Thursday, November 01, 2012

Black Bean Chili, Reflections, and My Lil Hammy

   Hello All,

   I hope everyone had a fun-filled Halloween!  I had so much fun with the children at work and then later hanging out with my nephew before he went trick-or-treating.  I love Halloween.  The only downfall this year was not getting any spooky visitors of my own.  Oh the joys of apartment living.  I live in a tiny walk-up so I was really hopeful that I would get some trick-or-treaters, but unfortunately it was not meant to be.  Oh well.
   Yesterday also marked the end of Vegan MoFo and I wanted to share my thoughts on the past month.  I really had a lot of fun participating and I definitely learned a lot.  Here are some highlights:
  1. My absolute favorite part of Vegan MoFo was blogging everyday.  I know I missed a couple of days but I definitely did my best to connect on a daily basis.  I love that and I plan to continue.
  2. Sharing recipes!  
  3. Meeting other vegan bloggers.  I love discovering new (to me) vegan blogs and having them all in one spot was really helpful.  I tried to visit a few new ones each day.  My goal is to visit each blog that participated... its going to take some time.  Ha!
  4. Having a theme!  I really liked having some kind of direction for the week and I may do that again just for fun.
   Speaking of themes... I started this week off sharing a couple of soup recipes and just because Vegan MoFo is over doesn't mean the soup has to stop.  Today's soup is actually a chili but you eat it in a bowl with a spoon, so I think it qualifies, don't you?

Vegan Black Bean Chili
Serves 4
2 cups cooked black beans
1 19oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pkg veggie ground round (I used Yves, original)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
+ 2 tablespoons water
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons green chiles
1 teaspoon dried oregano,
Sea Salt, to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
shredded vegan cheese of your choice, optional

1. Make the black beans the day before, if you're using "from scratch".
2. Using a fork, whisk together cumin, chili powder and water.  Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, stir together for about a minute until fragrant, then add the veggie ground round, and seasoning mixture.  Cook, stirring, for three to five minutes, until the mixture begins to stick to the pan. Add the tomatoes and their juice and oregano, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture is beginning to stick to the pan, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste dissolved in water and the chiles, and bring back to a simmer.  Stir often, for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fragrant.
3. Stir in the beans, and bring to a simmer.  Simmer, stirring often, for 25 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.
4. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. Spoon into bowls, and garnish each bowl with some shredded cheese, if using.  Serve with corn tortillas.


   Last but certainly not least...

   My sweet little Hamster, "Hammy", passed away today.  He was such a sweetheart and brought joy to everyone who met him.  Hammy started out as my classroom pet about 3 years ago when I took the children on a trip to the local pet store.  He was our pet for about two years and would come home with me during long weekends and Holidays.  Each time that he came home with me, I kept him home longer and longer. 
Hammy the Teddy Bear Hamster xo
   The children would constantly ask where Hammy was and if he would be returning from "vacation".  Don't feel bad - it was a kind of a joke in the classroom.  When I finally moved out Hammy moved in with me and went on permanent vacation from the classroom.  The children understood and would ask for updates about how he was doing.  I also brought Hammy in to visit a couple of times so that the children could see him.

Hammy always came around when I fed Patchie...
Probably the only cat in the world that doesn't care there is a Hamster in the same room!
What a cheeky little guy...
   Hammy was such a personable little guy.  Everyone who met him, loved him.  It was hard not to.  He was kind of like a puppy...  he always came when I called him or anytime I shook his food.  Even if he was fast asleep!  I love that little guy and I miss him so much already.  Rest in peace my sweet little meester!  xoxo 

Ves xx


  1. Dear Vesna: I am so sorry to hear about Hammy. He was a real cutie. He lived a very happy and peaceful life while he was with you.
    Aunt V


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