seitan is my motor



February 2015



Chili with Soy Curls and Fava Beans

vegan chili with soy curls and fava beans |

This blog is a mess! I have a couple of new recipes in my draft folder but cannot seem to find the time to publish them. Over the weekend I posted pictures of them on facebook and instagram and asked everyone which to post first. It was a pretty close race, but I promise those white chocolate lemon tartelettes you were crazy about are going to be next!

I don’t claim that I know a lot about chili. Heck, I can’t even get proper chili powder over here. And for this recipe, I used some ingredients you would probably not put in a chili. So maybe this just a stew and not a chili? Well, you decide! When we were in Malta I picked up a couple bags of rare (in Germany) looking beans. I got some dried fava (broad) beans and some black beans. The black beans were produced in Madagascar and were double the size of a black turtle bean. The fava beans were even bigger. I bought both because I wanted to make my own version of the Maltese bean spread bigilla. I just hadn’t looked up what bean to use. Later I found out that bigilla is made with fava beans, but I never got around to make it. So those beans were lying in my pantry right next to some soy curls that were a gift from the generous Panda with Cookie. This weekend I finally brought myself to pull these items out of their corner. It had gotten cold again, there was a tiny bit of snow and so it was the perfect occasion for a warm chili.

fava and black beans |

Typical chili spices are ground chili peppers, oregano, cumin and when I collected them from the spice rack I spotted my jar of star anise fruits. Star anise is often used in Chinese or Vietamese cooking and it’s one of the components in five spice powder. The Indian spice blend garam masala may contain star anise as well and you can find it in chai. For me it is associated with Christmas baking, as I put it into my lebkuchen spice mix. I like star anise a lot for its liquorice flavour and its beautiful shape. It is often used in meaty dishes, admitted these are Asian recipes. Since I was planning on a meaty chili by adding some soy curls, I thought I should try and throw in a star anise as well. It was a very good idea. Cooked for 30 minutes and then removed, the anise fruit added only a very subtle liquorice flavour that made this stew stand out from other chili recipes.

vegan chili with soy curls and fava beans |


Chili with Soy Curls and Fava Beans (makes 2-3 servings)

60 g ( 1 1/2 cups) soy curls
480 ml (2 cups) hot vegetable broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large green bell pepper, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry red wine
400 g (2 1/4 cups) chopped tomatoes
1 cup cooked black beans
1 cup cooked fava beans
about 240 ml (1 cup) water
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
salt and black pepper to taste
1 green chili pepper, sliced into rings
1 chipotle in adobo, minced

Place the soy curls in a bowl and top with hot vegetable broth. Let sit for about an hour.
Heat oil in a large pot and add onion, garlic and peppers. Fry over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Deglaze with wine. Drain the soy curls and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Reserve the liquid and place in a measuring cup. Add water and fill up the measuring cup to 600 ml (2 1/2 cups). Pour the liquid into the pot. Add drained soy curls, tomatoes, beans, and spices.
Bring to a boil and cook covered for 10 minutes. If desired, remove a serving for a child or someone else who doesn’t like spicy food now. Add the chili pepper and the chipotle to the pot. Cook for another 20 minutes. Remove star anise and bay leaf and serve with bread.

1. Dried fava beans have a tough skin that is commonly removed after cooking. But don’t do it! The skin adds both flavour and texture to the chili that you don’t want to miss. Alternatively you can use canned favas, they come with a softer skin. 2. We have a toddler in our household who doesn’t tolerate heat. Therefore I removed her serving before adding the green chili and the chipotle. You can add them earlier, if heat is not a concern.



