Maybe it needs a better name, but for now, it will have to do. As I savor the last bite, I am filled and satisfied with this now much more nutritious dish. Holiday visitors passed through the kitchen as I was making the chili, and it seemed to be an unlikely recipe to most. My invented recipe intrigued an eight year old who dreams of being on a “kid chef” show on the Food Network. He watched me like a hawk. The recipe is made in a slow cooker, and can be adapted to all tastes.
This time of year, I often collect a nice amount of the heirloom Christmas lima bean. I am frequently pressing these beans into the hands of school kids in hopes that they plant them here in Hawaii. They should be grown in everyone’s home garden, school gardens, and on fences, banana trees, bamboo…you get the idea. They are perfect for Hawaii’s long, come and go seasons. It creates a pretty vine, and the bees love the delicate bloom. I’ve sung it’s praises before, and I am at it again. Plus the bean is big and very flavorful.
Above is an image that shows how they catch the morning light in the garden. In the photo, they are covering an unsightly windbreak that I made two years ago out of bamboo threaded through shipping pallets that were placed on their side. It has held up, and become a beautiful area that is also effective against the wind tunnel effect. I bought the first lot from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds three years ago, and since then, I have supplied half of the state of Hawaii with them, and also included them in many special meals. It was the best $2.50 I have ever spent in the garden!
But back to the chili. Lima beans make a lovely chili bean, especially these lovely burgundy speckled ones, and the spice of homegrown chili peppers mixed with sweet pumpkins is a wonderful, and thrifty match for my eat what you grow style.
So the concept is the take away here. Here is what I did: I picked, shucked and rinsed the lima beans, harvested a few chili peppers and selected a nice aged pumpkin. I soaked the beans for a couple hours, then decided just to cook them on low overnight in the slow cooker. I could have added a wedge of onion to the water that covered the beans, but I forgot. By morning, the home cooking filled my tiny abode. I had 1/4 of the crock pot filled with dried beans and then filled the entire crock with water.
In the morning, I drained the beans, saving the cooking liquid on the side. I did this by simply setting a colander inside a large bowl. I returned the beans to the 4 qt slow cooker, and added 1/2 a chopped onion, 2 packets of chili seasoning, 1.5 lbs of hamburger, one can of tomatoes, and a can of tomato paste, plus three cloves of garlic. Then I chopped about 1.5 pounds of pumpkin, salt and pepper. I also added about 3 cups of the bean cooking broth back into the cooker. Normally, I would add my fresh chili peppers, but this one was made with little kids in mind.
When I make this again for myself, I am going to make a meatless version. The lima beans and pumpkin make a satisfying chili, and the meat just isn’t necessary. The beans were already cooked, so it was a matter of waiting for the pumpkin to cook. This gave me plenty of time to shuck more beans for later cooking and planting, as well as give me some time to turn the home garden upside down section by section, in my December garden overhaul.
By 4 in the afternoon, I couldn’t wait any longer, and snuck a small sample bowl…and then another. I was waiting for the pumpkin to be tender. By this time, I was hungry, and this really hit the spot. I could have easily added more of the bean broth to thin it out a bit. I added some more salt at the end of the cooking. I smeared it with some sour cream and piled it on top of basmati brown rice. There were zero complaints about either the limas or the pumpkin.