Blessed are the cheesemakers

I’ve opted for not consuming dairy products. They contain IGF (Insulin-like Growth Factor) to encourage rapid cell growth. Rapid cell growth is exactly what’s needed for the sustenance of new-born mammals, but isn’t needed by cancer ridden old codgers like myself. The scans show that I can rapidly grow inappropriate cells without any help.
I’ve mulled it over, read a variety of sources, cogitated and meditated on the issue, and it makes sense. Much as I love cheese, it’s had to go.
I’ve really missed it, but at last I’ve found something that ticks all the boxes and hits the right notes on my palette. Fermented nut cheese. The simple nut cheeses I made initially were very pleasant, but didn’t quite quench the cheese craving. This really hits the spot and is well worth the fiddle.
First you have to sprout some wheat, then add water to it and ferment it for a couple of days to make a liquid called ‘rejuvelac’. This is then added to the ground nuts of your choice and fermented in a warm place for a couple more days. I like my cheese quite salty, but I knead the salt in when I shape the cheese after fermentation, as I believe it would impede the fermenting process. The full recipe is here on the amazing Rawmazing site.
This week I’ve made two different cheeses (while I had some rejuvelac on the go). One is almond cheese with a clove of garlic, then wrapped in wild garlic leaves. The other is cashew cheese with a coating of dried apple and beetroot.

Image

The leaf wrapped one is my version of Cornish ‘Yarg’. As ‘Yarg’ is actually the maker’s name, Gray, spelled backwards, I suppose I should call mine ‘Seriuqs’, but it doesn’t really trip off the tongue. I’m very pleased with the taste of it. It packs a real garlic punch, but the almonds give it a slightly crumbly, clean tang.

The cashews in the beetroot-coated cheese give a creamier texture. The apple and beetroot flavours are difficult to identify, but give it a dramatic appearance.

I’m going to try a cheese made with Macadamia nuts next. That should be ultra creamy, but I’m tending to feel the almonds give the nicest result so far.

I made the biscuits as well – dehydrating a ground mix of almonds, linseed etc. So the whole plateful is really just nuts in different guises!

I’m really impressed with how cheesy these fermented cheeses are. Hubby loathes cheese and allied lactose flavours with a vengeance, and he hates my cheese, too. A very good sign that I’m achieving true cheesiness!

My only worry is that the ‘rejuvelac’ contains the IGF that I’m mustn’t have. What if I’ve carefully recreated a vegan form of the very substance I’m trying to avoid? These are questions I’m constantly bumping into these days as I get further and further into ‘alternative’ cancer treatments. I’ve just started analysing my diet with ‘My Fitness Pal’, and my Calcium and Iron intake is running at about 20-30% of what it should be. Even on the day I had half a pound of liver my iron intake was only 77%. This raises the question of where the hell do I get those minerals from if I don’t drink milk/eat cheese/stuff myself full of red meat? In fact, looking at ‘Healthalicious’, a handy tool for analysing nutrition, how does anybody get the right amount, whatever diet they follow?

It’s one of life’s mysteries. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Dehydrating food – a weird science

My adventures with my new dehydrator continue. It’s a roller coaster ride, but I’m persevering. The bin men might start to complain about the weight of soggy, putty-smelling residue they have to cart away each week, but I’m determined to make this work.

I’ve learned a couple of things this week:

  1. Dehydrating doesn’t chemically transform the flavour in any way, like baking does. So, if the raw dough tastes like crap, the end result will be a hard biscuit that tastes like crap.
  2. Things called ‘crackers’ need drying very thoroughly indeed. They need to spend many more hours in the dehydrator than I’ve been giving them.

I announce a moderate success with my Rosemary Almond Crackers and Sage and Onion Cashew Cheese:

almond crackers and cashew cheese

For the Sage and Onion cheese, I used the Simple Almond Cheese recipe, but substituted cashews for the almonds. I dried an onion, sliced, and a big bunch of sage, then ground it to a fine powder with a dozen black peppercorns. I rolled the cheese in this to coat it, then dehydrated it for 6 hours to give a crust.

It’s interesting that the cashew nuts hung on to the added water/olive oil/lemon juice in the way the almonds don’t in the original recipe. I drained the mixture in a cheesecloth for 24 hours, but it threw off absolutely nothing, where the almond cheese drips a couple of tablespoonfuls of fluid. This contributed to it being really light and creamy.

Yeah! I’ll make this combo again!

Adventures in dehydrating, part 2

I’m enjoying experimenting with my new dehydrator. Kale and cashew crisps are great, and I enjoyed having my Hazelnut Cranberry Flatbreads topped with cashew butter and banana for breakfast all last week.

But when things go wrong, I’ve discovered there is nothing more disgusting than a dehydrated accident.

Below on the left we have the delicious Pear and Walnut crackers. On the right, the absolutely vile Pumpkin Seed crackers.

Crackers made in the dehydrator

Appearances are deceptive. They look yummy. In fact, when you start eating one, the initial taste is acceptable, but, as you chew, it turns into something really bitter and grassy. The final impression is of chewing matted hair you’ve rescued from the bath plug hole.

I’m identifying sprouted wheat berries as the culprit. The last recipe I made with them was vile, too, but I thought that was because the batch had gone ‘off’. It’s a shame because the wheat takes ages to soak and sprout, and is supposed to be amazingly good for you. Even so, I’m going to have to add them to the very short list of foods I can’t eat without retching (the other one being skin on rice pudding – easy to avoid).

