Julia Dreams of Chili

This actually happened. Between 5am and 6:15am Saturday morning, I dreamt about chili, as the smell of it’s simmering wafted through my room.

Unsurprisingly, it made for a pretty weird Saturday morning slumber.

The source of this bean-inspired REM? A stubborn self-sabotaging desire to eat post-ski homemade chili. There must be a better way than the 5am way. Likely, there are many ways. In fact, I think this was quite possibly the dumbest way to do it. But for the inaugural run of this recipe, the end results were very much worth it.

Not only was this the first time for this recipe, this was the first time I really set out to make my own recipe, a process that required a bit of thought.

At a friend’s birthday in October, I ate the best chili of my life. I went back for seconds, then thirds. Maybe even fourths, I can’t remember. Maybe I was too drunk off the amazing chili at that point. A literal possibility. According to my friend’s mom, and the chef behind the most amazing chili I’d ever had (kudos Bev), the secret ingredients were beer and chocolate. Intriguing.

I don’t drink, and a lot of people in my family don’t drink, so the idea of alcohol in food has been a bit of a question mark in my head for some time now. I set about doing a bit of research. As per our age, my head was quickly filled with more questions than I started out.

Man, the internet makes us dumb. But according to my continuing keystrokes, mine is a common query.

The bottom line seems to be that there is still a bit of alcohol in food when you cook with it, but generally the percentage is very low. It’s highest in desserts however, and I quote (yahoo answers): “It would take a lot of rum balls to cause drunkenness.” Good to know.

Booze aside, I can’t cook with beer because it has wheat in it. So really that whole explanation was unecessary…but interesting!

Point being, I set out to find a chili recipe that had cocoa in it, and was beer-free, but I also wanted to include some of the elements of the original, in the hopes that it would turn out just as yummy. My very own recipe! How exciting.

I used elements of this…


And the original…


The results…well we’re not quite there yet.

I haven’t really had much time to cook recently, due to happy busy life, but I wanted an excuse to make this recipe. My first ski of the season seemed like a good one.

My friend Emma and I were planning on going to Whistler on Saturday. Factoring in travel time, and of course tiredness, the odds of me being able to come home and cook chili were basically nonexistent.

Perfection would have been a slow cooker. Alas, I did not have one at my disposal.

So, I essentially made 12 hour chili.

After work on Friday, I went shopping for the ingredients, and laid them all out ready for my assault. I went out, and when I came home, I set to cooking at 9pm. The main hurdle was the final step, which was the final cooking stint where all the juices mix and marinate in each other. So at the end of my prep, I tossed everything in the pot, set it to chill, and set my alarm for 4:45 am.

Ready to cook...first thing in the morning.

Ready to cook…first thing in the morning.

At the specified time I got up, brought the chili to a boil, reduced the heat and went back to bed. After fitful dreams of burning the apartment down, I awoke to my second alarm clock of Saturday morning, at 6:15. Chili done, house stinking. Time to ski.

The day was…magnificent. First-day-of-the-season perfection. Actually, pretty close to perfection in general.

To cap it all off, I got to eat this for dinner when I got home.

So delicious, and…my own creation!

But now…to choose just the right name for my baby.

Beerless Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili with Cocoa and Coffee – too long

5am Chili – too specific

12-hour Chili – not recommended

Julia’s Vegetarian Chili


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (I actually didn’t have any, so didn’t use it but…the spice would have been a nice touch)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinammon
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In very big pot, heat the oil and saute all the veggies on med/high heat until the onions start to become soft and brown
  • Turn the heat to medium/low and add everything else
  • Cover it with a lid and cook for 1.5 hours (I cooked mine for 2 hours, but found it got quite thick in the end, and was close to burning on the bottom of the pot. Of course I didn’t realize this at the time because I was asleep, but I would just recommend cooking it for less time or, you know, paying attention to what you’re doing.)

So easy. And so good. Emma’s review: you can’t tell that there’s no meat in it. I think this is a good thing? A more telltale sign is that she asked for the recipe. Yes, my little recipe!

So I seem to have ended up with a chili recipe that will please carnivore, veggie, gluten-free, wheat free, as well as booze-free friends and family.

Perhaps the perfect chili?! I’m going to go ahead and say yes.

And with that, I wish you sweet dreams of earthy, rich and flavourful chili. Personally, one chili dream was enough. I’m going to go ahead and wish myself sweet dreams of skis and snow covered mountains.



3 thoughts on “Julia Dreams of Chili

  1. No no no not “I can’t tell there is no meat in it” but “I don’t CARE that there is no meat in it” (and yes, a good thing)

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