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3 Sister's Chili Stew with wild mushrooms

This delicious, comforting and hearty stew is a hybrid stew chili of sorts. Chunks of beef or venison, earthy black beans, wild mushrooms and sage, with spicy chili spices, balanced by the sweet addition of corn and acorn squash.

The name 3 sister's comes from a story. According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. This tradition of interplanting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, widespread among Native American farming societies, is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term soil fertility and a healthy diet to generations. Growing a Three Sisters garden is a wonderful way to feel more connected to the history of this land, regardless of our ancestry. Corn, beans and squash were among the first important crops domesticated by ancient Mesoamerican societies. Corn was the primary crop, providing more calories or energy per acre than any other. According to Three Sisters legends corn must grow in community with other crops rather than on its own – it needs the beneficial company and aide of its companions. The Iroquois believe corn, beans and squash are precious gifts from the Great Spirit, each watched over by one of three sisters spirits, called the De-o-ha-ko, or Our Sustainers. The planting season is marked by ceremonies to honor them, and a festival commemorates the first harvest of green corn on the cob. By retelling the stories and performing annual rituals, Native Americans passed down the knowledge of growing, using and preserving the Three Sisters through generations.

3 Sister's Chili Stew

Serves 6-7


  • 1 Acorn or 1/2 butternut squash, cubed approximately 4-5 cups

  • 1 cup corn (fresh, canned, frozen)

  • 5 cups black beans, cooked (see below for directions cooking from dried or use canned)

  • 14 grams honey mushrooms (Pidpenky) or morels, or approx 1/3 of a lb fresh mushrooms

  • 1 large onion

  • 2-4 cloves garlic

  • 3-4 T sunflower or corn oil

  • 1 lb stew beef or ground beef

  • 6 cups water or beef/mushroom or bean stock

  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle powder (depending on spiciness level you prefer)

  • 1 T paprika

  • 2 T chili seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons cumin

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 T sage powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed.


1. Start by placing mushrooms in 1 cup of hot water to rehydrate. You can use the large pot to boil the water and rehydrate the mushrooms, or put them in a bowl and stack another on top to keep them submerged. Save the water from soaking the mushrooms to add as part of the stock later.

2. Dice onions and start to sauté on medium heat in 3 tablespoons sunflower or corn oil

3. Add garlic and rehydrated mushrooms, sauté 5-10 minutes.

4. Add diced beef stew meat or ground beef.

5. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large pot.

6. Simmer for 15-20 minutes

7. Garnish with sour cream and whatever greens you have on hand, cilantro, celery, parsley

Options: add traditional chili vegetables like red and green bell peppers, diced tomatoes etc.

Serve with buttered cornbread for an extra treat or with honey for a simple dessert.


This is my all time favourite cornbread recipe. You can even pan fry the batter like pancakes and it's quite good. I premix this for our camping trips and do just that with it.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

  • 1 ½ cups cornmeal

  • 2 ½ cups milk (or water)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ⅔ cup white sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

1. Mix dry ingredients together first

2. Mix wet ingredients separately

3. Combine and pour into greased 9x13 baking dish

4. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until fork comes out clean when you insert a fork in the center.

How to cook beans from dried

2 main options:

1. The 'fast way'

Cover beans with 3-4" of water, bring to rolling boil. Cover with lid and turn off heat. Let sit 1 hour. Then bring back to a boil and cook for 1 hour.

2. The 'long way'

Soak overnight to rehydrate, cover beans with 3-4" of water. Once plump and rehydrated (this takes several hours), then boil on medium to medium high so they are at a rolling boil but not boiling over for 1 hour.

Some people also instant pot beans, but I haven't tried that except to can baked beans.

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