Bye bye sprouted wheat.

Almond pepper dip

Hubby and I found we were accidental vegans on Sunday. No we didn’t get pointy ears – that’s vulcans – we just didn’t get round to eating any meat.

I made some beetroot crisps and some Corn Kale Chips. I served them with guacamole and my new invention, Almond Pepper Dip.

almond pepper dip

The black things at the bottom are beetroot crisps. The corn kale chips have a healthy portion of flax seed in them, so more estrogen-busting compounds.

After we’d scoffed that we didn’t have room for the chicken stir-fry I’d planned. Plus we’d had about 12 of our 5-a-day!

Almond pepper dip
100 g blanched and skinned whole almonds
Juice from 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
Flavouring – see note below*
6 black peppercorns
12 szechuan peppercorns
Salt and pepper to taste

*Flavouring: I dried 1 yellow bell pepper and half a red bell pepper in my new dehydrator and ground it to a powder (home-made paprika, I guess). It would have worked as well with a couple of heaped teaspoons of paprika, or possibly a pepper that had been grilled to blackness and then skinned.

Method:

  1. Grind dried bell peppers and both types of peppercorn in a spice grinder/pestle and mortar
  2. Put everything into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Be careful with the water! It’s easy to make it too runny. Start with 1 tbsp and add more as required.

Modest cheesy success

After a week of wild culinary experimentation here at Laboratoire Squires, involving soaking, sprouting, fermenting, whizzing and drying, I’m pleased to announce a moderate success – Cashew cheese with Sesame Flax Crackers.

Nut cheese and crackers

The amount of work involved does make you wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to go and buy some peanut butter and a pack of crispbreads, but it IS tasty.

There have been some disasters though. Real smelly ones. My dehydrator broke down and I had to get a replacement sent to me, so a batch of ‘Onion Flax crackers’ went horribly wrong. When I got my new dehydrator I carried on trying to dry the damn things out, but by then they had become a rancid mix of oxidised onion and window putty. They smelled so bad I not only had to get them in the bin, but right out of the house.

Why am I bothering? Just trying to add a bit of interest to the anti-cancer ‘Bristol Diet’, and increase my intake of plant-based foods. Flax is supposed to stop estrogen binding in estrogen sensitive cancers – like mine – so I’m trying to get more of that in my diet. Not easy, it being a rascally, putty-smelly seed. Still, when I pop my clogs you’ll be able to put in a house full of windows with me.

Fruity knickerbocker glory

Not so much a recipe as a serving suggestion, using the fabulous sorbets and ice creams you can make instantly in a Vitamix liquidiser.

You can pack at least 5 of your 10-a-day in here, plus use soya milk for the lactose intolerant.

Fruity, good for you, kickerbocker glories

These are composed of

  • apricot and peach ice cream
  • banana and apple ice cream
  • fresh cherries, pitted
  • blackberry coolie (we have a glut of blackberries at the moment! I heat them minimally in a saucepan until they have broken down, then rub them through a sieve and add the smallest amount of sugar possible to make them palatable. I can’t be doing with this ‘no sugar’ thing.)

I’ve scaled down the ice cream proportion from the original Vitamix recipe. It was too frightening trying to stuff those amounts of fruit onto the flashing blades!

I use:

  • 300g frozen fruit
  • 160mls water or fruit juice for sorbets, soya milk for ice creams.

This is a wonderful way to use up surplus fresh fruit. You know when you get those 2-for-1 offers in the supermarket you can’t resist, then a few days later having to throw away the bit you never got round to eating? Cut it into chunks and freeze it. It doesn’t matter if it goes floppy or discolours a bit – you’re only going to smash it to smithereens.

Using water in the sorbets can make them a bit, well, watery. I’m starting to use juice, like red grape juice or cranberry. That also ups my intakes of the red berries that are supposed to starve cancer, and add natural sweetness, so it’s all good.

Using soya milk makes an extraordinarily creamy ice cream! Wonderful stuff, especially when you realise it’s mainly composed of two thirds liquidised fruit. It honestly tastes like it’s got cream in it.

 

Cucumber smoothie

This invention was prompted by – as usual with me – an allotment glut of cucumbers. I’m also testing out my new ‘Vitamix’ machine.

3 of your 10-a-day!

Smoothie of cucumber, lime, apple and ginger

6″ section of cucumber
1 apple
1 lime
a small knob of ginger (about as big as the top joint of your thumb)
5 ice cubes
0.5 pint of water
a scrap of sugar

  1. Peel the cucumber and cut into chunks
  2. Quarter and core the apple. Leave unpeeled.
  3. Peel the lime with a knife, removing skin and pith. Cut into 3 or 4 slices across.
  4. Peel ginger. Cut into 2 or 3 bits.
  5. Add water, sugar (minimal, to taste. Remember the lime is very sharp and needs some balancing) and ice cubes and blend like mad. I run my Vitamix at high speed for 20 seconds or so. It’s one horsepower motor frightens the life out of me!

Pour into a glass. I find drinking smoothies through a straw really enhances the experience; I don’t like the raft of sludge you get stuck to your top lip if you drink straight from the glass!