Soledad Cheddar and Cracked Pepper cheeses

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

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Here are two more cheeses from the Sanctuary at Soledad Goats.

The first is cheddar style, which was not what we expected, since the website’s photo of this cheese is white, not orange, and sliceable, not spreadable.

IMG_1561Yet the flavor of this variety is nicely cheddar, though there is a hint of sweetness, which may not be for those who are looking for something sharper. And unless the cheese has changed a lot since we ordered it, it doesn’t fit the websites description of being great “on a cheese board”; it’s far too soft. But it does work on crackers, as shown below.

IMG_1562The cracked pepper chevre style, however, does fit the website’s description (“a smooth, creamy, spreadable soft vegan cheese”), and is delicious.

IMG_1569The cheese bears no resemblance to its photos (it’s so soft, there’s no way it could be sliced) — but the texture is lovely and the cracked pepper offers a great kick.

IMG_1570This is a wonderful, flavorful cheese that’s perfect for bread and crackers.

IMG_1572Do keep in mind that we were among the first to order Soledad’s cheeses, and we expect that with experience, they are only getting better at what they do. What we like best of all is that a former goat farm is now a sanctuary that rescues animals instead of exploiting them. So Soledad is well worth our support.

Daiya Margherita Pizza

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

Latest posts by Midge Raymond (see all)

When we saw this in the freezer section, we couldn’t resist. Every once in a while, you just need to make something quick and easy … and Daiya always delivers (Daiya’s Cheezy Mac is another great quick meal).

IMG_9912This pizza was remarkably flavorful, and its simple and delicious basic ingredients make it perfect for adding fresh veggies.

IMG_9913The cheese melts and browns beautifully, and the crust was thin and crispy.

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I highly recommended keeping this fast and yummy meal in the freezer for those times when cooking isn’t possible (or when you’re just feeling lazy…like me). There are many other varieties (including spinach & mushroom, fire-roasted vegetable, and “cheeze lover’s”), and we look forward to sampling them all.

Soledad American and Ricotta

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

Latest posts by Midge Raymond (see all)

These two vegan cheeses from the Sanctuary at Soledad Goats were not as lovely as the others we sampled.

In fact, these two were the blandest of the bunch. Also, due to the photos on the website, we expected the American Style cheese to be firm and sliceable, not spreadable.

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The American style cheese was fairly flavorless, and the texture a bit oily.

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The ricotta style cheese was also a bit flavorless, but this isn’t a bad thing when it comes to ricotta, since it’s meant for recipes more than spreading on crackers.

IMG_1563And the texture itself was very ricotta-like, so this cheese would be a great ricotta substitute for any plant-based recipe.

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So, while these varieties wouldn’t make our must-have-again list, check out Soledad’s other cheeses, as we’ve had some good ones, and we love supporting the great work they do for animals!

Daiya Cheezy Mac

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

Latest posts by Midge Raymond (see all)

When we saw this easy-to-prepare Daiya Cheezy Mac on sale at the local grocery, we couldn’t resist.

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This mac-and-cheese is so easy, in part, because it doesn’t require any vegan butter or plant milks to prepare — all you need is in the box.

And, for anyone with food sensitivities, this product is not only vegan but gluten and soy free. The pasta (be careful not to overcook; it takes only 8 minutes!) is nice and chewy, not rubbery as many gluten-free pastas can be.

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And the cheese sauce is thick, cheesy,  rich, and has a sharp-cheddar taste — but it has a slightly chemical smell and flavor as well. (This should probably be expected of something that comes in a foil package.)

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Obviously, nothing comes close to good, homemade vegan mac-and-cheese (and Miyoko’s cheesy cheddar sauce tastes a lot more fresh), but this is pretty good, and insanely convenient, if you must have a packaged variety. And the fact that all the ingredients are in this little box and that it takes about 10 minutes to prepare, start to finish, makes it a good product to keep handy.

Soledad Cheddar-Style Jalapeño

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

Latest posts by Midge Raymond (see all)

We recently ordered a new vegan cheese — from the Sanctuary at Soledad Goats, a nonprofit organization founded by two former goat-cheese makers who became vegan and turned their farm into a sanctuary for not only goats but also cows, horses, sheep, dogs, ducks, and other animals. (Meet some of the sanctuary residents here.)

Eager to support this new sanctuary, we ordered cheeses as soon as they were on offer. Our cheeses arrived a week later than expected (very inconvenient as we were heading out of town), but we were told they freeze beautifully, so that’s what we did. (And, this was the sanctuary’s very first cheese offering, so we hope by now they’ve worked out some of the issues.)

