Jack’s Fiesta Markley (mostly) vegetarian Chicaoji Stew

A Fiesta in Your Mouth!

Jack H. and Isaac shared the Fiesta Markley (mostly) Vegetarian Chicaoji Stew recipe via email.

I’ve been working on a project of making weekly stews throughout autumn and this week I made a spicy stew with peppers and, of course, Chicaoji. Here’s the recipe:

The Ingredients

  • 2 red carrots
  • 4 red potatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 yellow onions
  • 2 Anaheim peppers
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 1 poblano
  • 1 habanero
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 3rd head of cauliflower
  • 3rd head of red cabbage
  • 3 radishes
  • 1 Can ranch beans
  • 1 Can White kidney beans
  • 1 red, yellow, and orange peppers
  • Cajun seasoning to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tomato paste can (small)
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Half cup Chicaoji
  • 1 bag sweet corn
  • 1 can of hatch chiles
  • Half cup of cilantro
  • 10 chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 box vegetable broth
  • 1 box bone broth (Substitute veg broth for vegetarians/vegan stew)
  • Cotija cheese (for individual bowls)

The Process

You can watch Jack & Isaac make it happen on this video:


1. Sautée potatoes, cauliflower, onions and carrots in stock pot for 20 mins, adding cajun seasoning and salt
2. In a separate pan, sautée all peppers (chopped)
3. Combine and add broth and all ingredients (wait 10 minutes before adding cilantro)
4. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for an hour
5. Top with Cotija and additional lime juice and cilantro (if you want to add a dash of extra Chicaoji to your bowl, go ahead!)

The Map It Up Stew Crew
The Map It Up Stew Crew, ? on L and Jack on R.
Chicaoji, a key ingredient in Fiesta Markley Stew.
Chicaoji, a key ingredient in Fiesta Markley Stew.
Stir the stew.
Stir the stew.
Measure out Chicaoji for recipe.
Measure out Chicaoji for recipe.
Add Chicaoji to Fiesta Markley Stew
Add Chicaoji to Fiesta Markley Stew

Food is medicine. Therefore, I live.

I believe food is medicine. Let me tell you one reason why I believe.

My liver failed in 2010. The doctors at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bellingham, WA used some pretty fancy drugs to forestall my immediate death. After a few days they sent me home, signed up for Hospice Care (meaning less than 6 months to live), with a 30% chance of living more than a month. They offered palliative (pain relief/end of life) care.

Now it is 2014. My liver function has returned to normal (according to allopathic doctors) and I’m well enough to keep the business part of Chicaoji going with a lot of help.

I want to share my path in broad terms to let you know that effective alternatives exist to Western “allopathic” medicine. Eastern medicine takes an entirely different approach to healing. Many factors guide the Eastern healing Path including things Western medicine doesn’t consider relevant. My path may not be your path but I offer this glimpse hoping you or someone you know may benefit.

I want to share with you how it is I ain’t dead yet from liver disease: Food is Medicine.

St Joseph’s allopathic doctors accomplished an amazing technological feat by pulling me through the first critical days of liver failure. Without their help I’d be dust in the wind.

My wife, Annie, was not satisfied with their terminal prognosis. We had just gotten married after being friends for 25 years. She looked around for another option here on Lopez Island because I wasn’t well enough to travel. Gratefully, she found Helen Sanders, a practitioner of Eastern medicine, a player of the Scottish Bagpipes and a martial arts enthusiast.

Helen came to our home when I was too ill to travel, even here on little Lopez Island. She looked me over and said right away that she wasn’t sure she could help….but she would try. Our first hint of her profound integrity.

The first thing Helen did was take my “pulses”, look at my tongue, inquire as to the qualitative details of my defecations and ask other unusual (for me) questions. Then she put me on a diet of Congee and “green drink”. Congee, for me, was a mixture of certain kinds of brown and white rice and sea weeds.

Green drink is a juice made with mostly green vegetables. In my case, it was kale, lettuce, cucumber, parsley (lots of parsley) and a few other green vegetables.

The congee is made by soaking the rice for 24 hours and then cooking on low heat for many hours with LOTS of water. She provided a specific list of seaweeds to use which changed over time.

I ate this rather plain congee and green drink for many weeks. At the time it seemed like a great many weeks. As time passed, we slowly began to add things like ½ teaspoon of molasses, a banana and then an egg!! I can tell you that ½ teaspoon of molasses adds a LOT to a bowl of congee.

We eventually added more foods guided by the idea that food is medicine. Steamed or pan roasted root vegetables and salads came along all in good time. After months passed, Helen offered certain specific herbal concoctions and acupuncture treatments for my condition as it continued to evolve.

Annie took meticulous care of me and worked closely with Helen to help me heal.

Now I eat a wide variety of foods. Congee remains a regular part of my diet. I’ve learned to avoid foods that have undesirable consequences for me. This way of looking at food as medicine differs from how we usually think of “eating foods that are good for us”. Specific foods are prescribed to treat conditions.

Long story short: With Annie’s help and Helen Sanders’ guidance, I did not die as expected.

You may know someone who has liver disease with a terminal prognosis (or not). First ask them if they want to live. If they say yes, then find yourselves a practitioner of Eastern medicine. They’ll need help if they are as sick as I was.

There’s more to the story. Let me know you are interested and I’ll tell more.
Congee might sound boring to you but to me it is the taste of life.


For more about Helen Sanders at Laughing Tiger Acupuncture website: