Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary - Mendon MASS
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Tree Nut Cheese Recipe from Vegan Chef Jess Rice

Looking for a decadent vegan cheese that's easy to make? Raw food chef Jess Rice—a Massachusetts native who is making waves in vegan cooking in Tennessee and around the world—kindly shared this raw tree nut cheese recipe with MFS. We think it's perfect for spreading on your favorite crackers, pairing with a delicious vegan wine, or sharing with others at a potluck!
Stay tuned for additional recipes from Jess in upcoming MFS newsletters.
Shopping List
  • Nut milk
  • Bag or cheese cloth
  • Wax paper
  • Rubber spatula
  • 2 cups cashew and/or macadamia nuts, soaked
  • ¼ cup – ½ cup water*
  • ½ teaspoon vegan probiotics (1 capsule of MegaFood’s MegaFlora)*
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Optional: Herbs to season (smoked paprika, black pepper, cayenne, dill, etc.)
  • Dehydrator
  • Cheese molds 
*You can substitute the vegan probiotics and water for ¼ - ½ cup of coconut water kefir
  • Blend soaked nuts, water, and probiotics in a high-speed blender until completely smooth.
  • Stop blender periodically and, with your spatula, scrape down the sides of the blender to make sure all the nuts are blended smooth.
  • Spoon mixture into your nut milk bag or cheese cloth and tie it off.
  • Place full nut milk bag in a bowl and cover with a towel in a warm, dark place ferment for 24-48 hours (no longer). You may choose to do this in a dehydrator to speed up the fermentation process (8-10 hours)
  • Check your cheese after 24 hours. If it’s starting to smell a little sour, it’s done! If it still smells bland, leave it for up to 48 hours total, continuing to check it periodically.
  • Once fermented, transfer the cheese to a clean mixing bowl and add nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Experiment with different herbs and seasonings to achieve whatever kind of cheese you’re craving. Omit the nutritional yeast for goat-style cheese.
  • Spoon the flavored cheese onto wax paper (or cheese mold) and form into a wheel or log with your spatula.
  • Wrap with wax paper and place it in the freezer for 1-2 weeks to age and set.
If you’re making a cheddar-style cheese, place the uncovered (frozen) wheel in the dehydrator for 12‐36 hours to get a rind, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Goat-style cheese should be served soft and creamy, so don’t dehydrate.
About Jess:
My name is Jess Rice and I am a raw vegan chef. I am based in Nashville, TN, but I grew up in Medway, MA. I am the former owner of Avo, Nashville's first raw vegan dining concept. I was the creative director, GM and chef de cuisine before selling my equity to my financial partner in February of last year. 

Since selling Avo, I have toured with Neil Young as his personal chef. I worked with his team on the road, cooking mainly on a tour bus. I have also worked for Kelly Clarkson, giving her private vegan cooking lessons in her home in 2015. Additionally, I have also cooked for Miley Cyrus, Wayne Coyne, Coty Sensebaugh (Tennessee Titans player) and Carrie Underwood. Currently, I am working with a family of 6 in their home as their private chef in Brentwood, TN. I have been throwing sold out pop up dinners all over Nashville for the past 2 years.

My specialty is fresh, raw, vegan cuisine, but I am able to work with whatever ingredients my clients request as long as it is 100% plant-based. While I was at the helm of the kitchen at Avo, my restaurant won "Best Vegetarian" and "Best New Restaurant" in the Nashville Scene in 2015. In 2016, my raw vegan cheesecake was voted "Best Dessert" in the Nashville Scene. I was named one of Nashville's "Most Beautiful People" in Nashville Lifestyles Magazine in 2015 and I was recently named one of the country's "Hottest Plant-based Chefs" in Thrive Magazine.
I was given the honor of being the keynote speaker at the 2016 Nashville VegFest (an event that drew over 4,000 people) and I am booked to speak and demo original recipes at the Southern Women's Show on two separate days later this month in Nashville at Music City Center. 
I teach holistic nutrition and healthy cooking classes in Nashville and on retreats. I have prepared gourmet plant-based foods in Indonesia, Australia, and all over the U.S.A. My formal training took place in Ubud with Naturopath Dr. Amy Rachelle and in Santa Monica and Culver City, under the watchful eyes of celebrated plant-based chefs Matthew Kenney and Scott Winegard in California.
More information on Jess and her recipes can be found at My Poor Tired Liver.

