11 November 2010

Vegan chili

My husband recently combined a bunch of online recipes to make a really amazing chili. It's pretty easy to make and incorporated several of my preserving projects, which is an added bonus. We utilized a pressure cooker to cook the beans, but you can certainly cook them the old fashioned way. You can also use canned beans, but why bother? With a little more effort, you'll get tastier results.

This chili is a bit on the spicy side, so feel free to adjust the spices accordingly.

Vegan chili (I make mine vegetarian by adding cheese and sour cream to the finished chili)
4 servings
  • 1 cup dry kidney beans
  • 1 cup dry black beans (note: use any beans you like -- we've also used chickpeas)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 12 oz. vegetable broth
  • 2-3 dried jalapenos, reconstituted in veggie broth
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (use whole canned tomatoes, then chop)
  • 1 cup strained tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
1. If pressure cooking beans: Soak beans for 4 hours. Drain water (but don't waste it -- use it for your plants!), and add beans into pressure cooker, pouring in fresh water just to cover the beans. Cook the beans according to your pressure cooker's directions (including adding oil, if required). I pressure cook a combination of kidney beans and black beans for 2 minutes, so they're still just a bit firm (they'll soften when added to the other chili ingredients).

If cooking beans in boiling water: I tend to follow Mark Bittman's guidelines. I won't recount them here (they're listed in his excellent How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and The Food Matters Cookbook). You can also use whatever method works best for you.

2. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and red pepper.

3. Sweat onion and pepper until somewhat tender, then add a couple pinches of salt. Add garlic. Cook until onions are translucent.

4. Add the chili powder, crushed red pepper, and paprika. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.

5. Stir in jalapenos and veggie broth.

6. Stir in chopped and strained tomatoes and tomato paste.

7. Stir in cooked beans (drained).

8. Add hot sauce (if desired), and salt and pepper to taste.

9. Let the whole thing simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

(I keep dried beans in quart-size canning jars -- the colors are so beautiful!)

(Chili is a great way to utilize your preserving projects. On the left is veggie broth, which I freeze in 12 oz. canning jars. On the right: whole tomatoes in a pint jar, canned in July.)

This post is part of Meatless Mondays at Midnight Maniac.

01 November 2010

Backyard changes and making a cold frame

My South Philly backyard consists of mostly concrete and one lone garden bed. Since we moved into the house last year, this bed primarily functioned as my dog's personal bathroom. My container garden was mostly a success, but it became pretty clear that if I continue to grow tomatoes and other larger crops, I'll need to put the garden bed to use. That led to the question: where will Bam Bam do his business? I didn't want him to poo directly on the concrete since that would soon create a smeary mess. So, I purchased some paving bricks, lined them side by side to create a rectangular space, and filled it with spent potting soil. Voila! Bam Bam has a new bathroom, and I could excavate the garden bed.

After digging out about a foot of soil, I filled the bed with fresh compost and my recently-harvested worm castings. Although it's already quite chilly, I planted some cold hardy veggies, including cabbage (from transplants), lettuce, cauliflower, snap peas, cilantro, chives, spinach, and kale. I then covered the entire bed with an old window, which I scored at a recent cold frame workshop. The window was an extra one that the workshop leader had lying around, but we also made a cold frame using a smaller window and plastic lumber.

(Before. The garden bed area--the interior measures approximately 2' x 7'--and the patio area that will become Bam Bam's bathroom space.)

(After. Doggie bathroom complete.)

(Bam Bam checks out his new digs. I take his immediate peeing as approval.)

(The garden bed turned into a mini-greenhouse with the addition of two windows--1 large and 1 small, side by side. I'm a little worried that nothing will grow since the fall/winter sun only briefly touches this spot.)

(DIY cold frame, constructed from plastic lumber and a window pane, all provided at a cold frame workshop. The window leans against the lumber and can be moved easily to vent.)