2021 Reading List

Welcome to the 2021 Reading List! The list is in chronological order of when I read the books, but the first SIX are the ones carried over from 2020. Photos of books below the list. Books are moved up into the list as I read them.

Bird Box, J Malerman. The book is very close to the movie, but in several ways I think the movie was better. The movie put events in more of a linear fashion, which is easier to follow. But I’d say a good 85% of the book is represented in the movie and the movie is more suspenseful.

Sharp Objects, G Flynn. I liked this book a lot. I think the book is complementary to the mini-series on HBO with Amy Adams. The book is written from the main character’s (Camille, portrayed by Amy Adams) point of view, so you get a LOT more context about her. I also like the tweaks that the series made with Amma – she had MUCH more depth in the movie than she did in the book. Overall, a good read and excellent companion to the mini series.

Dry, Shusterman. This is a what-if type story: what if Southern California’s water really did run out? That’s the backdrop, but the story is about a small group of teens who must survive the breakdown of society that occurs in short order once the water stops. It’s a good paced read and all the action is in the space of just a few weeks. It ends on a good note, so it’s not one of those disaster books that leaves you wishing you’d not read it. Which is important at this point in time, I think.

The End of All Things, Scalzi (I think I need to read the others in this universe first, this might be on hold.)

Almighty, D Zak

Vinegar Girl, A Tyler. This book is by Hogarth press, which specializes in Shakespeare’s works, retold by modern authors. This story is Taming of the Shrew, retold as a modern tale. It is really good! It’s a great way to get your literature on, without the pain of enduring Shakespeare’s language. Read it! It’s good to read literature!

Within These Lines, S Morrill. This is a love story set in WWII San Francisco. The girl is Italian and the boy is Japanese. The story is told by alternating points of view between the two main characters. The author delves into the internment of Japanese citizens during the war and the deep racist roots of America. The conditions of the internment camps were deplorable, but the wartime propaganda machine spat out stories of now happy the Japanese were to be there and how great they were. LIES. I suppose reading this right this minute is not the best timing with the bullshit that is happening in the US, but OTOH, now is a GREAT time to remind ourselves that America is deeply racist and it is going to take a LOT of work to rid ourselves of it. Anyway, the book is a great read and you’ll learn a lot about how propaganda, suspicion and racism can combine with terrible results. The story is very good and I was misty eyed at the end. I felt deeply ashamed to that this country is still just as racist as it was in WWII – EIGHTY YEARS AGO. Perhaps when the remaining Boomers are gone we can begin to heal. Read this book to remind yourself that there is work to do and it is worth it.

The Way We Were, Paul Burrell. A memoir by Princess Diana’s butler. His second, got to milk that cash cow! Both his books made the best seller lists, strictly because Diana was on the cover. He is a dismal writer and his whole perspective is how important HE was to Diana (doubtful) and how he was her BFF and confidant (I’m certain he was NOT). The tone is preachy, self important and stodgy. Ugh. I abandoned this book. Don’t waste your time.

The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama. Very well written and I’m also learning about how Congress works, from an insider view. The section I’m reading is exposing Obama’s VERY WIDE religious streak, which to his credit, he kept OUT of his politics. I respect him for that. He walks his talk. The last few chapters veer into family affairs and such, so less interesting to me, but overall, a good read.

Sous Chef, Michael Gibney. This edition is the large print edition, so it looks longer than it is. I picked this up on a whim, because of the title, of course. It was a quick read and I liked it. It’s a day in the life of a sous chef, written from the reader’s point of view, which is kind of odd. But if you’ve ever wondered what a sous chef does, this is a nice little read, complete with a glossary of the various kitchen terms in the back. Fun!

My Life in France, Julia Child. This is the book on which the movie Julie & Julia was based. It’s written by Julia’s grandnephew (on Paul’s side), who interviewed her and took notes during her last years. It is PRECIOUS. It has inspired me to again attempt some of the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If you read nothing else of Julia’s, read this. It is endearing and encouraging and I just loved it. //end fangirling

Broken Music, Sting. I am enjoying this memoir! Sting is an interesting guy and his story is a good read. This is an excellent read! I love learning about the histories of people, places, bands. I did not know much about The Police, but this book certainly fixed that and I learned a lot about Sting, too. Highly recommend.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Robert O’Brien. It’s a classic! Read this one in a coupla days. GREAT story! MUCH better than the animated film.

