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Tess, a reader at the book club and a librarian, sent me an email inquiring, "I am interested to hear more about this 'cold in Florida' concept of which you speak [in your column]." Tess works at a library just north of Cincinnati, Ohio where a four degree temperature is too familiar lately, so it's no surprise she's having a hard time picturing what "cold" looks and feels like in Sarasota, Florida where I live.
Yes, Tess, the weather forecaster consistently predicts, "Warm and sunny, warm and sunny" every day here in Sarasota, but to quote a famous song, "Baby it's cold outside." In fact it snowed this week in Tallahassee for the first time in 30 years.
I'm originally a Wisconsin native, so you'd think a 46 or 38 degree temperature wouldn't faze me, but your blood changes when you move to Florida. It gets thinner. No joke. And the proof is the tourists walking around Sarasota in shorts, sandals, and a light jacket when the temperatures dip here, while natives are bundled up in sweaters and coats. I even had to get out the (sweaters and coats) white nursery blankets, for my flower gardens. It took three hours to cover my plants and now my yard looks like it has mounds of snow.
But no worries for anyone planning a trip to Florida, it's going to be back in the 70's by Sunday. In the meantime, I'm going to plug in my Crock Pot and make the Hobo Stew (guaranteed to warm up your tummy) recipe--one that Tess developed herself.
1 lb ground beef
1 cup celery, chopped
1 package frozen pearl onions
1/2 package baby carrots, chopped
1 package frozen corn
1 package frozen mixed vegetables
2-3 Idaho potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 can beef or chicken broth
2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice--with or without green chilies
20 oz V-8 juice
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Sprinkle of black pepper
Dash of hot sauce
Sprinkle or two of Cajun seasoning
2 Tablespoons flour (optional)
In skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef with celery, until thoroughly cooked. Drain beef and add beef/celery to slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Cook on low for 8-9 hours, stirring a few times. This makes a hearty soup. If you want more of a stew-like consistency, add the flour to thicken the broth.
This recipe makes at least enough for six people. I hope you enjoy this hearty recipe, sure to warm you up on any winter night. Let me know if you try it and what you think.
Have a great day and stay warm!"
-- Tess C.
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.