This flavorful campfire vegan chili recipe is sure to please the masses, whether you cook it on the campfire or a pot on your stove!
Out of our entire trip, camping at the Halau has to be our favorite. Our dear friends David and Victoria have a super beautiful place in Lakebay, Washington with a serene lake, only a stone’s throw away. When we first arrived we were greeted with smiles, big hugs and a little bit of rain. While they offered us comfortable refuge in their warm and inviting home, we decided to take refuge on their gorgeous wooded property in our tent. Ahhhh….the mild weather, the sound of birds and the occasional sprinkle of rain. This truly was an oasis!
David and Victoria are vegan and, while we aren’t personally vegan, we usually apply the “when in Rome” idea. So, when they asked me to come up with a menu, my thoughts turned to foods that are just universally good. Generally when people tell me of dietary restrictions or preferences, I try not to think of them as restrictive but rather try to see it as an opportunity for something new. I always try to find something that is universally good. In essence – if I hadn’t pigeonholed the dish as being “diabetic friendly”, “vegan”, “gluten free”, “low fat”, etc., would you know, ask or care? The food just has to be good! Today was this opportunity and we relished it. Tonight I did a vegan chili with fresh cornbread.
My husband dug a fire pit and he and David lined the perimeter with rocks and started the fire with copious amounts of wood from the property. I soaked my beans early in the day and prepped the Dutch oven for our grand finale. While cooking over the campfire is always a treasure, what’s even more special is being able to commune with others over the fire – discussing ideas, enjoying nature and generally sharing our efforts to bring together a good meal.
So here is how I made the vegan chili:
First, rinse beans in a colander, then soak beans in a large bowl of water and ¼ cup sea salt for 4 hours.
Next, preheat the fire until good coals form (see my previous post on campfire pizza to read the importance of tending the fire and how to make coals).
One pound red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
One yellow bell pepper, diced
One red bell pepper, diced
One green bell pepper, diced
One yellow onion, diced
Two jalapenos, finely diced
¼ cup sea salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil for this)
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Achiote paste
1 bundle fresh cilantro leaves
1 8 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato paste
1-2 gallons of water (filtered if you have poor water quality)
In the preheated Dutch oven, heat the oil and then add onion, bell pepper and jalapenos. Once vegetables are tender crisp, add in all other ingredients except for water. Next add in enough water until Dutch oven is 2/3 full. Place lid on Dutch oven and place Dutch oven directly on the coals. Let the chili boil, stirring occasionally for 3 hours, adding more water when the water level decreases. Test the beans from time to time. If beans are done and you are happy with the surrounding soup texture, pull it off. If not, keep adding more water or boiling until you are there. Watch your fire and your chili thickness, bean texture and flavor. Add more salt or other spices to taste (make it your own!) Our chili took 3 hours to cook and about 2 gallons of water.
Graciously, our vegan hosts, agreed to a little vegetarian substitute in my Homemade Cornbread. What an additional treat, which I got to bake in their indoor oven! (Roughing it).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×9 pan either with cooking spray or butter and flour
1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup masa (I used Masa Brosa)
5 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
scant teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter (if your butter contains salt, reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon)
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
Mix together all dry ingredients. Pour in melted butter and combine well. Incorporate eggs, then milk and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl from time to time.
Pour into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes or until top is golden, starts to crack and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cover with tin foil or another pan right away to preserve moisture. Serve hot (or cold) with butter. Store wrapped or covered so the bread doesn’t dry out.
So, many times I would put my own meditation on this section but this time, I have to refer you to the halau’s website www.spreadaloha.org for some of the most awesome guided meditations around. Check ‘em out!