Ladder of Years, Anne Tyler. Rarely have I despised a main character as much as I do this one. She is a sniveling, immature, ignorant KAREN who got married as a teen to a clone of her father and still lives in her childhood home. She is stupid, weak, childish and narrow minded. Did I mention ignorant? She embodies the type of woman that so many of my HS peers became. Despite this, I am going to finish this novel. Either I’ll BAN Anne Tyler’s shit from my sight forever or she’ll turn this around and show me that she deserves the many kudos she’s gotten in her career. She wrote The Accidental Tourist and Breathing Lessons (both became hit movies). I know her from Vinegar Girl, which is a modern retelling of Taming of the Shrew – which was great! SEE review above. I did manage to finish this book. It did get better and the main character did improve, but it was still not very interesting. It’s a story about a 40 something woman who has a midlife crisis. Meh. It’s just OK.

The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold. Wow, this one starts off DARK. Sebold wrote The Lovely Bones, which I read a while back and loved. The movie was good, too. But this novel seems to be all about a daughter murdering her aged mother and staying in the house with the body… I had to move this to treadmill reading. I can’t read that shit before bed! We’ll see how this one goes; I’ll try to finish it.

Chum, Jeff Somers. This is an odd little book. It’s written all first person, but from ALL the characters. The book doesn’t have much of an overall theme, it’s more like a collection of vignettes AND they are not in order. It’s a good study of character writing, however, because you know immediately which character is speaking, so I’d recommend it if you like to write. But otherwise, it’s not cohesive at all and then it just ends. ? It’s just ok.


The Garden of Letters, Alyson Richman.
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Gayle T Lemmon.
Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee.
The Queen’s Lover, Vanora Bennett.
Bring Me Back, B.A. Paris.
The Paris Wife, Paula McLain.
Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell.

Went to Ollies and got four more for the stacks:

The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande.

ANOTHER Ollie’s!

Skinner Luce, Patricia Ward
We Walked the Sky, Lisa Fiedler

Catering and Party Planning

Caprese Salad

I’ve been catering regularly since August 2019. I specialize in cocktail nosh for small parties. I have done Korean, Puerto Rican, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean and other cuisines. I write all the menus and design all the recipes myself. I specialize in parties, but I could do small dinners as well.

tailgate catering spread
Cocktail Party catering

HERE is a gallery with some photos of my food!

Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad

You can get ahold of me via email (misangelaspam at gmail dot com), FB or IG. I can’t put my phone number here, but if you have it you can call or text me! Thanks!!

Looking for VSG/Bariatric info?

Hi there! If you’d like to see ONLY my extensive research on Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, bariatric diet and managing GERD (reflux), you can filter out all my other posts and see just those by clicking HERE. You can see my vlogs about my VSG journey here.

To see any category (recipes, for instance), use the drop down menu to the right labeled “View Posts by Category” and select the category you’d like. Thanks for stopping by!

Facebook Censorship

I’ve been the victim of FB censorship twice in the last week. The first time was for saying something like “Americans are selfish fucks who won’t wear masks”, which is a TRUE statement from any angle. FB removed the comment when they jailed me, so no screen shot. The second time, I did it on purpose to see if the key words would trigger another ban, so I wrote “muricans selfish f * c k s masks” on a post about FB censorship by a friend, then wrote “waiting for FB jail”, which happened two minutes after the comment.

Not only do they monitor what is said – ESPECIALLY if you’re on The List (which they DO have), but if you get popped several times, they will actively start rooting through your entries (public OR NOT) to find reasons to jail you. I’ve got a friend who has been been banned TWICE for NON-public posts from years ago. This does not sit right with me.

FB needs to spend more time rooting out the Nazi, Q and other hate groups and less time worrying about comments that are OBVIOUS about mask usage or whatever. Speaking the truth about the handling of the plague in the US is NOT the same as hate speech that still runs rampant on this platform.

Appealing anything that FB does is also a shit show. You have to go to an outside site (run by FB no doubt) and provide a COPY OF YOUR ID to initiate an appeal. WAT? NO. This is also linked to FB demanding that you use your “legal” name, which is none of their fucking business. I have another friend who was forced to produce her legal ID and use her full legal name to keep her FB account when she added a funny name as a joke. This is WAY beyond the scope of a social media platform’s purview in my opinion.

FB is just a goddam rumour and meme mill. FB takes itself WAY too seriously and it is allowed to run all over free speech because of its size. They are quick to jail everyday users for what their algorithms feel is “hate speech” but allow hate groups to say whatever the FUCK they want without censure. This platform really needs to be broken up and dispersed. It has too much power, too much personal info on its users and is far too duplicitous about all of it. AND LOOK WHAT JUST POPPED UP! A hacker scraped hundreds of millions of phone numbers and personal data from the FB servers in 2019 and we’re just now hearing about it. YEAH, FB, I want to trust YOU with MY personal info. FUCKERS. #fuckFB is my favourite tag.

