper, sugar, allspice, and cloves. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Next add the carrots, potatoes, and celery. Cover and continue to simmer for 45 minutes longer or until meat and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

If stew has not thickened enough, make a slurry of flour and hot broth from the stew, about 4 tablespoons flour to 1 cup of broth. Mix until flour and broth are well combined and pour back into stew while stirring. This will thicken it quickly, so you may want to turn off the heat when you start this. When thick, it is ready to serve. Remove Bay leaves before serving.

Serve in a bread bowl or with some crusty bread, crisp cornbread, or fried cornbread patties.

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The Appalachian Tale

Memories, recipes, and Tales of an Appalachian Boy.

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