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I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about cheesemonger Emily Acosta’s victory in the 2014 Cheesemonger Invitational, an annual cheese competition attended by top mongers from all over the USA. Acosta was the first woman (and first New Yorker!) ever to win the title, and she did it wearing heels and pearls. Having known Acosta for over a year, I wasn’t surprised by her win: not only does she have an impeccable palate, but she holds a Master’s Degree in Food Studies from NYU and is one of the most knowledgeable and personable mongers I know.
However, my friend pointed out that cheesemongering has long been a “boys club” of sorts, making Acosta’s triumph all the more noteworthy. It set me to thinking about all the women who are influential in the cheese industry. This story is about three of these great role models, and I’m honored to count all three as my friends.
Little grew up on a dairy farm in southern Georgia. After an early start as a cheesemonger while in college, for the past twelve years she and her husband Jeremy have run Sweet Grass Dairy. Sweet Grass’ cheese has been served everywhere from the White House to The French Laundry, and their retail cheese and wine shop was named a retailer of the year in 2013 by the Specialty Food Association. The Littles also recently opened Blue Coop, a true farm-to-table restaurant with a strong cheese element, and they run a farm where they raise heritage-breed pigs and bees for honey. Clearly, Little is a tireless worker and the ultimate cheesemaking/farming multitasker.
Ciano is VP of International Purchasing for Crystal Foods, a division of the titan distributor World’s Best Cheese. She grew up working in the family cheese business and has now been an importer and distributor for over twenty years. She has impeccable taste and has fashioned Crystal Foods’ portfolio of great European cheeses to be a true best-of-the-best collection. She cites Cathy Strange, the global cheese buyer for Whole Foods, as a huge inspiration. She watched Strange grow from working the counter in a Virginia store to directing the cheese program at every Whole Foods Market worldwide. Ciano has also said her passionate, dedicated Crystal Foods co-worker Shelli Morton is an important influence in her life, and credits Morton with encouraging her continued dedication to the industry.
For my money, the concept of a Cheese Chef can be attributed to Tia Keenan. She is known as a creative force in the industry, an iconoclast who isn’t afraid to push the culinary envelope. Keenan has worked at several stellar restaurants in NYC, initially receiving accolades at Casellula, the intensely focused cheese restaurant where I first met her. I was working for a cheese distributor at the time and when I was assigned Tia’s account, I was told right off the bat that she was a notorious “tough sell.” In fact, while confirming our first meeting, Keenan brusquely commanded, “Don’t bring me bad cheese!” After that, I couldn’t wait to meet her. We hit it off right away – we have a shared philosophy on what makes a great cheese. I was brave enough to bring her a couple of samples at our second meeting, a Green Hill and a perfectly ripe Teleme. She tasted them both, smiled and said she had just the right pairing for the Teleme. Darting to her kitchen, she returned with a house-made creamed corn, and though I was reluctant at first, I tried the combo and it was incredible. She has consistently amazed me ever since.
It was tough to limit this story to these three amazing women since there are so many influential, pioneering female cheese professionals who continually make giant contributions to our food culture. I’m happy to report that the future looks great for women in cheese: there are increasing numbers of cheese counter gals with so much talent and knowledge, producers who are passionate about sharing their craft, and women at all levels of the distribution and brokerage systems who work tirelessly to make strides in a traditionally male-dominated field. With so many strong contributors to the industry, I can’t wait to see what’s next in the world of cheese.
Additional reporting by Madeleine James.
13 Ways To Use Extra Milk When You Accidentally Bought Way Too Much
Milk can be a fickle b*tch sometimes. You want to buy enough so you're never in a bind when the late-night cereal munchies hit, but you also don't want to have so much it spoils in your fridge.
Many people know the milk shopping struggle all too well — especially when you end up buying more than you can actually finish in a week. Lucky for you, I came up with 13 ways to use extra milk so that none of it goes to waste. This way, you can enjoy your Fruity Pebbles in peace and make sure any leftover milk is put to good use before its expiration date. That’s a solid win-win right there.