Supporter Voices: Lee

Read Lee’s inspiring story, in her own words, about why she decided to become a vegan at the age of 68!

I am 68 years old and worked for many years as a visiting nurse and later as a family nurse practitioner, specializing in the care of the elderly, folks with dementia and folks at end-of-life. I have always cared for and about people of all ages and their pets. Our family has always adopted pets from local animal shelters.

One Sunday in the spring of 2016, I was having dinner at my brother’s house and my niece, Katie, mentioned an article she had found online about artificial insemination of dairy cows and how the calves were taken from their mothers at birth. I found it difficult to believe and decided to research it for myself. Once I learned the truth, I was horrified at the treatment of farm and dairy animals.

In my research, I came across the website for Maple Farm Sanctuary (MFS) and read Cheri and Jim’s story. I decided at that time I would not be the cause of suffering for any animal. Katie and I visited MFS a short time later and had a chance to see firsthand the compassionate care and treatment of the animals there.

During my research, I also came across an article about the mayor of Marshall, Texas, reversing his high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and prostate cancer by working with his doctor and changing to a whole food, plant-based diet. I am diabetic and have high blood pressure and thought a change to this kind of diet might help me as well.

I won’t say becoming vegan was easy. I didn’t eat that much meat at home. As a single person with a very small kitchen, I was the queen of the microwave frozen dinner. For me, the most difficult thing to give up was cheese. I read books, I studied, and I decided to move outside my comfort zone. I soon learned about the negative aspects of processed foods and the positive benefits of unprocessed, whole foods and plants. I started cooking soups for myself and created my own recipe for no fat, no salt, pasta e fagiole and minestrone. I bought a pressure cooker and later a food processor.

I discovered vegan alternatives such as Gardein, Field Roast, and Chao cheese. I got my chocolate cravings satisfied with Silk Cashew chocolate milk and love Silk Original Soy milk on oatmeal. I discovered vegan Parmesan cheese and often take that with me when I go out to eat at a restaurant. I have worked closely with my primary care physician and found her very supportive. Her only concern was Vitamin B12 deficiency so we keep an eye on that and I take a supplement.

My family is not ready to make the change but are very supportive. My first Thanksgiving, I took Gardein’s individual serving Sage Turkey and gravy. My sister-in-law made delicious vegetables and used almond milk in the mashed potatoes. When we go out to eat, I study the menu ahead of time and call the restaurant if I have any questions.

This past Thanksgiving it was my delight to be able to meet Cheri in person and thank her and Jim for their story and the inspiration to become vegan. We are so blessed to have MFS in our area. We can all learn a lot from Cheri and Jim about compassion for all!

Lee Holfelder, Blackstone, MA

Saving Gwendolyn: A Thanksgiving Miracle


The day after Thanksgiving, MFS got a phone call from a rather unexpected source: a hunter.

The hunter told Cheri that he had been out looking for a wild turkey to shoot for Thanksgiving dinner but came across a domestic turkey instead. He could see that she had been injured and knew that she would not survive long on her own.

MFS does not condone hunting, but we were grateful for the act of compassion shown by this man and agreed to help the turkey. He brought her to MFS a few days after Thanksgiving and we named her Gwendolyn.

Cheri immediately examined Gwendolyn and determined that she had likely been attacked by a coyote or other animal. Fortunately her injuries were not too severe, and Cheri will be treating them to prevent infection.

Gwendolyn is now settling in at MFS in a cozy stall where she has lots of clean water, nutritious food, and room to rest. She has already begun making friends with some of our resident chickens and is sociable with people as well—she even responds with a soft purring noise when Cheri talks to her.

One of the first things we did when Gwendolyn arrived was give her a belated Thanksgiving feast of fresh vegetables and feed. We suspect she was being raised on a turkey farm or by an individual in order to become someone's Thanksgiving dinner, and we wanted to show her that she is now free to just be a turkey.

We are so happy to have Gwendolyn with us and know that she will be an amazing ambassador for turkeys and other farm animals!  

Watch Gwendolyn’s arrival below:

Make a gift to help us care for Gwendolyn and all her rescued animal friends!

