Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Potluck Group and German Beef Stew

When I lived in Washington, DC, I was part of a potluck group that met every month for several years. We were six ladies who would try new recipes or make our favorite recipes for each other. Each month someone would host potluck at their home or very small apartment. The hostess would make the main dish and everyone else would bring a dish - appetizer, side dishes, soups, salads, and desserts.

I met many of these wonderful ladies on an adult kickball league in my early twenties. I didn't know many people in the DC when I heard about the kickball league, so my coworker Daniela and I decided to join a team. Because of that decision, we made friends with so many incredible people and women who I learned a lot from. We were like kids one night every week during the summer months out on fields playing the game from our youth and we had a great time getting to know each other. We would play kickball and then go to the bars in Adams Morgan to have a few drinks and play flip cup. I'm convinced we all joined the kickball team to be able to go out and drink with friends; most of us didn't care about the game.

After getting to know several of the women in the group, we decided to form a potluck group with six of us. I don't remember how the conversation started, but I'm so glad that someone mentioned the idea. For many years, Daniela, Allison, Nancy, Elizabeth, Rachel, and I (and then Jacey once Allison moved out of the area) would get together to try new foods. In 2005, Nancy put together a cookbook with many of the recipes that we made. Since 2005, I have moved several times and my cookbook was lost somewhere between Washington, DC and Green Bay. Recently, I was reminiscing about our potluck group and thinking about all of the wonderful food and friendships that were made!

I sent a Facebook post out to the group and get a copy of the book and Nancy emailed it the next day (always so efficient!! :)) I read all the recipes and laughed about how some recipes got their names and thinking about conversations that we had over great food. I am thankful that I was part of this potluck group. Many of us have moved away from Washington, DC but we all find ways to stay up-to-date with each other (thank you Facebook and blogs) and I hope like me, all of the other ladies have great memories of our food and friendship.

One of my favorite recipes is a German Beef Stew that Daniela made. I make this stew several times during the winter and it always gets a thumbs up from people. And for some strange reason I email or Facebook Daniela every time I make this recipe. I'm not sure where she got the recipe, but I'm happy to share it with you all today!

German Beef Stew
- 2 Tbs vegetable oil
- 1 Clove garlic, crushed
- 8.5 cups Beef broth or water
- 1/2 cup White vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1.5 lbs Potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks (4 cups)
- 1 cup Sliced onion
- 3 lbs Stew beef, cut 1" cubes
- 1 Tbs Sugar
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 cups Carrots, sliced
- 1 tsp Dill weed, crushed
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1 TBS Flour

Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion and garlic, saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Add beef, saute until browned on all sides. Return onion to pot. Stir in broth, vinegar, sugar, salt and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered about 1.5 hours. or until tender. Add potatoes, carrots and dill. Simmer covered until meat and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

If you're eating the stew the evening you're making it: Mix flour and 1/4 cup water. Stir in stew, mix well. Cook and stir about 2 minutes until thickened. Eat and enjoy. (My stew never seems to thicken, so I just leave it more as a soup.)

If you're eating it the next day: Refrigerate overnight. Remove layer of fat. Simmer, stirring frequently, until heated through. Mix flour and 1/4 cup water. Stir in stew, mix well. Cook and stir about 2 minutes until thickened. Eat and enjoy.

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