Not long after his 60th birthday, my Dad was getting ready for work and told my mother he had to sit down for a minute before leaving. Luckily, my Mom recognized the signs of a heart attack and got him to the hospital so quickly that they were able to stabilize him before it was too late. He’d always congratulated himself on marrying a nurse, who could help him with whatever ailed him, and now she’d saved his life.
When he got home, there were exercise regimens and eating restrictions to follow. And my father counted himself lucky once again, because my mother is not only a fabulous cook, but she is also one of the most determined people on earth when she puts her mind to it. He was going to eat a healthy diet if it – well, even if it pained him.
She came up with an arsenal of heart-healthy recipes so delicious that the rest of the family started hoping some of the leftovers would show up at our doors. My Dad recovered, then thrived.
Ten years later, my partner Kevin started on his own path to better health and decided that veganism was going to be a big part of it. My mother started sending over freezer containers full of the chili she’d developed for my Dad. It’s vegan and gluten-free, but more importantly, it’s one of Kevin’s favourite meals.
It took a while for her to share the recipe with me, not because she’s secretive, but because she’s always busy – volunteering, meeting with friends old and new, or spending time with her grandchildren.
When I finally had the recipe, I whipped up a batch of the chili and immediately realized that my chili powder had much, much more cayenne pepper in it than the brand my mother uses. Her chili has a warming burn, while mine was five-alarm fiery. Taste, don’t trust is a good motto for adding chili powder. Lesson learned. I’ve amended that line of the recipe accordingly – it’s a range now, not the 6 tablespoons that she uses. (I think her chili powder must be mostly cumin.)
Tonight, I brought a whole batch to a meeting of our housing co-op. I came home with only one small bowl’s worth. Not quite enough for a meal, but enough to remind me to make it again soon.
And now you can share it with those you love, too, whether it’s your family or a community you care about.
Jeannine’s Spicy Vegetable Chili
By Jeannine McCarthy
Serves a crowd
1 tbsp olive oil
4 large garlic cloves – sliced
1 large onion – sliced and quartered
2 carrots – sliced into medium coins
2 small stalks of celery – sliced
1 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes 28 oz – low salt
1 can tomato sauce 680 ml – low salt
1 small green pepper – sliced into chunks
1 small red pepper – sliced into chunks
1 small orange or yellow pepper – sliced into chunks
1 can organic tomato paste 5.5 oz
2 cans red kidney beans 28 oz each – low salt
1 can black beans 19oz – no salt
1 can romano beans 19oz – no salt
1-4 tbsp chili powder*
1 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
- Coat bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil. On low heat, add garlic and onions; cook until starting to look translucent. Add carrots, celery, and water. Cook until carrots are slightly tender.
- Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add chili powder, cumin, vinegar, pepper and salt, then stir. Continue cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans, and Romano beans. Cook for 5 minutes, then add green, red, and yellow peppers.
- Cook on medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
This is a large recipe. After the first meal, ladle left-overs into freezer containers (enough for one meal) and freeze.
*Start on the low range when you add the chili powder and then add a little at a time until you reach the level of heat you like. There can be a lot of variation in strength amongst chili powders. 1 1/2 tablespoons seems about right for us, with the brand we use.