The July 4th holiday weekend is upon us and you can expect meals to be feasts of meat: barbecue ribs, pulled pork, roasted chicken, beef laden chili to accompany libations, patriotic parades and fireworks.   This would be in keeping with the period when Independence Day was first celebrated.

Few early Americans shunned meat for vegetables since meat was scarce-you had to raise it and kill it yourself-or hunt it and kill it-so when meat showed up on the table, you dug in.

Few of the nation’s Founding Fathers were inclined to vegetarianism.  Thomas Jefferson, always the iconoclast,  ate little meat, noting,  “I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, and that not as an aliment, so much as a condiment for the vegetables which constitute my principal diet.”

That is no where near vegetarianism in today’s world.

Benjamin Franklin took a stab at it when he was 16 after discovering a book extolling the health benefits of vegetarianism.  He didn’t commit so much as flirt with vegetarianism from time to time because it “promoted clearness of idea and quickness of thought.”

So what is a patriotic vegan or vegetarian to do?

I will be eating my share of barbecue during the upcoming national day but I will pair  it with an incredible vegan chili –not just to serve to vegan and vegetarian friends– but because it is damn good.

I was served this vegan chili by a friend, Lynne Adrine,  at our monthly book club meeting.  None of the members of the club are vegans or even vegetarians, but there were raves for this chili — second helpings and demands for the recipe — which Lynne got from a friend of hers, Barry Yeoman, who made it for his own wedding reception.  Ever gracious she shared the recipe.

Herewith, Vegan Chili a la Barry Yeoman.  Thanks, Barry.

You’ll need:

  • 2 packages “Gimme Lean” brand beef-flavored tofu, cut into small pieces
  • 1 onion (yellow)
  • 1 medium green pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (olive, etc.)
  • 1 20 oz can and 1 12 oz can whole or chopped tomatoes
  • 4 cans total pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans (your choice) and at least one can whole corn
  • Chili powder (or Taptio sauce)
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and sliced
  • Cinnamon
  • Lime juice
  • Ketchup

(Note: this recipe makes A LOT OF CHILI. Easily serves eight)

Mince garlic and chop onions & green pepper, sauté in oil over medium heat

When vegetables get slightly soft, add “Gimme Lean” and brown

Add tomatoes (drained, but reserve liquid to add later)

Add canned beans and corn (with their juices)

Add chili powder, cinnamon, lime juice and ketchup to taste

Add chipotle peppers to taste, depending on level of spiciness desired

Simmer at least 30 minutes over low heat. Longer is better. Add reserved tomato liquid as needed to adjust thickness

Happy 4th of July.

Till next time.

Melkam  Megeb.  Bon appétit.  Buen provecho. Mànmàn chī! Guten Appetit!  Dober tek!  Selamat makan! Nush olsun! Svādiṣṭ khānā