Friday, March 20, 2015

Vegan Cheese Club Meeting #2

So, I've been thinking about the direction in which this blog is going, and I think it's time to come to terms with this: I am basically a Vegan Cheese Blogger.

Yes, I eat tons of salads and vegetables and tofu scrambles every day...but so does everybody else, and I don't suppose you particularly need to see pictures of mine. And don't get me wrong! I believe that everyone should absolutely be mostly eating nature's glorious bounty (and I'll definitely post more about it during the summer when the veggie garden is producing)...but for now, consider Stuck In Your Beard to be your one-stop source for all of your Vegan Cheese Fantasy needs.

That said, our Vegan Cheese Club has had two more meetings in the past two weeks, making that a total of 3 meetings thus far. Livin' the dream!

We ordered more Miyoko's, and it was every bit as wonderful as the first time. And this time we cooked with it! (If you missed my first set of reviews of Miyoko's Vegan Cheeses and would like more info, you can find that here!)

First order of business was Smoked Farmhouse Baked Mac&Cheese. Can you hear the angels singing?!

And before you go thinking that I'm a fancy lady, we made the crust on top with these mixed with a little oil and salt:

All I did was melt one wheel of the Smoked Farmhouse down with some unsweetened almond milk. Just enough to make it saucy, and cut the EXTREME richness of the cheese. It was absolutely delicious.

BUT. That wasn't even the main event. The star of the evening was Chris' Chili Cheese Dogs! Chris, my partner, is our resident chili master. (I am a lucky lady)

He makes his own chili powder (this time with 3 kinds of dried chilies [chipotle, guajillo, ancho], cumin, and Mexican oregano---all hand ground, not powdered) and that makes a world of difference between okay and GREAT chili. The rest of the ingredients were pretty standard: kidney and pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, and Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles.

Bubbling Chili Action Shot:

The hotdogs we used are the only vegan dogs I will ever buy, because they are above and beyond the BEST: Field Roast Frankfurters! And these aren't the floppy, pink, wimpy veggie dogs of the past---they're substantial and juicy and flavorful. I highly recommend them.

And here's the exciting part: Miyoko's Farmhouse Cheese is shreddable! I used a regular box grater, and achieved this:

VERY EXCITING. And now for the results! Here is my personal chili dog. It had diced onion and jalapeno, mustard, chili, cheese, and cilantro:

I had actually never had a chili dog before being vegan. I didn't even think I was interested in them! But when I met Chris about three years ago, he totally converted me. I AM A BELIEVER. This whole time we had been using Daiya, but now that Miyoko's exists....NEVER AGAIN. (Sorry, Daiya, I appreciate all you've done for me, but I'm just not that into you.)

And for a chili dog that's way better than mine, I give you Elizabeth's:
Yes, you are seeing that correctly. That is indeed mac & cheese ON a chili dog. We thank you, Elizabeth, for expanding our horizons.

And (yes, another AND) on top of all of that, while we were cooking everything, we snacked on a variety of Miyoko's we'd never tried before: the Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic

In my opinion, it is the best of the soft, flavored cheeses she makes. It is super creamy, with both the tartness and rich umami flavors that the sundried tomatoes bring. So good. We also had some Kite Hill's Cream Cheese, which was okay, but still had some of that weird plasticky aftertaste that Tofutti has. I'd still like to try their other cheeses, but this is the only of their products sold in our area so far.

As you can see in the picture, we also had dessert. Cupcakes from Red Velvet Cupcakery in Reston---the Black Velvet and White Velvet options you will see on their menu. They were so good that I am just now realizing that they were gluten free! I had no idea. We also had Eat Pastry's Peanut Butter Cookie Dough (which incidentally has the COOLEST website of all time) but we didn't eat any that night. Too much food! 

This all happened last week, but I think I was still too full to even write about it. And then we went and had Meeting #3 last night. I will report on that very soon! Thanks for reading, and best wishes for all of your vegan cheese endeavors. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015


 I want to start this off by assuring you that I'm a pretty healthy lady. I eat a lot of vegetables, multiple times a day. I swear. But one thing that I really LOVE to do is make foods that people would never believe are vegan. Things that people think they'll miss if they were to go vegan. Like Baconators.

If you are like me, and have never had a Baconator, please allow me to explain.

