When I signed up for a vegan cooking class at my local community centre, I ended up getting more than I bargained for – not just delicious food, but also an encounter with one of my favourite bloggers and a trip down memory lane.
Last month I headed off to the pub for a reunion with a whole lot of people I worked with back before kids (which is 21 years ago this month!).
Of course, the whole vegan thing came up over dinner, and one of my friends (thank you, Michelle) told me about an upcoming course in making nut cheeses and stuff.
Back to playgroup
The following day, she sent me a link to the class, run by Cate and Chris from Green Renters. I was excited to see that the venue was walking distance from my house, right where I took my kids to playgroup in the 90s.
On Sunday morning I strolled down to the community centre much more quickly than I had years ago, when I was strolling at toddler pace. As a result, I was the first to arrive and said hello to each member of the group as they arrived.
When one participant sat opposite me, I thought, “My, that woman looks like Doris from Fame…or maybe the Pancake Parlour Lady…wait…could she be Veganopoulous?”.
My hunch was correct – thank goodness, or I would have been really embarrassed. I had a little fangirl moment, which continued when we heard that we were just waiting for one more person…Johanna. Could it be Green Gourmet Giraffe? She does have a thing for nut cheeses, after all.
No, it wasn’t, but that’s great too, because it meant we got to meet another lovely Johanna (or perhaps Joanna) who’s interested in nut cheeses.
Tofu, butter and yoghurt
Cate set us to work right away, mashing and draining soy beans, collecting the liquid, adding something (was it vinegar? I’ll have to wait to check the recipe), and to our amazement, it eventually turned into tofu! Who knew it was so simple!
We tasted and whipped up (literally) 3 different vegan butters. All tasted great.
Unfortunately, our soy yoghurt didn’t quite work – but that was just a problem with the culture, that will be easy to fix next time.
Then, the part I’d really been looking forward to…cheese!
The main event: cheese
Cate explained the theory behind cheese making, and the options for flavouring and setting the cheese. We sampled some and then set about making our own.
Veganopoulous, Johanna and I made a smooth mozzarella. There were lots of others to try, including a sharp cheddar, a lemony baked fetta, and several others, but those sharp-flavoured cheeses were my favourites. I’ll definitely be making them again soon.
All of these recipes were surprisingly simple. When I’ve found recipes for these foods in the past, they’ve seemed like far too much work, but having Cate to show us how it’s done, made me realise that they’re really not that difficult after all.
A new name for nut cheese?
When I make them for others, I don’t think I’ll call them cheeses though, because then they’re judged on how identical they are to the dairy version. These aren’t identical to dairy cheeses, they’re just delicious in their own right.
I’d like to think of another name for these delicious concoctions, so that non-vegans are encouraged to give them a go – I know they’d like them.
For a more detailed account of the day – with far better pictures – check out Veganopoulous’s post – published promptly the following morning.
The next Green Renters class
Cate and Chris are running a Vegan Roasts Masterclass later this month, and last I heard, there were still a couple of vacancies. Sign up quickly if you want to join in.
After a nostalgic look around the playgroup and kindergarten playgrounds, I made the once-familiar walk home, loaded up with samples for the now-grownup family. That sharp cheddar was devoured in the first 5 minutes.
On the subject of tripping down memory lane, I was really sad to hear about Rik Mayall’s sudden death this morning, so even though it has nothing to do with nut cheese or soy milk, here’s one of my favourite clips from the Young Ones.