Making kind choices in your everyday life.

All things Cheesey

Posted by on Sep 21, 2013 in Dairy | 2 comments

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of inhumanity” – George Bernard Shaw

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Kite Hill vegan cheese

Cheese, or should I say, the absence thereof in it’s conventional form, is a tricky topic. The removal of dairy from ones diet due to ethical reasons has, at first glance, a whiff of hippy extremism about it. (“I can understand about the pigs in the cages but, not eating cheese, WHAT ?!? You have completely lost me on this one” – quote from my dad). That is, until you start researching the reasons why people choose to give it up. I do believe that if we all watched videos of mother cows running and bellowing after their calf being taken away on the back of a ute, viewed rows of immobile, miserable calves in veal crates or watched footage of baby cows who are barely able to walk being stunned and pushed down a shoot to be slaughtered just like rubbish into a bin, any compassionate person would or should question the origin of cheese (or any other dairy product).

The facts are basic. Cows need to give birth to a calf each year to produce milk which humans use for yogurt, milk, cheese etc. The calf is taken away from it’s mother at the tender age of around 5 days of age. Male calves are considered waste products of the industry and are killed. Our laws to protect them from suffering are woefully inadequate (for example, baby calves on their way to the abattoir can be legally denied food for up to 30 hours). Their mum’s are killed when their milk production wanes.

The silent suffering of these most vulnerable of animals – mothers and babies in the far away land of sale yards, dairy farms and abattoirs remains hidden from most of us. Which makes it very easy for us to forget about what really does happen out there.

I have room for improvement in my cheese eating habits. I still eat a bit of Barambah Fetta and Cheddar Cheese (see my  “kind dairies” post). I also sometimes come up with excuses to eat a bit of “ordinary” cheese now and again but I want to be stronger in my resolve. I want to think about where my food comes from and what animal has suffered for my greed, desires, laziness or lack of thought. I am trying to be a kinder, more thoughtful eater.

Thankfully, I am on the path of discovering the world of non diary cheese and, much to my surprise,  it is tasty learning curve.  Non dairy cheese can be made at home with recipes varying in their complexity. I have made a couple – see my ricotta recipe here. I have many more waiting in the wings.

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Botanical Cuisine vegan cheese

Non dairy cheese can also be bought with relative ease. I have made some recent delectable discoveries, some of which I even prefer to “normal” cheese. Botanical Cuisine’s range is out of this world – the Lemon and Dill is blissful. Also it is Australian which is appealing. Most other non dairy cheese on the market is made overseas.

Here’s a few brands which I would recommend to Buy :

Tofutti – regular or sour cream is a good replacement for cream / sour cream cheese and can be found in supermarkets and health food shops. Affordable and can always be found in our fridge. Was not so keen on their “better than ricotta” and much preferred my home made version !

Vegusto No-Moo cheese – expensive – around $10 for 200g but so convincingly “cheese like” that I will continue to buy it. I also like the fact that it is palm oil free which seems a rarity. I found it at Dr Earth in Newtown but it can be bought online too (including Cruelty Free Shop and Vegan on line). I spied it on the weekend too for sale in my favourite Blue Mountains bakery / café – Rubyfruit (which, by the way, has the best pies and cupcakes I have ever tasted – all completely free of animal products).

Redwood Cheezly. Great variety of types such as “Blue Style” and “Melting Mozzarella”. Can be found at the Cruelty Free Shop and Vegan On line. Affordable and dependable.

Sheese – have spied these cream and hard cheeses in a few places like Harris Farm and Thomas Dux. Great to mix through pastas. Have the “Smoked Cheddar Style” waiting for me in our fridge (I bought it at Dr Earth in Newtown).

If only Dr Cow and Kite Hill (see top photo) would make their way to Australia. Kite Hill does the full on, aged camemberts and the like with such authenticity and rave reviews that I am having the worst of kind of vegan cheese envy possible.

Learn to make your own dairy free cheese

Here are a few recipes to get you tantalised !