From treating yourself to a homemade milk facial, to making cheese, to adding the extra milk to a banana bread, there are solutions, people. All you have to do is put your creativity cap on and show off your skills in the kitchen.
The next time you find yourself knee-deep in milk, don't panic. That’s where I swoop in to save the day with these hacks. Simply refer to this list and use up that milk like it's nobody's business.
How to Make Whipped Feta
When buying your ingredients to make whipped feta, go for the block of feta cheese rather than the tub that&aposs already crumbled. It might seem more convenient, but the crumbled feta has anti-caking agents in it that will make it less creamy and therefore not as easy to achieve the creamy dip texture you want.
- Start by roasting one cup of cherry tomatoes or mini heirloom tomatoes in ⅓ cup olive oil with some salt and pepper in a 350ய oven for 20 minutes. This is an optional addition to your whipped feta, so move right on to the next one if you&aposre not into tomatoes.
- In a food processor ($40, Bed Bath & Beyond) combine one 8-ounce block of feta (crumbled), ½ cup of olive oil, ¼ cup whipped cream cheese, and ¼ cup water. Blend 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed to combine.
- Add 2 Tbsp. honey, the zest of one lemon, some ground black pepper, and salt. (I actually chose to leave the salt out since feta can be salty, so you might want to just add to taste.) Blend another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Move your creamy whipped feta to a bowl. Top with roasted tomatoes, fresh herbs (I used thyme and oregano), and drizzle some of the olive oil from the pan. Add some extra black pepper and/or crushed red pepper flakes if you like!
- Enjoy your whipped feta with toasted (or grilled!) bread slices, fresh veggies, or crackers.
If you love cheese (especially feta) as much as I do, this is going to be a new favorite appetizer or addition to your charcuterie board. I really enjoyed the tanginess paired with the sweet roasted cherry tomatoes but if you&aposre not a tomato fan, leave them off and just drizzle with olive oil. Milne also shared a few variations for the no-tomato crowd on her TikTok. Try topping with roasted garlic and onion or roasted olives. For a lightened-up version, try our whipped feta recipe featuring Greek yogurt.
Cheese Potato Pancakes
Here is another quick and easy potato recipe that you can either prepare as a side dish or simply as a snack. For these pancakes the potatoes are not cooked in advance but grated and squeezed well of any excess liquid. This step is really important to ensure getting delicious crispy pancakes on the outside.
Potatoes have always made a great pair with cheese and onion so these ingredients are a must as well. As for the spices besides garlic you can add any others you like best, like paprika, chili, herbs and so on.
These Cheese Potato Pancakes turned really great. Really crispy on the outside while the interior is soft and deliciously flavored. You should probably double the quantities as they go really fast. Everybody enjoyed them even the kids. They also can be a great idea for their lunch boxes or to take on the go. Enjoy!
10 Best Dairy-Free Cheeses That Taste Like the Real Thing
If you’ve been in a long-term relationship with cheese, you may not know how hot the dairy-free dating scene is. In just the past few years, non-dairy cheese has reached its A-game, and there are plenty of attractive options to choose from. From gourmet gouda to melt-your-heart cheddar, these awesome dairy-free cheeses aren’t just a rebound, they’re in it for the long haul. Break up with cheese and find your new match.
1. Miyoko’s Smoked English Farmhouse
This cashew-based cheese was made for the cheese plate. Cut yourself a wedge and prepare for an intense flavor—you’re first hit with a sharpness that’s countered with a creamy smokiness that lingers on your tongue. Like all solid relationships, this dairy-free cheese is well-rounded (get it?). Opt for this cheese wheel when you want to impress or simply treat yourself to a bit of indulgence.
2. Loca Queso
People love their queso, and this melty cheese obsession is reflected in the sheer number of dairy-free queso sauces on the market. You can find several options in grocers like Whole Foods, but lately we’ve been crushing on Loca’s slightly spicy plant-based queso. It’s simply made with ingredients we all recognize such as potatoes, carrots, nutritional yeast , and tomatoes, but it’s velvety smooth and tastes like the dairy-based queso you’re trying to break up with. It goes with almost everything—from tacos to chips, burritos to taco salads. Find it online .
