March 5, 2013
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

On the menu at home this past weekend was beef stew (Sunday was the perfect day for it!) and bread of some type.  The stew was pretty traditional-I used sirloin tip because it’s so lean & gets really tender when braised.  I always put in a lot of onion-typically I brown one medium onion with the meat, and another onion in with the vegetables.  I like to roast the vegetables separately, then add them to the stew.  It’s a little more time consuming, but it gives the stew more depth & adds a little sweetness.  In addition to the onion, I used carrots, celery, turnip & potatoes, along with a snip of fresh rosemary from my window herb garden.

The sauce for the stew started with beef broth, made from base.  I don’t know why bases aren’t available at the retail level like they are for food service.  To me they’re far superior to bouillon cubes (YUCK!) or even the packaged broths that are now available.  They’ll do in a pinch, but you can’t control the flavor & sodium levels like you can with base.  The secret ingredient in my stew is Campbell’s cream of tomato soup.  About 1 can (undiluted) added to a gallon of broth adds great flavor & helps thicken the stew.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to deglaze the pan you sauté the meat in with a little red wine.

But it’s really the bread I wanted to mention.  I’m embarrassed to admit that, after 30 years in the food biz, I’m afraid of yeast.  I worked with it a little at school, but I don’t think it counts when there are 13 other students making the bread with you.  I’ve shied away from it since, but decided it was time to get over myself & give it a shot.

I searched for a simple recipe online (amazing how many hits you get when you type in ‘simple bread recipe’!)  I absolutely loved the instructions written by The Simple Homemaker (  I giggled several times as I read through the recipe.  The part about kneading was very helpful, even though I used a different recipe (I wanted one with a little sugar & oil-hers is just yeast, water, salt & flour):

“Knead until it is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. If you have no baby’s bottom at hand to compare it to, give it the stretch test. Hold the dough up to the light and stretch a portion of it. If you can see light through it before it breaks, congrats! You’re finished”

Being a novice at bread making, it was a simple test I could use to judge whether or not I’d kneaded enough (I didn’t have a baby’s bottom handy).

The rest of the process was pretty simple-let it rise, punch it down, form it, let it rise again & then bake.  There is NOTHING more comforting then the smell of baking bread!  It came out delicious, and I was pretty impressed with myself on the texture of the bread. It was soft inside & had a great crust on the outside.  All in all a great experience for a first timer!  I think I’ll try it again…maybe cinnamon rolls for dads birthday….

Contact Us

4944 Old Boonsboro Rd.
Lynchburg,VA 24503

Want to talk Business?

Human Resources



The food is just incredible! I really mean it...I hope you know that I am not just saying this. It's so colorful, fresh, and special every day!"

Faculty Member 

Just a note to say thank you for all of the delicious food you and your staff serve each day. I never knew kale could taste so good!


Outstanding food, outstanding service, outstanding people. I brag about MG to my peers at other schools, and even to my friends and family!


Thank you so much for all the gluten-free options this year! All of your staff have been so helpful. They make a point to come up to me at meals and let me know what options you have for that meal. Salads are great, but sometimes a warm meal is just what you need!

Faculty Member 

Thanks for all of the good work you and your team did to ensure that last night’s welcome gathering for new faculty went off without a hitch. I’m so grateful for Team MG working so hard to make sure things are done the right way.

Head of School 

It’s an understatement to say we were surprised by the excellent quality of the food. We could not recall having a better tuna dish, even at the four-star resturants we frequent in Raleigh. Duke Integrative is a special place.


Many times I find a favorite thing out of the many items served during lunch, and although the featured spinach and fruit salad was visually stunning; the SHOUT OUT winner of the day hands down was the very delicious unassuming Vegetarian Pinto Beans!!! The onions were glistening and the peppers served as a complimentary color to the two different shades of beans...I have one regret and that is I didn’t think to take a picture!


Thank you for making pimento cheese today! It not only is divine, but also hit the spot. I now regret wasting 62.5 years of life on this planet in which I did not eat this heavenly mix. As I explore different recipes in my home kitchen I will try my best to live up to the standard demonstrated by what I had today.

Faculty Member 

Everything was usual! The food was scrumptious...and the weather was gorgeous!

Conference Client 

I would not change a thing! Your staff was not only professional, but warm and caring. They truly set the tone for a memorable night. The food was delicious...our family and friends left with hearts and bellies full!

Catering Client 

I just wanted to thank you so much for all the delicious food at Duke. Your food was such a happy and positive experience and it made the days there so much more enjoyable to eat healthy, but tasty, great food.


Thanks for the delicious soup and the new harvest salad - and thanks for removing half the calories out of the Farm Basket brownie...haha.


THANK YOU for your help today with the open house! Our visiting families raved about the personalized environment. We had a student tell us that Guilford went from his 3rd to 1st choice!


Thank you for all of your hard work on the meals and breaks for the Alumnae Board. The food was outstanding; everyone raved about each meal. Favorites included the grits on Saturday morning and the butternut squash soup on Sunday. YUM!!!


The amazing characteristic is that, on a day by day basis, you give us nutritious, varied, interesting, delicious food...not just something special for company. Please know how much you are appreciated and loved by this community.

Conference Administrator