November 2016 - GoFundMe Hay Appeal Donor Recognition

Thank you to our amazing supporters who contributed to our 2016 GoFundMe for Hay! We’ve already raised nearly half of our goal of $20,000—enough to purchase one trailer load of hay. Our llamas, goats, pigs, sheep, and chickens can’t say thank you enough for your generosity!

Supporters who give $50 or more are recognized on our website. See the other giving rewards levels, including a framed animal print, MFS t-shirt, and free tour, here.
We still need to purchase two additional hay loads. Please help us spread the word about our campaign by sharing it on Facebook.

Platinum ($1000+)


Gold ($500+)

Paula Foley, Framingham, MA
Kevin Smith, Royal Oak, Michigan

Silver ($250+)

Claire Bosma, Pittsfield, MA
Haven Daniels, Boston, MA
Mark Gillono, Aurora, IL
Adam Japko, Carlisle, MA
Lucy Roberts, Madison, AL
Melissa Zafirelis, Waltham, MA

Bronze (50+)

Naghmeh Ahi, Brooklyn, NY
Victoria Andreoli, Ashaway, RI
Rosemary Antonucci, Cambridge, MA
Nancy Barre, West Roxbury, MA
Carol Belding, Sarasota, FL
Jen Brindisi, Falmouth, MA
Nolan Burke, New York, NY
Terri Lee Carabillo, Topsfield, MA
Peter & Nanette Cardos, Belchertown, MA
Carole Carnovale, Mendon, MA
Diane Carr, Waltham, MA
Susan Costello, Sherborn, MA
Cathy Coston, Bar Harbor, ME
Cynthia Cruser, Stuart, FL
Holly Davenport, Norfolk, MA
Todd DeMartinis, Cambridge, MA
Anne Deuster, Saint Petersburg, FL
Linda Deveau, Swampscott, MA
Meghan Dibble, Berkeley, CA
Jessica Faherty, Melrose, MA
Chris Farrell, Brookline, MA
Ryuoh Faulconer, Newton, MA
April Forsman, Worcester, MA
Jenney P. Gallerane, Milford, MA
Barbara Glover, Mendon, MA
Rob Haworth, Bethesda, MD
E. N. Hingkeldey, Burdett, NY
Kate Horsley, New Port Richey, FL
Corey Hunter, New York, NY
Jill Korff, Wayland, MA
Susan Korte, Dalton, MA
Susan Labandibar, Cambridge, MA
Lisa Landsverk, Cambridge, MA
Ollire Lane, Dover, NH
Tisa LaPadula, New York, NY
Andrey Levin, Millis, MA
Danielle Lizotte, Milford, MA
Peter Lombardo, Rocky Hill, CT   
Sharron Luttrell, Mendon, MA
Becky Martin, Belchertown, MA
Everly McCormack, Hudson, MA
Robin McCormack, Hudson, NH
Libby Meehan, Watertown, MA
Kathy Melchin, Middleboro, MA
Marnie Meyers, Windsor, MA
Jo Irvine, Montgomery, MA
Edward Moran, Milford, MA
Janyce Murray, Whitinsville, MA
Nicole Mushero, Jamaica Plain, MA
Christina Neally, Seattle, WAS
Daryl Nuese, Westborough, MA
Katharine O’Brien, Sudbury, MA
Jane O’Hara, Little Compton, RI
Alyssa O’Mara, Canton, MA
Patricia Panitz, Seattle, WA
Dawn Pavao, Harpers Ferry, WV
Veronica Perkins, Kyle, TX
MaryAnne Polich, West Roxbury, MA
Jennifer Powell, Pflugerville, TX
Karen Rosati, Northbridge, MA
Lindsey Ross, Ann Arbor, MI
Bridget Sebern, Aurora, CO
Mary Jane Serfilippi, Delmar, NY
Emily Shay, Norwood, MA
Neil Simmons, Somerville, MA
Kyle Sinclair, West Roxbury, MA
Amanda Tarbet, Allston, MA
Karen Thomson, Eugene, OR
Harika Tuna, Herndon, VA
Susanna Wang, North Tonawanda, NY
Sherry Weiland, Sudbury, MA
Matt Weiss, Natick, MA
Teresa Willett, East Lyme, CT
Sue Williams, Silver Spring, MD
Deborah Wright, Warwick, MA
Elaine Zagame, Northbridge, MA
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