According to Wikipedia: "The Baconator sandwich is a hamburger sold be the international fast-food restaurant chain Wendy's." Thanks, Wikipedia. What a helpful explanation. Okay, so according to my partner, whose coworker eats these every day: A Baconator is bun, cheese, burger, cheese, bacon, burger, bacon, cheese, special sauce, bun. Basically a bacon cheeseburger, with triple the burgers, bacon, and cheese. (Fun fact that Wikipedia DOES give, even though they don't have a description of a Baconator: The Baconator is the official burger of the Canadian Football League!)

So even though that is completely NOT up my alley (I don't even like burgers), I like to impress. So we made them.

Our ingredients: The new Beast Burger by Beyond Meat, our two old favorites Field Roast's Creamy Original Chao Slices and All Vegetarian Inc.'s Vegan Imitation Bacon Slices, sauce (which is apparently just ketchup and mayo mixed together... for the mayo we use Hampton Creek's Just Mayo because it is the BEST vegan mayo) and some organic buns. Also some pickles because I like crunchy. And caramelized onions because I am a living, breathing human who knows what's good.

Aaaand, it was AWESOME. Even as a burger hater, this was something I'd recommend. Cheesy, salty, saucy goodness. And the Beast Burgers themselves are great! Definitely one of the better store-bought vegan burgers available these days.

Better proof of melty cheesiness:

How does one fit that in their mouth, you might be wondering? You smush it. Smush it real good. (One party member said, "If you want to recreate the real fast-food experience you should step on it." And while I might be inclined to agree, I'm a nice blogger lady so I didn't say it myself. Hear that Wendy's? I'm open-minded! Now make all of your food vegan, and I'll write about it!)

Smushed and half eaten:

Smushing is key, both for authenticity and 'cause these things are HUGE. Here's what it looks like, unsmushed, near an average human sized-head:

Huge, right?! Yeah, so as you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed it. And then promptly lapsed into a night-long food coma. I'd recommend it. Try it yourselves, and let me know how it goes! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sweet Dreams Are Made of Cheese

Warning: This post contains a Vegan Cheese Party. No, you cannot eat your computer screens. But, yes, I will include all of the information you need to have your own!

I suppose I should start out by saying that I am one of those lucky jerks that has a vegan partner. A vegan partner who also likes to cook. I count my lucky stars every single day, and I hope the same happens for all of you one day as well (if you want it to)!

It was his birthday last week, so I threw him a Surprise Vegan Cheese Party! Besides me and Chris (my partner), our friends Elizabeth, Binh, and Angel were the other attendees. And let me tell you, it was basically the best food-related evening of all of our lives. Good friends, good food, good beer, much love.

The idea for this started when we heard that Miyoko Schinner, author of an awesome cookbook that we own and love, Artisan Vegan Cheese, was selling a selection of artisan vegan cheeses on the internet. You should probably sit down for this, because the Miyoko's Kitchen website alone is enough to make you book an impulse flight to California to eat it in person. And that might not even be a bad idea, because it is just that good. But for those of us our here on the East Coast, we can utilize their impeccable shipping---It arrives in 2 days in a neat little refrigerated box.

And in addition to the Miyoko's, we also had Field Roast Chao Slices and Treeline Cheeses. More on all of that later---It's time for pictures!

Here is the cheese selection. We had eight cheeses. EIGHT.
Our Selection: Miyoko's Double Cream Garlic Herb, her French-Style Winter Truffle, her Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash, and her Aged English Smoked Farmhouse. From Treeline, we had the Classic Hard and the Herb-Garlic French-Style Soft. And the Chao we had were the Creamy Original and Coconut Herb.

And here is our Cheese "Plate" (AKA Entire Table of Awesomeness)

That's 3 kinds of crackers, some crusty sourdough, 3 kinds of apples, pears, grapes, pecans, beets, medjool dates, cucumbers, jalapeno slices, assorted olives, apricot jam, roasted maitake mushrooms, and my personal favorite vegan bacon in the world: All Vegetarian Inc.'s Vegan Imitation Bacon Slices. 

