Grain to plate – 2018-19

Not long ago i had a brief, almost throw away conversation, with people at Regather. We were talking about where our food comes from and how important it is to understand what happens before it gets to our plate.

This subject spans a wide spectrum of topics – from GMOs to multinationals to deforestation to imperialism to poverty, war….and more.

Friends’ field: green manure for three years

One aspect is fostering an experiential approach to understanding food production.

So, children have been seen increasingly at city farms over the past 30 years; our own Heeley City Farm being a great example; and schemes like Food for Life are dedicated to ensuring we widen our collective understanding of food production and can access tasty and healthy food sustainably.

With regard to bread, the growth of sourdough bakeries has both stimulated and been a product of a discussion about and move away from manufactured bread products. Even so it seems there has not been a discussion at the next level of where the grain comes from and how it is processed . And this contrasts with wider discussions about organic vegetables, for example, or ‘food miles’.

Grain to plate experience.

Hay meadow at Friends Field

When I learnt Regather might be linking up with Friends Field, some dots started to join in my head.

Friends Field is a social enterprise in the wonderful Moss Volley.

15 acres of land that has had green manure for three years cut three times a year and mulched for worms to do their magic.

So last week i hear they will be a planting winter wheat (i.e it is sown in the winter) in an acre and half of the field; and next year via harrowing, planting, harvesting, threshing , milling, bagging and baking, it may land on a Sheffield plate!

There is still lots to find out and do. Not sure yet if it is hard or soft, red or white …. but we will find out soon as it has to be planted by November 5th.

Exciting!

Vegan ‘Tuna’ mayo filled bagel

‘tuna mayo’ bagel with all the trimmings

I was looking for something slightly different – and vegan.

Something that loaded up a bagel into a filling-dripping meal: lots of protein, a textured mix with a shift in flavours as you make your way through the bagel.

I chose to do this on a plain bagel but a seeded onion is also good for this:

  • Take  half a can of cannelini beans and mash with a spoonful of humus
  • Open up the bagel and place rocket (or your favourite leaf on either side).  Get a bit of salt and pepper on for taste at this point.
  • Now spoon up  the bean and humus mix on one side, topping with red onion and a spoon of Heart Veganaise.
  • On the other side, slice some avocado and tomato, add a sprinkle of fresh chili if you like that sort of thing
  • Bring the two sides together (but don’t squash it!)
  • Please use a napkin!
Onion seeded and beetroot bagels ready for delivery

This will be the vegan option at the November Bagel School, so to test the filling and have a fun day learning to make bagels like this, book now.

 

 

Big up to AFC Unity…

AFC Unity away shirt with tower of bagel logo

I love sport.  And i  love seeing people do great things with it. It is one of the reasons why i wanted to sponsor AFC Unity this season.  Their inclusive approach is so encouraging when so much around us seems to shut people out.

At whatever level we play our sport – and by and large mine across a range of sports can be categorised as ‘competent and energetic but without flair’ – we can have times that trigger, years later, emotional memories. These can be ones of joy (or ones of deep regret) but alwasy emotion

I was struck by this when I read AFC Unity’s Rachel Rodgers’ ‘random fact’ – a delightful sporting memory. I imagine she crackles with glee each time she remembers her moment.

Me? My best memory is scoring no points but exhibiting that hard work trait against an international squash player. The phenomenon of being on the court with an athlete at a world class level was breathtaking (literally!)

Good luck to AFC Unity this season. It is a privilege to sponsor this team.

Bagel school – book your place now!

Book your place on Bagel School now!Have you ever wondered how to make bagels? why not surprise your friends and family with a fresh baked bagel from your own oven?

Come to Bagel School and learn how to do it!

Book your place on Bagel School now!

Running from 10 am – 3pm , the first Sunday of every month between November and April next year, in the commercial kitchen at Regather, you learn how to shape bagels, the type of dough mixture you need to get that familiar bagel chew and get to learn tips and tricks to make them come out just right.

No need to bring any equipment, just a spirit of fun and curiosity.

You will take away your clutch of bagels and a specially designed tower of bagel notebook.

Vegan lunch included.

Book now!

…or buy a voucher – look here find out more

Don’t scramble your life, just your tofu – on a beetroot bagel

A friend recently said that  they had ‘gone  vegan’ .
.

 A friend recently said that they had ‘gone vegan’ .