FB is not the answer. We seriously need to move to Ello or back to LJ or ANYWHERE but here. This company has too much power and too much latitude to do whatever the hell it wants. I am moving all my content back here and off of FB. I’ll still share shit and make silly daily life posts over there – that’s what it’s for! But anything that matters will be HERE. I’m also not crossposting anything to FB from here any longer. This content is not appropriate for my IndigoDragon page, and FB does not allow crossposting to personal pages, so fuck it. No more. You’ll have to leave the confines of FB to read my content. I’ll make a link post on FB, but that’s it.

Facebook is a terrible, insidious platform. We all need to consciously start reading blogs and other content BESIDES FB. Thanks for coming out of FB to read this!

When Rich People Run the Game

We got an unpleasant email from the landlord this morning.

The main issue with renting is that the landlord can decide to sell the place or boot you for any reason. That is a bit stressful, especially when you get an email stating:
“I realize that this may pose problems, and some may want to consider alternative arrangements. If you are interested in buying the unit, I will consider offers. But please be aware that I will most likely sell at your lease anniversary if I cannot raise the rent, as I doubt I will go through the process of finding new tenants. That may necessitate showings of the property, which I will coordinate with you.”

That statement does not sit well with us, but it’s the tradeoff of having a set budget and no house repairs. What else can we do? Pay MORE rent for a shitty apartment and have to divest of our game business? Not really… We would rather pay rent for a house any day of the week – and we will.

I just looked at 3BR apartments: OMG! The SHITTY ones start at $1500. The decent ones START at $2k. So I’m FINE with paying $1600/mo for a whole house.

BUT.

That is the problem. People cannot get a mortgage without PERFECT credit – despite the fact that they pay exorbitant rent every fucking month and have perfect payment records. If Equifax doesn’t DEEM you qualified, then you are not. And you are a serf, at the whims of your rich landlord.

THIS is the result of rich people running the game. They are scared to death of paying taxes. Meanwhile those of us at the bottom ROUTINELY pay 30% of our meager wages to taxes while the rich folk pay as close to zero as they can get. It is SICK. Because rich people think that they really should not pay their share. EVER. I guarantee you there’ll be a rent hike next year, too.

We’ve paid $1400, $1500 and now $1600/mo for YEARS. CLEARLY we can afford it. We have perfect payment records and have defaulted on nothing. We have a fat investment account, too. BUT. We bankrupted out of business related debt and now we are deemed INSUFFICIENT to get a mortgage. Like many others, we *can* pay a mortgage just fine, but the banks and mortgage companies will not let us. So serfs we remain.

It’s not that I particularly WANT to own a house again – I’ve stated many times that being house poor sucks – BUT being at the whim of a landlord is a bit unnerving. I’ve told him several times that we’d totes buy the place if he’d be willing to do an alternative method of purchase such as lease to own, but he won’t even dignify that with an answer. So we get to worry about the house being sold out from under us. Sigh.

The Boomer ideals of home ownership as a path to success is just not attainable for most people. The people I know who do own a house are constantly bitching about the repairs and maintenance costs – which is something that these mortgage people NEVER bring up when they are roping you into a 30 year loan. They are SO concerned about your money, but they never once bring up the ADDED COSTS of owning a home. Being house poor is REAL and I know people who are. Why bother with buying if all your spare time and money will go into this black hole? Renting is far less stressful – EXCEPT for that pesky little problem of being at the landlord’s whim.

So, welcome to a world run by the rich. Everyone is a serf to a mortgage company or to a landlord. Take your pick.

The Tale of the Smoking Poodle

SO, it was in the 90s, probably around ’95 or so (if anyone remembers the year, tell me in comments!). It was July 4th and all of us at Derrydown were out in the yard drinking and smoking and passing a doob. We’d probably cooked out or something before and we were all WAY into our cups!

Someone had brought fireworks, so they started firing them off. Lots of Roman candles, which I love.

We were all pretty wasted and definitely high AF, when one of the Roman candles fell over and shot right into Darbi’s porch. We all just kinda stood there, hoping nothing caught fire. Too high and drunk to really DO anything about it! (Luckily, no fire!)

Soon after that, another firework malfunctioned and shot the load horizontally into the crowd. There was much fuss, but when the smoke cleared, a neighbor who’d been holding her white poodle Tristan, was like AAAHHH!! We turned to her and that dog had a black, smoldering spot where a candle load had hit his ass. He wasn’t hurt, but it was definitely crispy.

Now. Just sit with that visual for a second. Then think about the name: Tristan.

I can’t even type this without cackling! And I hope I never meet anyone named Tristan because I just giggle every time I hear that name.

