My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chilly out = chili in!

Ooooh baby, it's cold outside! (As both our thermometer and Punky can attest!) 

And it's supposed to get even colder, with a high of 4ºF tomorrow and 2ºF on Tuesday (with lows well below zero). It's been snowing a lot too!

I say weather like this demands
(and bread!)

This healthy and delicious heart/soul/body-warming recipe comes together quickly and easily with canned beans and tomatoes. Of course, you can use homemade cooked beans and/or tomatoes too, if you've got them.

This chili is mild to moderately spicy. You can make it hotter by adding some or all of the poblano seeds, using a hotter variety of pepper, or adding hot sauce, cayenne, or more chili powder.

Southwest Four-Bean Chili

(Based on a recipe in The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook by Mary McDougall and John McDougall, M.D.)


1/4 cup water
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks organic celery, chopped
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can white beans (navy or cannellini), drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 14.5-ounce cans organic fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or Mexican-style stewed tomatoes)
1/2 - 1 can black olives, drained and sliced (optional)
1 cup organic frozen corn kernels
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped (leave seeds in if you want more heat)
1 1/2 TBSP freshly squeezed lime juice
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon sugar (evaporated cane juice) (optional)

fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 avocado, sliced or diced (optional)
Vegan Sour Cream (optional: recipe follows)


Heat a large pot over medium heat until warm enough that water drops sprinkled in it sizzle. Add the water, onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro, avocado and sour cream. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for 20-30 minutes (it should bubble gently but not boil), stirring occasionally.

Garnish servings with vegan sour cream, fresh cilantro and/or avocado slices or chunks, if desired. Salt individual portions to taste, if desired.

Notes: The original recipe calls for the Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, but I've always just used fire-roasted. The optional addition of a little sugar to this helps bring out the flavor of the spices. I add black olives now and then, but I always add a dollop of homemade vegan sour cream to our servings, and the avocado and cilantro too, if I've got it. They're optional, but I highly recommend them!

Vegan Sour Cream:

1 14-ounce package firm tofu, pressed and drained
2-3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1 teaspoon sea salt

Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate in a covered container.

Of course, chili is great served with fresh-baked bread! Here is a recipe BW came up with for a delicious, basic, homemade boule...

BW's Basic Boule Bread


1 3/4 cups very warm water
1 TBSP sugar (evaporated cane juice)
2 TBSP unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 TBSP dry baking yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 TBSP coarse Celtic sea salt


Put water in a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir till dissolved. Add the yeast and let the mixture sit to allow the yeast to dissolve and become active (about 5 minutes). Then add the salt and applesauce. Next, stir in enough flour to make the dough thick, with a mud-like consistency. Then add the oats and gradually add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is fairly stiff. Knead in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise until it doubles in size (about 45 minutes to 1 hour). Punch down.

Turn out on a pizza peel dusted with organic corn meal. Shape into a boule and make 4-5 slices in the top of the dough about 1/2" deep. Let rise about 30 minutes. Brush with No-Oil Oil, sprinkle top with the coarse salt, and bake about 30 minutes at 450º. Check loaf by tapping with a wooden spoon handle. If it sounds hollow, it's done.

Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes: These measurements work well at our altitude (5500'). Your mileage may vary! :-)

Here are two of BW's delicious variations on the basic recipe:

Herb Variation:

1 1/2 TBSP rosemary, coarsely ground (with a mortar & pestle)
1/2 TBSP thyme leaves

Add herbs and work through dough AFTER punch down step above.

Kalamata Olive Variation:

3/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1 TBSP dried basil

Add olives and basil and work through dough AFTER punch down step above.


  1. love the chili lights and i loved that clip-art you found! how perfect for your post today! i just made a huge crock pot full of beans...i have been looking at them every once in awhile thinking..."what did i do!!!!" i have read a few chili recipes this week so i think its a sign!

    that picture is so cute! what is it? it looks like a deer....if it is a deer im going to feel so dumb.

  2. so i just read your bio, so im pretty sure its a wild can recocgnize them! thats so cool! we have a bunny that lives in our suzuki(we take the battery out and thats where he stays), but i only assume that its him everytime i see a bunny in our backyard,lol. i really like your profile pic of your two wild deer friends!....wait NOW im going to feel dumb if they ARENT wild deer!

