Homemade Chili

For those of you who have canned, frozen and otherwise preserved summer produce from your garden, now is your chance to shine - and be inspired to gardening even more. There are few dishes that chase away bone-chilling winter than homemade chili.

Over the years, I have tried a range of recipes from vintage to modern. I have also tried a number of combinations but forgotten to write most of them down - well, except for this one. I was making it at one of my brother's homes and my sister-in-law insisted I write it down as I was throwing it together.

One of the nice things about chili is there are a only a few basic ingredients; after the basics, you can customize to your own taste.

I start with fresh tomatoes when I can, or a jar of canned tomatoes. When you start adding other preserved garden produce like green peppers, zucchini, squash, and whatever else you may have handy, this chili recipe becomes a culinary adventure.

Do you also have a secret chili ingredient? Every chili maker has one!

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 16 oz. can pinto beans; 16 oz. can red beans or 32 oz. of one kind of beans
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (optional) 
  • 1 large cut up yellow onion 
  • 1-3 cut up garlic cloves 
  • 2 cups water

For seasoning:  

  • 2-3 tablespoons chili power 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-dried oregano from garden 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon baking cocoa 
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt 
  • Bay leaves


  • Add and brown ground beef.
  • In a larger pot, mix tomatoes and beans. 
  • Add seasonings and 2 cups water. Cook on low. 
  • Drain browned hamburger and onions; add to simmering pot. 
  • Taste test. 
  • Add salt if necessary. Add 2-3 bay leaves. Cook for 15 minutes longer. 
  • Remove bay leaves. 
  • Serve, or store in small containers to freeze for later use.