Friday, November 20, 2009

Food Friday - Vegetable Pot Pie

I am really proud of this recipe. I glanced at a couple of pot pie recipes, wrote my own version and it came out perfect. Admittedly, pot pie is a pretty hard to screw up but still a lot of my experiments never come back for a repeat performance. I could eat this once a week. Although, I'm not sure this really is a pot pie since I made it in a pie dish. Maybe it's just a pie?

Vegetable Pot Pie

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
1/3 + cup soy milk

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes. Blend butter into flour mixture until resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring just until dough forms. 1/3 cup will not be quite enough, add a little bit at a time until the dough comes together. Gather dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Pie Filling:
1 onion, diced small
1 large carrot, diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
4 oz mushrooms, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 potato, peeled and diced small
3/4 cup frozen corn
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp soy sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Saute onion, carrot and celery until softened, 8-10 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, saute 2 minutes more. Add potato, corn and peas. Stir in vegetable broth and soy milk, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are about 1/2 done, 5-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

In a small bowl mix cornstarch, soy sauce and 1/2 cup of water until cornstarch is dissolved. Stir cornstarch mixture into vegetable and cok until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.

Pour filling into a 9-inch pie pan. Roll pie dough into a 12-inch round. (Or do the best you can. Biscuit dough is sticky so the end product probably won't be perfect.) Cover vegetables with dough, sealing edges. Cut 4 steam vents into dough and brush with 1 tbsp melted butter.

Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 25-30 minutes. Cool on rack 10-15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Toddler Party

Thomas hosted a little toddler party last night. Here he is with Everett enjoying h'ors doeuvres that they whipped up together.

Cooking from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

As the evening wore on, they got more and more rambunctious. There's a reason you can't serve alcohol to little kids. They don't need it.

Fallout from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So, I sort of forgot I had a blog. Um, maybe intentionally. But maybe not. Just halfway intentionally.

Here are two cute videos of Thomas. Maybe I'll get back into the swing of things.

Thomas Outside from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Thomas in the Tub from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thomas's New Friend

Thomas has another little friend.

This is Everett but he doesn't look like this anymore. He got his first haircut for his 2nd birthday last week. Now, he looks like a tiny version of his dad.

Everett and his mom Lauren come over once or twice a week. Lauren is super nice and seems to get dressed every single day which completely blows my mind.

Thomas and Ev mostly like having access to each other's toys but they're also starting to play together.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Smart Guy

Letters from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Monday, October 5, 2009

First No

Saturday Night

Me: Thomas come give mama night-night kisses. It's time to pick out a book and go night-night with daddy.

Thomas: NOOOOO!

Many no's have followed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thomas's Favorite Cars Guys

Cars from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Li = Lightning McQueen

Sashe = Sally

Looking back through the last couple of posts, I realized that it looks like we only dress Thomas when he leaves the house. Which is basically the case. In our defense it's regularly been over 100 degrees here. It was 104 on Saturday. We don't turn the air conditioning on unless it gets over 95 and even then we only use it for an hour or two during the hottest part of the day. A minimum of clothing is required.

However, fall is finally here! The high today is only 72. We're going to have to pull ourselves together and wrangle some clothes onto the kid.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TV Monster

Thomas and I found these tiny Sesame Street figures while we were clearance hunting at Target today. He officially loves them. I asked him where his Sesame Street guys were at one point today, so now he calls them guy. (He's not so big on plurals.) It's just one of the four words he started saying today.

Guy (24)
Melmo = Elmo (25)
Out (26)
Dow = Down (27)

(Yes. I'm still keeping track. It should surprise no one that I have spreadsheet for this very purpose.)

He's super cute wandering around saying cookie all day. Nevertheless, we've cut way back on his tv time. He was watching around an hour a day which doesn't seem like a lot but frankly it turned him into a huge jerk.

He screams when I turn the tv off. He doesn't cry; he literally screams. In the last week or so, he also started screaming at us whenever the slightest thing didn't happen exactly the way he expected/wanted it to happen. I finally realized that when he watches tv his default reaction to frustration for the rest of the day is to scream in my face. So, we're taking a break. It's a bummer because I was really hoping Big Bird would teach him the alphabet.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Pahta = Pasta

More Pahta from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Food Friday - Rice, Beans and Tomatoes

I have two dishes that I make when I don't feel like cooking but the monthly budget for take-out is already gone. One is the pasta bake I've posted before though I usually skip the last step of covering it with cheese and baking it. The other is this week's Food Friday.