  3. Oh wow that is way too cold!! Makes me shiver just thinking about it. Poor Punky and everyone else who is outside! We are cold and chance of snow, but our cold would look wonderful to you I'm sure! Stay as warm as possible and meanwhile the chili and bread look fantastic!

  4. I think Punky wants to come in and have some of that chili...or probably the boule for sure! Burr, that's cold. I'm with Daphne; I'm cold thinking about it.

    Michelle: You have a bunny that lives in your motor bike? That's is very original of him, so cute!

    Ok, the chili sounds delicious! I love the addition of the black olives and the lime juice...I've never used either in chili before...sounds great! I'm going to have to make this one soon.

    BW's bread is beautiful. You guys are quite the pair of bakers! Do you add the applesauce for extra moistness and/or sweetness? I want some homemade bread now. Now, I say!

    Looks like perfect food for staying warm and cozy! I hope Punky and friends stay warm too!

  5. Mmmmm.... does everything look so good, especially BW's bread! We've had below zero wind chills here over the last few days, so Mike made chili this week. Today was somewhat decent out.

    Punky has a look on her face like "wtf is up with this weather?". lol She's so adorable!

  6. Brrr! I hope you see a few days with warmer temps soon

  7. Are your low temps normal for your area at this time of year? I was raised in Michigan and saw temps frequently in the zero range. I really never got used to the temps, I just put up with them.

    You have prepared some good winter eats. Chili and homemade bread are perfect. Stay cozy. -- barbara

  8. This looks REALLY good. It is cold here too, but not complaining when I see the temp and Punkie's face. Was thinking of you today when I found seaglass at the beach. A nice brown piece from the top of a bottle. You can see some of the rings.
    Hope you are well. Hi to BW.

  9. DD ~ Thanks! I love those chili lights too, and have had them for years; bought them when I lived in New Mexico. Little did I know they'd make a perfect blog prop someday - especially since blogs were still about 25 years in the future! :-)

    And thank you so much for giving props to my chili pepper clip art! I've saved that graphic forever, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to use it! In truth, I hate chili and only made a bowl of it so I'd have an excuse to use my chili pepper lights and that graphic. (LOL - kidding) :-)

    I need to make a mess o'beans one of these days, I don't know why I never think of it. I think you're right that the inspiration to make a crock pot full of beans, followed by multiple chili recipe sightings is a sign!

    And as you already deduced (see, you're not dumb!), yes - that's a wild whitetail doe who we named Punky. But though she's wild, I'm fairly certain she'd come inside, pop herself a bowl of organic popcorn, plop herself down and watch PBS' Nature on the computer if I just left the door open. :-) Punky is one of the deer in my profile pic, and you can see that photo full-size (along with a couple of others) in my Punky's Polar Patio Picnic post. (Try saying that three times fast!) :-)

    Your bunny friend sounds like he knows a good thing when he finds it! How cute that he's made himself a home in your Suzuki battery compartment! We don't recognize all of the deer who live around us, but there are always about a dozen or so "regulars" we get to know well and recognize easily. Punky is about the 9th generation of this particular whitetail clan that we've gotten to know well, many (like Punky) since they were tiny spotted fawns. You'll see several of them starring in several of my archived posts. :-)

  10. Daphne ~ It is cold for sure, and though the wild critters are equipped for it, I can't help but feel badly for them! I can't imagine being out in those temps day and night for several days, with no way to come in and get warm by a fire and drink hot tea! (I'd make a terrible wild critter!) :-) And the birds - those little bare feet look so delicate and so cold! Cookies, alfalfa, and sunflower seeds are all being dispensed at regular intervals, and Mocha's got his thick coat, barn and lots of extra hay... and we have our pellet stove running full bore, so all is well (till BW has to go out and work in these temps all day!) At least the wind isn't blowing, that helps a lot. And the sun is supposed to start shining tomorrow, which helps even more!

