Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Vegan beers.

Here's a really great list of vegetarian beers.

Black Sheep Ale...Is it veggie/vegan?

Well, after a quick email to the brewers (who replied in a couple of minutes), it conspires that Black Sheep's bottled is veggie, but cask isn't.
For the technically minded, this is because the bottled is filtered and therefore doesn't have finings added.
Despite what brewers might try to tell you, isinglass is not a by-product of caviar (it's now more often made from other fish), just like leather isn't a by-product of beef (by weight, it's the most valuable bit of a cow).

Fake And Ale Pie

Here's my recipe for a vegan pie that I made for dinner last night. I used Black Sheep Ale*, but probably any ale will do. I've mostly been making pies in a 6 inch sandwich dish. This recipe should provide enough pastry and a little too much filling for that. It feeds two with another portion left over, so might do 4 if you serve if with plenty of other veg (roast potatoes and broccoli spring immediately to mind).

*This is reported as animal free, although their website says they use isinglass finings. I'm checking this out.

It took me about 1 1/2 hours to make this and some roast potatoes, so it's not really a week night meal. You can prepare it, ready to bake, and then freeze it. It'll bake straight from frozen, although it'll take slightly longer than 25 minutes.

For the Pastry:

170g (6oz) Plain flour
85g (3oz) Vegan margarine
Some cold water
Pinch of salt

A small tumbler of soya milk to brush the top of the pie with.

Put the flour and salt in a bowl.
Rub marge into flour with finger tips until it's like breadcrumbs.
Add a little water and mix in. Repeat until it forms a slightly sticky ball.
(Only add a tiny amount of water at a time, as it's easy to fuck it up. If you do put too much water in, add a little more flour. Again, only do a small amount)
Put the whole bowl in a plastic bag and put in the fridge whilst you make the filling.

Put the oven at around 220C (slightly hotter is fine, but if yours goes stupid hot then don't make it too hot).

For the filling:

100g (4+a bit oz)  dehydrated TVP chunks
1 Medium/large carrot
1 medium onion
Some garlic (optional)
1/2 bottle Black Sheep Ale.
2 teaspoon cornflour
100g frozen peas
Seasonings (I used some stock power, yeast flakes, dried parsley and a bit of salt and pepper).

Peel the carrot, and slice into quarters lengthways. Then cut across in to 1/2cm thick quarter circles.
Put the TVP chunks and the chopped up carrot in a pan and just cover with water. Boil until the chunks are rehydrated (this only usually takes a few minutes).
Drain the water off (you probably want to chunk it away).
Chop the onion, and fry it up with the garlic for a bit. Then add the TVP chunks, the carrot and the Blacksheep Ale. Sitr, then add some seasonings (dried stuff, you can leave salt + pepper 'til the end).
Bring it to the boil and then left it simmer, with the lid off, stirring occasionally.
Whilst it's doing this, mix the cornflower with some water, to form a smooth, cream like, liquid, and then add this to the rest of the stuff in the pan.
Then add the frozen peas.
You want there to be the ale to reduce to about half it's size.

Making the pie:

You can be rolling out the pastry while the filling is cooking. If you've got the time, then it's best to let the filling cool completely. In that case, you can leave rolling out the pasty until it's all ready to roll. If you're hungry though, don't worry about the cooling.

Grease the pan.
Divide the pastry into two, slightly unequally sized pieces. Roll the large piece out and line the bottom of the pan with it, trimming it to size.
Roll the top out too, but don't put it on yet.

Put the (now cooked) filling in the pan, and brush some of the ale mixture over the edges of the pastry.

Put the top on and trim to size.


Brush the top with soya milk (this helps it brown), and put in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the top is slightly golden (it won't brown that much because it doesn't have any milk or butter in it).

Drink the rest of the bottle of ale.


When it's cooked let it stand for a few minutes before serving. Always serve yourself first as the first slice is the one that falls apart.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Information overload?

Compared to stories I hear of people monitoring 100s of feeds, I don't subscribe to that many blogs...however, I generally read them either on the train to work (thanks to t-mobile for flat-rate mobile internet!) or at work when I'm waiting for the compiler to finish.
Having just come back from a week of almost 0% computer use, there were a few posts waiting for me. Most of these I've scanned through, read, or simply marked as read. This done, it's left me with a dozen posts that I'd love to look at at some point, but either lack the enthusiasm or the time for at the moment.
So, inspired by GTD, I've now got a "someday/maybe" tag for posts. This way, I can easily see new stuff, but I've also got a reference to those which I might, either at home or on a delay train, get round to reading.
Thank goodness for tags.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What's Happening To Green & Blacks?

Amy's Mum bought us some lovely easter goodies, including two Green & Blacks Easter Eggs - Maya Gold and Dark Chocolate.
There was, however, one thing missing off of the Dark Chocolate one: the Fair Trade mark.
It was just matter of time before this happened, but I'm disappointed that it's happening in such a subtle way: first Green & Blacks starts producing a non-Fair Trade (unfair Trade?) easter egg, next it'll be their normal chocolate, and then what? No longer organic? Cadbury said they'd leave G&B alone, but it seems it's slowly extending it dominion over it.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of other brands who can see the point in producing delicious fair trade, organic chocolate, and I'm taking my trade to them. Unfortunately, they're not as ubiquitous as G&B.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Nice day? Nasty Day?

I don't often comment on the weather, as it's dull as shit.
However, today, when I left for work, it was beautifully sunny. So much so, that I didn't bring a jumper, just my thin jacket.
As the train hit the M60 (the big one round Manchester), it suddenly got very foggy and cold. When I got off the train, I could see my breath in the air.
What the hell is going on? It's about 20 miles from my house to Manchester, but the difference in weather is so stark I'm dress inappropriately.