Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow's Corn Vichyssoise and Other Unacceptable Things

I'm not used to this.

Being ridiculously, deliriously, unacceptably happy.

Not that I was a complete basket case before. I certainly had more than my fair share of moments when life seemed like a summer picnic under a cloudless sky. They usually occurred when I was eating quinoa and/or drinking wine.

At, you know, a summer picnic.

But back "then" (and I use this term loosely because "then" seems to imply a period of time much further away than just four weeks ago) those highs came with some serious lows. The anti-summer picnic, if you will. A junior high cafeteria lunch before Jamie Oliver came around flashing his fresh produce and plain cartons of milk.

I never talked much about the cafeteria here and still don't really want to talk about it in concrete terms beyond saying that I had a challenging work situation. It made me cry. It made me angry. It made me frustrated that I wasn't "living up to my potential." The world was supposed to be my oyster, after all. Not someone else's oyster.

Yet even back "then" when I wasn't ridiculously, deliriously, unacceptably happy, I still felt like it was just a temporary blip -- a slight shadow on an otherwise sunny day. I still considered myself a positive person; I was just a positive person stuck in a bit of a rut.

I didn't want everyone to know about that rut. I wanted it to be my secret rut. That just happened to be slowly sucking the life out of my otherwise perfectly delightful existence.

So today, post-rut, I'm struggling to know exactly how to accept this (mostly) constant state of happiness. It can't really be normal for a person to actually like -- no love -- their job. Nobody is excited to get to the office in the morning. People don't actually look forward to reading and responding to work emails. I mean that's totally weird, right?

Being this happy scares me. It doesn't seem natural. I keep waiting for someone to do a take back -- to announce that I'm on "Candid Camera" or that it's all just been a dream. Because clearly this sort of thing isn't allowed. Life isn't supposed to always be a summer picnic. That's why there's such a thing as winter. And high-waisted pants. And olives. And Bacardi lemon rum.

I'm trying to let myself believe that this unacceptable happiness might actually be... acceptable. I mean stranger things have happened. I bought a romper and actually wore it. My brother got married and had a kid. Gwyneth Paltrow was on the cover of Bon Appetit. And her recipe for corn vichyssoise was actually good.

The kind of thing that would be perfect at a summer picnic under a cloudless sky.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Corn Vichyssoise
Serves 2
Adapted from the recipe in the June 2011 issue of Bon Appetit

Adaptations: I doubled the amount of leeks and quadrupled the amount of lemon juice, used sea salt instead of kosher salt, and finished the soup with basil olive oil instead of creme fraiche and chives. I also served the soup warm instead of chilled.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 ears shucked corn, kernels cut from cobs, cobs reserved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peeled potato
2 cups good-quality vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cube Dorot's frozen basil

Combine two teaspoons olive oil with 1 cube of Dorot's frozen basil. Set aside.

Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add corn kernels, reserved cobs, potato, and stock. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover with lid slightly ajar, and cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 35 minutes.

Discard corn cobs; let soup cool slightly. Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until very smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl; strain, discarding solids. Return to the pot and bring back up to a simmer. If too thick, thin with water by 1/4-cupfuls. Once reheated to desired temperature, stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Finish with basil oil.


The Duo Dishes said...

Congrats Diana! Everyone deserves to be in a positive mental and professional space, and you've found your's. Don't question it, enjoy it. :) Now this Gwyneth Paltrow recipe is something else to check out. Anybody can be a cook!

Darin said...

Hah good to hear Paltrow's recipe is a reliable one!

Ashley said...

You deserve this new normal. And you read my mind with this soup. I was just craving something along the lines of corn chowder.

Cat Soup said...

I like your adaptation of this recipe. I posted this one myself on my blog after I took a few cheap shots at people under size 2 knowing how to cook. Apparently she, or her people, do. The soup is good.

Monet said...

I saw Mrs. Paltrow on Bon Appetit, and I'm glad to see that one of her recipes was such a success...but I'm even happier to know that you are happy! Thank you for taking the time to share a moment of your world with me...I was wishing I could take a bite out of your photograph! I hope you are having a wonderful, joyful week. Many blessings and much love!

Robin said...

I am so Happy for you. :-)

I bet that part of the love that you have for your job is because they are truly appreciative of the talent they are lucky enough to work with.

Take care, Not Your Cousin. Robin

valentina said...

Um, you just reminded me of my rut/cafeteria lunch. But I'm happy for you. :)

Diana said...

Chrystal & Amir - Thanks so much! I'm trying to enjoy it and just live in the moment as much as I can! :)

Darin - Haha, she's no dumb blonde! ;)

Ashley - Great minds...

Cat Soup - So glad you agree that it's a really solid recipe! I'll have to check out your version!

Monet - Thanks so much! Your sweet words always brighten my day!

Robin - You are the best not my cousin ever!!

Valentina - I'll be praying for you to get out of your rut too! And praying that the next cafeteria is in Downtown LA!

Lien said...

you're too sweet, Diana! (and I think your work e-mails are terrific.) so looking forward to a belated celebratory burger with you at Rustic C.

Hank said...

Yay! I am so glad your new job is a success! Excellent. -Hank

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