I’m all blocked up.

not poop

For once, I’m not talking about poop.

I mean the words. My mind is all blocked up; I believe they call it “Ye Wordsmithers Obstruction.” I can barely muster the words to tell you about this shrimp in orange coriander sauce with black bean cakes. Which is a shame, because they really do deserve a whole lot of words. Please, bring back the words. I’m scared.

(BTW, this comes from Crescent City Cooking, a book which has never, ever, ever, ever let me down.)

Not-speaking about poop, I’m sorry for this dreadfully unappetizing photo of black beans pureed with onion, poblano, a hint of honey and vinegar and some chile and cumin.


This is, in fact, that same black bean puree, seen in the extremely inconsistent lighting of my kitchen at night. The cakes were lightly dusted in flour and quickly fried up in a bit of olive oil, then stashed in the warming drawer while I made the rest of dinner.

Anyway, the words: why won’t they come? I CAN’T EVEN MUSTER UP A SINGLE EXPLETIVE. What is that all about? It’s certainly not because I’m not cranky enough, and it’s not out of lack of desire. I’m sitting here emitting near-lethal levels of desire beams at the keyboard, but I just can’t coax anything forth. It’s distressing, because I know that no one else in the history of blogging has EVER faced a similar dilemma, so, as you can imagine, this is quite a lonely place. NOBODY KNOWS HOW I FEEL.


I guess I can eke out a few words: Here is some sauce.

Okay, I can do a few more. Baby steps! I reduced some OJ, wine and sherry vinegar with finely chopped shallots and coriander. When the whole mess was reduced down to a few tablespoons, I gradually whisked in five tablespoons of butter, producing a rich, pale brown sauce.

I guess those were some words, but they weren’t particularly interesting words. Not like, “I come from a long line of alcoholic carneyfolk,” or maybe, “I wonder what it’s like to be the rainmaker.” And that second sentence is just a line from a Matchbox 20 song, which makes it inherently uninteresting and shows you the depth to which I have sunk. I can’t even come up with a hypothetical example of an interesting sentence.

I wonder what it’s like to know that I made the rain, indeed.


While the sauce-making was going on, the shrimp were sitting in some olive oil, chile powder, cumin and cayenne, waiting for their turn in the sun.

A little known fact amongst those who do not share my obsession with mountaineering memoirs: “sauce-making” is Sherpa slang for knocking boots. True story.

According to the recipe, these shrimp were supposed to be grilled. I didn’t feel like firing up the ol’ hobo drum to spend three seconds cooking shrimp, so I cheated and did it on the stovetop in a cast iron pan instead.

color-corrected shrimp

I plated up the black bean cake and shrimp, added a dollop of sour cream and some cilantro to the beans and spooned the orange-coriander sauce (into which some more fresh cilantro had been stirred) over the shrimp.

You know, I bet this writer’s block will NEVER go away. Clearly, I’ve simply transformed into a dullard who can’t string three words together without referencing poop. I guess I just have to resign myself to my current state. You can go ahead and leave. I understand.


color-corrected shrimp

On a brighter note, Crescent City Cooking knocks it out of the park yet again; I cannot encourage you to purchase this book enough, because the recipes are uniformly excellent. The black bean cake was crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, with a lovely earthy flavor and just the mildest hint of spice. The cool sour cream set it off perfectly. The orange-coriander sauce was a perfect balance of sweet and acid, with the one-two punch of dried coriander and fresh cilantro waking it up. And while each component was good, they truly sang when eaten in a single bite.

Bravo, Susan Spicer. Bravo.

And now, I’m going to go dig through the sofa cushions and see if I can find my fucking words, because I KNOW they’ve gotta be around here somewhere.