Chili Recipe for a Quick Meal made with Homegrown Produce

Reader Contribution by Lisa Kivirist and Inn Serendipity
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Everything my husband, John Ivanko, and son, Liam, have been doing for the last two decades has prepared us for now. We know millions of Mother Earth News readers have been on the same path, with sustainability, self-reliance, a focus on the local economy, community networking and many other facets of homesteading. From steps we took to build up our emergency preparedness to completely powering our homestead with solar energy and meeting nearly 90-percent of our food needs from what we grow on our farm, we’ve prioritized health, the environment, small business, and following our passions that are in various ways captured in our books and Mother Earth News articles that we’ve authored over the years.

But we’re always learning more, trying something new, making new connections, and, as of late, using the abundance of time — resulting from the covid-19 pandemic lockdown — to try new recipes, make cheese for the first time, and clear out barns and sheds to recycle scrap metal and get paid a little for doing so. While knocking out a much more involved batch of buttery croissants (another first), we discovered that eating simple meals with homegrown, organic ingredients has just been made simpler, with Simply Organic seasoning mixes, marinades and simmer sauces.

Simply Organic, an all-organic brand from Frontier Co-op, offers an extensive selection of certified organic mixes and simmer sauces as well as spices and seasonings. Since 1976, the Iowa-based Frontier Co-op has been operating as a cooperatively owned wholesaler of natural and organic products. Among the dishes we savored on our front porch for our daily family dinner was chili made with the Simply Organic Chili Mix, the recipe for which is found below.

We sourced the organic hamburger for this recipe from the pasture-raised beef operation of Brattset Family Farm, a 290-acre grass-based grazing farm, located within the rolling drumlin fields of Southeastern Wisconsin. Brattset Family Farm produces 100-percent grass fed and finished beef, certified organic and Animal Welfare Approved. Like many homesteaders, we’ve cultivated strong connections to other farmers to supply us with what we don’t grow or raise ourselves, including eggs, pork, broilers and beef. Homestead resilience thrives when local networks are abundant and strong.

We’re also flying through our frozen vegetables from last year’s harvest, thanks to Simple Organic madras curry, coconut curry, Korean barbeque and tikka masala simmer sauces. We just defrost, strain or drain, dice and cube and then simmer our vegetables with the flavorful sauces. Given our busy growing season, Simply Organic products let us turn out quick, tasty meals.  We used some of our frozen onions and peppers for the chili recipe.

Additionally, our family has tapped into the booming local food hub movement as restaurants and food distributors reinvent themselves during the coronavirus pandemic. For some fresh produce while we wait to harvest our first crop of asparagus, we’ve ordered organic boxes of fresh produce, delivered directly to our farmhouse, from Parrfection Produce’s Driftless Direct. Instead of idling their farm and food distribution warehouse when demand was largely cut off by the Wisconsin Governor Evers’ “safer at home” declaration that shuttered many restaurants, Parrfection Produce launched Driftless Direct to supply families with fresh produce. For over a week, we enjoyed their organic beets, gold and fingerling potatoes, gala apples, spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes that came in the box delivered to our doorstep. We turned an add-on order from Driftless Direct of two avocados into a quick and delicious guacamole with Simple Organic’s Guacamole Mix Sauce.

We continue to prepare for a protracted economic decline resulting from coronavirus, welcoming the opportunity, when the time comes, to help transform what the new normal could be: localized, community-centric, decentralized, sustainable, organic, small-business-focused, green and solar powered. We hope that the mounting debt will not be our nation’s undoing. Meanwhile, we’ll keep savoring family meals on our front porch, discussing the next big challenge on the horizon: climate change.

Simply Organic Simple Chili Recipe

Servings: 4


  • 1 can (15 ounce) pinto, adzuki or kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package Simply Organic Mild Chili Seasoning Mix
  • 1 can (15 ounce) diced tomatoes


1.  Cook beans, drain and set aside in a bowl.

2.  In a large saucepan, saute onions and peppers until soft, set aside in bowl.

3.  In a large saucepan, thoroughly cook ground beef. Drain, returning beef to pan.

4.  Add cooked onion and pepper, diced tomatoes, beans and contents of seasoning mix packet to ground beef in pan. Mix until combined. Bring to simmer for about five to ten minutes, stirring a few times and adding some water as needed to retain moisture and achieve preferred consistency.

5.  Serve with your favorite chili toppings. (We top our chili with Organic Valley Sour Cream and our own fresh garlic chives.)

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband, John D. Ivanko, a photographer and drone pilot, have co-authored Rural RenaissanceHomemade for Sale, the award-winning  ECOpreneuring  and Farmstead Chefcookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son, Liam, and millions of ladybugs. Read all of Lisa’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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