Tag Archives: homegrown

Lima Bean and Pumpkin Chili

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.DSC_0400

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.

The Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake Trials

As a pumpkin grower, and a great lover of food, many expect me to make lots and lots of pumpkin pie and soup, but three years on, and I have yet to make either.  I cook with pumpkin every single week of the year, but I have yet to make some of the most traditional preparations.  I make all kinds of savory dishes, and once an a while something sweet.  So it was at Thanksgiving three years ago that I first made a Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake. This year, I returned to that beloved, yet rarely made delight.


It was really a treat, and I cannot explain why it has taken me so long to return to it.  I am making up for lost time though, with four cheesecakes having been made in two weeks time.  I do realize that not everyone likes either pumpkin pie or cheesecake, so combining them may not be everyone’s choice.  I was so pleasantly surprised that I encourage you to give it a try. I have toned down the sugar, and upped the pumpkin to suit my taste.

First off, I am not a big dessert person.  I would always take a second helping of the main course over dessert, but during the holiday season, it seems to be my time for desserts.  I love to share them with one and all.  I have combed through dozens of recipes online and each time I look, they seem more and more glamorous.  They look absolutely wonderful with caramel sauce zigzagging back and forth, but I have never done that.  It is a sugar issue for me.  Here is a caramel topped one. that looks very special for any event where it will be on display.

I stuck with a rather modest “everyday” cheesecake.  The first year, I mixed toffee pieces throughout the cheesecake, and this year, I put them on top.

Here is how I adapted the online recipes:

I stuck with a pretty simple cheesecake preparation that began with roasting a pan of chopped squash without any water, so to dry out the pumpkin a bit. Then I added the lot of baked pumpkin pieces to the food processor to puree.  I got the oven ready at 350.  I used pre-made graham cracker or shortbread crusts.  Pre-made crusts often make sense here in Hawaii, where the cost of the shortbreads is much higher than the crusts.  I add in the ingredients to the food processor, and let each one get mixed in well.  I watched many chefs walk away and leave the food processor churning away, so I did the same, cutting the work time down considerably.  This year, I also used evaporated milk instead of half and half or cream.

With it all churning away, I pulled two small cookie sheets so that each cheesecake would have space in case it needed to bubble over (which none of them did) but it also makes it easier to handle the lot.  I turned the oven off after 45 minutes, and let them continue to set for another 20 minutes. I made a simple icing out of sour cream, some sugar and vanilla, drastically reducing the amount of sugar.  I figured there would be enough sugar in the toffee pieces that I put on top. The icing was a nice finish, but it isn’t necessary.  I enjoy the simplicity of one made without the additional cream.

With the food processor filled to the very top, it allowed me to fill two crusts, giving them a little shake to even the cheesecake batter in the pans. I needed to rush one of them, so I put it in the freezer to set prior to dinner.  It all worked quite well.  This is a forgiving dish, with many unique variations to try. I hope to keep experimenting with this. A farmer friend of recommended his goat cheese, which I will try at a later date.  I also thought about a macadamia nut crust just for a bit more texture.

So go ahead and see what you come up with.  May you be inspired!