We started out tasting all of the cheeses on unflavored crackers to really get the taste of all of them by themselves. Since we'd all had the Chao and Treeline cheeses a million times and LOVE them already, our main tasting objective was the Miyoko's. And her cheeses are everything you could ever dream of, and more. I guarantee it. 
Here are some of our tasting notes for Miyoko's cheeses, including input from all guests:
  • French-Style Winter Truffle: It was pungent, earthy, mushroomy, but very creamy and mild. It was also described as fragrant, buttery, light, and SO GOOD.
  • Double Cream Garlic Herb: Very Italian. Creamy, garlicky, would be good in Alfredo. "Like that French kind of cow cheese or whatever (Baby Bell?)" This one was analogous to Treeline's soft herb cheese, but better. (Sorry, Treeline, we still LOVE you!)
  • Aged English Smoked Farmhouse: Our 2nd favorite. "The best smoked Gouda I've ever had." Funky, smoky, tangy, salty. Bacony, BBQy, SMOKEY. 
  • Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash: Our #1 favorite vegan cheese we've ever had. It is literally coated in black ash, hence the name. Complex, sharp aged flavor. Incredibly nutty. Tart but not sour. Intoxicating. Seductive. 
At this point in the night, we became something we referred to as CHEESE WASTED. Giggling, happy, and repeatedly moaning, "ohhh my god"... Cheese Wasted. It's a thing. Try it if you don't believe me.

So that's when the fun began. (THAT IS A LIE. The fun had most definitely already begun.)


Mt. Vesuvius with pear, pecan, and apricot jam

Winter Truffle with beet, bacon, apricot jam, and thyme on sourdough

Smoked Farmhouse and jalapeno on apple

Double Cream Garlic with roasted maitake

Mt. Vesuvius, pear, and jalapeno on a medjool date

Smoked Farmhouse, beet, and maitake

Mt. Vesuvius, beet, and rosemary

Winter Truffle, cucumber, apple, apricot, pecan

Same as the first one, but everything's better on sourdough

Yeah, so I bet you believe me about the Cheese Wasted, now, don't you? Here's what the table looked like about halfway through:

It was a life-changing event. We ate ALL of it.

And on top of that, there was dessert... 
We had a chocolate cake from Sticky Fingers, which was delectable, as always. But the most exciting dessert was the assorted dozen cupcakes from an amazing local vegan baker called Toadie's Cupcakes! She is based out of Centerville, Virginia, and is phenomenal. Apologies to Toadie's, for not getting better pictures, but like I said...Cheese Wasted... 
L to R on the cupcakes: Birthday Cake (like funfetti, but way more awesome), German Chocolate, Chocolate Cherry (or Pink Chocolate, according to those who may have had too much cheese), and Salted Caramel. These cupcakes are seriously the best. If you are in the Northern Virginia area, GET SOME!

But in conclusion, a vegan cheese tasting CAN be done, and it WILL be awesome. I invite you to go forth and try it yourselves! You will not be dissatisfied. Actually, here's a good last story on that note: One member of our cheese party is an omnivore. A day or two after this vegan cheese tasting, he did a dairy cheese tasting of comparable cheeses to the ones we had. His findings: "Miyoko's cheeses are hands down better than 'real' cheese." True facts, my friends.

And, hey, if you throw someone a vegan cheese party, they may just kiss you while you're holding a piece of cheese.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow Day!

So, it's cold here. It isn't supposed to be above freezing until next week. AND it snowed 5 inches last night. Overall it hasn't been a very bad winter here in Virginia, but I can still definitely say that I am ready for spring.

 Since I'm currently snowed in and have a lot of pictures from the last year that I'll eventually need to write about, I thought I'd post a tribute to summertime. It is my favorite season, and I CAN'T WAIT to have fresh garden vegetables again. So I'm going to go back through my summertime pictures and cry. I mean...anticipate summer and fantasize over this year's garden.

 I don't have many pictures of last year's garden, but I'll share a few and then show you some of the dishes we made with our awesome vegetable bounty.

A delightful bowl of just-picked beans and peas:

Swiss Chard and the first strawberries of the season:

Chile peppers roasting in preparation for (a delicious and sadly unphotographed) Green Enchilada Sauce:

Fajitas with garden peppers and tomatoes:

Swiss Chard and Tomato Pie:

And in the spirit of Summer, I will add our Fourth of July lunch as well:

Yeah. I will be seriously stoked when it is planting season...and no shoes season....and eat-every-meal-outdoors season... I could go on and on. But instead I should probably dig my car out. Or, y'know, continue drinking beers and playing Mario Kart with my friends/roommates who also stayed home today... Tough choice. Cheers, y'all.

P.S. My partner is currently making gumbo. BEST. Stay tuned for the results. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I'm Back! (I think...)

It sure has been a while! But I'm back with a new life, new town, new partner, new dog, and new blog! Still vegan and still making awesome food. I've deleted all of my old posts and changed the layout because I want a fresh, new start. This is basically just a test post, but I will leave you wonderful people with a picture of some brunch I made not too long ago. Cheers!