There are times when I sit down to craft the creative writing portion of a blog post, and I’ve got nothing. Sentences are typed and then deleted in short order, and I find myself frustrated as a blank screen stares mockingly in my direction. My mind roars with self-criticism, deeming nothing I write to be acceptable; it’s too dull, too vague, too contrived, I tell myself. Start again; it needs to be perfect. Don’t give up, Christie, you’re not a quitter.
Sometimes these words work to my advantage, driving me to pursue excellence and pushing the boundaries of what I thought I could accomplish, but mostly, they leave me empty, uninspired, and insecure. My work becomes less fruitful, and despite the many hours I may put into a project, the result is often still not up to my (unachievable) standards.
It’s a trap, really. The harder I try to achieve perfection, the more it eludes me. Creativity can’t be forced, and why should I kill something as pure and lovely as art by reducing it to being all about me. It’s been happening a lot recently, and after having a bit of a breakdown over an issue I was having with my photography last night, I’ve realized enough is enough. Take a break, Christie. Look up from your work for two seconds and see the beauty that surrounds you. Breathe in the scent of your precious baby boy and be thankful.
Of course life is moving along and there are things that need tending, but I want to tend to them in a way that gives life instead of stealing it. Moments of failure provide opportunity for learning and improvement, and there is much freedom in observing creation instead of trying so earnestly to be at its center.
(Ah yes, the food…let’s not forget to talk about that. I made these incredible tostones this past week, and I’m thinking they’ll be on the menu again soon. They are crunchy and salty on the outside, soft on the inside, and the cool yogurt sauce is the perfect accompaniment. If you haven’t tried cooking with plantains, this appetizer is an easy way to start! And hey, if you make mistakes along the way (like I did the first time I made it), don’t sweat it. You’re in good company.)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed and rinsed under cold water
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
- 4 green plaintains
- 3/4 cup coconut oil
- Kosher salt
- Start by making the dipping sauce. In a blender or food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, olive oil, lime juice, and salt, and pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth but still has some texture to it. In a medium bowl, fold together this cilantro-garlic puree and the Greek yogurt until combined. Add more lime juice and/or salt to taste, then toss the mixture in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
- To prepare the tostones, use a sharp knife to cut off both ends of the plantains. Then cut the peel end to end lengthwise, slicing all the way through the skin but not cutting into the fruit’s flesh. Use your fingers to pry away the peel in sections, starting at the cut site. Once peeled, cut the plantains into 1-inch pieces.
- Next, melt the coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, place the plantain pieces on end in the pan and cook for 5 minutes, turning once, until they are golden brown on both ends. Be sure to cook the tostones in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Adjust the heat if needed to ensure proper browning.
- When the first fry is complete, use tongs to remove the plantain pieces to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool for 1 minute, then place the pieces, one at a time, between two sheets of paper towel and use the bottom of a plate to smash them to a ¼ inch thickness (or if you are fancy, you can use one of these). After they have been smashed, return them to the hot coconut oil, cooking for 1 minute on each side until brown and crispy.
- Remove the tostones from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season with salt immediately and serve with the chilled Cilantro-Garlic Yogurt Sauce.
Inspired by El Oso.