Slow-Cooker Vegan Winter Vegetable Stew

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That’s quite a mouthful of a name! But it was much less complicated to cook. I chopped up a swede, a large potato, a few carrots and several leaves of Savoy cabbage, discarding the tough stem, stuck them all in the slow cooker with about 800ml of vegetable stock (this is really something you have to approximate based on your knowledge of your slow cooker – mine doesn’t lose a lot of liquid at all so I usually end up putting too much in). I also diced an onion and fried it up with some herbes de Provence, and stirred that in. I set it to cook for seven hours, and an hour before it was due to finish cooking I tested the vegetables, tasted the stock and added a dash more of the dried herbs.

To be perfectly honest, it was fairly bland. Even with the vegetable stock and the herbs there wasn’t a lot of flavour and I think it could have benefited from a few more vegetables. The recipes I looked at for inspiration mentioned leeks and green beans, both of which would have been interesting additions. It wasn’t a bad way to use up some of the rather uninspiring vegetables I had this week, though. I anticipate this winter being dominated by stew!

That thought got me thinking and I went to see whether I could find any reasonably-priced vegan sausages to add to future stews for additional texture, protein and flavour. Sainsbury’s hot dog sausages have always been one of my favourite processed fast-food ingredients, and I couldn’t remember whether or not they were vegan. Horror! They are no longer being stocked! I did a bit of Googling and not only found out that there were others bewailing their lack of meat-free hot dogs but also that my main source of processed protein, the LoveSoya mince and meatballs, appear to have vanished from the shelves as well! I hadn’t noticed until now because I have a couple of half-finished bags in the freezer (why do I have two open bags of the same thing? Why indeed!) but they won’t last forever. I seriously hope that Sainsbury’s can sort out their “supplier problem” soon and I sent a strongly-worded Tweet to their customer service people to that effect. That’ll show them. Hmph.

So considering that my familiar ingredients are woefully absent and all the alternatives I can find online are appallingly pricey, I guess I will be doing without processed food entirely for a while. That is probably no bad thing really, but it does make the procession of slow-cooker stews which will be tramping across my winter plates seem rather bland. I’ll have to do some experimenting.

And while we’re on the subject of products going out of stock, I discovered last week that the community shop doesn’t intend to reorder dry chickpeas once the current supply runs out. Apparently no one (except me!) is buying them – the shop opened 14 months ago and a single 25kg bag has not yet been emptied. So I am faced with the prospect of either ordering my own 25kg bag, which would be a completely ludicrous idea, buying my chickpeas tinned, which would be convenient but much more expensive, or possibly putting in a custom order for a slightly smaller bag if such a thing is possible. I’m making a mental list of the bulk order I will be placing: Bouillon powder in something larger than the piddly little tubs that I get through in about a month, dried chickpeas, the largest vat of peanut butter legally retailable… I have to remind myself that there isn’t a lot of space in my kitchen, but it’s surprising how much food you can cram into a single double-fronted cupboard when you’re determined enough!

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