1. Get your crock pot ready--preheat. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in frying pan or roasting pan/dutch oven. Place beef cubes in frying pan or roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Brown meat on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding remaining tablespoon of oil if needed. Remove meat and place in crock pot and turn on high. Add onions to now empty kettle; sauté until almost softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic; continue to sauté about 30 seconds longer. Stir in flour; cook until lightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine/ beer, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to pan. Add stock, bay leaves, and thyme; bring to simmer. Pour all in crock pot. You may want to add worchestershire sauce or a little hot sauce to flavor it more. Cover and simmer about 1 hour.
3. Turn crock pot to low heat, add potatoes and carrots and celery and tomatoes. Simmer until meat is just tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or as long as you like up to 10 hrs. (Can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated up to 3 days.)
4. Add peas or lima beans optional and allow to stand 5 minutes.