Beef - it's what is for dinner, or was for dinner last Saturday

My nana and grandpa used to take all the grandkids camping at least once a summer.  If you've ever camped in the Pacific Northwest, you know that best laid plans often go to pot and you usually end up using a fair number of blue tarps.  See this link for a funny video about camping in Washington.

Since we usually ended up in the little trailer for the duration of the trip, we had two things to keep us occupied - playing cards with nana and grandpa, and eating.  Not too many things make me remember rainy camping afternoons playing cribbage, like the smell of beef stew on the stove.

My nana made the best beef stew.  Like everyone in our family, nana never used recipes and rarely wrote anything down.  Side story, after she passed, my aunt spent years trying to perfect nana's Almond Roca recipe.  She has it down now, but geez it was quite an undertaking!

I make a beef stew that is an homage to nana's.  I've changed the broth up to incorporate more veggies, and the spices are somewhat different.  But, my heart always thinks of nana when I'm whipping up a big crockpot full of it.

And just a word of warning between now and um, next April.  It gets dark up in Washington quite early during the winter months.  And since I can only figure out about 25% of what my camera does, the next few months will likely prove to produce dark and somewhat blurry photos.  Sigh.

Sarah's Nana's Beef Stew.  Kinda.  Sorta
1 lb of roast or stew meat
6 big organic carrots, peeled and cut in to chunks
7 organic potatoes, cut in to chunks
1 bottle of vegetable juice
2-4 cups of organic beef broth
A gabillion cloves of garlic
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
Smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Whole wheat flour

In a crockpot, pour 1 container of organic vegetable juice.  My friend Laney told me about this trick, and it "makes" the stew.  It also "makes" Jack drink 5 kinds of veggies that he isn't aware of.  A win win in my book.
Even though this is organic, I found it on sale and it was $1.25 cheaper than a can of V8 the same size.  Eating organic doesn't always mean more expensive if you watch for sales.
Add diced onion and potatoes (I don't bother to peel.  Cause I'm lazy) to the crockpot.  On the stove, heat a pan on medium high, and add olive oil.  Let the oil heat for about 30 seconds and then add the carrots.  Stir often to keep the carrots from burning.  You're just trying to sear them.  Add them to the crockpot.
You can see by the smoke/steam in this photo how hot the pan was.
 In a Ziploc bag, add about 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, and add the diced beef; toss to coat.  In the same pan that you just cooked the carrots in, add a bit more olive oil and then the beef.  Stir for about 1 minute, or until the meat is lightly seared.  Add to the crockpot.
After the searing
Add enough beef broth to the crockpot to almost cover all the veggies and meat.  Add the garlic and spices.
Cook on high for about 5 hours, or on low all day.  If the stew is a bit too brothy, mix about 1/4 cup of corn starch (I can't find an organic version of this.  Oh well) in a bowl and add a little cold water.  Mix thoroughly in the bowl, and then incorporate it in to the crockpot.

This pairs perfectly with Crusty No Knead Bread.

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