Julia Child, one of my culinary heroes, made a dish which was famously recreated, with mixed results, on the movie Julie and Julia.

By Stephanie Hill-Frazier

You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients. ~Julia Child

Julia Child, one of my culinary heroes, made a dish which was famously recreated, with mixed results, on the movie Julie and Julia. Making Julia's boeuf bourguignon is a long process, as the movie detailed. I enjoy cooking things like this that are "project recipes," though, when I have a lazy weekend day to devote to it. I love to cook, and fussing over a big Dutch oven full of the simmering, flavorful French beef stew is a pleasure. The combining of the ingredients is like creating a piece of art: the bright orange carrots, the yellow onions, the red wine, the chunks of browned meat…all combine to make a masterpiece for your table.

I have my grandfather's copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the book that made Julia Child a household name. He apparently made the boeuf bourguignon at least once, because the recipe is marked up with notes about how he altered it to suit his tastes. Julia would have been ok with that, as she mentions before launching into the recipe in the book that there is more than one way to arrive at a good final product.

I've not yet tried to emulate granddaddy's boeuf bourguignon. I will someday, I hope. But there's something about it that seems like it should be saved for a special event that hasn't occurred yet; I'm not sure what it is. In the meantime, though, I have created other versions of beef stews, much simpler ones, that nonetheless satisfied my family and myself, especially on a cool February night.

This one is my most recent recipe, wherein I actually made a soup that contains the elements of beef stew. I wrote it for ease of use in a slow-cooker. It simmers all day while you work or study or walk on the beach, and then when you get home, you find your home filled with a wonderful aroma and your slow cooker filled with the perfect, delicious supper. It's perfect to serve with garlic toast or even biscuits to dunk in the savory broth.

Slow-cooker beef and vegetable soup

Ingredients:

one pound stew meat, cubed

1 tablespoon olive oil

Two 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes

1 cup vegetable or beef broth (may use water, in a pinch)

3 red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into cubes

3 medium-sized carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/3 cup minced celery or 1/4 teaspoon celery seed

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Method:

1. Place oil in Dutch oven, and warm over medium-high heat. Brown meat in the oil on all sides.

2. Place browned meat in slow cooker.

3. Add tomatoes, broth, carrots, potatoes, onion, thyme, celery and salt to cooker. (Do not add peas yet.)

4. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

5. Stir in thawed peas and allow to heat in the broth for 10 minutes, or until completely heated through.

6. Taste for saltiness, and add a bit more if needed.

Serve with crusty French bread or crackers, and enjoy! Let me know how you like this or any recipe I've shared with you here; you can reach me via email at Steph@whatsouthernfolkseat.com. I'd love to hear from you!

Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef, whose on-air nickname is "Mama Steph". She grew up in Gulf County, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home.

She is married and has three sons who are substantially taller than she is. You can find more of her recipes at WhatSouthernFolksEat.com.