The Expanse red kibble: the wing and a prayer first version

I’m incapable of engaging with my interests at a normal level like most people, so after I finished the last available book of The Expanse I started scheming about how to make red kibble.

I don’t think I have it, but for a first version I’m glad that they at least tasted good.

Key elements I’m picking up on for this are:

  1. it’s a street food, and seems like a real comfort food for Belters. I think these goods are generally “feelings first” over nutrition, and I’m relying on all of the synthesized supplements that clearly exist to fill in the nutrient profile on this one instead of selecting ingredients for nutrition. by comparison, I think of white kibble as a more utilitarian high protein food.
  2. it’s heavily spiced, particularly with cumin
  3. it’s deep fried balls of bean paste. I initially misremembered this as “red bean paste” which will explain a decision I made
  4. in the show, it’s shown with sauce, but I don’t feel like this works for people who live exclusively in low or no gravity. it’s also indicated in the show that it has to be made, implying it can’t just be reconstituted. I’m agreeing on this one, because it’s clearly “corridor food” when Naomi buys some – made by a Belter running a street stall.
  5. since this is from the Belt, I tried to work with foods that are indicated as being obtainable, cheaply, in space. Cinnamon is out on account of needing to grow a tree, for example. herbs and small plants are okay, and hyper processed items are probably better than not.
  6. it’s served in a papery container with a spatula/flattened spoon to eat it
  7. eating one kibble at a time would make you look delicate, so they’re not huge
  8. I need to reread on this but I think the implications are that Belters are a mix of early Mars colonizers (China, Texas) and then their creole seems influenced by Spanish and maybe Arabic. Really, I just took this to mean a spicy flavor profile with maybe South and Southeast Asian influences.

All that in mind, and with the supposition that the authors are Sci Fi nerds who might be influenced by Japanese street foods, I decided to use an adzuki (red mung bean) paste base. This goes in boba tea, steamed buns, etc, and it seemed to me like it could be fried like a falafel. This is perhaps foreshadowing.

a can of Kabuto red bean paste

Now, I purchased some various cans of paste from my nearby Korean market. I only realized when I got home that there was English on a label on the back of the can, so I selected at random and this one turned out to also contain chestnut. That’s fine. We’ll refine as we go. It’s also pre sweetened and I think by the end I’ve decided I want to find an unsweetened one.

Next up, we need to heavily spice it. I split my adzuki into two halves so I could work small. I settled on, for about one cup of adzuki:
1/8 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp (light hand) hot red pepper powder
1/8 tsp yellow mustard
dab of gochujang
few grinds of black pepper

an array of spices and the adzuki
food blog style spice bowl

I still need to replace my spice grinder, so I used the fenugreek seeds by putting them in the (canola) oil and letting it heat. While that was working I mixed all of the above list into the paste. Upon tasting, I doubled everything but the salt, mustard, and gochujang and probably tripled the cumin. Then I strained the fenugreek out of the oil and put it back in the pan. The sesame seeds I was thinking of sprinkling on top after cooking but they didn’t really stick.

oil filled with adzuki bits. RIP
first run kibble, looking pretty smushy

As you can see, the first run didn’t go great. I don’t have a cooking thermometer so I heated the oil until it was lightly aromatic and uncomfortable to hold my hand over, which I generally consider medium-high for frying. Unfortunately, even though the paste held a ball shape when I scooped it with a spoon, it fell apart pretty immediately in the oil and did not hold during frying. The first round did taste good, if a bit subdued – I plan to further increase the spices next time.

The quick potential remedy I thought of was to freeze the balls and reduce the oil heat slightly so they didn’t bubble quite so violently.

freezing on some foil in the ice drawer
second round, a little more kibble-y

This maybe helped, but unfortunately I undercooked them (because the now dirty oil made them look very dark) so what you see is some kibble that were squished post cooking into more of a ball shape. I dusted them with more ground cumin when I pulled them out and, you know, the flavor isn’t bad.

What I’m going to change for next time:

  • more spice
  • get some ground coriander
  • and better, fresher paprika
  • try frying them in a smaller amount of oil. it won’t be “deep frying” but I also don’t live in quarter-g which I’m thinking would really assist with the globular nature of any paste

Considerations for later versions:

  • maybe dredging them in some rice flour. I don’t know how I feel about the availability of wheat, but I think the books discuss rice. they definitely discuss yeast, and I’m willing to believe there’s a flour analog
  • unsweetened adzuki. I think I’ll add back some sugar, but the premix is very sweet and I think it makes it hard to get the spice profile strong enough

an book: the female of the species

book cover for The Female of the Species, a novel by Mindy McGinnis, showing images with labels of a vixen (fox), cow (elephant), jill (maybe an opossum?), queen (cat), scribble I presume to be bitch (dog), and woman

I don’t feel like I’m actually at liberty to review YA or certain sorts of books on goodreads because, as much as I do enjoy the personal social aspect where I can talk with friends and acquaintances, I can feel the vibe that the greater social media has for some things. I also always wonder if an author who’s on it will see my reviews and feel bad. Sometimes I think I have coherent legitimate critique which I’m happy to put down but other times I’m just like, “this book was vaguely bad! do better!”