This is an odd phrase; it implies a lifestyle transformation rather than just a conscious decision to alter diet. We don’t weigh down other diet changes with the same baggage – such as not eating cheese or high fat products.

It is a hard choice in spite of the current supermarket trends, probably because so much of our lives are peppered with meat products and animal derivatives. And it can be more expensive.

But it need not be a life scrambler.

So when my friend, a loyal and valued beetroot bagel lover, bemoaned a lack of replacement for scrambled eggs on beetroot bagel, i came up with this vegan alternative.

1 medium onion finely chopped – i used white but red would also work well
150g Clearspring Silken tofu mashed (if you are in Sheffield, from Beanies Zeds or Nutshell)
1/2 green chilli finely chopped
Dash of soya sauce
Black pepper to taste
Steam some spinach – optional
Some sport on telly

If you are having spinach or spring greens from your Regather veg box (or your garden) with it, wash and prepare them for steaming.

Halve the beetroot bagel

Soften the onion on a low heat in some olive oil

Meanwhile finely chop about half a green chilli (i don’t have this very hot, just enough to let you know it is there; so i use about half a chilli, but your taste buds are different so use what you think is best for you.)

When the onion is translucent, add the chilli and leave on a low heat for about another five minuets stirring occasionally.
Mash the Tofu and add

Turn up the heat slightly, add soya sauce and black pepper and stir.

If you are steaming greens, put on a pan of water. If you do not have a steamer just a covering on the bottom of the pan is fine. Bring to the boil. Add greens, cover.

Stir the tofu – there is a bit of liquid with the silken tofu that can be boiled off but not so it becomes dry.

When the greens are slightly shriveled, all is done.

Plate up, find some great sport on telly , enjoy.

Summer proofing

Summer baking it was blast
I had some bread, proofing so fast
I made some bagels with sesame seeds
They split their crust like shelling peas
Summer days so hard to bake
Oh oh – from night to daybreak

This is the first change of season in the new bakery.  I have been amazed at how the flour is no longer cool but warm to the touch.  How the dough is warm coming out the mixer and already feels airy. And with increased demand (cannot knock that!) this variation makes it hard getting the product absolutely right each time.

I imagine that in big manufacturers where they don’t really bake the bread (:>) they have control of the environment: heaters, air conditioners, humidity injectors and hi tech proofing cupboards.

So in my bakery the only tech i have is my own biological feedback system : my brain and my eyes and they don’t work so well some days.

The problem does  not come from leaving a single  mix longer to proove or shorter, though that is part of it. But more how can further mixes be done in tandem so that the bakery is as efficient as possible?

Whereas before i could do all my mixing and be confident that the first batch would be ready to shape by the time the mixing has stopped, the warmer weather means i have to mix two or maybe three batches then shape; then resume mixing any further batches after this.

It can feel disturbing to change a routine: the routine represents control, long worked for in the early hours, and is also a guarantee of quality –  ‘if i do this then this then this, the quality is assured’. But it is also exciting, a new problem to wrestle with, a new challenge and once sorted, renewed confidence that the process can change and the bagels still be as good.

Thank you to the Green Trianglers

A small corner of Sheffield, a really lovely community set about doing a variety of things together.

This could be music nights, games nights, fund raising breakfasts or participation in a madcap auction of bagels!

A few weeks ago a bag of bagels was auctioned on ebay for the Cathedral Archer Project and some people also kindly gave some donations

Here are links to the receipts from paypal (who somehow auto-magically transfer the money) and from the Archer project for the donations which were sent on to them.

Thank you.

New bakery, new varieties, new outlets

This year has been a bit of a whirlwind.

At the end of last year I moved (again) to something that will be the Tower of Bagel home for the next 18 months. Based in Attercliffe, and part of a sparkling little community of business – sewing , ice cream making, fashion photography and pottery –  in a CADS-managed building.

Too much butter?

Having got 5 on my inspection (hooray!) i could steam full ahead and celebrated by breaking out into cinnamon and raisin.

I have often been asked about this variety and it has been some time coming together.

This followed a trial into gluten free bagels. I had struggled for a year to get this right with the first efforts going in the bin before they got to the oven!