Here's what you need for Rice, Beans and Tomatoes.

Three boxes and four cans. I've been making this forever. When I lived alone it was one of each. Then, when I started seeing Jeremy it grew to two boxes of rice, 2 cans of tomatoes and 1 can of beans. When we moved in together, I adjusted the recipe again so there would be leftovers for lunch the next day.

Rice, Beans and Tomatoes

3 boxes Rice-a-Roni Whole Grain Blends Roasted Garlic Italiano
2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

Make the rice according to package directions. (I skip the oil it calls for). When the rice is ready, dump in the tomatoes and beans and stir. Heat through. Eat.

Thomas gave a fairly accurate demonstration of how to make this meal here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thomas and the Slide

Hmm ...

Maybe ...


What's next?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Food Friday - Sesame Noodles

So, Food Fridays are hard. I thought it would be easy because I already have all of my recipes in a word document. Cut and paste is pretty simple. But the pictures trip me up all the time. I am rarely moved to make a recipe that isn't accompanied by a photo so it's not something I want to skip.

Taking a decent picture of food is really hard when you know as little about photography as I do. One thing I do know is that you need good light and the light in our house is not good. Food photographed in bad light does not look appetizing. So, I have to go outside to take the picture. And somehow that's always a problem. Either I start cooking too late and it's dark outside when dinner is ready or I forget to take the picture until after it's gotten dark. Unfortunately, leftovers do not photograph well either.

But! I managed to take a picture of these Sesame Noodles.

These noodles have a unique flavor. They don't taste like anything else in our regular dinner rotation and they're better at room temperature than hot. It's a nice departure from everything else that we eat.

Sesame Noodles
Adapted from Everyday Food, May 2008

6 oz or 1/2 box of whole wheat spaghetti
1 small onion, quartered and sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 small heads broccoli, cut into florets/stems peeled and chopped
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Cook spaghetti according package directions using extra water to leave room for the vegetables. 4 minutes before spaghetti is done, add onion, bell pepper and broccoli. Cook until pasta is al dente and vegetables are tender-crisp. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, whisk together peanut butter, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Thin the sauce with reserved pasta water. You want a pourable consistency. Add sauce to hot pasta and vegetables. Toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shadow Chef

Thomas makes dinner.

Pour in the Rice

Add the Spices

Some Water

Black Beans

New Tool

Measure the Tomatoes

Give it a Stir

Cover and Simmer

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Too Cute to Kill

This ... This ... big jerk is luck to be alive. If I hadn't poured milk, blood, sweat and tears into this kid for the last two years, I might have killed him today. He locked me out of the house! Twice!

While I was in the garage this morning doing laundry, Thomas locked the door. Only, he doesn't know how to unlock it. I went outside to an open window and told him to go open the door for mommy. He just stared at me. He wouldn't even go over to the door and try to open it. So, I went back into the garage and knocked on the door. Nothing. When I went back to the window to see what he was doing, he was sitting on the couch watching Sesame Street.

Fortunately, I found a way to take the screen apart without ruining it. I climbed in through the window. Thomas didn't even blink an eye. I turned the television off and told him not to play with the door anymore. I put our extra set of keys in the garage. Then, I went outside and fixed the screen.

A little while later, I went out to hang laundry. Thomas's laundry no less. I was just thinking that I needed to go inside to check on him when I looked up and noticed that the door from the garage to the backyard was closed. We leave it open all day long to keep the garage from getting too hot. I walked over and it was locked. Thomas had gone out into the garage, shut the door and locked me out. On purpose.

I looked in the window to find Thomas. He was, I kid you not, sitting on the loveseat flipping through a magazine. When I called through the window to him, he wouldn't even look at me. So, I had to take the screen apart all over again.

And to think I was planning to write a nice post about what a good sleeper he has turned into and how he likes to play in his crib and what a nice change that is from when he spent most of his time in bed screaming. There will be no nice posts about Thomas today.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fruits of my Labor

I grew a watermelon! A big, delicious watermelon! Yay!

