Slow cooker cozy mushroom and vegetable stew

Is committing to a plant-based diet, or expanding on a ‘meatless Mondays’ routine, among your New Year resolutions this year? This dish is for you. Unless you’re already wholly plant-based, or well on the way—then, this dish is for you, too. No one left behind. ;)

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Isn’t it funny how it isn’t surprising for even a diehard vegan to use the word ‘meaty’ in a positive way? Especially when describing mushrooms. Even when we don’t eat—or miss—meat, mushrooms bring a filling satisfaction that just begs the descriptor. This hearty winter meal is comforting, nutritious, rich in flavor…and meaty in the best plant-based sense. What’s more, it’s so easy. Throw everything in the slow cooker and forget about it. Until the last half hour, when you stir in a bit of thickener…if you like. If you happen to forget, the omission will be barely worth a blink.

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Speaking of resolutions, is anyone with me in finding the practice kind of irritating? We’re a society of ongoing goal-setters. We strive to be healthy, loving, loved, informed, fulfilled. We strive for everything. Our best resolutions should really just boil down to keep on keeping on. It’s just the short-term specifics that really fluctuate. If anything, resolutions should be most focused on cutting back for more. Less stress, more quality time. But that’s probably just me being all negative Nancy with my usual New Year blues. The transition from warm, generous merriment and good tidings to me-entric momentum and getting back-to-the-grind always feels so abrupt, it makes me rather melancholy, year after year.

All that said, I do get the symbolism and good timing for reset and renewal. Reflection and self-improvement. And after that mini rant I have to admit, I make resolutions. Usually variations of ‘keep on keeping’ on with [X] specific details. And this year, I’m aiming to stop something. Something I am always aware of as a problem but rarely do much about for more than a moment. I am fervently hoping, pleading with myself, to stop indulging so much fear for the future. I’m getting better and better at embracing the present, but that dread of what’s to come—what I might, and will inevitably, lose, is always there, hovering.

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We waited a long, long time for Chef F to arrive on the scene. When he was born, a hollow void was filled. Everything—mostly—made sense. So as much as I love seeing our joyful boy thrive and grow, I can’t help the nagging fear that as he does, the holes will reappear, with even less of me left to count on. Yet so far, even as I can feel him soar away bit by bit, the rewards continue to shine and grow. Why not trust they will continue? So mamas of big kids—of tweens, teens, college students, graduates, grown and graying adults— I’m turning to you. To vibrant, dynamic grandmas; to all those who embrace aging gracefully and practice self-nourishment. Seeking, seeing, admiring and learning from you is my new year resolution. Keep on keeping on. And thank you. Happy New Year!

Slow cooker mushroom and vegetable stew

  • 1 12-ounce package portobello mushroom caps, sliced

  • 1 16-ounce package baby bella musrhooms, stemmed and sliced

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 cups green beans (fresh or frozen), trimmed and chopped

  • 2 gold potatoes, scrubbed and roughly cubed

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 1/4 cup red wine

  • 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning blend

  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour (or corn starch) dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Combine all ingredients except for the tapioca flour/corn starch mixture in slow cooker (6-quart or thereabouts). Cover and cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours. In the last half hour, stir in tapioca/corn starch mixture. Serve as is or over rice.