Caryn talks about her visit to the Riverdel Vegan Cheese Shop, and gives updates on the Vegan Mayonaise saga, recipes for Pancakes and talks about Water issues.
Caryn Hartglass: All right, let’s talk about some other things. Going to check my notes here. Yeah, so, first I wanted to talk about Riverdel and if you are a reader of my blog (and I hope you are) then you may have seen one of my recent posts a few days ago. I went to the Riverdel cheese shop in Brooklyn and what a treat it was. And I have to tell you I, well, I don’t know what I expected, but it’s a tiny place and they have a selection in their cold case of a variety of vegan cheeses. They have Miyoko’s cheeses, they have Kite Hill, and they have some other brands that haven’t quite made it to Whole Foods or some other places yet. They had Brightlife and Vtopian and Violife and as I mentioned before, Cheezehound. And the woman there, Liana, was very helpful. And as she saw us struggling and not knowing which ones to buy, she said that she could make us a sample of five cheeses. There were three of us and she gave us little samples. And I can’t tell you – it was so much fun and it was amazing just to try these different ones. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been vegan for almost 30 years. I’ve been through the introduction of vegan cheeses: the awful manufactured industrial soy-based rice-milk based things that we call cheese and then… They were awful and they’re still out there and some people eat them, but okay. Then there was Daiya and Daiya (recently purchased by a Japanese company that’s now going to probably explode). And I was excited about Daiya, but I didn’t love it. It had tapioca in it and that’s what helped with the melting, but I just didn’t like the mouth feel at all. But it’s very popular and it’s really helped the vegan scene. Different companies have picked up on their shredded cheese and put it on pizza and you can get a vegan pizza in different restaurants. All that’s good, but not great, and now, the great cheeses are here. We tried a blue cheese by Violife. They actually call it Just Like Blue Cheese and it tastes like blue cheese! I never thought I’d have that taste, try that taste again. Now, I can’t say that I like blue cheese. Whether I do or don’t, it doesn’t matter. It tastes like blue cheese. We were also told that the Cheezehound version, which she didn’t have available for sampling, was better and I can’t imagine it. We tried the Cheezehound Mulshenock. It’s a macadamia based cheese and it has this amazing smoky flavor to it. I can’t say enough about it; this was really a fun experience. If you have a chance, if you’re in the New York area, you must visit Riverdel Cheese or at least go to their website and check them out. So, there are lots of good things happening on the planet and some of it has to do with cheese.
Back here at Responsible Eating and Living headquarters, if you’ve checked out some of our recipes (and we have hundreds of them) or if you’ve read the blog occasionally, you know that we like to make our own fruit butters. We make apricot butter all the time. All it is is one pound of dried apricots. We use organic unsulfured. Cook them in 3 cups water till the apricots are soft and then blend them up and put them in jars. It’s the best apricot butter/jam I’ve ever eaten. It’s easy, and, if you get a good deal on apricots, is much less expensive than if you bought it in the jars, and it’s such an easy thing. And I’ve done the same with prunes. I’ve made prune butter, I’ve made raisin butter, and most recently, fig butter. So, we found some really good priced organic figs and made fig butter. And when you take – Are you hungry? I’m getting hungry. When you take a piece of sliced apple and you put a thin slice of that Cheezehound Mulshenock cheese and then a little bit of the fig butter. Ohh… Oh my goodness, what an amazing flavor combination. I hope in your lifetime, you have a chance to experience that because it is amazing. Amazing.
I was thinking this week. I was agitated because I had had this unfortunate experience which you can read about in one of my blog posts. I don’t want to get into it, but I’ll tell you what day it is so you can check it out. It was, what day was it? Day 906. Yeah, it’s a long story and I don’t want to get into it now, but to relax and calm down, I like to make food. And as I mentioned before, every two weeks now I make my yogurt, and there’s something kind of romantic about it. Like reaching back to my ancestors and doing traditional things that people had done long ago, and I bring it ahead into the present. Making yogurt feels like that. Making sauerkraut feels like that and it relaxes me and I think that maybe, maybe that’s what some of the paleo people get when they make their bone broth. That they feel like they’re doing something that people have been doing for hundreds, thousands of years. Maybe that’s the appeal. You have to know that I am totally anti-bone broth, but one day I’m going to do a little video about it. Just haven’t had a chance but there’s something really lovely about making traditional, simple foods and I love having them in the house.