The cheeses perhaps would taste a little different if they hadn’t been frozen, but in the case of Cheddar-Style Jalapeño, it didn’t matter — this cheese is fantastic.

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Spreadable with a slightly grainy texture (possibly from having been frozen), this cheese has a serious kick, so if you like spice, this is an excellent choice.

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This cheese is textured with bits of what we’re guessing are peppers — it’s impossible to tell because every Soledad cheese we purchased has the same list of ingredients (“tree nuts and/or oats, cultures, salt, herbs and spices”). We hope that, as Soledad continues its cheese-making enterprise, the ingredient lists get more specific.

As of this writing, this jalapeño cheese doesn’t appear to be available now, but check back because this one is delicious. Visit the website to learn more about the sanctuary, and stay tuned for reviews of many more cheeses from Soledad, coming soon!

Daiya Smoked Gouda Style

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

Latest posts by Midge Raymond (see all)

As former gouda fans, we were excited to try this Smoked Gouda style cheese from Daiya.

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Yet we found, to our surprise, that this variety is not quite as delicious as Daiya’s other wedge-style cheeses.

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The texture was a bit chalky, and the flavor was a bit smoky but without the gouda spark we were hoping for.

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Daiya is currently in the process of updating its wedge-style cheeses (see Medium Cheddar Farmhouse Block) and so perhaps they’ll improve on this one. And, in the meantime, don’t miss some of the other fabulous Daiya products (especially the cheezecake!).

Miyoko’s Pub Crock Cheddar with Onions

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

Latest posts by Midge Raymond (see all)

Now that winter is on its way — as well as the holidays — it’s time to think of what sort of cheese you can curl up with, as well as serve to guests. Miyoko’s Pub Crock Cheddar with Onions is another terrific Miyoko’s creation.

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This cheese comes not in a wheel like so many other Miyoko’s cheeses but in a tub; it’s far softer and very spreadable.

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This new spread, according to its website description, “combines our farmhouse cheese with Oktoberfest vegan lager from Iron Springs Brewery, just down the street from us here in Fairfax.” Along with onions and mustard seeds, the combination of ingredients is wonderfully flavorful and is perfect on crusty bread.

pub cheese2Don’t miss this new one, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner; this is a cheese vegans and omnivores alike will love. And remember, this month Miyoko’s will donate 1% of all online sales to Farm Sanctuary!

Parmela Creamy Treenut Original

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

Latest posts by Midge Raymond (see all)

We finally found Parmela cheeses locally, which is a beautiful thing. (We tasted Parmela’s creamy black pepper a while back, which we’d found in another state.)

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This creamy treenut original is simple but has a nice light, fresh flavor. While it’s not as flavorful as other spreadable cheeses, it’s really lovely and would be especially tasty used on bagels as a replacement for cream cheese.

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And keep an eye out for other Parmela products. Parmela used to make a parmesan-style cheese we loved, though apparently it’s been discontinued, and I haven’t seen anything other than the spreadable cheeses in stores. You can order through Parmela’s website — but the site offers only brief descriptions of the cheeses, with no photos or ingredients lists. And, confusingly, Parmela’s grocery request form lists cheeses that are not on the website at all. But, here’s hoping all this gets sorted out because we’d love to try each and every one of these cheeses.

Daiya Medium Cheddar Farmhouse Block

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

Latest posts by Midge Raymond (see all)

When we saw this in the grocery, we thought it might be a new Daiya variety.

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As it turns out, Daiya has simply updated its packaging (less plastic) and perhaps the recipe as well (“medium” is new to the label, which was formerly just “cheddar style block”).

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This is a wonderful cheese block and perfect for a variety of uses: shredding into recipes, slicing onto sandwiches, or simply slicing or cubing for crackers. It has a nice cheddar flavor and a very cheeselike texture — we served it to omnivorous friends who thought it was great.

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So next time you need a simple, versatile, and easy-to-serve cheese, this is a great one to have on hand.

Heidi Ho Creamy Chia Cheeze

Midge Raymond

Midge Raymond is a co-founder of Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of the novel My Last Continent and the award-winning short story collection Forgetting English.

Latest posts by Midge Raymond (see all)

While we didn’t love Heidi Ho’s Smoky Chia Cheeze, we thought we’d try the creamy version.

HeidiHo1We found this to be very much the same — not very cheeselike in texture, but it had a very nice flavor.

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Because the label says this cheese sauce can be served hot or cold, we tried it cold this time — and it was spreadable but a little clammy. So we’d definitely recommend heating it. It’s not quite creamy enough for a satisfying mac-and-cheese, but it would make a nice heated dip.