Veggie Mushroom Chili, Step-by-Step

I love a traditional, spicy chili, slow-simmered. This is a vegan-friendly version, designed to simmer in the oven while you watch a movie, chase your kids around, or finish that report you need to get written. I hope you enjoy it. Since I get requests for recipes, I’ll walk you through it. You can most definitely adjust the proportions – this makes a large Dutch oven full, which is dinner, plus lunch, for two, and several more meals’ worth for the freezer, or just enough for a big crowd for dinner.

You’ll need:

Olive or canola oil (I am using canola these days because it is produced in Canada)

2 onions

2 cloves garlic

3 stalks celery

2 large carrots

1 green and 1 red bell pepper

1 jalapeno

2 cans or l large bowl of cooked beans, as you like (kidney are traditional, but we had chickpeas and black-eyed peas on hand)

2 cans diced tomatoes stewed without salt (large cans, 28oz.)

1 T/15ml each of chili powder, oregano, smoked paprika

1 chopped chipotle in adobo (or another jalapeno and a bit more smoky paprika)

1/4c/60ml red lentils (split peas will also work, but take longer to cook)

If you’re working alone, chop everything, then start. If you are working as a duo, chop the onions and garlic, and the other can stir and manage the cooking while one chops.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Turn the oven on to 350F

Add the onions and garlic:

Stir and sweat these until they start to get shiny, then add the celery:

 

 

 

 

 

You can use a machine to chop, but honestly, the time to chop each vegetable gives just about the right gap for the prior one to cook a little. Now for the carrots – these aren’t a traditional chili vegetable, perhaps, but they have the tremendous effect of adding a little sweetness to the chili, as do the onions as they sweat down more and more.

 

After the carrots, the peppers, the most tender of the vegetables, come last. Use any colour, but red and green give a great combination. Continue to cook until this mixture of vegetables (the “holy trinity plus” or a mirrepoix) have begun to soften nicely. Now you’re ready for the rest of the ingredients.

Tomatoes come first, then the beans. Stir everything well so you get a good mixture.

Canned beans are easy and fast, but they often have a lot of added salt, which most of us don’t need any more of in our modern diets. We get enough naturally. In the EAT section of this blog you can find a recipe to cook your own; they can also be prepared very nicely in a pressure cooker.

Adding a few red lentils will help it thicken and contribute to the meatier texture some people prefer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring this to a simmer over medium heat, then put it all in the oven uncovered for at least an hour. 

 

It will cook down and thicken considerably; you can let it carry on for as long as it takes until you are ready to serve. Sometimes we will make a batch of cornbread on the side, but it really didn’t need anything else. Enjoy!

I’m always grateful for the opportunity to cook together with friends or family and to have a warm, low-maintenance dinner at the ready. Freeze whatever you don’t need, and remember it’s always better on the second day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Interrupt this Plan For…Fresh Local Food!

Fresh from the GardenMeal-planning is an important way to stretch your food budget, to keep mealtime interesting, and to get other family members involved in the harvesting, shopping, preparing, or cooking. However if you’re gardening, vegetables wait for no man (or woman). They ripen on their timeline, not yours. The consequence of this is that you may have veggies or fruit that are ripe when you didn’t plan on using them, or more than you needed, or not quite the same quantity as you had imagined. How do you reconcile a well-thought-out meal plan with home-grown produce?

Homemade PestoBefore you go thinking, “you don’t”, consider the possibilities. For produce where you have an over-abundance, or early ripening, consider whether you have space to preserve – by canning, freezing, or dehydrating. We’re cautious in the volume of veg we are putting up for winter, since this is only our first harvest year in our small condo. But some things, like this pesto, let us pack a lot of flavour, and volume, into a small space.

I don’t use a recipe for pesto any more, because I’ve made it many times. But the easiest one I found when I started out was from Jamie Oliver. Nowadays, I add other herbs sometimes, or use walnuts (the sacrilege!) or make other variations according to what’s on hand. One thing I always do, though, is this: I freeze my pesto in small mason jars like the ones above – just enough for a week or so of flavouring, or a single dinner’s worth of pasta for two. To freeze, simply pour a small layer of olive oil on top of the pesto to keep it from discolouring, seal the jar, and pop in the freezer (make sure it’s upright, at least until it is fully frozen). This will give you delicious, fresh basil-y flavour anytime you want, and is especially welcome on a drizzly day in February when you don’t want to venture out and there’s nothing in the cupboard but a little dried pasta. (Yes, those days are coming, my friends)!

