Inspired Vegetarian Chili

Steamy Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2 c sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 1 c chopped carrot
  • 3/4 c chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 c chopped celery
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 t medium hot chili powder (I used Penzeys Spices)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 1/8 t salt
  • 3/4 t ground black pepper
  • 3/4 t dried basil
  • 3/4 t dried oregano
  • 2 quarts tomato juice, no seeds or skins
  • 3 c cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (about 26.5 oz canned)
  • hot pepper sauce to taste

Optional, advanced ingredients: Evenly diced sweet potato, parsnip, rutabaga, potato, and/or salsify.

  1. Heat olive oil in the large pot that that you’re going to add all the ingredients to. Add mushrooms, onion, carrot, green bell pepper, celery, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, basil, and oregano. Stir and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmering boil until the carrots are the consistency you’d like.
  3. In a separate pot, steam the optional root vegetables to your desired consistency.
  4. Add the black beans and root vegetables to the chili. Re-heat to a boil and serve.

Some cooks get their inspiration from flavors, texture, color, or culture. My primary inspiration is ingredient volume. My vegetarian chili (and all other chili, for that matter) is extremely variable due to random harvesting, dumping, and jumbling of whatever is on hand. The first attempt at this vegetarian chili started with a recipe, highly rated from the reliable resource of the internet. Immediately and purposefully, I mangled the recipe to suit my tomato format, which is wonderfully canned in quart jars, without seeds or skins, by my dearly beloved George. Why add tomato paste and water, when you can just add tomatoes? I love fresh ingredients too. They never come in neat sizes. Perhaps the perfectly medium-sized bell pepper is 3/4 of a cup, but certainly not one from the store or my garden. The carrots came from the garden and were very fresh. In fact they needed to be dug, topped, scrubbed, diced, and then cut into tiny pieces by my favorite chopper. Yes, a real chef would never use one of these things. If you eat my food, you want me to use one. My hand chopping of hard vegetables flings them all over, mostly onto the floor. You don’t want to eat off my floor. Another thing about the carrots, they are wonderful and fresh, but by the time I’m done preparing them, I’m cranky. We did have some beautiful carrots out of the garden. But now we’re down to the ones that weren’t properly thinned and the carrots are pinky-sized, at best. Prepping homemade baby carrots isn’t my idea of fun. Following this stream of consciousness, this will be my second winter that I plan to glue carrot seeds onto a long strip of toilet paper, at the proper spacing. By time time glue and toilet paper season had rolled around last year it was long past the baby carrot harvest and gluing carrot seeds to toilet paper seemed ridiculous. May my current conviction lead to greater follow through this year! Jumping ahead to the conclusion of the first batch of chili: I followed my adaptation of the recipe and left lots of containers of leftovers in the refrigerator (3 T diced bell pepper, the extra carrots, etc.). No root vegetables were added. In the end I found the chili too spicy without enough depth of flavor (the internet recipe called for 1 T chili powder and 3/4 t hot pepper sauce).

The next three batches found me only measuring what was easy (quarts of tomatoes, spices) and just chopping and dumping the rest. I think the final batch was the best. Certainly not repeatable since I didn’t really measure, however I did use about two quarts of diced root vegetables in addition to the other ingredients. As far as spiciness, it isn’t too spicy, but I figure the eater can add that with hot pepper sauce.

Pretty kale that has nothing to do with chili October 16, 2014

Pretty kale that has nothing to do with chili
October 16, 2014

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Growing dirt

It was a beautiful November day today, perfect for growing dirt. The process is focused on plants we can eat. A few hardy plants are still producing.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard November 5, 2011

Kale

Kale (started from seed by Carol E.) November 5, 2011

The next step is the weeding, which only really ends when the weeds can’t be seen through the snow. I thought you’d like an larger view of the gardens rather than a closeup of the weeds.
Garden patches in front of barn

Gardens November 5, 2011

 The weeds are pulled and gathered into a bucket or wheelbarrow.

Weeds in wheelbarrow

Weeds in the wheelbarrow November 5, 2011

I’m happy to show you the detail after weeding!

Fall asparagus

Fall asparagus stumps November 5, 2011

The weeds go either into the compost pile or to the animals for power composting.

Compost pile

Compost pile November 5, 2011

The laying hens have already eaten most of the leaves on these weeds. It’s satisfying to provide weeds as a treat to the animals. Pigs are the most appreciative.

Laying hen with weeds November 5, 2011

Laying hen with weeds November 5, 2011

The most recent meat chickens haven’t been out on pasture and aren’t sure what to do with weeds.

Meat chickens with weeds November 5, 2011

I’ll let you fill in the next step in the process. Then, ta-da, there is nice dirt to supplement the gardens with.

Adding fresh dirt to the garden November 5, 2011

I’m looking forward to a great asparagus meals next spring!