A green space for urban gardeners

Cold comfort: Rosemary, Thyme, and spicy chili for a dreary day

Sunday was bleak here in Chicago. With sleet raining down on my once bountiful balcony garden and serving as a barometer of the snow to follow, it’s no surprise I sought a little comfort from the cold.

In other words:Β  A glowing fire in the hearth, a flavorful pot of chili on the stove top, and a diversionary DVD at the ready.

One collection that offers the perfect degree of light entertainment for the off-season gardener is the aptly named “Rosemary & Thyme.” In the 2003-2007 British series, two women of a certain age wind up partners in a gardening business after one is dumped by her husband and the other by her employer.

The title derives from the given name of the latter and the surname of the former. Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendal) and Laura Thyme (Pam Ferris) are hired to restore gardens all over Europe and in the process end up unearthing mysteries and weeding out miscreants. And yes, it does open to the dulcet strains of “Scarborough Fair.”

Their traveling adventures are engaging and the beautiful scenery provides the perfect backdrop for getting lost in your own garden reverie.

So, with disc queued, it’s time to get the chili cooking. I’ve made the following veggie recipe for crowds and even those who’ve only eaten beef chili love it. Honest.

(Resourceful gardeners with room to grow will doubtless prepare this recipe with dried beans and herbs from last summer’s harvest as well as jalapenos and tomatoes they preserved themselves.)

Veggie Chili
1 15 oz can black beans
1 15 oz can light kidney beans
1 15 oz can dark kidney beans
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes, blanched, seeded and peeled)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 12 oz package veggie crumbles
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, diced
1 jalapeno (or equivalent pickled jalapeno), diced
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup veggie broth
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp dried pepper flakes
kosher salt
to taste

Coat bottom of stockpot with olive oil and heat on medium. Add onion and jalapeno and cook for several minutes till onion is translucent. Reduce heat to low and add garlic, keeping it moving around pan so it doesn’t burn — about 1 min. Stir in soy crumble (breaking apart with spoon) and add dry seasonings, except salt. Add beans, tomatoes, soup and wine. Bring to bubble. Reduce heat to low, add salt to taste, cover and cook for 1- 2 hours, stirring periodically.

The only thing left to do is pair the dish with a grilled cheese sandwich, stoke the fire, and press play.

Not such a dreary day after all.

[This chili is ready in an hour, but cooking it longer intensifies the flavor. So does a night in the fridge. It also freezes well for quick week-day meals later. “Rosemary & Thyme” is available through Netflix.]


  Jo wrote @

I’ve often seen Rosemary and Thyme advertised on TV but have never yet watched it once. Your chili looks delicious.

  City Diggity wrote @

Jo, As a gardener you will definitely get a kick out of it!

  Carol wrote @

Sounds like a yummy dish! The tv show sounds great too… I’ll have to try and find the DVD. Thanks for the tip.

  MrBrownThumb wrote @

It is so cold in my room right now that I could go for some of that chili. Thanks for the recipe, I may make this tomorrow night for dinner.

  Wendy wrote @

This sure sounds like a wonderful way to while away a cold day! mmmm, your chili recipe sounds amazing!

  gippslandgardener wrote @

Just discovering your wonderful blog πŸ™‚ I haven’t seen Rosemary and Thyme, but I think it may have been on here at some stage. That chili recipe has left my mouth watering – yum!

  Pam’s English Garden wrote @

I love the Rosemary and Thyme series, and think I have seen every one! Great post. Pamela xx

  Stephanie wrote @

Hi Avis! Rosemary & Thyme sounds nice and looks like the series are going to be interesting. Regarding your recipe, errr… I am not a fan of beans he he… But it’s no doubt a hearty and warm dish to have when the weather is cold like what you have there. Enjoy the series and meanwhile have fun planning your orange garden πŸ˜€ I hope you would find lots of interesting plants to grow.

  linda wrote @

We just got Netflix before my husband’s surgery, and I’ll definitely look up Rosemary & Thyme. I liked Nora Roberts’ In the Garden trilogy – it’s fun having a horticultural backdrop in a story. I hadn’t heard of this series, but enjoy a lot of British TV, suspect I’ll enjoy R&T too. Thanks for the tip Avis!

Your chili recipe looks yummy. This is such a great time of year for comfort food, and I do have a few of the ingredients preserved from last summer’s garden.

  City Diggity wrote @

Linda, Netflix has all the episodes of “Rosemary & Thyme,” and I’ll look for the Nora Roberts books, too. Maybe I can read them while enjoying the garden this summer. Cheers!

Stephanie, Sounds like you need an all-meat chili! πŸ˜‰

  Stephanie wrote @

Oh yes!

  Melissa wrote @

I’ve got “Rosemary & Thyme” in my Netflix queue and will now move it up based on your post! And thanks for the welcome to Blotanical and the chili recipe, although as someone who lives alone I don’t often cook in big batches.

  City Diggity wrote @

Do what I do, freeze the excess in individual containers and pop in the microwave for a quick lunch or dinner later on. And let me know what you think of Rosemary & Thyme!

  Edith Hope wrote @

Dear Avis, Thank you for your warm welcome to Blotanical. Although I only began in January I am now beginning to find my way about – when it is up and working!

I am not a cook at all but your chili receipt sounds very tempting and I am sure is delicious.

  Linda wrote @

I love Rosemary & Thyme shows, one of the first series I watched when we got Netflix (they have the full series). If you enjoy herbs, I like the China Bayles series, a former lawyer-turned herb shop owner murder mystery series. Easy reading and some great recipes. I also like the Brother Cadfael series, a medieval monk who is the monastary herbalist and also gets involved in all sorts of herbal murder mysteries along with some good British history written in. It is fun to read fiction with a horticultural setting.

  City Diggity wrote @

Thanks for the tips. I’ll definitely look for the books and I’ll put the TV version of Cadfael in my Netflix queue!

  The Idiot Gardener wrote @

Rosemary and Thyme I can live without, but that chilli does look good. I would, in all honesty, chuck some beef in it too. I am too weak for veggie food!

  City Diggity wrote @

It’s ok to add beef πŸ˜‰ But try it with the veggie crumble — you’d be surprised what a great sub for the beef it is!

  melanie wrote @

I haven’t seen the movie either but it sounds good and so does the chilli.

  Andrea wrote @

Avis, somehow I have missed “Rosemary & Thyme”! Maybe that will be my summer Netflix viewing…

  City Diggity wrote @

You will definitely enjoy it! Beautiful destinations as well as gardens.

  Eliza wrote @

My mom and I checked out that Rosemary & Thyme series from our local library! Definitely lighthearted and stress-free to watch. We enjoyed the mom/daughter time. πŸ™‚

Yay for veggie chili! I want some now even though I’ve already had dinner!

  Susan at Winterberry Farm Primitives wrote @

Rosemary and Thyme is my favorite series of all time! I have turned on several of my friends to this wonderful series and my DVD set is now firmly entrenched with my 11 year old granddaughter who watches them every day. She will not give them up unless I promise to bring them back to her after a new convert to the series has watched them. She will only ‘lend’ one series at a time and is not shy about asking where they are if she feels that they have been gone too long!
My only wish is that there would have been more than just three years of this great series!

  City Diggity wrote @

I love it that your granddaughter shares a great find with friends. A lot like what we do with the bounty of our gardens. Cheers!

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