In the name of all that is unholy I am giving up Ambien. Again.
Really. It was a beautiful love affair in the beginning, with Ambien cooing sweetly in my ears, lulling me into deep, undisturbed and unfettered slumber. But I should have suspected something when those crazy, vivid and violent dreams began to happen-- I should have started snooping at Ambien’s emails or sorting through his drawers to try and uncover some evidence of the real Ambien; but I had trust. Hell, I had need, and I wasn’t about to give up on the one thing I’d happily managed to commit to...
Until, that is, the morning I woke up with a with a dozen or so little tin foil wrappers stuck to the side of my face only to then notice little brown splotches all over my arms, torso and egyptian cotton sheets. Yes, I had, in my Ambien haze, managed to procure a bag of Hershey’s kisses, eat a few and then literally roll around in the rest of the bag all night. I’m not sure if I was falling asleep as I was unwrapping them from a horizontal position or if the kisses just melted from my body heat as I slept, but it doesn’t really matter since I looked like a five year old that pooped chocolate all over her mom’s bed. Never mind the fact that I really don’t ever crave chocolate and that I couldn’t even remember buying the damn things, Ambien had turned on me.
The next day I gave Ambien it’s walking papers. The first time.
Fast forward a few (six) years...
I go through periods of crazy sleep deprivation. This has happened my entire adult life whenever there has been stress and flux; if you’ve read any of the entries on this blog you might get an idea of the self-induced tumult of my life lately-- my career and romantic missteps. So what does a girl do when she’s feeling a little crummy about herself? She calls an ex for a pick me up, of course! And Ambien, my beautiful pharmaceutical lothario, is always there to oblige.
We started up again right where we left off, Ambien and me, only this time we graduated from sleep “ch”eating in no time at all.
I woke up with a nagging feeling one morning last week, like I sometimes did in college; that feeling of oh no, did I drunken dial and say something really stupid to the lead singer of “Viet Nun”, my favorite campus band that plays Cramps covers and wears nun’s habits; or worse, did I make out with that totally inappropriate senior who screen prints t-shirts for all the social house parties (didn’t he get busted for selling coke with Geraldine Ferraro’s son a few years ago) and why am I wearing a “green kegs and Pam” Sig Ep shirt? Of course, I realize that one of the great things about Ambien is the whole short term memory loss thing, so it takes me a few hours to realize exactly what I had done...
And at the risk of exposing myself as that girl in yet another blog post, I’ll just say it was colossally stupid and self sabotaging, though not life shattering or anything. But it serves to further highlight my need to stay away from things that impair my judgement, lest you, dear reader, are forced to endure yet more blog entries about stress dreams, tutus, Prince and the New Power Generation and self diagnosed psychological issues that have nothing to do with soup. Because this is a soup blog. About soup. And things that might be tangentially related to soup. So I’ll get back on track now that Ambien and I have made a permanent break and I’ll write about this here little blog’s topic, soup.
This last Sunday I was totally up for crafting a meal-- it’s actually amazing how a few nights of not taking a sleep aid can give you all kinds of creative energy-- so I planned four courses. We started with fried zucchini blossoms (stuffed with egg, ricotta, reggiano parmesan, egg & nutmeg) paired with a spicy tomato sauce, then moved to an Italian greens salad with anchovy vinaigrette. The soup was a chilled zucchini pureé (it was supposed to be really hot outside, but it wasn’t) and for dessert we had strawberry sundaes, which were a layering of strawberry gelato, a compote of strawberries and prosecco and a prosecco sabayon topped with candied slivered almonds.
I loved the way the dessert looked, all dark pink and custardy in these really sweet pink Portuguese glasses. I might have to start paying more attention to the dessert course since gelato is really just cold and sweet soup, after all.
Chilled Zucchini Soup
This creamy chilled soup will make you hope for an abundance of zucchini in your garden this year. Thin-sliced zucchini blossoms, available at produce markets and specialty foods shops, add a beautiful hint of color while lending texture to the soup's smoothness.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Active Time: 20 min
Total Time: 40 min
1/4 lb shallots, thinly sliced crosswise (1 cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb zucchini (3 to 4 medium), peeled and halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
2 (2- by 1 1/2-inch) strips fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk or plain yogurt
Garnish: thinly sliced or torn zucchini blossoms
Cook shallots in oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add zucchini, zest, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth and water and simmer until zucchini is tender, about 3 minutes.
Purée zucchini mixture, including zest, along with parsley and dill in a blender (in 2 batches if necessary) until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Transfer to a metal bowl, then set bowl into a larger bowl of ice and cold water (to quick-chill). Cool, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
I decided that the zucchini blossoms would be better as a full-blown appetizer than just as a throw away garnish-- they are such a delicate treat and I feared they would be lost in the herbaceousness of the cold soup-- so I got some very pretty edible flowers to top the soup with instead.
My gay boyfriend, Foodie Filmmaker, the Girl Whose Name Sounds Better Pronounced as an Indian Food Dish, the Equestrian to Kids of the Stars, the Conspiracy Theorist Web Designer, the Art Dealer/ Neighbor from the Great Meatball Escandalo of 2010 and his Vegan Wife pretty much made my week since I got all kinds of food love. It probably didn’t hurt that we went through something like six bottles of wine and bubbles...
You say prosecco, I say propsycho. But whatever, at least I remember the food and the great company.
Soup on! See you next Sunday.