3. Treeline Cream Cheese
Like queso, cream cheese is another dairy-free product that has really taken off. We’ve yet to find a brand we didn’t like, but we’re head-over-heels for Treeline’s schmear. Try it in Plain, Strawberry, and Chive & Onion. For a fun listen, check out the Switch4Good podcast’s episode with Treeline founder, Michael Schwarz .
4. Parmela Shreds
Most dairy-free cheeses are made from nuts. It works great with firm and creamy cheese, but how do you get a nut to melt? Parmela nailed it (don’t ask us how). These cashew-based shreds not only taste like cheese, but they also melt perfectly. Varieties include Mild Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Fiery Jack. The last one is phenomenal in dairy-free quesadillas!
5. Miyoko’s Mozzarella
If you’re making a caprese salad or pizza, Miyoko’s mozzarella is a must. Both the original and smoked flavors mimic the texture of dairy-based mozz so well she’s even got the melting thing down. Of all the dairy-free cheeses, this might be the most addictive. It’s so good.
6. Jule’s Vegan Brie
Dairy-free brie is a bit of a rarity, but Jule has unlocked the secret. This Southern California-based small business churns out three flavors of plant-based brie nonstop, and it is currently fundraising to keep up with demand. When the demand outpaces the production, you know it’s an outstanding product. Flavors include Classic, Black Garlic, and Truffle. Truly, this dairy-free cheese is unbrielievable (sorry).
7. Follow Your Heart Slices
Sliced cheese is an American staple, and you don’t have to give it up if you decide to break up with cheese. The creators of the famous vegenaise also make fabulous dairy-free cheese in pre-sliced form. We’re fans of the Provolone and Smoked Gouda slices in particular. Pile atop a veggie sandwich, stuff into gourmet grilled cheese, or stack slices on crackers or a savory afternoon snack. No matter how you eat it, it’s going to be gouda (insert eye roll).
8. Kite Hill Ricotta
Stuff shells, dollop pizza, and layer lasagna with this creamy dairy-free ricotta. The texture is spot on and the taste is delightful. This almond-based cheese also doubles as mascarpone for sweet desserts like cheesecake and tiramisu, because people who love cheese don’t confine themselves to just savory applications. Dairy-free cheese can definitely be dessert!
Founder Julie Piatt makes the Rolls Royce standard of dairy-free cheeses. It’s luxury at its most delicious. This isn’t everyday cheese—it’s an indulgence, and it’s meant to be savored. While some wheels can be found in specialty health food stores in Los Angeles, most of her sales are based on a subscription box service online (she ships nationwide). The flavors are intense—this is not your American-style mild cheddar—they hit you in the face and evolve as the cheese melts in your mouth. Varieties include brie (Elder), smoked gouda (Gold Alchemy), blue (Spire), camembert (Bertie), gorgonzola (Dolce Vita), red pepper cheese ball (Bonfire), and fresh mozzarella (Cloud 9). Just be warned: it’s easy to get hooked on the life of luxury cheese.
10. 4-Ingredient Parmesan
Yes, you can purchase store-bought dairy-free parmesan, but making it is faster and cheaper. This super simple plant-based parmesan recipe has stood by us forever—it’s truly a match made in heaven. All you do is dump the four ingredients into a high-speed blender, whiz it up, and you’re done. It’s better than parmesan—it’s magic fairy dust that makes anything taste amazing. If you’re a parent, a sprinkle of this stuff will get your kid to eat anything.