A few things I wanted to talk about that are in the news. We’ve talked about Hampton Creek a number of times. We even did a video on mayonnaise and mayo. Hampton Creek is one of these companies that is making plant-based foods (like mayonnaise), but they get a lot more press than some of the other vegan mayonnaise companies. Other vegan mayonnaise companies include: Vegenaise, which happens to be my favorite vegan mayonnaise; Nayonaise, which I think was one of the first; and Trader Joe’s has their own vegan mayonnaise; Follow Your Heart has a vegan mayonnaise; but Hampton Creek is the sexy one because they’ve gotten involved in the high-tech world. They’ve gotten a lot of investors interested in them and as a result, they have gotten the traditional mayonnaise making people very nervous and you may have heard a couple of months ago that Target took their Hampton Creek Just Mayo products off the shelves because they had been alerted that there may be pathogens and problems with the product, and we have just learned, there’s an article in TechCrunch.com that came out yesterday, and Hampton Creek had to hire some investigators to get to the bottom of this because there was nothing wrong with their product and the FDA had confirmed there was nothing wrong with their product, they approved their products and said that the claims against the company were false. And so, some anonymous source had sent letters to a number of different companies (including Target) saying that there was a problem with the Hampton Creek product and Target, it took these products off the shelf. I hesitate a lot when people talk about conspiracy theories and talk about how big corporations are really against us and do all kinds of evil things, but here is an example of that. So, I just wanted to alert you to that if you had heard the story about Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo foods. Just know that there food is fine and there will probably be more of these sorts of things in the future. I mean, you may remember that Unilever tried to sue Hampton Creek and they even teamed up with, I think it was the American Egg Board. It was a real conspiracy where they tried to fight with getting Hampton Creek’s products on the shelves and they did it in a fraudulent way. That was discovered back in 2015. Really incredible. Anyway, I wish Hampton Creek all the best and you can eat mayonnaise, vegan mayonnaise. You can make your own, we have a food show on our website ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com to show you how to make one kind of vegan mayonnaise. There are many kinds: your vegan mayonnaise can be oil-based; it can be cashew-based; and it probably could be macadamia nut-based although I haven’t made one and it’s probably delicious.
Your mayonnaise does not need to contain eggs even though the FDA defines mayonnaise as an egg product and that’s why the companies that make the vegan versions do not call it mayonnaise. They’ll call it mayo, they’ll call it a salad dressing, all kinds of things, but we know what it is. We know that it’s mayonnaise. One day all of this will come to a head and we can all live happily ever after, but until then, we fight.
Something else in the news: are you familiar with the Environmental Working Group? EWG.org They have a tap water database. I just discovered it and you can put in your zipcode and find out if the drinking water in your area has pollutants in it, and this, I think, is good to know. What they’ve discovered is that most tap water has problems in it, having toxic chemicals that are above the allowed levels and this is a cause for concern because we all need water; we should all be drinking more tap water; and we’ve heard the horror stories in Flint with the lead in their drinking water (which is still not resolved). So, first, it’s good to be educated and it’s good to know. So, I invite you to go to the Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) and check your tap water.
