Vegan Meet-Ups and Pumpkin Chili

Oh, hey.


It’s cold. Cold like, Cold enough that I’m about to become their highest valued customer. We don’t have the heat turned on in the house yet, which is problem #1. We’re holding out because it’s supposed to be back up to 65-75 this week, and maybe even sunny. What does the sun even look like anymore? It’s a distant memory. I’m currently wearing a hoodie under my hoodie. Reflect on that for a second.

Grady could be a potential warmth-generator, but he never sits still long enough to make cuddling worthwhile. Speaking of Mr. Monster, I came downstairs this morning to let him out of his crate for breakfast, and to my surprise discovered him waiting for me on the stairs [he’s too afraid to actually climb them]. Tail wagging, happy, free puppy. “How the heck did you get out of your crate?” I asked, to which he responded, *thud*, the noise made when he’s so excited he crashes into the nearest solid object.*




Everything in the living room was undisturbed, including the 3/5 of my belongings I always leave laying around. He had taken all of his toys out of his crate, though, including what’s left of this one that my mom got him one week ago:


After assessing the potential damage [which was zero] and before our morning swim, Shaun and I signed up for a Charlottesville Vegan Social Club. We met the creator at the Vegetarian Festival, who encouraged us to join although we’re more vegan-interested than full-blown vegans. Events include dinners at restaurants, potlucks at members’ houses, and tastings hosted by local businesses. Next week’s event is a private tasting at the new Whole Foods of their seasonal vegan foods! Yes, please. We can’t wait.


I was half-joking yesterday about a pumpkin-based dinner, but then I got cold and a chili was born. Shaun is the chili expert in the house, and this pumpkin chili is actually my first experiment with the cuisine. I’ve been obsessively stirring and checking the flavors all day, defeating the ease and convenience of a Crock Pot in the first place.

Spice mess.

A second trip to the gym was a momentary distraction: I got the brilliant idea, “Why don’t I try to do the rest of a sprint triathlon today?” [I had already completed over 750 meters in the pool]. Ugh. 12-miles on a bike takes longer than you’d think. Add an extra 24 minutes for the 3+ mile run? Blah. Nevertheless, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was afraid I hadn’t turned the crock pot down to low. I like to think that was the reason I couldn’t fully finish gym round 2. Ha.

Despite all of my best efforts at self-sabotage, this is my favorite recipe I’m sharing so far. It turned out delicious [Please note: not everything I make is delicious. I only share the not-flops on the blog.]. Cinnamon + smoke + cumin + chili = yum. This was hearty, healthy, filling, and above all else – warm.

Creeping pumpkin.

Tofu adds a different texture than crumbly, ground meat, which I liked because it soaked up all of the flavors. So much flavor. Please make this!

Twin-Oaks Tofu and Smoked Pumpkin Chili (Vegetarian, Vegan)

Prep Time: 3-4 hours

Serves: 2-4

Tools: Crock Pot


  • 1 can diced tomatoes (we used TJ’s plum tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 2 servings twin oaks tofu, drained and cubed
  • 3/4-1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 10-12 “shots” liquid smoke
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine all ingredients in a Crock Pot with the heat on “high.” Stir a few times, adding more spices as necessary.

2. After 2 hours, turn the Crock Pot down to “low” and simmer for another 1-2 hours.

3. Serve with bread, brown rice, cornbread, pumpkin cornbread???

Notes: I’m afraid of cayenne pepper, so that’s why there’s so little. Feel free to add more. I’m also sure this recipe would be delicious with ground beef, turkey, or soy crumbles.

* One time, this solid object was the glass sliding door at Petco. To the amusement of everyone, he came barreling in, only to smash into a door that he didn’t seem to realize was there. I think he gave himself a concussion.


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Categories: Recipes


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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  1. Dreaming of Grits and Chile at ZoCaLo | Ryes and 'Shine - October 23, 2011

    […] you can’t tell, I love smoky flavors – smoked gazpacho, smoked pumpkin chili, smoked beer, you name it. This dish was everything I could ever ask for: smoked tomato grits, […]

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