My Unrequited Love Affair with Cheese

15 Sep

Cheese and I go way back. Back to the days of my childhood, where a box of Velveeta seemed to continually self-replicate on the same shelf in the fridge. We were never without it, and I can still see its distinct orange color in my mind’s eye, and taste that creamy, extremely fake flavor. A grilled cheese sandwich was made with none other than Velveeta when I was young.

My tastes developed as I got older, moved on adventurously to Monterey Jack, on to what we Americans call cheddar, then when I moved to England, my cheese mind was absolutely blown. Has anyone heard of Neal’s Yard Dairy? (UK friends: No prizes for guessing.) This place is incredible. It is like Mecca for cheese lovers, the Holy Grail. Seriously, if you’re a cheese lover, you’d weep when you enter. Why? Because they let you taste everything! EVERYTHING.

This is my sausage, wrapped in a collard green leaf.

I lived in the UK for 11 years. That’s right, 11 years of cheese-eating (Marmite and cheese on toast, anyone?), milk-in-my-tea, custard-on-my-dessert (or “pudding”, in the local patois) dairy-loving madness. And then I moved home.

And I don’t know what it is, if its the antibiotics in our beef or just that lactose intolerance supposedly can hit between 35 and 45, but man, all dairy started sending me into horrible extended periods of stomach pain. Not fun at all. And even the Lactaid pills don’t really help. They help a bit, but they don’t solve the problem.

Why, why, WHY did you desert me, cheese? Why can I no longer partake of your creamy, salty, oozy goodness? There’s nothing better than cheese. Except, of course, melted cheese.

I can’t stand all these fake cheeses. Especially since some of them still have milk protein in them, which really defeats the whole point of the exercise. Overall, they’re all over-processed and taste nothing like cheese. Plus, I’m off soy so that cuts out some vegan cheeses right away.

But with Annie and Somer as my inspiration—these ladies don’t let anything stop them, and they’re always cooking up something delicious—I decided to take a chance and make some cashew “cheddar” from my new raw-food cookbook: Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish. This cookbook is a delight—the recipes are really easy to follow and they taste delicious.

I love his recipe for the cashew “cheddar. I’m going to post it here (with one addition), but the vegans, vegetarians and raw-food eaters out there (and even people who just want to incorporate more fresh produce in their diet) should run and buy this book!

I’ve been slathering it on everything: Lauren will appreciate this. I had it on my sausage wrap with grilled onions the other night, this morning I had it in a scrambled egg and salsa green “burrito” and for lunch I invented the Paleo tuna melt. Well, I think I invented it. Someone else might have come up with this crazy combination: Tuna mixed with a dollop of mayo and a splash of salsa, covered in cashew cheddar and wrapped in a Swiss chard leaf. That’s right. It’s freaking delicious. Lauren, I’m going to shove one of those in the face of Cafe Gratitude! You’ll have to help me think of something extremely pretentious to call it, like the “I am full of wonder[bread]”.

So here’s the recipe—let me know what this cheddar substitute inspires you to make!


2 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes
1 cup water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ancho chile powder (My addition. If you use cayenne, use 1/4 tsp and see how it tastes.)

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, turmeric, chile powder and salt until incorporated. Add soaked cashews and process until smooth, stopping the motor once and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate. Lasts around 4 days.


18 Responses to “My Unrequited Love Affair with Cheese”

  1. emmycooks September 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    I’ve never thought of making a cheese substitute, but that ingredient combo sounds delicious! Miles better than Velveeta, for example. 🙂

    • tinykitchenstories September 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

      You’re lucky if you don’t need a substitute! I might have that leftover tuna for lunch today…mmmm! Thanks for the comment! (And yes, now the thought of Velveeta gives me the heebie-jeebies…!)

  2. girlinafoodfrenzy September 16, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    Dedication! That’s what I’m calling it. I had no idea you were off cheese too 😦 no wonder those cravings hit hard and fast, but I suppose the intolerances do too? Incredible is the other thing I’m calling you, because you are!