Now, what’s the solution? The solution is not bottled water because bottled water is devastating on the environment; bottled water uses far more water to make the bottled water than what’s in the bottle; there’s no guarantee that the water in the bottle of water is free of contaminant; and because it’s in a plastic bottle, there’s a lot of opportunity for unwanted contaminants to leach from the plastic into your water. So, plastic – bottled water in plastic is not a good idea and if you’ve heard me before, I am a big believer in distilling water and if you want to know the distillery that I like, you can go to ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com, it’s always on my homepage. I find the routine of making distilled water one of the other almost romantic things that I look forward to. Every day I make my water – sometimes my partner Gary calls it going to the well – but I know that I am making pure, clean water for myself and my family, and it gives me peace of mind. Now, there are many filters, many different systems that you can use to purify your tap water and I know that it can be confusing. I’ve got it on my list to make a video about water purification. Haven’t gotten to that yet. I hope to someday soon. You’ll hear about it if I do and I’ve chosen distillation and there are reasons for that and if you have any questions about water and my thoughts, you can email me. I’ll answer you: firstname.lastname@example.org is the email, email@example.com. But first, find out if the water you’re drinking is clean and the thing is the database from the Environmental Working Group is based on state water records when they’ve tested water, but what about every other day when the water isn’t tested? There are spills that get into our water system all the time. Some of them we never even hear about; so there could be a time when contaminants get into your drinking water and you don’t know, and that’s another reason why I distill my own water everyday, and plus I love the taste. That’s water.
Okay, another thing I want to talk about is, let’s see here, I’ve got just a few more minutes left. Let’s talk more about food because I always like ending on a happy yummy note. So, I have a brand new recipe up at ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com and it’s called African peanut stew. The funny thing is (I think it’s funny), I made this dish about eleven years ago and I loved it, and for some reason, I never made it again. How does that happen? It’s funny to me because when I made it eleven years ago, I had made it because I had all of the ingredients in front of me that would go into the dish and I looked at them and I thought: “Oh, I’ve got West African peanut stew right in front of me” and that’s what I made. And it happened again. Now, I don’t make the traditional West African peanut stew that has chicken in it. There’s no chicken in this. And yes, I’ve taken the liberties to make a lot of substitutions, but I still call it that because I like to. Mine uses chickpeas. You can use other beans like black eyed peas, but the key ingredients, I think, are collards and you could also not use collards – you could use spinach or another dark leafy green, that’s fine. Ah, but the sauce. The sauce is a tomato peanut butter base, and that’s, that’s the secret. When I first combined tomatoes and peanut butter, it was amazing, and it’s just to me, an unusual combination. An unusual combination from my personal culture and heritage. Obviously not unusual in West Africa, but it’s really yummy and it’s easy and if you want to check it out, we’ve got a recipe for you right there Responsible Eating and Living.
The other recipe I wanted to point out is our sourdough crepes and I just made it kind of by accident. I was playing around, I wanted to try a few things and made these crepes – they’re gluten free of course. They’ve got my almond yogurt in them, you could use any non-dairy yogurt of course and I made enough so that we could have them three days in a row, and we finished them up yesterday and I’m eating them and I’m saying, oh my God, these are just the most amazing pancakes or crepes; they’re just incredible and I wasn’t expecting that at all. So, if you have a chance, you might enjoy trying them out – they do have aquafaba in them; the amazing aquafaba. That’s the bean water we talked about earlier and I can’t wait to see all the great things that are going to come out in the future with aquafaba.
Yeah, so should we end on aquafaba? On a yummy note of pancakes and mmm… Just mmm. Sure! Oh, and one more thing. We have an app for iTunes and an app on Google Play and we’ve had it for a number of years now and occasionally I remind people to get and I personally use it all the time – when I want a recipe I go on my phone and I check the app. I’ve just discovered that the iPhone app has not been downloadable and I talked to the wonderful volunteer who created it today and he said that it should be back tomorrow, so if you haven’t downloaded the app yet, please. They’re both under the health and fitness section. They’re hard to find. For Google Play, I think it’s under REAL WORLDWIDE and, ITunes it’s under real-worldwide. Or you could just go to ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com and get there through our links on the homepage. I hope you get our app, it’s free and fun. Thank you everyone for joining me today on It’s All About Food, I’m Caryn Hartglass and have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Carol Mock 8/31/2017