Jennie Cook’s Bedda Chedda: a Vegan Cheese that Tastes Great

img_7457While I’m not a vegan, I have a fondness for some of the tricks up the vegan cook’s sleeve: things like dehydrated crackers and cheese alternatives. Many times they don’t work, tasting like someone tilted the random contents of a health food store’s bulk bins into a blender but, occasionally, you end up with a breakthrough new food concept such as Jennie Cook’s cashew-based “Bedda Chedda.”

While Kelly was in the hospital our very kind neighbor Jennie Cook who is a caterer, author (and guest on episode 50 of our podcast) dropped by many trays and tubs of food so that Kelly’s mom and I would not need to cook or eat out. Jennie is a rare master of both meaty and vegan fare. In addition to the delicious jambalaya, mac and cheese and many other items in her porch care package, there was a tub of “Bedda Chedda.”

I liked it so much that I made a batch myself last night. You can find Jennie’s Bedda Chedda recipe here. Note her admonition to add the liquids first. The end result will solidify more once you refrigerate it. Like most successful vegan foods it doesn’t pretend to be something that it isn’t. While it really does taste vaguely of cheddar, consider this to be more of a delicious cracker spread. I guarantee if you make a batch of this for a holiday party it will disappear much faster than the eggnog.

And let me also note that for someone in the midst of a family crisis, one of the best ways to help is to drop off food. Thank you to Jennie and to beekeeper Amy and to the many people who offered us food during a very difficult two weeks.


Saturday Tweets: Two Weeks of Tweets for the Price of One

Kelly Update and a Great Podcast


Time to get back to blogging! But first an update on Kelly. It’s been exactly two weeks now since the doctors, nurses and staff of Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center saved Kelly’s life. Kelly is back at home and, according to her new cardiologist, it’s unlikely that she’ll ever suffer another aortic dissection. Right now she’s spending a quiet six weeks recovering from the ordeal of open heart surgery. She thanks all of you for your kind comments, as well as our local friends who dropped off food and took care of us. When she’s feeling better Kelly wants to say something on the blog but right now she’s got to rest.

I’m also not quite up for the usual blogging just yet, but I did want to note a really nice podcast I heard recently that I’ve been thinking a lot about as I take care of Kelly. It’s an episode of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Ideas with Paul Kennedy called “It’s the Economists Stupid.” The show features two outside of the mainstream economists, Dr. Julie Nelson author of Economics for Humans and Richard Denniss, author of Affluenza, When Too Much is Never Enough. One of the topics in the show is how many of the domestic arts this blog focuses on do not get counted by economists. All that cooking, cleaning, gardening, child and elder care count not one bit towards the sorts of calculations economists obsess over such as gross domestic product and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. This is particularly unfair to women who tend to be more responsible for what happens in the home. And let’s not even get into the ethical difficulties of placing a dollar value on human beings. It’s a great show that I think everyone should listen to.

An Update on Kelly

Kelly is home and hopes to, someday, describe her ordeal soon. But I thought I’d put up a quick post to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers and to let you know that Kelly is back home. It turned out that Kelly had a relatively rare genetic defect that led to an aortic dissection (type A). She was wheeled straight from the emergency room to the operating room for open heart surgery. The doctors and nurses of Kaiser Permanente saved her life through quick diagnosis, skilled surgical treatment and attentive and compassionate nursing care.

I also want to note that, thankfully, we are fully insured through Kaiser and live just two miles from their medical center. All we had to pay was a reasonable co-payment for the entire operation and hospital stay. I must also thank our friend Caroline who drove Kelly to the emergency room, stayed by my side late into the night and cleaned our house top to bottom the next day with her sister Rebecca. And thanks to Fr. Mark Kowalewski of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral who was with Kelly in the emergency room and with me in the waiting room while Kelly was in surgery. Lastly, thank you to our dear readers. Kelly was in tears as she read your comments yesterday.


My dear readers,
Life has its surprises. At around 5 p.m. on Friday, towards the end of a routine day that included such dull tasks as going to the grocery store, the hardware store and a stop by our local Indian buffet, Kelly suddenly felt one of her legs go numb. Thankfully she had the good sense to know that she needed to get to the emergency room. By 9 p.m. she was being prepped for open heart surgery. She pulled through the surgery and her prognosis is good, but she is in incredible pain and is still in the hospital. We think this is a congenital condition and we had no warning. The doctors, nurses and staff of Kaiser Sunset saved her life.

Obviously we’re going to put this blog and podcast on hold for a bit while Kelly recovers, which will take many weeks. It’s a cliche, but your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated. And please promise me that if you ever experience chest pain, numbness in a limb or any other unusual symptom, you will call 911 immediately.