By Katia Protsenko
Politics & Culture Editor

This week, I pay tribute to my mother.

She has given me life, provided shelter, and has always, always fed me. My mom can solve any predicament in my life by making me home fries with cut-up hot dogs and a pickle on the side.

With a meal in front of you, and your mom by your side, taking on the outside world never seems as difficult.

For my mom, cooking has never been about measurements. Everything is an estimate. Who needs to measure out a teaspoon of salt? Just pour a haphazard amount and see what happens.

Since my mom has always done best in the kitchen by throwing ingredients into a pot and waiting for magic to happen, I’d like to share one of her best dishes: a summer vegetable stew.

We used to always make this stew in the Ukraine at the beginning of spring and summer, because it can be served warm or cold. Also, that was when vegetables were easiest to come by in the markets.

For my mom’s vegetable stew, you need a few things: a big pot, any vegetables you can get your hands on, canned tomatoes, crushed garlic, salt, sugar and hot sauce. Layer the vegetables in the pot, and in between each layer sprinkle in some garlic, salt, sugar and hot sauce to taste. Once you’ve got a few layers in the pot, or have run out of vegetables, pour in the canned tomatoes and cover with a lid. Cook this over medium-high heat for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how hearty your vegetables are and how much you’re making. The end result will be smaller in quantity, but the vegetables will release a sauce that is sweetened by the sugar, and has a bit of kick from the hot sauce.

This stew can be eaten immediately with rice or alone, but I recommend letting it cool and refrigerating it overnight. By the next afternoon, the sauce will have thickened, and you have a healthy, filling meal that won’t heat up your kitchen.

If cold stews aren’t your thing, just microwave a serving. Don’t forget to get a piece of bread to dip into the sauce.

For some reason, this vegetable stew can’t be screwed up. It stands up to the woman (or man) who stands against following recipes, and does his or her own thing in the kitchen.