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105degrees, L1/W3/D2: cheese & bacon

November 9, 2010

Yep, you read that right. CHEESE and BACON.
We’d put some of our cheeses in the dehydrator yesterday so that they could form rinds. We took those out this morning—success!

Buuut we’ll get to those later. (Patience, my little vegan grasshoppers!) Our granola was ready this morning, too.

The verdict? It’s…alright. I think the apples are the culprit—this has helped me come to the conclusion that I don’t love dehydrated apple bits. Before I even remembered it contained diced apples, I detected the same musty aroma and flavor as when I’d dehydrated apples at home before. It’s not terribly unpleasant (I’ll certainly be polishing off the full batch); it’s just not my favorite granola ever. (That title probably belongs to the raw raspberry-vanilla-almond granola I made before I left home.)

This morning, we cracked open a few coconuts. I have to say, I’m getting better at it! Look how I got this chunk of coco meat out all in one piece!

Wouldn’t you know, just two days after I declared that I needed to find out how to make coconut yogurt, that’s exactly what we whipped up. It’s now culturing in the dehydrator overnight.

We also used coconut meat, along with cashews and Irish moss paste, to make “tofu”! That has to be my favorite obligatorily-quote-marked raw food ever. Think of all the people out there who claim to hate tofu—and then there’s us vegans, who are so attached to it that we had to create a RAW version! I love it. Anyway, the “tofu” is chillin’ in the fridge till we’re ready to use it.

This afternoon, we prepped some sweet mango crêpes…

…as well as some savory crêpes.

The savory ones included a touch of coconut meat, so here I get another opportunity to show off my newly-improved coconut-scraping skills.

Next, we sliced, salted, and drained some eggplant and marinated it in a sweet-and-smoky sauce to make…bacon! No joke!

Russell also showed us this crazy kitchen gadget: the Smoking Gun.

You load a small amount of wood chips (any kind you like) into the gun and place the other end of the tube in the plastic-wrapped container of whatever it is you want to add a smoky flavor to. You “fire” the gun, it fills the container with woodsmoke, and you let it sit for 10 minutes or so to absorb the flavor. It’s like making a marinade of smoke!

Russell also experimented with smoking the marinade itself.

I, however, being the weirdo that I am, abhor smokiness in foods, and so was the only one in class to forgo use of the Smoking Gun on my bacon.

Yes, that’s right; not only do I dislike cheese, but I cannot stand smoky-flavored food. (Are you really even American? Yes.) Whenever I tell people I hate barbecue, their automatic response is “Oh, yeah, because of the meat, yeah.” I always have to explain that no, it’s not the meat (meat is everywhere; why would barbecue in particular bother me?), it’s the smoky smells and flavors. You couldn’t pay me to put barbecue sauce on anything I eat, not even tofu. (Are you sure you’re a native Kansas Citian?! Yes.)

So anyway, long story short, I left my eggplant bacon unsmoked. It’s dehydrating overnight, as are…

…these coconut bacon bits! I tried a bite of these in the restaurant the other night, and I actually liked them, even though I don’t like real bacon. (Good god, woman, are you even HUMAN?! Yes.)

Hmm, so what else happened this afternoon? Oh, that’s right—cheese! Remember the cheeses that we’d made on Friday, cultured over the weekend, and flavored yesterday? As you may recall, I made (clockwise from top right) a sweet cashew brie, a plain dehydrator-“aged” cashew cheese, a macadamia nut cheese with kalamata olive tapenade, and a chipotle macnut cheese.

At the end of the day, we set out all our cheeses, along with last Tuesday‘s garlic bread, for…

…a cheese party! Is this the biggest collection of raw vegan cheeses you’ve ever seen in one place, or what?!

We lingered over this cheese buffet for quite some time sampling each others’ offerings. My “aged” chipotle macadamia cheese went over well…

…but the star of my plate turned out to be my tapenade-stuffed macnut cheese. One or two people even declared it their favorite!

How did I, the cheese-scorner, feel about everything? Well, I enjoyed it! I’m still not wild on the characteristic “tang” of cheeses, including these; and yes, it’s creamy and “cheesy,” but it’s made of NUTS! What’s not to like? This has definitely opened me up to more raw cheese experimentation in the future.