Seriously, everyone should garden. Growing this watermelon has been one of the most satisfying things I have ever done.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bubble Baths and the Clearance Queen

Thomas has fallen in love with bubble baths. He stands in front of the sink and stares at the bottle on the counter while I start his water. He wants to make sure I don't forget. He even says bubble now, the whole word. (It's number 22. Yes, I'm keeping track.)

Walmart put their summer toys on clearance two weeks ago. I've been stalking the aisle ever since. Yesterday two of the things I wanted finally hit rock bottom. I got the little Tadoodles boat he's playing with and a 3D Sidewalk Chalk set for $2 each. I love getting good deals.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tee Vee

Thomas changed from a no-tv-kid to a television lover almost overnight.

When we bought the Cars paraphanalia for his room, we thought he should probably see the movie. So, we used some of his birthday money to order the dvd from Amazon. After I ordered it, I thought I should try to get Thomas used to the tv. I'm all about value; I wanted to get our $16.95 out of that dvd. So, I found a Thomas the Tank Engine movie on Netflix Watch Instantly. I set it up on the Roku for Thomas to watch. He hated it. He seemed frustrated that the pictures moved before he could get a really good look at them. I had to turn it off because he was whining and crying. So, when the dvd came in the mail, I wasn't sure it was such a good buy.

There was nothing to worry about.

Thomas Watches Cars from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

It may not look like it but he really was excited. I guess he has naturally discriminating taste in film. The production values of Thomas the Tank Engine just cannot compete with state of the art computer animation.

Around the same time, Thomas found my old collection of Sesame Street Treasury Books on the bottom shelf of his bookcase. He started choosing them at storytime before his nap and at bedtime. So, I recorded a couple of episodes of Sesame Street. And that's when his conversion became total. After that first episode of Sesame Street, he literally stood in front of the television and demanded more!

Fortunately, he's not a slack-jawed, open-mouthed addict. He watches for 10 or 15 minutes and then wanders off to play with his cars or look at a book. He'll come back a little while later to watch some more.

And he is proof positive that Sesame Street is educational. Thomas's favorite character is Cookie Monster. He thinks that cat is hilarious. Just 10 days ago, he said cook for cookie. Not anymore.

Cookie from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Monday, August 31, 2009


I gave Thomas a whole apple for the first time a few days ago. He's eaten apple slices before but I'd never just handed one to him.

You'd have thought I'd given him my new IPod Touch (thanks Daddy!) for his very own. He loved it. He took it into his room and asked me to put him in his crib. He lounged around in bed for half an hour eating that apple. He started at the bottom and ate toward the stem so he ate a big chunk of the core. Though he did call me in at one point to hand over the dry, spiky part on the bottom.

Apple Eater

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Carton Trust Issues

I've been meaning to find out what the labels on egg cartons really mean for a while now. Could we trust that labels like "cage free" and "free range" mean we're eating eggs from humanely raised chickens? I finally got around to doing the research and as it turns out, not so much.

Conventionally raised chickens are kept in battery cages packed so closely together that they cannot spread their wings. Industrial chicken farms cut off the hens' beaks so they can't peck each other to death. Not only is this painful but chickens get most of their information about the world through their beaks. It's brutal and so we're committed to avoiding conventionally produced eggs.

When we lived in KC our supermarket carried eggs produced on a local Amish farm. The carton had a description of the chickens' living conditions on the side. They also included a strip of paper in each carton with a story or poem about what was going on at the farm that month. It was great. When we moved to Sacramento, I started buying cage free eggs at Trader Joe's. I won't be doing that anymore.

Eggs labeled "cage free" come from chickens kept in huge windowless sheds by the thousands. They aren't kept in cages but that still doesn't mean they have enough room to live like chickens, nesting and dusting themselves in dirt. They have no access to sunlight and are fed an entirely unnatural diet. "Free range" chickens live in basically the same conditions but they have access to the outdoors. This usually means a small door that virtually none of them use.

