In Canada the weather seems to be one of the main topics of conversation wherever you go. A couple of years ago when I was part of the Cultural Diversity Committee at my workplace I was introduced to a powerful video, The Danger of a Single Story. One of the observations Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made was about how frequently people in North America talk about the weather. In Nigeria, where she is from, weather discussions were not part of the culture. Hearing her comments made me realize that small talk about the weather is a cultural construct, and not a universal phenomenon. If you have 10 minutes this TED Talk is a powerful observation of how we see the world through the lens of our own, often limited, experience.
Chimamanda’s observations are on point about so many things, including the weather. We do indeed have these ever-present conversations around weather. And on that note, it seems that wherever I go these days folks are bemoaning the weather.
It’s true that it’s damp and colder than average this spring, the tulips and lilacs are slower to slow their colors, and there haven’t been many opportunities to open the windows, but folks, it’s not snow! Let’s celebrate that!
On these kinds of days, I enjoy putting on wool socks and a cozy sweater and thinking of favorite recipes that are warming for the body and soul. Chili is just one of those recipes.
Let’s think again about the danger of a single story. Do you have one story when it comes to a chili recipe or are you an “everything but the kitchen sink” kind of person? I admit I can be a bit of an “everything but the kitchen sink” when it comes to chili. I think that chili is one of those recipes that you can add just about any vegetable you like, and even some you don’t really like a lot, and together with some spices they turn magically into a delicious belly-warming dish. There are endless versions of the story called chili.
Traditional chili is made with ground beef and kidney beans. In my house the protein choices are typically back beans for me and ground turkey and kidney beans for my love. I always have two pots cooking on the stove at once, one plant based, and one animal based. Other than the protein choices, and the fact that he likes his chili hotter than I do, the recipes are otherwise the same. If there are some mushrooms in the fridge, he gets half and I get half, likewise with peppers, zucchini, carrots and anything else I decide to chop, mince or grate. You see, chili, and my love, are flexible and open to options.
Here is one of my recipes for plant-based black bean chili. As always, send me your thoughts. I’m listening.
Black Bean Chili
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 zucchini chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms chopped
- 2 bell peppers any color chopped
- 1 15 oz can black beans
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2.5 oz tomato paste 1/2 can
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- Heat avocado oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Add mushrooms, zucchini and bell peppers and cook five minutes.
- Rinse black beans and pour black beans and tomatoes into the pot.
- Add tomato paste and spices, stir, and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Serve in bowls sprinkled with nutritional yeast.