    • tinykitchenstories September 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

      Thank you SO much! Been off dairy for almost 6 years now, but do cheat occasionally. Like last night I made tandoori chicken, and used goat’s milk yogurt. Had some tummy upset, but worth it! And the pain can hit almost immediately, which stops me from cheating most times. It just makes me more creative though! Can’t wait to read your baking post. 🙂

  3. An Unrefined Vegan September 16, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Oh wow! Always looking for new cheez recipes – and the addition of chiles – yummmo! Sounds like a book to add to my shelves. (Thanks for the mention 🙂 )!

    • tinykitchenstories September 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      I do think you’ll love this cookbook Annie! I can’t put it down. I don’t even have a dehydrator (yet…he he he!), but there’s still so many recipes to make! And I didn’t have time to write more wonderful things about you in my blog, as I was planning… 😉

  4. Lauren Bair September 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Ahahahahaha. Cafe Gratitude is gonna throw me in bean sprouts solitary. You are hilarious. I just had the worst ever soy “bleu cheese” the other day. But what’s this here?? I’m trying out this cash-chz recipe (and possibly that cookbook – it sounds awesome!). Also, you’re appealing to my famous actress senses by showing me my own name in print. HEARTS!!

    • tinykitchenstories September 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

      Soy bleu cheese? Eu! I think you’ll love the cookbook. I’m trying out tons of things and springing them on The Husband. He’s been very tolerant so far, best not push it.
      And if I could have put your name in lights, I woulda!

  5. weekend knitter September 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    I was a die hard cheese fan too! But, it wreaks havoc on my system anymore. My favorites were pepper jack and Swiss …mmmm. Yum!!

    • tinykitchenstories September 18, 2012 at 10:13 am #

      Swiss. Ah Swiss! I miss the gooey, stinky ones the most. And cheese for dessert….sigh. Thank you for the empathy!

  6. Talon Sims September 18, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    May try this soon, need more than our regular blender for this one though!
    (food processor is broken, so it has worked fine for the salsa though, just have to rinse it with white vinegar afterwards so smoothies don’t taste like garlic! ; )) CHEESE glorious CHEESE! My personal downfall for certain! Sinfully delightful, creamy and dreamilicious! Love most kinds that have hit my eager tongue. We recently discovered a Monterey Jack Blue Cheese…. not a healthy import, local organic, kosher, a goat cheese or anything special otherwise 😦 but I don’t care when I’m eating it! There’s just something about a Blue Cheese, that melts!!!! We have cut back on dairy in general and the cheese is missed most of all…. I hear your pain Sis! HOWEVER…..SO Glad you have found something that works for you.

    • tinykitchenstories September 18, 2012 at 10:14 am #

      Thank you!! I’m glad too. But it doesn’t mean I won’t cheat once in a while…when it’s really good cheese! xo

  7. sweatlikemambo September 20, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Omg, our fridge was always stocked with Velveeta too! I loved it back then, and gradually progressed to REAL cheese like yourself. This looks delicious!

    • tinykitchenstories September 20, 2012 at 11:40 am #

      I’ve literally been putting it on everything I can think of. We had chorizo/sweet potato tacos last night, and I used it instead of feta in my lettuce “tortillas”. My god, I could murder a piece of bread right now…with cheese, natch! 🙂

  8. anyone4curryandotherthings September 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    lol, loved your above entry re murder/bread/cheese!!! Exactly how I felt last night after watching a late film – but, NO CHEESE in house. I see you like Indian and Italian (and other food), maybe you find something in my blog (next week it’s all about Kerala and Curry again!!), Ciao

    • tinykitchenstories September 21, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      I can’t wait to check out your Kerala section! Italian’s hard for me at the moment because of the pasta, but Indian–bring it! Thanks for the comment–and I hope you like my blog!
      And if you’ve got bread and cheese at your house, I’m coming over NOW. 😉

  9. thegrubbyhen November 6, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    I love that you love real cheese and i hate that you can’t eat it! On the plus side, this recipe looks absolutely amazing! 😀

    • tinykitchenstories November 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      Thanks! I can’t take all the credit, but I’m glad I found it. It satisfies the cravings, for sure–and I *do* cheat once in a while… 😉

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