Parmesan made With Cashews

Almond “feta cheese’ spread with herb oil

Another Feta Cheese version (thanks Bed and Broccoli for this one)

Vegan cheese – good for on crackers 

Non-dairy Baked Nut Cheese

Dairy Free Brie

Cashew Cream Cheese

Soft Cheese Platter

Marscapone

Rustic Pumpkin Cheese ravioli

Macaroni Cheese

The health issues surrounding the consumption of dairy are beyond the scope of this little post but I have read as many articles denouncing the health benefits of dairy as those promoting it so the jury is out. Calcium does not only come from dairy products but is found, in high doses, in the following foods – soy, nuts, seeds (especially sesame seeds), sardines, tinned salmon with edible soft bones, legumes, dried figs, whole grains and broccoli and kale.

A few suggestions on how to make some kinder choices

Say no to dairy cheese. Buy or make a vegan cheese and be baffled by how convincingly cheese like they can taste (not all of them, mind you !)

If you want to continue to eat conventional dairy cheese, try and buy from the “kind dairies“. These dairies treat their cows and environment better than conventional ones. Usual story, yes, it is usually more expensive but just eat less or it and / or try a vegan cheese here and there. Remember too that most cheese contains rennet which is an enzyme derived from the stomach of baby cows. Become a label stalker and ensure that  “non animal rennet” is listed as an ingredient.

Instead of cheese, try a delicious diary free dip / spread on sandwiches, pasta etc. I made this delicious pesto yesterday. Hummus is always a great, protein rich option too.

Sponsor a bobby calf at Edgars Mission, Brightside or one of the other wonderful sanctuaries around the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spicy Hummus

Posted by on Sep 21, 2013 in Dips/ Spreads | 0 comments

Thank you Jamie Oliver for this recipe. I have devoured it many times now and thought it about time that I shared my slightly amended version.

Ingredients

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

Sea salt and pepper

1 dried red chilli (easy to find in Asian grocery shops – otherwise, am sure that chilli flakes would do the trick)

2 peeled cloves of garlic

1 drained 400g tin of chickpeas

1 tablespoon of tahini

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 red onion

Create by doing the following

1. Fry cumin seeds.

2. Remove cumin seeds and crush using a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt and the chilli.

3. Put following in food processor : garlic, chilli/cumin mix, chickpeas (minus about 10 of them) and tahini. Once smooth, mix in olive oil before adding salt, pepper and lemon. Put in a bowl.

4. Slice red onion and fry in frypan in olive oil with the remaining chick peas. Place on top of the homous.

Makes a medium bowl sized portion. Use the resulting irresistible hummus as  a dip and on sandwiches / rolls. Great protein fix.

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Perfect Pesto

Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 in Dips/ Spreads | 0 comments

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To make this perfect, dairy free pesto…..gather together the following ingredients :

2 bunches of basil

3 cloves of garlic

2 heaped tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes (easily found at Health food shops and provides the cheesy flavour)

1 long red chilli – seeds removed and chopped

1/3 of a cup of pine nuts

Juice from half a lemon

Salt and pepper

1/3 of a cup of olive oil.

Put all ingredients aside from the olive oil into a food processor. Whizz for a few minutes whilst slowly drizzling the olive oil into the mix.

This quantity made 400ml of pesto sauce which was just the right amount for 4 hearty spaghetti pesto portions.

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Escape from the big smoke

Posted by on Sep 14, 2013 in Holidaying | 6 comments

“The only good cage is an empty cage” – Lawrence Anthony

If only all chooks could live like this…..

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The Girls at Mill Paddock Cottage – during the day

 

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The girls’ sleeping quarters

 This is just a quick post to get me back into the swing of things following a 3 month blogging hiatus. I have been paralysed by work stress, indecision about where to start, self doubt (“does anybody read my rambles ? Are they too preachy ? Are they uninteresting ? Am I a facebook cretin – why do I find it so confusing ?” And so the internal dialogue goes on….) and procrastination which has now ended thanks to :

1. The recent election result. I don’t think we could have a more mean spirited, unkind, environmentally irresponsible government in power which means that, more than ever, we, as individuals, need to be responsible for kind changes in our lives through our everyday choices and actions.