Cheese is made from milk (often cow's, goat's or sheep's) that is allowed to thicken due to bacteria (naturally occuring or added), until it separates into liquid (whey) and semisolids (curd). The whey is drained and the curds are pressed into shapes this is fresh or unripened cheese (varieties include cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta, etc.). The other general type of cheese is ripened or aged cheese, in which the curd is then cured by a variety of processes including heat, bacteria, soaking, with the addition of herbs, spices, and in the case of most cheddars, added dyes. After curing, the cheese is stored and aged. Ripened cheeses are further classified by texture or process: Hard (Parmesan), Semifirm (cheddar), Semisoft (gouda), Soft-ripened (brie), Blue-veined (blue), pasta filata or spun (mozzarella). The reduced-fat cheese are made from reduced fat milk and additives, and these cheeses have less flavor and do not melt well as a result.
How to store
Fresh and soft-ripened cheese should be wrapped tightly and stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator for no more than 2 weeks. Other cheese should be wrapped in waxed paper and kept in the warmer part of the fridge (they are still living so let them breath), and if mold develops simply cut it away.
How to prepare
The colder cheese is the easier it is to grate, but all cheese will taste better if brought to room temperature first.
Beef and Herbed Biscuit Pot Pie
For the filling:
Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
In a large skillet or soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots and stir. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10&ndash15 minutes.
Add garlic, flour, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in beef broth and cream. Bring to a boil. Stir in parsley, peas, and beef. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Pour everything into a 13x9-inch pan.
For the biscuits:
Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, and parsley in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until well combined.
Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture. Pulse until butter is in pea-sized pieces. This can also be done by hand.
Transfer to a mixing bowl. Pour the buttermilk over the dry ingredients and gently mix with a fork until evenly moistened, adding more buttermilk if necessary.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Gently roll into an elongated rectangle and fold the dough into thirds, bringing each shorter end towards the middle. Repeat 2 more times. Finally, roll the dough into a rectangle that's slightly smaller than 13x9 inches.
Cut the dough into squares and place on top of the filling in the pan. Bake in preheated oven until filling is bubbly and the biscuits are golden, about 25&ndash30 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 5&ndash10 minutes and serve with butter.
Recipe for pot pie filling adapted from my Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie recipe. Recipe for biscuits adapted from Jovial Foods.
Note: I used einkorn flour to make the biscuits. If you don't have any einkorn flour on hand, simply use your favorite buttermilk biscuit recipe that yields about 12 biscuits and add cracked pepper, rosemary, parsley, and thyme to the dry ingredients. Einkorn flour doesn't substitute 1:1, so make sure to use a recipe that's designed for wheat flour.
This Is Your Brain On Cheese
The earth-bending pull of cheese is hard to break free from.
Which one torments you the most? Polly-O string cheese? The Cheddar Lovers Cheeseburger from Wendy’s? The Stuffed-Crust Pizza from Pizza Hut? All of them? You’re not alone. Cheese is one of the hardest habits to regulate day to day. What keeps most vegetarians from going whole-hog vegan? Not eggs. It’s the cheese. The salty, fatty goodness that makes you salivate should you get even a tiny whiff. It’s just so good, many will say. Well, there’s more to the story. You may, in fact, be hooked, so to speak.
It turns out there’s a reason behind our cravings. Cheese contains casein. It also contains casein fragments called casomorphins, a casein-derived morphine-like compound. Basically, dairy protein has opiate molecules built in. When consumed, these fragments attach to the same brain receptors that heroin and other narcotics attach to.
'These opiates attach to the same brain receptors that heroin and morphine attach to. They are not strong enough to get you arrested, but they are just strong enough to keep you coming back for more, even while your thighs are expanding before your very eyes.' - Dr. Neal Barnard, author of The Cheese Trap
Some researchers believe this occurs as a way to ensure babies (humans, cows, etc.) continue to nurse during infancy, which helps the survival of the species. That helps explain why we look so happy when nursing and also why it feels so good to eat cheese. For perspective, a cup of milk contains 7.7 grams of protein, 80% of which is casein. When converted to cheddar, for example, the protein content multiplies 7-fold, to 56 grams. It’s the most concentrated form of casein in any food in the grocery store. Basically, if milk is cocaine, then cheese is crack.