I’m sure many of you are eager to get your hands on these cheese recipes! Though I can’t share them with you, I urge you to check out my instructor Russell James‘s all-cheese e-book (with these and many other recipes), as well as the rest of his excellent e-book series!

Raw Nut Cheese Recipes

And REMEMBER! There’s only one day left to get great savings at Love Street Living Foods—stock up on any raw ingredients or goodies you need at 10% off with the online coupon code found here.

48 Comments leave one →
  1. welcome to our wonderland permalink
    November 9, 2010 6:40 pm

    everything looks so yummy!

    I don’t like bacon of any kind either , I also don’t like smokey anything wow and we live in the BBQ capital of the world. 🙂

    OK are you sitting down I’ve never tried tofu? I know SHOCK! I have a recipe that uses the soft tofu in a smoothie and i’m too chicken?? should I try it. Well first I have to buy a blender.

    I do love your granola will have to try to make some this weekend
    and I could just eat all that coconut till I’m sick! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:21 pm

      Really? I’m not alone in my smokiness-hating?! That’s awesome to hear!

      When I first read your comment, yes, I was SHOCKED that you’ve never had tofu! Go ahead and try silken tofu in a smoothie, but it almost doesn’t count – you can’t taste it at all, and tofu is DELICIOUS and SHOULD be tasted! I’d try it at a restaurant first, to see how it should turn out, before preparing it yourself. Pei Wei and Noodles & Co. both have chewy, delicious tofu – give it a go!

      • welcome to our wonderland permalink
        November 11, 2010 5:37 pm

        noodles and Co. really I’ll have to do that! I’ve been wanting to go there and since noodles are about all my girls eat it would be perfect!

      • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
        November 11, 2010 5:51 pm

        Pretty much anything you get there is a winner, but I think their Asian dishes are the best. Especially the Japanese pan noodles, YUM! In fact, you can see a picture of those in this post – third photo down. 🙂 Tofu costs a bit extra, but it’s worth it! Same with Pei Wei. You can see their lo mein here and their Mandarin kung pao tofu stir fry here. Man, I am making myself hungry!

        • welcome to our wonderland permalink
          November 11, 2010 6:40 pm

          oh my that photo looks so good! we are so eating there this weekend or next week for sure

        • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
          November 11, 2010 6:42 pm

          You’ll have to tell me how you like it! 😀

  2. Monica Soto permalink
    November 9, 2010 6:52 pm

    I’m not a fan of dehy-apple pieces either, I don’t really know why. However, those vegan cheeses looked A+mazing. My mouth watered as I looked at the cheese feast.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:28 pm

      Hmm, at least it’s not just me with the apples.
      Even for a non-cheese-fan like me, that spread IS pretty mouthwatering!

  3. November 9, 2010 6:55 pm

    That is so crazy that you’re using eggplant to make bacon! I can’t wait to hear how it turns out! I loved your little comments about being human, american, etc…ha ha! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:28 pm

      It is pretty wild, isn’t it? But the eggplant bacon turned out awesome!

  4. November 9, 2010 7:10 pm

    Jaw dropped at the sight of that incredible cheese party!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:29 pm

      Hehe! Gorgeous, isn’t it?

  5. November 9, 2010 7:25 pm

    Cheese party–how fun! I dislike animal bacon and cheese but like the fake parts. It’s because the part that grosses me out is the fattiness and flesh-like aspects of it. I was pretty blown away when I first tasted Dr Cow cheese and yours looks just like it. I am sure I’d love that stuff. my husband who dislikes cheese didn’t care much for it.

    The smoker looks so cool. I would be smoking everything.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:31 pm

      There’s something about creamy-cheesy things that just repulses me; always has. But over time, I’m coming to enjoy things like this nut cheese more and more. I think for me, with cheese at least, it’s a question of how natural the product is. If it’s modified soy starch or something like that, it sickens me the same way dairy would. But if it’s nuts? I’m good to go.

  6. November 9, 2010 7:36 pm

    okay, i wouldn’t consider myself a ravenous fan of smokey foods, but that smoking gun is just plain cool.
    i am still so fascinated by everything you are able to create every day. such an amazing experience!! i’m not a big fan of cheese, either – i can take a mild mozzarella and a small amount of goat cheese, but i’m fine leaving them, too. (and do, as i go more and more vegan by the day :P) so i’d be really curious to try a raw cheese. and yes, that is the most raw cheese i’ve ever seen! haha

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:41 pm

      I have to admit it too, the gun is pretty snazzy.

      You sound kind of like me (albeit a little less extreme) in your “blah” feelings toward cheese. There’s a good chance, then, that you’d enjoy nut cheeses like these. Something about the nutty-creaminess is different (and a million times better!) than dairy-creaminess.

  7. November 9, 2010 8:08 pm

    wow! look at all those gadgets I wouldn’t know what to do with! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:44 pm

      Haha! Without instruction, I’d be in the same boat 😛

  8. November 9, 2010 8:11 pm

    Amber… if I saw one piece of raw vegan cheese, it would be the most raw vegan cheese I’d ever seen 😛

    I, too, hate bacon, so high five there! And generally dislike dried apples (something about the spongey texture…)

    And now I’ll probably duck off again, as the combination of a stupid cold and 50 exams to mark in two days makes me less than eloquent when it comes to espousing the wonders of your creations!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:45 pm

      My cheezecake buffet will fix that for you 😉

      Yeah! Bacon-haters unite!

      Good luck with those exams! :/

  9. November 9, 2010 9:13 pm

    There’s so much to say but too little time……I’ll just leave you with the fact that the cheese buffet has me licking the screen over here in T-town. I MUST travel westward to come visit you amazing culinary genius’ in OKC very soon! I’m loving the play by play!!!
    xoxo -penster

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:47 pm

      Hehe! Hope you got that screen cleaned up ok 😛 You’re right, you really must come west and visit 105 soon! I’d still love to do that interview 😀

  10. November 9, 2010 10:47 pm

    You are speaking my language. Nut cheeses and macadamia with olive tampenade??? ME WANT FOOD!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:49 pm

      Yeah!! The olive tapenade was a great choice for the filling, if I may say so. 🙂

  11. November 10, 2010 3:37 am

    a cheese party, you say? i’m glad you olive one turned out so well. you definitely seem to be good at making them, so hopefully you’ll learn to love cheese even more.
    and i can’t believe you don’t like smoky flavors! i was in heaven when i saw that smoke gun! however, i’m sure your eggplant bacon was just as awesome with out the artificial smoking. 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:58 pm

      Raw cheese, at least 😉 That seems to be happening!

      I know, I know! KC girl hating smoky stuff ‘n BBQ…it’s “just not right,” eh? But yes, I can say now that my bacon did not suffer a bit in flavor from my withholding the smoke!

  12. November 10, 2010 3:39 am

    oh, and ps about the black salt – it’s awesome for eggy dishes. it sort of has that egg-sulfur flavor (sounds weird, but it works). however, it’s easy to get carried away and then you end up with a salt lick on your hands!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:59 pm

      Egg-sulphur? My stomach just turned a little…but if you say it works, I may have to get past my queasiness and give it a go sometime. Tofu scramble, perhaps?

  13. November 10, 2010 4:12 am

    OMG Amber! You must’ve been so cheesed out and haha was this about the time you commented on my blog saying the white calcium wall I was touching looked like a giant cheese wall? I had to laugh out loud reading your blog, you must be dreaming in cheese! PS I had no idea Russell James is teaching you- I get his updates all teh time and he just emailed through a link to your blog! How cool!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 9:01 pm

      Hahaha, YES! You can tell I’ve had cheese on the brain all this week!

      I didn’t know that YOU didn’t know that Russell is my instructor! He’s fabulous. I’ve mentioned you in conversation with him recently, in fact. He said that’s he’s seen your blog before. 🙂

  14. November 10, 2010 4:51 am

    Wow – this is some high art in the kitchen. Smoking gun lol. Great preservative technique but there are also some health concerns with using smoke, so your tastebuds might be sensible.

    The raw tofu is just a hilarious idea to me!