2. Reading Mary Hutton’s awe inspiring book “Free the Bears“. If a 55 year old stay at home Grandmother could change her life so drastically and help so many animals (and people)  in need, we all can. Such a wonderful book – I was all teary and emotionally touched by page 2 of the preface, pathetic creature I am ! We may not all have the “extra-ordinariness” of the Jill Robinson’s, Mary Hutton’s or Lyn White’s of the world but we can all find our little niche or something that we are good at, and make positive day to day changes in our world.

3. Recently spending 3 days with my fella at the beautiful Mill Paddock Cottage, in Mountain Lagoon – just near Bilpin, only about a 90 minute drive from Sydney’s frenzy. It is an animal lovers paradise and gave me that much needed space (along with a serious addiction to the series “Orange Is the New Black”) to take a step away from my endless to do lists, internet distractions and the chaos of living in a big city. If the thought of gorgeous native birds sweeping onto your verandah, the free-est of free range chooks wandering the grounds, cute dogs, bush walks, cherry blossoms, grass chomping horses and night time frog noises tickles your fancy, get thee to Mill Paddock Cottage. The only bad point is that it has set off my “moving to the country” fantasy again which has spurred that to do list and real estate stalking back into action.

4. Some lovely feedback from friends letting me know that some of my posts have actually led to some kind changes in their lives.

So coming up……

– a swag of new success recipes from my kitchen (green tea icecream – oh my !). I will keep the failures on the low down (macadamia nut cheese – almighty fail !).

– new topics will be kicked off with how to indulge your love of cheese in the kindest way possible.

It’s good to be back.

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Recipe of the Week – Colourful quinoa salad

Posted by on Jun 23, 2013 in Recipes - Salad | 5 comments

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Salad is not what I would usually crave in the midst of this grey, cold Sydney weather. Alas, this one worked a treat – flavoursome, healthy, protein rich and colourful. I found that a large bowl satisfied my (ample) appetite but it would work well as a side dish too.

Thank you to Ambitious Kitchen for this recipe – I have ever so slightly altered it (mainly to customise it to accommodate my ginger fetish).

Makes about 6 serves (so, plenty of lunches for me in the week ahead). Took me about 45 mins of chopping and fluffing around.

Ingredients

* 3/4 cup of quinoa

* 2 cups of shredded red cabbage

* 1 red capsicum

* 1/2 cup chopped coriander

* 1/2 red onion diced

* 1 cup grated carrot

* 1/4 cup sliced spring onions

1/2 cup cashew halves

1 lime

For Dressing

*1/4 cup peanut butter

* 2 tbsp. grated ginger

* 3 tbsp. soy sauce

* 1 tbsp. honey (or agave syrup)

* 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

* 1 tbsp sesame oil

* 1 tbsp olive oil

A bit of water to thin.

DO

Cook quinoa by rinsing well first and placing in saucepan with 1 & 1/2 cups of water. Bring to boil. Put on lid. Simmer for about 15 mins until all water is absorbed. Put in bowl, fluff up with fork and allow to cool.

Make dressing by mixing peanut butter and honey together and heating on high in microwave for about 20 seconds. Mix well and add remaining ingredients. Add dressing to quinoa and mix in well.

Toast cashews under the grill.

Fold in the capsicum, carrot, cabbage, red onion and coriander. Squeeze lime over everything. Top with toasted cashews and sliced spring onions.

 

Revel in the virtuous feeling of eating a salad for dinner in the midst of winter.

 

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Get Writing !

Posted by on Jun 16, 2013 in Campaigning | 2 comments

“We live in a democracy and if enough people get their…campaigning up with sufficient force, then they change markets, they change economics, they change the way that people do things” – Julia Gillard (in response to a question about Live Animal Exports).

 

 

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Image from Michal A. Kessler’s facebook page

 

Letter writing, whether it be to a politician, a shop or the newspaper, is a valuable tool and we should all do much more of it. It allows you to communicate your beliefs which may influence others or expose something which makes an impact on you to somebody else. It spreads the word and, if you are an eloquent, persuasive writer, your words can influence others…even politicians who ultimately make the rules we have to live by.

