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!