In a Dutch oven or large kettle, brown beef, in batches, in cooking oil. Return all meat to Dutch oven. Tie garlic, thyme, and bay leaf in a 100 percent cotton cheesecloth bag. Add to meat with beef stock or broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours or until meat is nearly tender.
Add potatoes, carrots, onions, and tomatoes. Cover; simmer for 45 minutes more. Remove cheesecloth bag.
Mix flour and butter until smooth. Stir into beef stew. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings.