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Halloween Chili

Committee meeting working lunch, 10/18/12 – served with pumpkin cornbread

The pumpkin and spice in this beef-and-bean chili adds a subtle taste and a lot of fiber, vitamin A, and other nutrients.

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided between beef and onions
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 14-ounce or 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cans beans, any variety, drained from liquid
  • 2 cups pumpkin or other winter squash puree (see  instructions, or use canned)
  • 1 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice OR 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, optional

In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil and brown the beef. Remove the beef to a bowl or plate, then add the remaining tablespoon oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent and soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add chili powder and cumin and cook 1 minute more, stirring.

Add remaining ingredients (tomatoes, beans, pumpkin, and spices if using) and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30-75 minutes – the longer the chili cooks, the tastier it will be.

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Pork and White Bean Chili
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Committee meeting working lunch, 8/16/12
Community meeting training dinner, 3/20/13

This simple meal is hearty and filling. As a bonus, it tastes even better as leftovers.

  • 1 tablespoon canola, vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock, or liquid from cooking beans, or water
  • 3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped OR 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked white beans (from 1 cup dry beans) OR 2 cans white beans

In a large pot, heat oil. Add ground pork and cook until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove cooked pork to a plate or bowl. To the now-empty pot, add onion, carrots, and jalapeno. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8-10 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook one minute, stirring.

Add stock/bean liquid/water, tomatoes, and beans. Return cooked pork to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. Spoon into bowls and serve.

Serves 8.

All the ingredients in bold are things you can grow in your own garden.

Hearty Green Salad with Beans, Eggs, and Peppers

Committee meeting working lunch, 4/19/12
Community training dinner and demonstration 4/23/12
Community training dinner 4/3/13, without beans and using dill instead of oregano

This salad is a meal in itself – with lots of healthy protein from the eggs and beans along with the vegetables, it’s a great lunch or dinner. All the components of the salad can be made in advance.

Dressing:

  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt (NOT vanilla)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano

Salad:

  • 10-14 ounces lettuce*, any variety, washed and dried
  • 1 cup cooked beans*, any variety (see bean-cooking guide for instructions, or use canned)
  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled (see instructions here) and chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers*, chopped

Dressing: Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Salad: In a large bowl, combine lettuce, beans, chopped hard boiled eggs, and chopped red peppers. Add dressing and toss to coat. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish, 3-4 as a main course.

*Lettuce, beans, and peppers can all be raised in your garden.

Dry Bean Cooking Guide

Dry beans are cheap, nutritious, and tasty. Cooking them does take some planning ahead. Consult this guide to know how to cook all kinds of dry beans.

Overnight soak: Beans need to soak in lots of water for at least 8 hours BEFORE you can cook them. You can soak them up to 24 hours, and it is usually easiest to put them in water the day before you want to use them. Make sure there is plenty of water covering the beans by 5 or 6 inches – they will absorb a lot of water.

Drain and rinse: Drain the soaked beans from the soaking water and quickly rinse them. Do not reuse the soaking water.

Cooking the beans:

STOVETOP METHOD – Place the soaked beans in a large pot and add water to cover by 4-5 inches. If you want, you can add half an onion and pieces of carrot or celery for extra flavor, but you don’t need to. Bring the beans and water to a boil. There will be a lot of foam on the top of the water – skim it off with a spoon and throw it away. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, usually 1.5 to 2.5 hours. The amount of time will depend on the type of beans you used and how long you soaked them.

SLOW COOKER METHOD – Place the soaked beans in a slow cooked and add water to cover by 4-5 inches. If you want, you can add half an onion and pieces of carrot or celery for extra flavor, but you don’t need to. Cook on low until beans are tender, about 5-7 hours. The amount of time will depend on the type of beans you used and how long you soaked them. You can also cook beans from dry (without soaking first) in a slow cooker, but they will take longer to cook and may cause more bean-related gas problems than soaked beans.

When are they done? The longer you cook beans, the softer they get. How soft you want them will depend on how you plan to use them. If you’re putting them into a soup where they will slow-cook again, you might want them less tender. If you’re going into a salad, they should be very tender. If you plan to puree or mash them, you may want to cook them a very long time, until they are beginning to burst.

Salt and storage: Once the beans are cooked to the texture you want, turn off the heat. Add a bit of salt to the cooking water. Taste it (be careful, it’s hot) – it should be flavorful, but not taste too salty. Less salt is better than too much, since you can always add more, but you can’t take any out.

At this point, your cooked beans in liquid can be treated just like canned beans from the store and used in recipes that call for canned beans. You can use them right away, or store them in the refrigerator, submerged in cooking liquid, for up to 1 week.

Cooking liquid: The liquid that the beans cooked in isn’t trash. You can use it in soups, or anywhere else where you might otherwise you chicken broth or when you want to add some extra flavor. For example, you can cook rice in bean liquid for a flavorful side dish.