I know I’m still allowed to post those but I just don’t get the point. Maybe someone else would like this book just fine.

The core premise is something that I do find really appealing. One of the main characters (it cycles through I think five teenage narrators) is essentially dealing out vigilante justice after her sister was kidnapped and murdered. Howmstever, the writing has a lot of really oddly flat moments where the author a) seems to be trying to do exposition or explanation at the cost of interesting writing or plot movement and b) maybe isn’t great at getting into the heads of the characters.

Descriptions of the area and the various homes in town did feel realistic to rural, economically depressed areas. More time spent on this and on making the county an additional character might have gone a long way toward lending all of the other characters feel more alive.

Real Queer America: the review I didn’t want to put on Goodreads because I saw the author reads them

Real Queer America book cover

Little, Brown & Co.

This was a book club read, but once I saw it I got excited and actually bought a copy instead of my usual library rental approach. I grew up in a rural red area, and thought from the ad copy that this would be a sort of anthology or at least one writer traveling and telling stories/sharing interviews with queer people she met on her road trip.

What it is, is part of something that I think will be reflected on in ten years as an era of lazy navel-gazing journalism chiefly by the likes of NPR and the New York Times as liberal publications scrambled to act like they understood the red/rural/working class votes in the 2016 election and wound up doing hokey “they’re just like us!” bits in places like coal mines, bars in Montana and Missouri, and towns with abnormally high opioid prescription rates.

Some of the other book club members who did not have any personal attachment to the locations profiled in the book were able to clue in on some grander themes that I suppose the author was trying to draw, but to me personally it felt like even these were so shaky that they didn’t merit being built on the backs of people trying to live and work to improve quality of life for LGBTQ+ people in areas that aren’t openly or commonly thought to be friendly. Maybe this is a bit of a harsh criticism, as even I feel the author wasn’t trying to use the subjects for any personal gain – many are her friends, colleagues, and former profile subjects for her main career as a journalist – but authorial intent means very little.

I suspect, based on a throwaway passage in the end portions of the book in which the author references pitching a travel memoir and having it received well, that perhaps this whole problem of marketing not matching content can be blamed on the publisher. This, however, does not excuse some remarkably thin and cursory profiles in the book. Ostensibly the author is on a road trip to meet LGBTQ+ people who live in red states and do activism work of some sort, but instead of painting rich stories around these subjects, many people wind up with a scant few quotes of their own and instead serve as talismans for the author to wrap around and use to support paragraphs of her own story. Perhaps more excusable in a memoir, but still not done in a particularly masterful manner. In at least two instances I felt the few quotes given only stood to make the person seem less personable or interesting; unless their hours-long meetings were incredibly terrible I feel this could have been avoided. (One example is a man who comes across tone-deaf stating that he could have totally lived his life being discriminatory and xenophobic but luckily he turned out to be gay, which bestowed upon him some empathy, and another who states possibly multiple times that they could just ‘sell the whole plot’ as it were and move to Europe but bravely! valiantly! chooses not to do so. This is at odds with one of the book’s many tepid theses which I believe is that queer identity in red areas forces one to be more proactive about politics and civil rights and by nature. (Someone tell this to all my WLW relationships/friends who found it perfectly possible not to.))

The book also manages to be spectacularly oblivious to how Blackness and racism and homophobia in the rural South/Midwest all intertwine, although I suppose to go into this would highlight how many queer spaces are often run by white gay men or possibly, rarely, white cis queer women, so that it is very likely that nonwhite queer folk can find themselves still without a safe and supportive and friendly place to go even in a “gay Mecca” like….(checks notes) Jackson, Mississippi. A place lumped in with Alabama and described as an area that hadn’t, until the author’s pals opened gay bars, had any sort of meaningful civil rights movements as long as you forget almost all of the Civil Rights Movement and how the SPLC is still headquartered in Birmingham. I bring this up in particular because the author has enough self awareness to point out her whiteness and when there are more than five nonwhite people in an area, but doesn’t take it any farther than that.

Long story short, everyone go find a copy of Electric Dirt instead. I appreciate what the author is trying to do here, I guess, but it’s done in a hamfisted manner and the presumed meddling by the publisher really snowballed things into a Katamari mass of, in my opinion, disrespect for most of the areas mentioned.

