Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lolita and My Favourite "Cheese" Sauce

Book Talk

If you love prose, admire a beautifully crafted sentence that is a work of art yet seems effortless, read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. A couple of years ago I read a book called Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi, which was an amazing insight into the lives of educated women and women desiring an education in the power hungry/male dominated/muslim extremist country of Iran. The author, a university literature professor began holding secret book club/literary classes in her home and of course a book such as Lolita was a risky choice. I had not read Lolita at the point that I read about these brave and oppressed women in Tehran, but knew that it was sexually provocative- we have all become familiar with the concept of a "Lolita" as a sexually assertive young girl- and as mentioned in the Tehran book, there is a forbidden relationship between the young girl and a man old enough to be her father.

This summer I bought my copy of Lolita, noting on the back of the book that Vanity Fair had called it the only convincing love story of our century. Love may be blind, but in this case it was Vanity Fair that experienced perception difficulty.

The protagonist, with the unlikely name of Humbert Humbert, is an anti-hero. He may be the one telling the story and he tries to gain his readers' sympathy, but he is not a good person; he is a pedophile. There are no wholly sympathetic characters in the novel, which makes it an interesting read and perhaps a challenge. Can you read a story where you don't really like anyone. Nabakov is a superb writer and his prose and his storytelling gift keep you reading. The events and the final conclusion are not as predictable as you might at first think.

Both of these books, Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi and Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov are keepers on my bookshelf.

"Cheese" Sauce

I have mentioned nutritional yeast already. Here is another great recipe using that amazing ingredient. My cooking is less precise than my baking. This recipe is adaptable to your personal taste and to the quantity of ingredients you have on hand.

2 roasted red peppers
1 c raw cashews
1 T lemon juice
water as needed (approx. 1 c)
1 T tumeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T salt
1 c nutritional yeast

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. I find it easiest to blend the cashews with a little bit of water until I get a nut butter consistency. You could use olive oil as well. Add the lemon juice, seasonings, nutritional yeast and roasted peppers. You can vary the consistency by adding liquid. I like to keep it thick and spreadable, then add water, non-dairy milk or oil if I'm using this as a sauce. It freezes well and can be re-heated gently or folded into a casserole and heated in the oven. I like to spread it on bread to make a grilled "cheese" sandwich. It would probably make a good dip too, although I haven't tried it that way. You could add sundried tomatoes, chives or parsley; make it your own.

My favourite uses for this sauce:
grilled sandwich
macaroni and broccoli casserole
stirred into a pasta primavera/marinara

I intend to try adding agar to solidify this and make a sliceable cheese. I'll post it if it works.


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