    I love eggplant but hate bacon, so maybe I’d love that. The cheeses really are beautiful – and if you liked them, maybe I would too (big cheese hater that I am).


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 9:03 pm

      I wonder too if there are health concerns related to such a contraption…but, then again, that’s something I don’t have to worry about 🙂

      Bacon and cheese are two things I’d never touch traditionally, yet I’m finding myself really enjoying the raw versions. Especially those coconut bacon bits – WOW those things are addicting!

  15. November 10, 2010 7:51 am

    Those cheese are super impressive! I just got a new set of square ice cube trays that I was thinking would make great cheese molds… These flavors are definitely inspiring, and now I want to make more than the standard sort of cashew cheese.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 9:04 pm

      Thanks Hannah! Those ice cube trays could be a cool cheese mold (as long as you had a way to reliably remove the cheese once it’s set; it does stay semi-soft). I hope you go above and beyond cashew cheese soon in your own kitchen!

  16. November 10, 2010 11:19 am

    I love reading about all your raw cooking adventures! Your coconut cracking skills are very impressive!

    I am totally fascinated by that magic smoking machine! And the bacony eggplant and the nutty cheeses! Awesome!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 9:06 pm

      Haha, thanks! It’s taken practice, that’s for sure. 😉 I too am fascinated by how I can like these raw versions of foods I’d never eat regular versions of!

  17. November 10, 2010 11:35 am

    Cheese…cheese…cheese…it’s everywhere and it all looks so good! Oh how I wish I was there! :o)

    Oh, that bacon eggplant sounds yummy…actually, everything does! I’ve never had coconut yogurt, but it sounds like something I would really like. I must buy that raw cook book that you recommended!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 9:07 pm

      It was a veritable cheese landscape on that table! 😛

      I bet you would indeed like coconut yogurt – YUM!

      Definitely look into getting those cookbooks! Which one are you most considering buying?

  18. November 10, 2010 8:38 pm

    Those cheeses look so so so amazing. Wow!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 10, 2010 9:07 pm

      Thank you, Andy! 😀

  19. November 10, 2010 10:20 pm

    This is riiiiiidiculous. I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t even believe that cheese party. So fun. I love eggplant bacon. I sort of know what you mean about barbecue. I never really loved it. Until the past few months. My sister made me a bbq chik’n pizza, and I loved it. So then I bought some sauce and put it on something else. I think I like it now.

    I wanna go to raw cooking school (said in whiny voice).

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 11, 2010 1:40 pm

      Believe it or not, this was my first “cheese-tasting” 😀

      That’s cool that you’ve opened up to BBQ flavors – I’m not sure the same thing will happen for me, but then again I never imagined myself snacking on “bacon” bits… 😉

  20. November 11, 2010 11:09 am

    I had no idea that smoke guns existed! I can’t get enough of smokey flavors, so I may have an investment to make. (:

    I love looking at your cheeses, too! Beautiful.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 11, 2010 1:40 pm

      I’d heard of the Smoking Gun before, but I’d never seen it in action!

  21. November 11, 2010 11:25 am

    Oh, a quick question: is a dehydrator strictly necessary for making these nut cheeses? I’m thinking about buying your instructor’s book, but have no dehydrator.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 11, 2010 1:43 pm

      A dehydrator is NOT necessary! I put a couple of my cheeses in there just to form a rind quickly, but it’s a totally optional step. The olive cheese above wasn’t dehydrated at all – just refrigerated. The macnut cheeses firm up pretty much overnight in the fridge, and with cashew cheeses, you can just let them hang out in the refrigerator for a week or two and they’ll naturally firm up and form a bit of a rind 🙂 Russell’s cheeses are awesome – I hope you get his book!

  22. November 15, 2010 5:46 pm

    Wow! I want to try all of those non-cheeses!

    I was at a health food store I’d never been to before in Tampa earlier today and was surprised at the selection of vegan cheeses. They even had vegan feta! I’m going to work hard and save up my money and throw a wine & vegan cheese party.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 15, 2010 6:52 pm

      Hey, no need to save up a ton of money! Just get yourself some raw nuts – I’d be happy to share some raw cheese recipes with you if you wanted. 😉

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