Summers in the Pacific Northwest are short. When I left for Italy in March it had been raining for weeks on end here in the PNW, so when I stepped foot in Florence and it was a sunny 78 degrees I was in paradise. When I left on June 1, it was in the 90’s most days. So imagine my, not surprise, but well, disappointment, when I stepped foot in SeaTac on June 1 and it was in the chilly low 60’s and rainy. This continued well throughout June and it wasn’t until mid-July that we finally started summer. If you’re living in another part of the country and have never visited the PNW, you might be thinking of your own 100+ degree summers, but that is not what I’m talking about when I say that we finally started our summer in mid-July (mid-July!). What I mean is that it stopped raining and became a balmy 78 degrees for three straight weeks. Three straight weeks without rain! It was glorious. Then the week before last summer reached its peak after only a few short weeks, reaching highs of around 90 degrees for three straight days before summer burnt off entirely and we started fall. That’s right, it’s now officially fall in the PNW, complete with falling leaves, rain, and highs in the 60’s. Our brief summer respite is over.
If you need further proof, consider the fact that just last week I began to crave a stew. Stew is by no means a summer food. Stew is firmly entrenched in the fall/winter camp. So there it is, the final nail in summer’s coffin*.
But it’s a delicious nail, and luckily for everyone, it’s a craving I decided to give in to. This isn’t a recipe I found online, rather, it’s what I happened to have in the house at the time combined with my own wicked good sense of taste. It goes great with buttered Irish Soda Bread.
End of Summer Stew
4 c. vegetable broth
1 c. unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 c. butter
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cans corn
1/2 c. carrots (chopped)
1/3 onion (sliced)
6 cloves garlic (sliced)
(1) Put all of the above in a crock pot on high heat.
2 Potatoes chopped into 8ths
(2) Boil potatoes for about 10 min. on the stove until they are soft (not mushy), then add to the crock pot.
1/2 lb. steak, cut up into bite size pieces
(3) Brown steak in a pan then add to crock pot.
coarse kosher salt
(4) Add seasonings to taste. I recommend starting with the least amount you think you’ll need to begin with and then adding more as you taste it while it’s heating.
(5) Once the stew has been cooking on high for two hours reduce heat to low for at least another 6-8 hours, tasting every so often to add more seasoning.
*Don’t get me wrong, I love fall. I love the start of a new school year, fall fashion, fall food, and in most places, fall weather. It’s just that over the last 6 years of my life (the length of time I’ve lived in the PNW), I’ve come to adore summer sun with a feverish passion, and look on fall with dread as the start of 9 months of near continuous rain and gloom. It’s the SAD — it’ll get to anyone after a while I guess.