Sometimes food communicates. This recipe speaks to my heart directly. It’s my friend Trish’s signature vegan chili, and as I type this, sweet Trish is in hospice, on the final part of her journey through this life.
She has been fighting cancer. First – she successfully beat breast cancer. With that victory, she also met the love of her life, Chris. We were privileged to meet them on an early date into their relationship – at our first Baltimore Vegan Drinks several years ago. We sat next to them, and our fun evening eating vegan pizza & playing skee-ball was a big part of what inspired Nathaniel & I to take over organizing Vegan Drinks events in 2012. After all, we met such great people there – we wanted to have more events with great people like Trish and Chris! By the way, we challenged them to a skee-ball roll-off that first night. Trish won the entire match. 🙂
Over the years, we got to know Trish and Chris as friends. Sometimes people enter your life and you just click. Good friends come along, and you know right away. We were even part of their wedding day last June, photographing their dream wedding, complete with Vegan Treats cake and a stunning vegan cheese plate.
But the happiness was short lived. By fall, Trish’s cancer had returned. This time in her liver. As of the time of this writing, cancer has spread into her bones, and she has a blood infection. It is laborious for her to breathe. Doctors have no promises. It could be days or weeks left for Trish.
My heart is breaking as I type this post to share her chili recipe. When I think of Trish, I could never see “cancer.” I see life. Joy. Happiness. She has been one of those amazing women whose laugh brightens an entire room. I will always remember sharing edamame with her the first night we met; I will cherish memories of her hugging rescued pony Edgar at Burleigh Manor Animal Sanctuary last summer; I will always remember how stunning she was on the day she married Chris. Mostly, I will always remember her heart-felt, warm smile and her gracious way of seeing life. Despite tragedies and challenges, Trish has maintained a positive outlook. She inspires me.
And of course, I will think happily of her every time we make this chili. It has a background of Italian with sun-dried tomatoes and basil; a lot of spunky heat from red chili flakes and peppers; and the sweet creaminess of cashews. It’s a snap to make, too. You chop a few veggies, and after that, everything goes into the slow cooker. Four hours later, you’re ready to feed a crowd.
I invite you to try it, too. Trish loved making those around her smile – as well as feeding people (like most Italian women!). This incredible chili will nourish your body and soul, and help keep Trish’s kind, gentle presence in the world, where we truly need people like her who have so much love to give.
Trish’s Spicy Cashew Chili
2 25-oz. cans red kidney beans
1 25-oz. can chickpeas
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice (add juice as well as tomatoes)
1 8.5-oz. jar julienned sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil with herbs (fork out the tomatoes but don’t add the extra oil)
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or use water if you wish)
2 large stalks celery, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
1 cup raw cashews, chopped into thirds
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, minced
1 tsp. each: cumin, coriander, basil, oregano and dill
1 Tbsp. each: chili powder, crushed red pepper
1 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
Throw everything in a large, party-size slow cooker and cook on high for at least 4 hours (more if you like your beans softer).
Serve warm to a hungry group of 6 to 8 – or more!