In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, shortening, sugar, eggs, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into eight pieces; shape each into a ball. Grease two baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place four balls 3 in. apart on each prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
For bread bowls, cut a thin slice off the top of bread. Hollow out bottom half, leaving a 1/4-in. shell (discard removed bread or save for another use). Fill with chili, chowder or stew.