Fortunately, there's an egg vendor at our farmer's market. We buy a flat of 30 pasture-raised eggs for $4 which lasts for about 6 weeks. We were paying $2.89 a dozen for our Trader Joe's eggs so this is definitely a happy ending for us. However, if you don't have access to a local egg producer and you want to avoid conventional egg production, the only option is to buy certified organic eggs. Organic hens nest, roam, and eat a natural, antibiotic-free diet. But they're expensive, around $4 a dozen. Depending on how many eggs you eat that can be a pretty serious deterrent. On the other hand, organic eggs are better for you. They ahve

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times mroe omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
than conventionally produced eggs. So, you're still getting a nice bang for your buck. And so are the chickens.

*Carton labeling information from this article on Culinate by Kelly Myers.
*Organic egg nutrition comparison from Mother Earth News which sites the following studies:
  • In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.
  • In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs.
  • A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.
  • A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.
  • In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.
  • The 2005 study Mother Earth News conducted of four heritage-breed pastured flocks in Kansas found that pastured eggs had roughly half the cholesterol, 50 percent more vitamin E, and three times more beta carotene.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Food Friday - Industrial Agriculture Sucks

Time magazine has a great article about what's wrong with the way America produces food, Getting Real about the High Price of Low Cost Food.

I like this piece for a couple of reasons. First, it's fairly comprehensive and covers the varied problems with the food industry. American food production is unsustainable for economic and public health reasons, not just the more politically charged reasons of animal welfare and environmental impact. Second, since it appears in a mainstream media source, it's hard to dismiss as the ravings of radicals.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Hey, remember when Mary turned 7? That was awesome, right? It was especially great that she got to go to Disneyland.

Wait. I forgot to mention that? Strange.

First, Jeremy drove 10 hours to Los Angeles. 6 hours driving and 4 hours in L.A. traffic to get to Seal Beach!

At 7 am the next morning, they went to the place where dreams come true.

There were princesses!

And tschotskes!

And rides!

And they stayed all day!

Seriously, people, 15 hours. This man deserves a medal.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Two More!

I forgot two words:

poo poo
bye bye

That's 21! Take that so-called child development experts!

Maybe Not So Far Behind

Thomas had his 2-year-old checkup yesterday. He weighs 27 lbs 1 oz and he's 33 and 3/4 inches tall. He's just below average in weight, right at average for height, and just above on head circumference. He also got his last two shots until Kindergarten (except for annual flu shots). Yay! Shots are horrible.

At each checkup, I fill out a developmental checklist. The speech requirement for 2-year-olds is a 20 word vocabulary. I was shocked. I thought Thomas's speech was still way behind. Not so; he has a 19 word vocabulary. He says:

ruah = truck
argh = quack (and lion, tiger, bear, dinosaur, etc.)
hoo hoo (owl)
mo = more
pway = plane
uh oh
ahh = all gone
wa = water
tee = teeth
ju = juice
ca = car
ffuu = fan
cook = cookie
oh wow
pea = please

He'll also repeat just about anything you ask him too.

I'm glad he's not too far behind, but I'm also a little angry. Maybe he wouldn't have caught up without speech therapy but given that he never freaking talks at speech therapy, I think he probably would have done it on his own. We've worried about him so much over the past year. For most of that year, I've thought that we're just caught in a particular moment in time, when everyone is on the lookout for speech delays. Ten years ago (and likely 10 years from now), no one would have thought twice about Thomas's speech at 14-months-old. And while speech therapy certainly doesn't hurt him, I hate it. The only time I've ever really thought there might be something truly wrong with Thomas was during a therapy session. So, I don't take him anymore; Jeremy does. I couldn't take it anymore.

I'm rambling. I'm just frustrated because I think we could have avoided this whole stupid thing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thomas Turned Two

Thomas is two! I have no idea how that happened. Pictures from his actual birthday are up at our flickr page. On his first birthday, he started walking. We had hoped he would start talking on this birthday but no such luck. However, he did score lots of great loot from his birthday money. First, we bought him a sandbox and some sand toys.

Then, we found an awesome lot of Cars stuff for his room on Craigslist. There's a rug with a track on it to play cars on.

And a sleeper sofa that he loves.

We also got a traffic light and a little book case to go with them. He likes to turn off the lights in his room, sit on his sofa and look at the traffic light. The woman who sold it all to us threw in a bunch of books too.