February 2015



Product Review: Will’s Vegan Shoes

review: will's vegan shoes |

You wanna know what’s really difficult about a vegan lifestyle? Finding decent vegan shoes, is my answer. I want a shoe that looks good, is affordable, doesn’t fall apart after two weeks, and is ethically made. Until recently it was very difficult for me to find footwear which did fit all those criteria. Sure, there are lots of companies selling vegan shoes. But usually those are too expensive for me or I don’t like the model. Or both. In the past I had to make a lot of compromises when it came to shoes. Often these compromises were bad. (I bought shoes that were vegan but not ethically produced, for example.) Last year when I spent another evening searching the internet for new shoe models, I stumbled across Will’s Vegan Shoes, a UK based company, that sells both shoes and accessories, such as belts and wallets. I hardly could believe my eyes when I browsed their website because not only did I like the majority of their models, they also weren’t too expensive for me. Another great thing is that they ship worldwide and you can return and exchange their shoes for free. The main materials used for these shoes are breathable and water resistant microfibres.

On the website it says their products are “animal and human friendly” but that’s almost all the information they provide regarding production processes. Their shoes are made in Europe “while workers are paid in accordance with European guidelines”. But that can mean all kinds of things and isn’t necessarily a guarantee for decent wages and working conditions. To be fair, I know that production processes in retail are usually quite complicated and it’s hard, often impossible, to get reliable information about them from most companies. So it’s already great to know these shoes arent made in some Asian sweatshop. After a short internet search I learned that Will’s are made in Portugal, “where people work in decent, safe conditions and are paid a fair wage”. Well, I took the company’s word for this and ordered their shoes. Three pairs to be exact. At that time the shoes I chose were only available for preorder and I had to wait for them. Three to four weeks. I am very impatient and that was pretty hard! But it was also worth it.

When my shoes arrived they came in white shoe boxes, wrapped in colourful wrapping tissue. The first model I unwrapped were these black Chelsea boots which I’ve been wearing quite a lot since I got them. Their shape and cut is great, I do love that they are not as slim shaped some other Chelsea boots I tried before. Still, their fit is a bit narrow for my wide feet when worn with thick socks or extra insoles. (But I don’t see a fault with the shoes, I have had this problem before and I could have ordered a larger size to compare.) Thankfully the winter has been mild so far and I’ve been using regular socks without getting cold feet. (And to be honest, during really cold weather I have hiking shoes that will definitely keep me warm.)

review: will's vegan shoes |

Last winter I found some great knee lenght boots that I had to return after only a couple of months. They started to break apart. (I bought them from a large retail company, I am pretty sure they were not ethically produced and considering their poor quality, they turned out way too expensive.) I was disappointed and sure I could never replace them. But I was wrong. And I cannot tell you how happy I am about this. These brown boots shown above are exactly what I was looking for! When it comes to shape and cut, they are very similar to my Chelsea boots. But instead of side gussets, they have a zipper and an adjustable strap at the the calves. Even though I have the same thick sock problem with them they do fit my calves, which is not a given. Often I cannot squeeze my legs into knee lenght boots. So I am really exited about these shoes.

The third pair I got were black heeled shoes, also shown above. I hardly wear heeled shoes and if I do, I won’t last long. If you see someone hobbling and jumping on the sidewalk, that’s usually me wearing heels. But not in these shoes. They are very comfortable and have an extra soft and quite thick insole that feels like a cushion. The heel itself is quite broad and supportive. I also think the large zipper on the side is a nice detail.

My review is a bit late (I wanted to actually try these shoes out and wear them a couple of times) and both the heeled shoes and the knee length boots are sold out right now in most sizes, but the company has many new models in stock, which you should check out! I am very pleased with the look and the quality of my choices and they have a good price. (I think paying about 90 – 100 € for a pair of vegan shoes made in the EU is pretty fair.) I had intended to keep two out of three pair. But in the end I kept them all because I think they will last a while. I don’t like to buy new stuff each season, I rather have good quality items that last more than one summer, and I think these shoes fit the bill, but I’ll keep you updated.

Since I had them shipped to Germany from the UK, I paid 11.48 € for shipping (the fee seems to be dependent on how much your order weighs)  but got a 3.82 € discount, because shipping for the first item was free. (I subscribed to their newsletter and got a voucher.) I purchased all of these shoes with my own money and was not paid or compensated by Will’s Vegan Shoes in any way to write this review. I wrote it because I like their products and think this company is worth supporting.