Jim’s Vegetarian Chili (yes, really)

This is a vegetarian Chili recipe that I’ve been perfecting for years. It’s really tasty, stupid healthy and will definitely warm you up on a cold day. Best served with a pan of cornbread – the non-sweetened kind!

My preferred cornbread recipe is here, though I add 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese and a diced jalapeno for interest.



  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves of garlic (or 3 teaspoons pre-chopped garlic)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (I like the Penzeys Spices Soup Base)
  • 1 15oz can whole tomatoes, cut up with juice (diced tomatoes work just fine, but get good ones)
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 15oz cans pinto beans, drained (1 ⅓ cups of dry beans, rehydrated)
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained (or ⅔ cup of dry beans, rehydrated)
  • 2 cups frozen corn (don’t bother to thaw, Trader Joe’s roasted corn is very good)
  • 1 bottle of beer (optional – any beer works, but a bock or stout is best – you want something sweet and heavy. I prefer Shiner Bock and use 1 bottle for the chili and 1 for the chef)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (start with 2 tablespoon and increase until you get the heat right)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (may need to increase to 2 depending on the cocoa and other flavors)
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dark, unsweetened baking cocoa (yes, REALLY)
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (start at ½ teaspoon and increase if you want more heat/smoke flavor. BE CAREFUL here – some chipotle powder is pretty mild and some is pretty hot)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (increase later to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (white or cider)
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter (yes, really)


  • In a 4 quart saucepan simmer onions and garlic in 3 tablespoons of vegetable stock until translucent.
  • Add remaining ingredients except for beans and corn and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Add beans and corn and simmer for 15 minutes more.
  • Check spices and adjust to taste. Salt, sugar and pepper are the most commonly required spices.
  • Increase to 2 cans of each kind of beans to stretch a bit. May require a bit more spices if you do this.
  • Serve with cornbread, cheese and sour cream.

Lavender Bitters


Original Sourcehttp://www.thepeche.com/home/2011/10/17/lavender-bitters-plum-ginger-gin-cocktails-and-band-of-bitte.html

I’ve made some minor tweaks to the recipe above, but mostly used it as-is. Yummy!


  • 8 oz vodka, 100-proof (actually used 10 oz, which gave 8oz net)
  • 1 cup dried culinary grade organic lavender
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger
  • 1½ teaspoon dried orange peel
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar, heat until sugar dissolves)

In a small glass that has a tight-fitting lid (a 1 pint canning jar works well), throw in everything except the syrup. Put the lid on the container and put it somewhere dark and cool. Let it hang out for a week. Open it. Stir. Look at how brown everything is now. The lavender looks like brown rice now. Cool. Put the lid back on and store for another week.

Place a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl. Pour the lavender mixture into the strainer. Press the mixture with the back of a large metal spoon. Or use a spatula. You’re forcing out all of the bitter goodness from the mixture.

Discard the remnants of the lavender mixture.

Add the syrup to the bitters. Stir.

Pour the bitters into a tiny little bottle. One with a dropper helps. You can find nice, cobalt-blue 4oz bottles at Amazon.com.

Your life is magically better.

Rhubarb Lavender Shrub


Today’s tasty treat is the Rhubarb Lavender Shrub. Doesn’t that look lovely? Mix it in a glass some some soda and vodka or gin and you have Spring in a glass!

What’s a Shrub? Well, it’s one of the oldest ways of preserving fruit in order to drink it later. Shrubs are based on sugar, fruit and vinegar and keep well, even out of the refrigerator. Some are heated, but this one isn’t – you do this all in the refrigerator.

I’ve based this recipe on one found at HungryTigress.com. I cut the recipe in half and changed it to use culinary-grade dried lavender instead of fresh – mostly because I have a ton of the stuff (ok, a pound, but that’s basically a TON of lavender).


  • 2 cups of rhubarb (probably about 3-4 stalks)
  • 2 cups organic sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons food-grade organic lavender
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar

WARNING: This takes over a week to complete!

  • Wash the rhubarb, split the stems in half and then chop into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Place rhubarb in glass bowl, cover with sugar and stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Cover bowl with towel and allow to sit overnight, stirring a couple times to recombine. As time passes the sugar will pull the moisture out of the rhubarb and partially dissolve, leaving you with a messy looking sugar/syrup/rhubarb/lavender combination. Lick the spoon after stirring – mmmm, tasty already!
  • The next morning move the entire mess into a glass jar, add the lavender, stir and cover. At this point there will still be undesolved sugar – that’s fine.
  • Place in fridge and leave for at least 6 days, stirring thoroughly every day or so. Stirring will cause some additional sugar to dissolve, but you’ll still have a thick layer of sugar on the bottom. Don’t worry – this will go away. Be sure to lick spoon after stirring 🙂
  • On the seventh day, get out a deep bowl and a fine-meshed strainer. Place the strainer over the bowl, dump the whole mess into the strainer and encourage as much of the syrup to move out of the strainer and into the bowl as possible. Don’t mash the rhubarb too much, but feel free to stir it around and poke at it a bit.
  • Cover the whole mess with a towel and allow to sit out on the counter overnight to drain.
  • The next morning remove the strainer and whisk in the two cups of apple cider vinegar. Taste to make sure you have the vinegar right (mine was just fine). Then decant into a nice bottle or two and stash in the refrigerator.
  • The original recipe says to allow this to sit for another 24 hours, but we didn’t bother. It will hold for about 3 months in the refrigerator.

Shrubs work really well with soda water. I recommend the following:

Shrub and Soda

  • 1 ounce Shrub
  • 6 ounces of soda
  • Fill a Collins glass with ice, add Shrub and soda and stir to combine. Garnish with a bit of rhubarb if you have it running around

Shrub and Vodka
Same as Shrub and Soda, but add 1 1/2 ounces of Vodka and decrease the soda as required.

Shrub and Gin
Same as Shrub and Soda, but add 1 1/2 ounces of Gin and decrease the soda as required.


Pumpkin Spice FrankenPancakes

Today’s Dirty Deed: The Pumpkin Spice FrankenPancake!

What is a FrankenPancake, you might ask? Well, it’s a mashup of a couple different recipes that ultimately provided one of the tastier pancakes that Laura and I have eaten – ever!

I started with a half a can of leftover pumpkin mix that Laura used to make me some Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls for my birthday (yum! give them a try), a desire for pancakes and, more specifically, a desire for buttermilk pancakes. The interwebs failed us on a recipe for all of the above, but I figured “what the hell:”  we have a buttermilk pancake recipe from The Joy of Cooking that is known to be good and we also have a good recipe for pumpkin spice waffles from Epicurious, so how hard could it be to mash them up. The answer: dead simple!


  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 can pumpkin


  • Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and make sure to break up any lumps of brown sugar
  • Whisk wet ingredients together in a second bowl
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and gently whisk them together, mixing until just combined
  • Spoon 1/3 cup of mix onto griddle for each pancake and cook as normal for pancakes
  • Stash in a warm oven until all pancakes are done
  • Serve with butter, maple syrup, sausage and/or bacon


Queen Anne and Fremont

Or, “Let’s walk until our feet fall off and then walk some more”

Saturday morning we decided to go do some exploring. The original plan was to “wander over to the Seattle Center, grab a pastry on the way, look at the Chihuly Garden and then maybe wander up to Queen Anne for lunch – maybe 3 miles of walking all in. We also debated going to Fremont, possibly by bus. This turned into a 9+ mile hike, of course.

NOTE: There are links to related web sites in the titles of each section below. Click on the blue text.

Map of our Tour

There’s a link below the map that will show a larger version.

View Saturday, September 22, 2012 in a larger map

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