Feature Friday Block Party Blog Hop

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Summer is coming to an end. Although I love seeing the leaves change colors, I will miss the warm weather (at least until I head for Florida), swimming, sailing, and all of the fun things that go along with summer. On the other hand, Fall is harvest season, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and comfort foods. We are entering the time of year when I make homemade soups and stews.

A pot of stew became a very important element in my first P.J. Benson mystery. Since P.J. is a CPA and THE CROWS, takes place one week prior to the deadline to file, P.J. is willing to accept her neighbor’s offering of a pot of stew. Finding time to cook isn’t easy when you have stacks of returns to finish and sheriffs’ deputies are either accusing you of murder or considering you crazy.

Here’s what the neighbor brought to P.J. (I did leave out one ingredient Nora added)


BEEF STEW* (Called humble pie by some who need to eat crow)


2 Tbsp olive oil
1- 1 ½ lb beef (chuck or round) cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp flour
½ large sweet onion or 2 med, cut into ½” pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 stalks celery, cut into ½” pieces
4 med. Carrots, washed but not peeled, cut into ½” pieces
4 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
1-2 cups water + 1 beef bouillon cube or 1 can beef broth
¼ tsp dried basil or 2-3 fresh leaves
½ tsp thyme or sprig of fresh
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste


1. Brown beef cubes in oil. When partially browned, add onions and sauté until clear.
2. Dust meat & onions with flour. Sauté another minute or two.
3. Add water & beef bouillon cube or can of beef broth. Add more water as needed.
4. Add garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, basil, thyme, bay leaf and salt and pepper.
5. Bring to boil, then turn heat down. Simmer for one to two hours or until meat is tender.
6. Serve with French bread.

Serves six. (Or 2 if my husband is really hungry.)

The Crows CoverAnd here’s an excerpt from THE CROWS:

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“Brought you something,” Nora said, coming up the steps. “You can call it humble pie. I’ve come to eat crow.”

I looked into the pot. I’ll admit, I half expected to see a crow’s head. Instead, I saw chunks of meat, carrots, and potatoes.

“It’s a stew. Beef stew,” Nora said. “Rose made it. She makes great stews, and we got talking about how I acted Saturday night.” Nora stared down at the pot of stew. “Rose said I owed you an apology and that you might appreciate having someone bring you dinner since you’re so busy right now with taxes and all.”

“I do appreciate this.“ If Rose’s stew was as good as her cooking Saturday night, it would be delicious. And since I hadn’t even thought about dinner and didn’t have anything out of the freezer–or even the refrigerator–an already prepared meal was a Godsend.

Nora held out the ceramic pot. “So enjoy.”

It sounded like an order, and I didn’t feel I’d received a humble apology, but I decided I’d take what Nora was offering.

…and that was a mistake


You can find THE CROWS and AS THE CROW FLIES (the 2nd P.J. Benson mystery) on this PAGEEAT CROW AND DIE (the 3rd book in the series) will be available June 2015.

Now, while your stew is simmering, do take time to visit the others at this block party.

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12 Responses to Feature Friday Block Party Blog Hop

  1. Diane Burton says:

    I love living in Michigan with the change of seasons. We hardly had a “real” summer, but I’m not complaining. I don’t do hot weather well. LOL I remember that stew. Definitely a mistake to eat it. I’m sure yours is much better. 🙂

    • Maris Soule says:

      Yes, Diane, my stew is much better. At least you feel better after eating it (I hope). As for the seasons, you have to remember that there is still a part of me that’s a “California Girl.” In my mind, a cold, winter day is when the fog comes in and the temperature drops down to the 40s (for a brief while).

  2. Mmm… I have beef cubes in my freezer! Guess what I’m making for dinner tomorrow night? Will have to read The Crows to find out what NOT to add to my stew…

  3. Thick, hearty beef stew will definitely be on my menu in the chilly days to come, Maris.

  4. Melissa Keir says:

    Stew is wonderful comfort foods along with some homemade bread. I love the warm foods during this colder weather. Want to take me to Florida with you? I hope I will be able to handle the cold weather!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Melissa, when my children were younger and at home, I’d make homemade bread to go along with the stew. The smell when that bread came out of the oven was wonderful. We usually devoured the entire loaf in one sitting…and for that reason, I no longer bake bread. With only two of us to eat it, I’m afraid my husband and I would each weigh a ton by the end of the winter season.

  5. Now you’ve got me curious about what else was in that stew. Your recipe sounds great. We’ll be eating dishes like that soon enough!