May Books

Not to be confused with Maybachs


The bullet points always get messed up when I use them so whatever

Murder in Little Egypt by Darcy O’Brien

You Have the Right to Remain Fat by Virgie Tovar

Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

shockingly good, I’m a little skeptical of the “explanation” but it feels respectfully done

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: The Crucible by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

this book inspired a podcast idea that is me trying to explain overhyped novels I half heartedly read to my former lit/English major friend who is actually good at literary analysis and dry humor. he isn’t allowed to look up anything about the book and it has to be a story I basically hate read because it was well recommended and/or I felt I was in too deep to DNF it

We Regret to Inform You by A.E. Kaplan

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

White Trash by Nancy Isenberg

I oughta find every person on the internet who said this was a really compelling book that totally explained a lot about politics and class in the USA and clobber em

the only reason I finished this is I was stuck in the Phoenix airport with nothing else to do

Bit Rot by Douglas Coupland

Crack99 by David Locke Hall

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh

a rare instance in which I wait months for a library copy to free up and it isn’t something that got overhyped by goodreads and thus is a huge letdown

Cyber War by Richard Clarke


The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders

for a book literally about murder you’d think this couldn’t read like a dry PhD paper and yet it does

April Books

me: I only journal regularly if I can type so I should make my own journal site then I will post so much

me to me: lol bitch you never update any journal

I constantly buy books I never read and have no room for so I’m not gonna even address those anymore


    Arrival by Ted Chiang, also known as the origin story (literally because it’s a short story compilation hahshahahah) for the movie of the same name
    Pulp by Robin Talley, which I’m guessing I wasn’t impressed by because I’ve already forgotten it entirely
  • (Update because I looked at it and lol I read this for book club so I assume I actually read it semi critically and with attention but uh whoops sorry book you just didn’t leave an impact)
    • Sisterhood of the Squared Circle by Pat Lapgrade, I think there was also a coauthor on this but I’m just copying this shit from my record man I don’t know. This feels like a reference book which would be fine except I borrowed it from the library, so I can’t really stick it on my bookshelf for the next time someone cuts my internet then asks me Charlotte Flair’s debut season win record
      I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagán, which I remember as a very cute and easily digested rom com typa deal with transparent plot drama that was still compelling enough that I stayed interested, so, appreciate it
      The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee which, whew, I bought a couple of copies for friends because I borrowed this one for Kindle and it was excellent. Granted, most of my friends are security nerds who have an interest in the field.
      Dr. Mutter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz; I have been wanting to see the museum for a while now but probably won’t be able to do it any time soon, so happening across this at the library was pretty cool

    Amazingly, I don’t think I DNFed anything this month. I’ve been working on (not purposefully) increasing my DNF count because I tend to stick it out too long with books that I just don’t?? Enjoy??

    March Books


    • The Kingdom of Copper, S. A. Chakraborty
    • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, Stephanie Land
  • I should write an actual review for this, because I have Feelings. I accidentally stayed up past midnight to keep reading until I was done.
    • Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster, Stephen L. Carter
  • It’s a shame this was quite dry and I hope someone weaves her story into a greater and more engaging book on several black female lawyers prolific in this era.
    • Sadie, Courtney Summers
    • Finding Audrey, Sophie Kinsella
    • Sweet Little Cunt: The Graphic Work of Julie Doucet, Anne Elizabeth Moore
  • I thought this was a compilation but it’s more of a meta analysis. Probably not the best choice since I was barely familiar with Doucet.
    • I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron
    • Kingdom of Ash, Sarah J. Maas


    • Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
  • This has been recommended frequently alongside the Daevabad Trilogy and Throne of Glass series but I absolutely could not get into it. I tried very hard.
  • February Books

    Read (reverse order)

    Taking Wing (Star Trek: Titan, #1), Michael A. Martin

    • Read this so I can get to the second one because it’s been positively discussed by Women at Warp

    Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Adib Khorram

    • Not a bad book, but perhaps an example of why it’s not good for me to get hyped about Goodreads or Book Riot recommendations and wait ages for it to be available at the library. Six months later when I finally sit down with whatever book it is I tend to be underwhelmed.

    Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2), Marissa Meyer

    • Kind of like the above, this whole series has tons of holds and great reviews and I don’t get why. It’s not compelling or unique enough of a twist on the fairy tales IMO to wait on each book to free up (or to buy them all).

    Concussion, Jeanne Marie Laskas

    My Fight / Your Fight, Ronda Rousey


    Invisible Women, Caroline Criado Perez (pre-order)


    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore

    • Suspect I just wasn’t in the mood for this one before the library loan ran out. I got it because I’ve been reading a lot of heavy reads lately and could use some lighter fare but didn’t have the attention span for it. Didn’t have any objections though.