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! It is vegetarian; leave out the butter and it is vegan.
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 60 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 and butter (if using) 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. 

Oven Risotto with Mushrooms

This recipe is not really risotto, but it’s LIKE risotto! Risotto is a method and this recipe does not follow that method very much. But it is still a nice nod to labour intensive risotto and has good flavour. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Risotto
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Easy Oven Risotto with Mushrooms

This is a spin on a recipe I ran across at Epicurious. Theirs was way too fussy, so I stripped it down and made it easy! If you love risotto and are intimidated by the fussy recipes, try this one! It's easy and really delicious! Butternut squash variation in notes!
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baked risotto, mushrooms, risotto
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author misangela

Equipment

  • Shallow dutch oven roasting pan or oven proof skillet
  • sheet pan

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed & cut into 1/2" pieces sub cremini, but shiitake has better texture
  • 1 Tbl olive oil to lightly coat mushrooms
  • S/P to lightly coat mushrooms
  • 1 large shallot, quartered then sliced sub 1/2 cup small diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced about 1 Tbl
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 2 Tbl butter salted
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice reserve juice
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves about 2 tsp, sub 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or more if you like
  • 1/2 tsp each S/P
  • 1 cup arborio rice (risotto)
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth sub white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth sub veg broth to make vegetarian
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped sub 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 Tbl fresh parsley, finely chopped try to use fresh herb here

Instructions

  • This recipe can be made in one pot if you have a skillet type dutch oven or an oven safe skillet with a lid (or you can cover with foil). If you do not have these, you can start the risotto in a saucepan, then transfer to a 9x9 square dish or pie plate to bake, covered in foil.
  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • Prep mushrooms and toss in olive oil & S/P on a sheet pan (use parchment paper or cover pan in foil for easy clean up). Put in oven to roast for about 20 minutes.
  • While mushrooms are roasting, prep the rest of the veg.
  • Put vessel over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. When hot, add in shallot, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Cook shallots until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Do not brown, just sweat.
  • Add rice and S/P. Stir and turn heat up to Med Hi. Stir rice for about 2 minutes then add vermouth. Stir another 2 minutes then add chicken stock and turn up heat to Hi.
  • Bring to fast simmer and cook rice for about 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. The broth should reduce by about 1/3. Check mushrooms; you want them roasted and a bit dry, but not burnt. If done, remove from oven.
  • Turn off heat and add parmesan, basil, parsley and half the reserved lemon juice. Stir thoroughly.
  • Mushrooms should be done by this point. If they were not before.
  • Risotto should still have some broth on top. If not, add just a bit more broth for the baking. If using a skillet, dot mushrooms on top of risotto and cover. If using a saucepan, put risotto in oven proof dish, add mushrooms and cover with foil.
  • Bake (in the 375º oven) for 20 minutes. Check midway to see if risotto has gotten dry, if so, add just a little broth to keep moist.
  • Risotto is done when the broth has been absorbed, but it is not dry. The grains should be cooked either al dente (half way) or all the way. I like mine cooked through, but not mushy.
  • Check for seasoning and drizzle the last of the lemon juice over the top. Dot with more fresh parsley if you like and serve with lemon wedges.

Notes

This risotto can be a side dish, but I like it as the main. It is Italian mac n cheese and SO satisfying!  Although it's not really risotto, it is close enough for the ease of preparation! 
The mushrooms can be left off this dish, but they do offer a nice textural element.
If you'd like to add butternut squash, simply add about a cup of small diced butternut squash to the roasting pan with the mushrooms. Add to risotto with mushrooms. Easy! 
The trick to risotto is keeping it moist. It should be loose enough to pour, but not watery. If your risotto is too dry, add stock; if it's too loose, bake uncovered for a bit longer.
Cooking the risotto in a saucepan first is the method I used for this recipe. I then poured into a pie plate and baked, covered with foil. If you use the one skillet method, your cook time on the stove and the stock amount may vary. The stovetop cook time could be a bit less since the risotto has more surface area and it may require up to 3 cups of stock. Keep this in mind.
As always, DO try to use fresh herbs and do try to use shiitakes. Both will give you a better end product. But, use what you've got! Better to substitute than not cook at all. :)