    Rose ~ I think you're right, Punky would love some of that boule for sure! Sounds like you would, too! Now I feel guilty for not splitting it with both of you! :-)

    BW is quite the little bread baker. He's a natural at it and really enjoys it. It's the same with his beer brewing. Must be a grain thing... or his German DNA. :-) He adds the applesauce in lieu of the oil in the recipe. I was skeptical the first time he did it (I know it works well in my sweet breads, but in yeast breads??), but it works great!

    The lime juice in the chili really makes a difference, I think. I increased the amount quite a bit from the original recipe, and sometimes I'll add an extra squeeze of it into my bowls of leftover chili. Yum! (Now I'm craving a margarita! That would have been perfect with dinner!) :-)

  11. Molly ~ See? Obviously, chili is one of the answers to below zero wind chills, snow and frigid air temps! (Miami, Honolulu and the Bahamas are three of the other answers. LOL) I'm glad you had decent weather today. Hopefully ours isn't on its way east (actually, I think it came from that direction! The snow storm came from South Dakota, anyway. Weird!)

    LOL - I think that's EXACTLY what Punky was thinking! (Just two days ago it was warm and most of the ground was bare!) She is a cutie pie extraordinaire for sure. :-)

    Jamie ~ Thanks, I'm sure we will, we get a lot of variety in our temps in the winter. Meanwhile, I've got a lot of sorting and cleaning to do, so I'm just as glad not to feel tempted to be outside!

    Barbara ~ These temps are actually very normal for us this time of year. But we have wild extremes in temperatures. It can be -40º air temps with -60º wind chills, and it can be 60º above and sunny. All in the same month. In fact, we had a chinook blow through here on Thursday - blew like stink for two days, temps were in the 50s and almost all our snow melted. Then this arctic front blew in and everything changed in just a few hours! It's schizo - but not too unusual!

    I know Michigan is a lot more humid (it's downright arid here, especially at our altitude), and that can make the cold feel so much colder! I'm not sure there IS any getting used to some of that kind of cold that cuts through you like a knife and settles in the bones.

    Sue ~ Oh no, are you going to tease me now with every piece of sea glass you find?? ;-)~ See if you can find me a purple one! :-) My Pure Sea Glass book arrived earlier this week and it's so wonderful! Full of interesting information and beautiful eye-candy photos. It's not the same as finding pieces of lovely sea glass on the beach, I know, but is another way to enjoy the experience vicariously (and build my knowledge and sea-glass finding skills so when my next opportunity comes along, I won't just end up with pockets full of rocks and shells - pretty as they are!) :-)

    Good luck finding more!

  12. Not eveyone "lights up" their chili like you.'re not like everyone else ;-). Lovely temps you're having! As I write, we're getting some pretty heavy snow...the big, fluffy it!!

  13. Spudly ~ Awwww, thanks! It's nice to hear I'm a unique chili-pepper-lighter-upper! :-)

    It's zero here right now (11:15 am) after getting down to -14º last night. But the sun is shining which is helping to keep it warm upstairs, and it's supposed to be 28º tomorrow and 40º by Friday! Crazy. Your snowfall sounds so pretty! I love a snow like that. Enjoy a cozy day! xoxo

  14. "Little did I know they'd make a perfect blog prop someday"

    lol i hear ya

    Rose, well its a small car sort of like a jeep? and we take the battery out and so he lives in that. its cute, but its sad when we need to use it!

  15. DD ~ Ha, do you look at your belongings in a whole new light since blogging? My stuff with blog prop potential has gained in value. My stuff with no blog prop potential? More likely to end up in a yard sale. LOL

    So do you have a Suzuki Samurai? (I just saw one the other day - first one I've seen in ages!)

  16. The Chili recipe sounds great - never have added corn to a chili before and that sounds especially good. But what really impressed me was BW's bread. My goodness, that looked yummy and too good to be homemade. He's quite the baker!!!

  17. Jo ~ I just read your complimentary comment to BW and he laughed appreciatively and drawled, "Well, thank you very much!" As both a homebrewer and a bread baker (and a darn good all-around cook), he's a pretty handy feller to have around! :-)

    We really don't eat much corn except in Mexican dishes, and it's a great addition to chili!


Will Blog For Comments. :-)

Thanks for taking the time to leave yours!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...



  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

free counters