Garden Stew

My turn to make the dinner for tonight - vegan stew prepared in the slow cooker. First port of call - the kitchen garden to see what is available (Photo 1) ...

Photo 1: Freshly-picked Vegetables from the Kitchen Garden

In a clockwise direction starting with potatoes, French beans, red onion, garlic, courgette, spinach leaves, celery, beetroot and carrots (including at least one wonky carrot!). From the fridge, a bell/sweet pepper and two cucumber pieces that had been picked a week earlier (Photo 2) ...

Photo 2: Pepper & Cucumber grown in the Kitchen Garden

Due to a surfeit of cucumbers, I often cook them in stews, curries, pasta sauces, etc. Finally, a trip down to the freezers in the cellar to get the Jalapeno peppers we grew last year. There are remarkably few savoury meals that are not improved by a soup├žon of hot chilli spiciness.

Photo 3: Frozen Jalapeno Chilli Peppers grown in 2022

Preparation is simple enough: gently fry the chopped onions, garlic, courgette, bell pepper, cucumber, celery and Jalapeno in organic rapeseed oil for 10-15 minutes ...

Photo 4: Fry-up

... before adding diced root vegetables (carrots, beetroot, potato). I like to part-cook the vegetables in a microwave oven even when using a slow cooker - it ensures the root veggies are properly cooked and reduces the time needed for the slow cooking process. Two to four minutes in the microwave, depending on the quantity, is sufficient and the small amount of water used for microwave cooking is added to the frying pan to minimise loss of nutrients, etc. While the carrots are in the microwave, I'm preparing the potatoes, and when the potatoes are in the microwave, I'm preparing the beetroot, etc, etc. The chopped French beans and spinach can be added directly to the mixture or given a quick 2-minute blast in the microwave ...

Photo 5: Final Mixture Ready for the Slow Cooker

[Note: the strong red colour comes from the beetroot - I grow a mixture of coloured beets (white, yellow and red) so the final colour of the stew will depend on which beetroot I picked that day. Today was a red day!]

The contents of the pan are transferred to the slow cooker and left on the "low setting" for around 4 hours.

Photo 6: Start of Slow Cooking

Photo 7: Four Hours Later & Ready to Eat

The contents of this 3.5 litre slow cooker will provide about 3 days of evening meals - eat with bread, baked/mashed potato, rice, pasta, cous cous, etc. I added a few extra ingredients that were not from the kitchen garden: organic cannellini beans, vegan organic bouillon (one heaped tablespoon), some dried mixed herbs and freshly-ground pepper.

My biggest critic (Mary) confirmed the stew was tasty!!

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