Blogging in the night

Kind of like Strangers in the Night, but less crooning. Also, not a euphemism.

Alas, my dear readers, I kid you not when I say I write this at 3.05am (though I probably will check my grammar at a more reasonable hour tomorrow!). I also kid you not that I have been reading about cake and cupcakes and cupcake blogs for the past four hours or so, with interjections of jittery late night TV. Perhaps it’s not healthy to have concentrated for so long on a laptop, but hey!
Anyway, it got me thinking about how many food blogs are out there, and how my humble little URL is but a drop in a vast, delicious ocean of blogs.
(I’d compare it to a deeper meanings of the human race being such a minute speck of something far larger than we could possibly conceive, but it really is far too late, and I am no where near qualified to be delving into those depths)
Moving on marginally from that side thought though, I did have a point. Eliminating all those blogs which denote just reviews of other food blogs (which, seems a little pointless in itself, because you end up entering this endless circle of hyperlink after hyperlink – and after 4 hours, it gets tedious), the ones owned by companies to boost marketing and advertising (which is a smart move), and the ones that are near unintelligible (no offense), you’re left with not that much. In a Social-Network/Blog/Forum dominated Internet, where millions of people can input their own insight into subjects, i’d have never thought it so difficult to find decent information.
You see, it’s all about courtesy on the Internet, though I do know plenty of people who have had/caused online arguments who would contradict me on this one. People – ultimately – want to be seen and their individual voice’s heard. But it’s difficult when you have to wade through loads of other rubbish to get to said voices. So to make it easier, you set up your network of people:

– You first of all have your dedicated followers, people who regularly view your blog and are genuinely interested in musings you may have.
– You then have the occasional visitors, an accidental search engine hit perhaps or the ‘Random blog generator’ visitors. This one you can’t really control.
– Now this last one is kind of important. It’s where your blog gets hits when it has been blogged by another blogger. (Bear with me on this one, there’s going to be alot of ‘blog’ and blog-related stuff going around here.

In order to maximise your viewership, you need to get your blog out there, basically, much like advertising. So the best way is to do it through a (what i’m now naming) Social Network Courtesy Chain – partially because i’m not entirely sure if there’s a real name for it, and because it sounds kinda cool. The whole “I’ll blog yours if you blog mine” theory.

This theory is huge, and when I say huge, I mean really massive. You will honestly get blogs that are purely hyperlinks, so they can have as many hits as possible to get their website out there. It is, incredibly boring, and also a little defeatist in the way that, you set out to get your voice heard, and in doing so you have nothing to say but links. Oh the digital irony.

In the instant-information version of the Internet we now use, having a blog is a good way of getting a lot of voices and a lot information out there in a short space of time (stating this is nothing new may I add), and in your own personal space – I mention not Twitter here because the snippet pieces aren’t really relevant. So loads of people do it, it’s kinda common sense when you think about it. But it’s also (unfortunately) quite a boring way to blog. Unless you have a vast amount of time on your hands (the students, the retired and the lazy) nobody wants to trawl through a hundred hyperlinks of crap to get one that’s only half decent. This is where the food comes in, all that stuff is vaguely-related to food blogs! You cannot have a food blog if your blog only links to other ‘food’ blogs that link to other ‘food’ blogs that link to other food blogs, in which there is no actual food information! What you essentially have is just a blog full of hyperlinks with a name that is vaguely related to the culinary arts, it’s just silly! 

It did, however make me ponder the validity of blogs nowadays, i’m all for free speech and that, but it all seems a little…I dunno, same-ey? I’d also go into more academic detail but it’s really not my area of study and it’d probably bore you non media-students to tears. I’m also not just using buzz words for funsies or for SEO, it is kinda relevant!
I’m not even sure what set me off on this blog hunting mission, in which I have no ammo. I vaguely remember thinking about food around 9pm and deciding to look for other food bloggers, but after that I have no memory. I am, you could say, hammered on blogs. I have on my cupcake-related goggles and…no, I will spare you more horrendously bad cliches.
And so I digress a little…okay, quite a considerable amount of media-geekness has ensued I apologise, but it’s useful to know when you read blogs to know this (I really don’t mean that in a patronising way I promise!).But back to food. Alas you would think that I would include a recipe of some cupcake variety here after researching cake for hours, but, i’m thinking I might jazz up my sweet page with a bit of savoury snacks. Now I don’t know about you, but I love me a good home-made pie, apple-, steak- or pizza-.
Black Sheep Beef Pie
Serves 4-6
500g lean stewing beef, diced into quite big chunks
 3 Tbsp Plain Flour
1 pint of Beef stock (I used 3 crushed OXO cubes, diluted)
4 large carrots
3/4 pint of Black Sheep Ale (or Newkie Brown is nice too!)
1 small handful of mushrooms (whatever variety you have or like, I used button)
Puff Pastry
3 Bay leaves
1 Tbsp Thyme
This pie is really really really easy to make. It’s better if you make it in quite a deep pan so all the liquid in it can reduce!
– Firstly, put your pan on the heat (medium-high) with some olive oil, if you have a non stick pan you can get away with not using as much, but put a good splash in.
– Coat your diced beef lightly in the flour and place in your hot pan. Leave them so they go all crisp and dark brown and gnarled on the outside (it’s good for making the gravy). As soon as most of the sides are all seared, turn the heat down to Low-medium, and add the Black Sheep Ale, just a splash to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Then add the mushrooms and carrots.
 – Then add about half the bottle of ale and stir. 
– Then add your Beef stock (if you have fresh that’s awesome, but OXO cubes have never failed for me!
– Add the bay leaves and thyme and incorporate again.
– Leave on the hob, half covered with the lid for as long as you can, 2 hours is more than enough on a low-medium heat if you have the time, but it does need a good hour to really get it flowing. If it’s reducing too much, keep adding splashes of ale to keep some of the sauce. Take the lid off for the last half an hour to let it reduce. Also, as it cooks, you will get a little foam on the top, it won’t do you any harm but I skim it off anyway.

Pie, before reducing and skimming foam! Also, apologies, it doesn’t look particularly beautiful at this stage!
– Pour all this into a pie dish and roll out your pastry and cover. Now, I may get criticised, but puff pastry is incredibly tedious to make, nobody likes making it unless you can afford to spend 3 hours folding dough, which is not fun. So I use the JusRol stuff!
– Cut your slits to let some heat out, and don’t forget the customary pastry leaves with the left over dough. Cook in the oven for about half an hour on 220C degrees and you’re done. Serve with mashed potatoes and tonnes of vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower. And if you have any ale left, enjoy it with your meal!
Very yummy, hearty and even a picky eater will love it.Sorry it’s been a bit of a social self-debate on here. But you’ve gained a new media issue and a pie! I doubt you’ll be able to find that anywhere else.
Next Week: Baklava!