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Kitchen Mailbox: Sleepy stew comes from beloved book

Thursday, September 21, 2000

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

I've been using this recipe for years." -- Betty Benecki, Plum.

"This is a favorite recipe because it is all prepared and put in the oven undisturbed for five hours. It is good to make when you are going to be busy." -- Theresa F. Wanaby of Troy Hill.

"The cookbook is from the '60s; price on mine is 50 cents. It is a fun book -- enjoyable to read." -- Daralyn J. Campbell of Canonsburg.

"Attached is the recipe for Stay Abed Stew. Note the cost of this cookbook (50 cents) for the paperback copy. I also had the hardcover years ago." -- Helen Van of Edgewood.

Sometimes cookbooks are not only for cooking but for reliving fond memories like Mary Jane Munro's of Harmar. "You will probably get many responses for this recipe. I took this cookbook (Peg Bracken's "I Hate to Cookbook") to a ladies' club, and they all got some good laughs over the names of her recipes, and they said they still make the stew."

Those are just five of the 26 readers who responded to the request by Don Pawlak of Wilkinsburg for Peg Bracken's recipe for Stay Abed Stew.

Our readers were right on target: This stew turned out great.

A few readers (three to be exact) sent in their own recipes for an easy stew. We've featured all three because we really couldn't decide which we liked best.

Here's the requested recipe. It's from "The I Hate to Cookbook" by Peg Bracken.

Stay Abed Stew

Mix these things up in a casserole dish that a has a tight lid:

2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed
1 15-ounce can tiny peas *
1 cup sliced carrots
2 chopped onions
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
1 can cream of tomato soup thinned with 1/2 can water (cream of celery or cream of mushroom can be substituted)
1 large potato, sliced
Piece of bay leaf *

Put the lid on and put the casserole in a 275-degree oven. Now go back to bed. It will cook happily all by itself and be done in five hours.

* If you don't like peas or bay leaf, leave them out.

Note: We couldn't find a soup labeled cream of tomato so we used tomato soup and thinned the soup with milk instead of water.

"Don Pawlak of Wilkinsburg asked about a seven-hour stew. Not having the recipe, I thought perhaps he would like to try this one, which is excellent." -- Jean Stephenson of Bethel Park.

No Peek Stew

1 1/2 pounds beef cubes
5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup celery, sliced
4 tablespoons tapioca
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 package onion soup mix
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
2 cups water

Combine all ingredients in oven-proof casserole or Dutch oven. Bake at 275 degrees for 4 hours, and "don't peek."

Easy Beef Stew was sent in by Betty Kaiser of O'Hara.

Easy Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat
5 stalks celery, diced
4 or 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
1 14 1/2 ounce can green beans with juice
4 or 5 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 15-ounce jar whole onions with juice
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 cup tapioca
3 teaspoons salt
2 or 3 tablespoons sugar

Mix all ingredients together in a large casserole, cover and bake at 275 degrees for six hours.

"This recipe for five-hour stew was given to me at my bridal shower in 1988, and I have used it repeatedly with super results." -- Elisa Schmidt of Bethel Park.

Five-Hour Stew

2 pounds chuck roast or beef stew cubes (we used the cubes)
2 1/2 cups cubed potatoes
2 cups carrots, cut in chunks (we cut ours into 2-inch chunks)
1 cup chopped celery
2 small onions, chopped or left whole (we used chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup V-8 juice
1 1/2 cups tomato *
2 teaspoons tapioca

Prepare vegetables, and if you're using chuck roast, cut it into cubes. Combine all ingredients, place in large oven-proof casserole with lid or in Crock-Pot. Bake at 250 degrees for five hours or in the slow cooker on high for 6 to 7 hours.

* May omit the tomato juice and use 2 1/2 cups V-8 juice.


Joan Leuch of Pleasant Hills would like a recipe for cinnamon scones similar to the scones sold at the Irish festival.

Do you keep your recipes a secret? Kathi Jo Lappin of Uniontown, Ohio, came across a cookie/candy made of soda crackers coated with either chocolate or caramel, and she couldn't persuade the cook to part with the recipe. If anyone has this recipe, please send it to Kitchen Mailbox.

"Heavenly and sinful." That's how Rosemarie Helmick of Canonsburg describes Earthquake Cake, and she would love to have the recipe. It's made of chocolate.


"I really enjoy your articles. I look forward to Thursday mornings. My husband always hands me the Food section of his paper to read while I'm having coffee."

Della Dunsieth,
New Castle.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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