It's supposed to be summer by now, and yet the last few days have felt distinctly autumnal - all blustery winds and driving rain. This makes me uneasy, as I am off to a festival next weekend and I NEED it to be sunny. Coming home from work last night, I was in need of something heartening to raise my spirits, so what better than a sweet and spicy stew to put a little sunshine back in the soul? This was made up as I went along from the sparse selection of vegetables left in my fridge (half a leek, half a pepper and a sweet potato), and those trusty cook's staples that I would never be without - namely tinned tomatoes, veggie stock, tinned beans, red lentils, minced garlic (I am far too lazy to chop it myself), tomato puree and chilli. Just chuck it all in as illustrated, simmer for 30 minutes and serve with brown rice or big hunks of rustic bread. If you are uncomfortable with this sort of freestyle cookery, I highly recommend the World Food Cafe cookbook for a whole host of similarly comforting and colourful concotions. Oh, and be sure to make enough for two nights, as it's even better the next day - I'm looking forward to my second helping after yoga this evening.