Our brain's ‘reward center’ releases dopamine when we eat salty foods like cheese in order to encourage us to eat more of it (many addictive drugs increase dopamine activity). Dopamine makes our bodies become attracted to whatever produced it, including cheese. Which is why so many people crave it, talk about it, and why even animal-loving vegetarians have a hard time giving it up.
Cheesy breadsticks are one of the many weapons food companies have deployed to keep you hooked.
Companies that sell cheese are well aware of these stats, and leverage our addiction to their benefit. Back in ‘00, at a presentation by Dairy Management Inc. (collects approximately $140 million each year from dairy companies to promote dairy products), they suggested that the key to increasing demand was to ‘trigger’ cheese cravings. The presenter broke cheese consumers into two categories: enhancers, those who sprinkle cheese on pasta, salad, etc. from time to time (not worth targeting), and cravers, people who LOVE cheese and will consume it whenever possible. This meant working with Fast Food companies to promote more cheese heavy products on their menus (Cheddar-Lovers sound familiar? Stuffed Crust pizza too!).
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, no one wants to tell someone else that they might have a problem. And there’s no cheese-anonymous support group to run to. Given the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in America, something has to give. If you have some vices in your life, you might want to add cheese to the list. And like the others, it’s something you should probably avoid to lead a long healthy life.
I am a Wealth Advisor at Alpenrose Wealth Management, advising a global clientele on multi-generational wealth management, with a passion for impact investing. I was…
I am a Wealth Advisor at Alpenrose Wealth Management, advising a global clientele on multi-generational wealth management, with a passion for impact investing. I was selected for Investment News' 40 Under 40 list and Forbes' inaugural list of America's Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors. As an extension of this work, I’m particularly excited about companies that offer innovative solutions to reduce the impact that agriculture has on human health, climate change, water scarcity, and animal welfare.
Crock Pot Mac and Cheese with Velveeta
My grandma cut out this easy Macaroni and Cheese in the crockpot recipe from the newspaper years ago. She decided to make it for my dad when he visited her and bam!&hellip He was hooked. Of course the recipe was shared and this past Sunday I made it again for our church picnic. It is the CREAMIEST Macaroni and Cheese. And it&rsquos also the easiest thing ever to make for a potluck. I love recipes like this because I know Macaroni and Cheese is a big hit with kids, yet this recipe is so good the adults will be asking for more!
This is all you need to make this amazing meal &ndash or side. Because really, it could be either. Which brings me to my question. Yesterday for our church picnic we were to bring a main dish and a dessert. The dessert was easy but I didn&rsquot know if Macaroni and Cheese counted as a main dish. My husband said yes. I thought, no. But my mom had an extra half of Velveeta, so it became a main dish. And really, I&rsquom now thinking it is. Do I think too much into these things? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
Anyways, to make this EASY Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- 16 oz Macaroni (cooked)
- 4 TB Olive Oil
- 2 Cans (12 oz each) Evaporated Milk
- 2 Cups Milk
- 2 tsp Salt
- 4 Cups Cheddar Cheese
- 2 Cups Velveeta Cheese (cut into 1 inch squares)
- 4 TB Melted Butter
Crockpot liners are a must! They make clean up so much easier. You can find them here.
You will also need a crockpot like mine.
Cook the macaroni to the box directions. Drain it and then put it into your crockpot along with the butter and olive oil. As you can see I used a slow cooker liner. It&rsquos definitely worth it for a meal like this. Mix the butter and olive oil into the macaroni until it&rsquos melted. (Since the macaroni has just been drained, it&rsquos piping hot. The butter and olive oil make sure that your noodles won&rsquot be sticking together. Sorry noodles.)
Pour in the evaporated milk, milk and then the rest of the ingredients. Stir well. Place the lid onto the crock pot and turn it on low. Let it go for an hour, stir and then it cook for another hour. In just those two hours, you&rsquoll have one of the best sides &ndash or main dishes &ndash your family has ever had. Seriously, we love this recipe.
Just look at that creaminess! Enjoy!