Keep in mind, we’re all high AF and here is this little POODLE named TRISTAN, with a smoking divot on his ass… ::CACKLE::

It is one of my fondest memories of Derrydown! We had a great group of people, several of whom I’m still friends with today! This post is dedicated to Darbi, who has been in CA for decades, but we have kept in touch. She’s having some medical issues and I wanted to post this little tale to give her a chuckle and to remember simpler times.

Also, remember the Table of Pain! How many Camels were smoked and cheap beers drunk there? Innumerable!

Good times!

I salute Derrydown! I lived there 13 years and loved every minute of it. <3

Angela’s Super Easy Marinara

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Angela's Super Easy Marinara

This is a stripped down version of my original marinara sauce. It is surprisingly close to Alex Guarnaschelli's recipe! Just a few ingredients and some time is all you need!
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keyword marinara, vegetarian marinara,
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 cups
Author misangela

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, about 1/3 cup, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 small carrot, microplaned, about 1/4 cup use a box grater's fine side if you don't have a microplane
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dry basil optional, but I like it lurking in the background
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 14oz crushed tomatoes, canned
  • 1 28oz San Marzano tomatoes, whole, canned DO try to find San Marzanos, whole gives a better texture to the sauce
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 tsp sugar, to taste, to adjust the acidity
  • 2 Tbl fresh basil, small chop optional
  • 2 Tbl fresh parsley, small chop optional
  • 1 Tbl butter optional, but helps with acidity and mouthfeel

Instructions

  • In a large 3-4 qt pot over med low heat, add oil, onions, garlic, carrots, pepper flakes and s/p. You want the oil to just barely bubble the onions, not brown them. Low and slow.
  • Let this base cook for about 10 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the crushed and whole tomatoes, crushing the whole tomatoes by hand.
  • Bring this up to just a minimal bubble. Low and slow. Let it go, stirring occasionally, for about 90 minutes.
  • When the sauce has reduced after the 90 minutes, check it for salt. If the acidity is high (and it likely will be), add sugar until you are happy with the acid level. Make sure the salt is adequate. Add in the chopped herbs at the end. I like the look of them in the sauce and the little bit of brightness they bring. This is a base sauce, so all you want is just a well balanced sauce bursting with tomato flavour.
  • This sauce freezes very well. It can be used anywhere red sauce is called for.

Angela’s EASY Madeleines

Almond Madeleines recipe is here.

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Angela's Easy Madeleines

This is a plain Madeleine recipe - which is actually LEMON! There is also an Almond one on this site. I've taken the rather fussy Julia Child recipe and made it super easy.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine French
Keyword easy madeleines, lemon madeleines, madeleines
Servings 36 MINI Madeleines
Author misangela

Equipment

  • Two MINI Madeleine pans or regular sized pans. This recipe is for MINI, you'll get about half as many (18) regular ones. SEE NOTES.
  • Gallon ziplock or pastry bag with large plain tip.
  • Cooling rack.
  • Wire strainer to sift confectioners sugar.

Ingredients

  • 2 Large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups A/P flour
  • 4 oz butter (one stick), cut up
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice only about 1 tsp juice needed and a Tbl of zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • confectioners sugar to coat after baking

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Whisk together sugar and flour.
  • Put butter in microwave dish and melt - do not boil, use half power. When mostly melted, whisk briskly to ensure it's all melted and it will cool properly. It takes about 1-2 minutes.
  • Beat eggs.
  • Using a strong spoonula, stir together flour and eggs. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add extract, lemon zest, lemon juice and stir again.
  • Make sure butter is just WARM (if not, whisk it a bit and it'll cool down) and stir into batter. Stir thoroughly until batter is fully smooth and integrated.
  • Put batter in freezer for about 10 minutes to cool. Remove, stir again, put back in freezer for about 5 more minutes.
  • Thoroughly spray Madeleine pans with food release OR brush with butter.
  • Put batter into a gallon ziplock (or pastry bag with plain large tip) for easy dispensing into the madeleine pan. Fill madeleine cups about 3/4 - about 2 tsp for a MINI pan or about a Tablespoon for regular sized pan.
  • Make sure oven racks are in the center two. Put one pan on each rack. Set timer for 10 minutes for MINIs and 15 minutes for regular sized. Rotate pans at halfway point for even cooking.
  • When madeleines are browned to your liking, put on a cooling rack and cover with confectioners sugar. (Use a wire strainer to shake sugar through.)

Notes

If you have regular sized Madeleine pans, this recipe will make about half as many (~18 or so).  The cook time will be at least 15 minutes, perhaps more if you like them medium brown like I do. 
There is another recipe on this site for Almond Madeleines.