Conveying a message can be done in a few ways:

1. Having a letter published in a newspaper or magazine.

2. Contacting a company via facebook. I like this option as it is quick and your comments are displayed publicly.

3. Writing an email or snail mail letter to an organisation or individual. A letter in your own words will obviously have more impact than a pre formatted letter.

4. Writing a review (eg on Tripadvisor or Eatability).

 

 If you are on Facebook, I would urge you to “like” “A Letter a week” which encourages just that……

As does, the sublimely kind philanthropist Philip Wollen as part of  his wise “list of daily dos and dont’s“, stating ” Write at least one letter to the media or a politician every week. It doesn’t have to be brickbat – a bouquet is fine too.”

Think about something which has really raised some passion in you recently and write a message accordingly. For some ideas….

– Do you feel unhappy about unsafe work conditions which recently led to the deaths of hundreds of Bangladeshi factory workers in a factory fire whilst making clothes for Westerners ? If so, why not write a letter to your favourite clothing label to see if they have signed up to “The Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord”.

– In light of yet more recent horrors being uncovered for Australian cattle in overseas abattoirs, you may wish to question Joe Ludwig, write to your MP or find out what the opposition leader’s view of Live Animal Export is (in short, it is shameful). Animals Australia provide a very easy link to enable you to write to your MP with the option to use a pre-formatted letter if you are short on time.

– My recent posts may have provided some fodder for a letter to :

* Ask Minister of Primary Industries, currently Katrina Hodgkinson, why mother sows can be immobilised for months at a time in cages or why it is legal in Australia for dairy calves to be denied any food or water for up to 30 hours.

* ask your local supermarket to stock more free range products.

* Demand CCTV in slaughterhouses by following link the here :

If your letter writing needs some fine tuning, there are some good tips here on “How to write a letter to a politician“.

My “letters of the week” this week have a taken the form of :

* A facebook message to cosmetic company Jurlique to express my dismay at their decision to sell their products in China despite the fact that ALL cosmetics in China have to be tested on animals. Basically they are selling their soul.

* A Tripadvisor review of a hotel I recently stayed at in Bali, favourably reviewing my stay but pointing out that I would like to see them install a water dispenser, as other hotels we stayed at had, to reduce the need for so many plastic bottles (30,000,000 plastic bottles are purchased each month in Bali !)

* A facebook message to Philippine Airlines to let them know that I would not consider flying with their airline whilst they continue to transport primates from Indonesia to the US for cruel animal testing. They are the only airline in the world to do so.

This week, the Australian Farmer’s Federation are on my hit list for bullying Coles and Animals Australia into ceasing the sale of the “Make It Possible” (against factory farming) bags.

What has made an impact on you this week which would inspire you to put pen to paper ?

 

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Recipe of the Week – Ricotta “cheese”

Posted by on May 11, 2013 in Recipes - "Cheese" (but not quite) | 0 comments

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Photo from  “Be Their Voice (Stop Animal Cruelty)”

This absolutely gorgeous photo has nothing to do with non dairy cheese BUT it captures how I feel about my favourite season of autumn being here and my happiness at finding a decent and tasty dairy free substitute for ricotta cheese.

Plus, I managed to drop our camera into the wild south coast surf on the weekend, complete with memory card containing  my Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni dish photo which I was originally going to include….so, you will just have to use your imagination on this occasion !

If you are looking to cut out or cut down on dairy, this recipe is a great one to start with. It is easy and fairly economical to make and it can be used in the place of ricotta cheese for any savoury dish. Should you see yourself venturing into the making of non dairy cheese on a regular basis you will need to stock up on savoury yeast flakes and raw cashews both of which are readily available at any health food store.

This recipe is courtesy of The Simple Veganista with just a few adjustments :

Ingredients

1.5 cups of raw cashews

1/3 cup of water

1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar or the juice of 1 large lemon

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 Tsp of onion powder

1 heaped Tbsp of Savoury Yeast flakes

Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Do

Soak cashews for at least 2 hours in a bowl of water. Ensure that the nuts are covered by about an inch of water.

Drain cashews and place all remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor until creamy.

Store in fridge. Makes about 2 cups.

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