I’m a big fan of food holidays and April 17th is National Cheeseball Day! No, not the corny comedy kind of cheeseball but the decadent, rich, edible kind.
To say cheese has been an essential part of my diet growing up would diminish its importance. I lived on cheese. I grew up in Central New York (yes, there is more to New York than New York City) and part of our property actually was used by dairy farmers. I woke up every morning to the sound of cows and can’t tell you how many times I had to stop my car in the road on my way to school to wait for a cow to finish crossing. (It really happens.) Most meals had some form of cheese and many snacks consisted of peeling plastic layers from sliced cheese after a soccer practice followed by a sleeve of thin mints.
One memory that is vivid is my late grandmother’s absolute obsession with those port wine cheeseballs that you get from Hickory Farms. There was always one in the house. I can smell it just thinking about it. They even became a staple at our Christmas Eve gatherings. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the holiday tray of port balls and crackers and I’ve since pretty much given up dairy. Hard to believe, I know. I’m not a strict vegan by any means given my weak, weak will power, but I have really cut back on animal products of any kind- including my beloved cheese.
Recently, I had my first pasta alfredo without cheese. Seems a bit like an oxymoron, but bare with me. You can actually make an incredible “cheese” sauce from cashews. It really tastes like cheese. When I discovered this and that it’s actually really delicious, I felt like I was cheating the system- above the law!
I don’t have a lot of experience making vegan cheese but am definitely going to experiment more. I even have a one pound bag of cashews in my cabinet waiting for me. For those who are already well-versed in the language of vegan cheeses, Native Foods Café is having a contest for the best vegan cheeseballs. Maybe I’ll enter next year after some practice. I am sure SOMEONE has to have a recipe that will fool my family on Christmas Eve into thinking they are eating the real thing.
Anywhoooo, check out their Facebook page where they will announce the winner. I highly recommend trying out some recipes. Even a girl growing up around dairy farms can get behind it.