A Berry Good Breakfast

We have been travelling for more than a week now, so it was lovely to wake up and pick these beauties for breakfast. They are marvelously juicy, which reminds me just how much water, nutrients and freshness are lost in berries that are transported to the store. More than anything, that’s why local is important. Local = life.

These are the things for which we are grateful. It could only be better if our boys and girls were here to share.

  

We really tarted up breakfast this morning…

  

A sure sign of the spring food garden is an abundance of rhubarb. In fact we had so much last year, that a whole bag went undiscovered in the back of the freezer and we found it when tidying up to prepare for this year’s harvest. This delicious tart is one of the results.

Stew at least 4 cups (1l) of chopped rhubarb with sugar to taste (we like ours tart, no pun intended) and cool. Eat as is, or to make this tasty tart, preheat oven to 375F . On a sheet of parchment, roll out one sheet of puff pastry to about 12″/30cm. Place on cookie sheet. Put rhubarb in the centre and turn in edges to lap over filling and contain it, leaving top open. Brush pastry with a beaten egg and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. We served ours with a spoonful of plain fat free yogurt, sprinkled with a little cinnamon.

Love the coffee mug? It’s from Krysta Oland’s Morning Sun Pottery.

You reap (and eat) what you sow…

Today we’re headed out to the plot to do some compost maintenance and give the gardens a general walk-around before some visitors arrive this afternoon. Our fuel for the endeavour consists of local harvest foods, some of our own, and some from others nearby.

We cooked a melange of veggies – potato, onion, celery, peppers, mushrooms in a tiny spoonful of bacon fat (vegetarians, canola oil is fine, or a nice herbed olive oil if you have one). When they were nearly tender enough for our taste, we broke in some fresh eggs, lidded the lot and let them poach until just softly done. This is our tasty result:

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So…much…produce!

Wow! We are surrounded by a bountiful harvest.

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The consequence, of course, is that we have to find ways to use it all…and preserve what’s left for future use. So tonight’s adventure included a zucchini-orzo-pepper-goat cheese dish…after we finished putting two batches of roasted beets (golden and red), two batches of beet greens, and a couple of jars of pesto away for chillier days. Fortunately the orzo was quite a reward – reminding us why all our hard work has been worth it!

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Making a Hash of Breakfast

20130505-082849.jpgThis time of year, it gets easier and easier to eat local food, even on the chilly windswept coast. Greens and hardy veg are growing in the garden in our cold frames, and hothouse peppers are making an appearance. With all the beauty and deliciousness of the garden, it is work (and lots of it), especially a first year garden like ours. So we feel fully justified in eating a breakfast that has too many calories for a regular workday.

For two:

Half a small orange pepper
1 stalk celery
1 small diced onion
2 diced potatoes
4 Cremini mushrooms
2 Cavicchi’s sausage patties, made into tiny meatballs
2 large eggs

Cook the vegetables in a nonstick or cast iron skillet with about 5ml/1 tsp olive oil. Lidding the pan will help the potatoes soften. Stir once or twice. When the potatoes are nearly tender, sprinkle the sausage balls on top and cover, allow them to sit on low heat until the sausage are cooked (2-3 minutes). Stir. Crack the eggs on top, cover, and cook until the eggs are done as you like.enjoy. We did!

Out to Pasture

It’s coming! Spring has nearly sprung. Today we were at the Halifax Seaport Market and picked up a delicious steak from Pasture Hill Farm. That, with a few blue fingerlings and a salad seemed like it would be a heavenly choice. We were just tallying up our purchases and we spotted them: local grape tomatoes from Den Haan’s. I wish there was a recipe here, but this is it: grill steak, boil potato, make salad, dream of sprong

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Get Grilling!

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Despite the recent cold snap, grilling season is ramping up once again. This weekend we picked up these delicious chops from Rowe Farms, as well as a mixed bag of organic veg.

To cook veg in a packet is foolproof! Take two layers of foil, and put sliced veg of almost any variety (we had carrots, spinach, radish, onion, sweet potato…). Toss with a little olive oil and herbs of your choice. Wrap it up tightly and put it on the grill while it’s heating. Continue to cook, turning occasionally, until chops, steaks, or burgers are done.

Veggies Bursting with Colour

20111214-202416.jpg. Don’t you love a meal that looks fussy, but isn’t? Tonight we made Beet Wellingtons (check our recipe page!) and a tasty salad with hothouse greens, tomatoes and mushrooms.

For the dressing, we used some of the red pepper and rosemary pesto we made in the summer, thinned with some wine vinegar.

Tasty, fast and packed with colours. Mmm.

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