If you love this recipe, you&rsquoll also love this macaroni casserole which is made with a homemade sauce with the addition of kielbasa sausage and veggies.
Cheese is so addictive, one doctor calls it 'dairy crack'
Americans love their cheese. Angeli Kakade (@angelikakade) has the story.
Cheese is addictive, according to author Dr. Neal Barnard, because the dairy proteins inside can act as mild opiates (Photo: baibaz, Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Can you break your cheese habit? A new book, called The Cheese Trap, makes the case for skipping dairy products altogether.
Cheese is "both fattening and addictive," said author Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Cheese is addictive, Barnard said, because the dairy proteins inside can act as mild opiates. Fragments of cheese protein, called casomorphins, attach to the same brain receptors as heroin and other narcotics. As a result, each bite of cheese produces a tiny hit of dopamine.
Cheesemakers vie for a slice of Wisconsin's championship pie
Cheddar cheese, Barnard said, has the most concentrated amount of cheese protein in the grocery store and it can pack more calories than Coca-Cola and more salt than potato chips.
At 149 calories, one cup of milk delivers more energy than a can of sugary soda. One cup of melted cheddar? You're looking at 986 calories.
Think a typical 2-ounce snack of potato chips ranks high in salt at 350 milligrams? Two ounces of Velveeta knocks potato chips aside as a sodium villain, containing more than 800 milligrams of sodium, said Barnard, a noted vegan and animal rights activist.
"The Cheese Trap," a new book, describes how consumption of this calorie-dense food has tracked alongside the growing obesity crisis and explores links between chronic disease and dairy consumption. (Photo: Hachette Book Group, Inc.)
"Cheese," Barnard said "is not just tasty. It actually contains concentrated opiates, along with salt and grease, that tend to keep us hooked."
Cheese consumption has risen steadily since the early 1970s, a trend that tracks alongside the rise in obesity.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans overall consumed 11 pounds of cheese per capita in 1970, a figure which has more than tripled to 35 pounds per person in 2015. Our cheese of choice? Mozzarella, topping out at 11 pounds per person, followed closely by cheddar at 10 pounds per person last year.
If you've been hearing more about how dairy products can harm your health, The Cheese Trap rounds up a growing chorus of anti-dairy perspectives, evidence and experiences.
And if you just want to drop some pounds, Barnard argues that skipping meat, cheese and dairy might be a way to accomplish that goal.
Research conducted by PCRM shows that animal fats tend to slow the metabolism down, which could mean increased dairy consumption is linked to weight gain trends across the nation.
Vegetarians who avoid dairy products weighed 15 pounds less, on average, than vegetarians who kept their ice cream and cheese consumption going. Amid a rising obesity epidemic, that's enough evidence, he said, to avoid the "chubby cheddar."
"We have done similar studies with hundreds of men and women and have found powerful weight loss in every study," Barnard wrote.
At the helm of PCRM — a nonprofit that recently opened a clinical practice in Washington, D.C., that relies on plant-based medicine as a first step to combat chronic disease — Barnard has also authored texts like the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart, Power Foods For The Brain, and Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes.
Whole Foods market is the place to find a full line of Kite Hill vegan cheeses, made from cultured almond milk (Photo: Whole Foods)
The Cheese Trap is a contribution to the growing conversation and evidence that links food and health. As part of that evolution, Barnard details how his staff has taken federal nutrition experts to task. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are recommendations compiled every five years, conclusions based on expert testimony and study that become blueprints for the school lunch program, dietitians and ordinary Americans who try to pay attention to what they eat.
Barnard details in the book how PCRM staff have lobbied in court to limit contributions to federal nutrition experts by industry groups like the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board, Nestle and Dannon. PCRM also battled the government to crack down on false claims in advertising by the dairy industry.
For readers intrigued by Barnard's anti-dairy pitch, more than 65 recipes come inside The Cheese Trap. For identifying food problems linked to migraines, chronic pain, inflammation and other maladies the author talks about, an appendix discusses the concept of an elimination diet.