So that back pain I mentioned last month? It turns out I managed to fracture my rib. I’ve been out of action for weeks. It’s only been over the last 5-6 days that I’ve started to feel anywhere close to normal, which I’m feeling super relieved about. I’m incredibly anti-social and love watching Buffy on repeat, so I always thought I’d thrive in situations like this, but that has not been the case. I haven’t been so bored and depressed in a long time. I wasn’t eating properly because I couldn’t cook, I wasn’t leaving the house and I wasn’t even watching anything I could engage with. For the first time ever I started watching awful romantic comedies on Netflix, which then led to Netflix suggesting nothing but shit for me to watch. It was a horrible, horrible cycle.
There was one particularly horrible week I realised that I wasn’t going to be okay for my trip to Berlin and that I was now on Statutory Sick Pay until I got better. Normally when crappy things happen I can distract myself, I can get out of the house and go for a bike ride, or go see friends. This time I couldn’t do any of those things, I was stuck in the same tiny flat I’d been in for weeks and had nothing better to do than dwell on things and worry. I ended up surrounding myself in what felt like a bubble of shitty emotions. When I was at university and my depression was at it’s worst, I found myself in this place a lot so it wasn’t a new experience for me. Somehow though, it felt more unfair because this time round I didn’t make the choice to shut myself away from the world.
Luckily, I was convinced not to cancel my holiday and put together a Plan B for what I could realistically do in the city. I also decided that I’d do what I want to do and then worry about my financial situation when I return. The trip to Berlin was enough to pull me out of my bubble (I’ll be blogging about it soon!) and my recovery has sped along nicely over the last week.
So that explains the absence on my blog recently, I was desperate to keep up the momentum after Mofo but as I’ve not been cooking, eating or doing anything of any interest, I had nothing to write about. I arrived back home yesterday and woke this morning determined to cook a proper hearty meal. Stew immediately came to mind, it’s cheap, simple, hearty food. I don’t really follow any kind of recipe, but I thought I’d go through all of the components that I think are crucial for a good stew. So here we go:
Hearty Hasta La Vegan Stew
Firstly you want to start off with a good base to your stew. You want some onion, leek, garlic, celery (I actually forgot to get celery today unfortunately, so going without this time). This is where you’re going to get a lot of flavour, fry off in a little olive oil.
After you have your base flavours, you want to get a variety of root veggies in there. This time round I’ve got carrots, swede, parsnips and potatoes. Turnips, celeriac, squash and sweet potatoes are also winners here, but I didn’t want to end up making enough stew for 20 people so I just went for basics.
Something green! I chose Cavolo Nero today, but any kind of kale, spinach, spring greens, cabbage is good here. Don’t boil the hell out of it though, just pop it in during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Bulk it up!
You’ll put barley grain in there if you know what’s good for you.
Lentils? Veggie sausages? Both? Sure! Tinned beans are good too, I have memories close to my heart of an awesome stew I once made with flageolet beans in it. I’ve been too scared to do it again in case it’s not as successful. I don’t want to tarnish good memories.
Dumplings? HELL. YES. I consider dumplings an essential part of a stew, season with mix salt, pepper and dried herbs. Unfortunately I’m putting health over heart today and missing them out, but I already feel regret.
Beef it up!
Yeah. You heard me. BEEF. IT. UP.
How? Yeast extract, lots of it + nutritional yeast + onion gravy granules – sorted. Soy sauce is also a good addition here.
I usually add these things towards the end of cooking. Don’t go crazy with salt until you’ve added this stuff and tasted it, otherwise you risk making it too salty.
I always chuck a few bay leaves and a bouquet garnet in there while I’m boiling the hell out of it. Veg stock is essential too.
Need I say more? What else is better than dipping soya buttery crusty bread in a stew like this? NOTHING!
Tasty, tasty stew! If Berlin hadn’t cured me from my bubble of sadness, this bowl of stew would have done the job.