I've never been a big fan of beef stew, but I really enjoy this recipe that I got from Cook's Country. The meat comes out fork-tender, the broth is rich and just thick enough to coat a spoon, and the vegetables are perfectly cooked. This way of preparing beef stew keeps the vegetables from turning to mush by steaming them on top of the stew in a "hobo pack". The stew is thickened without giving it a starchy texture by using Minute Tapioca. Also, you get a big beefy flavor by slipping in a few tablespoons of soy sauce. It takes a little more prep time, but you can do most of the prep for this recipe the night before the ingredients go into the slow cooker. I think the extra time preparing it is worth it! Just prepare the recipe through step 7 and refrigerate the browned beef and onion mixture in separate containers. In the morning, just transfer everything to the slow cooker and proceed with step 8. The cooking time will run to the high end of the ranges given in the recipe. If you're going to be away from your slow cooker for more than 10 hours, cutting the vegetables into larger, 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces will help them retain their texture.