With the new varieties have come new customers – New Roots on Glossop Road take a Friday delivery and every day you can get a filled bagel at the Showroom Cinema Cafe

 

Breathing life into Youlgrave

But times are altered; trade’s unfeeling train
Usurp the land and dispossess the swain;
Along the lawn, where scattered hamlet’s rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose

From The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith

Goldsmith was writing after the enclosures, when landowners set about dispossessing rural communities of their livelihood,  setting in train a chain of events that has impoverished so much of rural England since.

Many villages around England and all over Europe, steeped in history and tradition, private family myths and public claims to fame, have suffered the same slow blight. Population drift to cities – caused by the sort of actions by landowners that Goldsmith is referring to – a lack of young people and a consequent lack of investment;  a cycle hard to be broken.

But Youlgrave has fought back and  is far from deserted. 

Not long ago, Youlgreave Village Shop was a butchers and in need of  serious repair. Now, it is a lively trading post in the heart of this beautiful White Peak village. Youlgreave itself has a number of businesses and a thriving village hall, which i know from Klezmer Weekends.

While, The Action with Communities in Rural England put a lot of emphasis on Village Halls and have done some great work with Village Hall Networks, a shop can act as a second hall – for meetings – there is a mum and baby group – chat and networking.

When meeting Lisa to discuss how we can work together to make our businesses more successful, it was with awe at her bravery but maybe a bit of a raised eyebrow at the amount of work and financial investment the new look shop represents. How much air has she in her lungs to resuscitate the shop? Well, it turns out she has loads!

She told me how they bought the shop in October 2016 and its tumbledown state, the work commenced on December 5th last year and they opened in June 2017. A tight timescale by any standards. And they now have a space that teams with wonderful local quality products on the shelves (a really god flour range from Caldwells Mill, by the way, for you bakers out there) , a welcome cafe for walkers and cyclists and locals, and , as Lisa points out, a place for sustaining community. And of course, let’s not forget, they also have bagels.

So, Sheffield and Chesterfield cyclists and walkers, make sure you stop by if you are having a day out in the White Peak.

Autumn chili keeps us warmer

Autumn is coming and this is an easy cheap and nutritious warming dish that can last for a few meals. With a couple of mini bagels and some cream cheese or vegan yoghurt it is perfect autumn filler.
Just a quick word about lentils: yellow brown green red and there is even puy. All have their proponents and detractors.
I like using red or yellow lentils when i need something where the the lentil has broken up. Yellow lentils seem more substantial and can make a more filling daal.
Brown lentils and green seem to have a more robust structure so do not disintegrate so easily. Puy lentils are famously flavourful keep their shape but are expensive. I have used brown lentils for this – their size and colour keeping the red kidney bean good company. If you cannot get brown lentils, don’t worry, use green lentils.
This makes enough for about 20 and is better after a day. If you don’t need it all, place in the freezer or take round to the Food Hall project or something similar where you happen to be.
Ingredients
4 cans kidney beans drained
500g brown lentils soaked in water overnight
4 can chopped tomatos
2 medium size onions
2 carrots
2 courgettes
3 teaspoons garlic paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1.5 teaspoons chilli powder or to your taste
Salt to your taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon of malt extract or black treacle (optional)
Place the brown lentils in water to just cover them and bring to boil.
Turn down heat to a simmer. Add water every so often to recover the lentils and ensure it does not boil off. You want them to be just soft and not to disintegrate. About 30-45 mins .
When the lentils are done, drain the excess water into a bowl and save it. There won’t be much but it is flavourful. When drained add a bit of vegan bouillon to this water and stir.
Meanwhile:
Chop the onions and carrot and courgette. Make the pieces quite small if you can.
Heat oil in a large pan. When the oil starts to ‘swim’ add the onions and turn heat to low
After about a minute add garlic paste and other spices and seasoning
Stir regularly while onions soften (about 15 minutes)
Add the chopped carrots to the heated pan and stir then cover
After 5 minutes add the courgettes. Stir and cover and leave for 5 minutes more.
You have probably cooked and drained the lentils by now. If not give them a check and when they are ready , drain them. Don’t forget to keep the water.
Add the drained kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste  and lentils.
Stir and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat as soon as it boils and add the lentil water. Finally, if you have it around, add the tablespoon of malt extract or black treacle to give a hint of sweetness
Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Dish out with mini bagels and a dollop of cream cheese.
Or leave to cool then place in a fridge for a day before eating.
Music while you cook
If you need to bounce up and down while cooking try some great women of punk. Here is the brilliant X-Ray  and then why not try the equally wonderful Siouxie and the Banshees