Thomas also got clothes and cars and new shoes. The shoes were surprisingly a big hit. I guess he really didn't like the sandals he'd been wearing all summer. (I got new shoes too.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Curious George

Thomas Reads from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

A birthday round-up is coming soon.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Stars on Stage

Mary's Stars on Stage camp had a talent show this afternoon. She played Goldilocks in the sequel to Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Goldilocks Returns.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears II: Goldilocks Returns from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


My dad bought Thomas an electric four-wheeler for his birthday. Thomas was afraid of it at first. However, after three days of this (check out the look on his face):

We got this:

Thomas Rides from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Video Catch Up

I've gotten behind transferring videos from the camera to my computer. Here are three from last month.

Thomas loved this Barbie for about three days. Then, he threw her over for a less traditional, American Idol style boy-girl singing duo.

Thomas's Singing Girl from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

From the night MJ died. This was the first time Mary had ever heard any of his music.

RIP MJ from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Thomas using my Ipod as an Ipod instead of as a phone.

Ipod Dance from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

While I Was Away

After 10 days away, a few things change.

The crepe myrtle in the front yard exploded.

This is a single watermelon plant. When I left, it looked like a single plant. It must have eaten the peas I planted under the trellis.

All the food disappeared. I guess it only magically replaces itself when I'm around.

Jeremy found a place for this mask and mirror. I bought these years ago when I was living in Wichita. Most of our decorative stuff was Jer's from before me, so it's nice to see something that I picked out.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Food Friday - Ratatouille

One of Jeremy's students has been giving us fresh vegetables from her organic garden. This week he scored 2 eggplant, 2 crookneck squash, 2 pattypan squash, a cucumber and this monstrous zucchini.

What do you do with an enormous zucchini? Make ratatouille!

I used my biggest baking dish but there is still a lot of that zucchini left over back there. I may have to make a chocolate zucchini cake out of the rest. What a chore.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups pasta sauce
Crookneck Squash
Red Bell Pepper
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

The amount of each vegetable you need depends on what size dish you use and the size of each vegetable. I used 1/2 a huge zucchini, 1 large eggplant, 2 medium crookneck squash and 2 red bell peppers. Cut each into very thin slices. A mandolin would be nice for this but I don't have one. A sharp knife works just as well, but it takes a bit longer.

Stir onion and garlic into pasta sauce and spread into the bottom of your baking dish. On top of the pasta sauce layer vegetables however they will best fit into the dish.

Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Cover with parchment paper and bake for 45-55 minutes until vegetables are cooked but not shriveled and brown. Serve over rice.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Postcard from the Titanic

California is a mess. The state has a $16 billion budget shortfall. Republicans refuse to consider tax increases to close the gap even after democrats agreed to staggering cuts in public services. Up until a few weeks ago we had no idea how much this was going to affect us. Even now, we only have a partial understanding of our place in this desperate mess.

All California State University employees are being furloughed for two days per month, which amounts to a 10.75% pay cut for Jeremy. (And they're the lucky ones; all other state employees are taking 3 days). This hasn't taken effect yet, but it will soon, probably next month. So far there is no plan to reduce the workload for faculty members, who have the same number of classes and students whether the campus closes for two days a month or not. When Jeremy accepted this job, we were told that faculty would be getting a series of raises that amounted to a 16% pay increase over the next two years. The contract with the faculty had been signed but now, it's not worth the paper it's printed on. Since my fellowship ended in May, I had been planning to take a part-time job to replace my income. Now, with Jeremy's pay cut, I need to work full-time which means we'll be increasing our expenses because we'll have to put Thomas in daycare.

These furloughs only close half of the CSU system's budget gap and will only get Sac State through the fall semester. At the beginning of next year, there will be another round of cuts. The furlough will probably go to three days a month and there will be layoffs. Around 9,000 employees will lose their jobs across 23 campuses. There are two classes that get the axe before they'll get to Jeremy's job. But we're not counting on that; there is some question as to whether CSU will be eligible for any federal funds because the budget is so late. If the federal funds fall through, entire campus's will have to be shut down. There may not be a Sac State next year. It seems unlikely right now but it's possible.

Budget cuts have been just as deep for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department which patrols our neighborhood. They are going from 38 two-man patrols to 10. There will be no auxiliary forces to pick up the slack during busy times. If you call the police and all 10 units have already responded to other calls, no one is coming to help you. The sheriff has said that they will not have the man power to respond to burglaries at all. They won't even be able to take a report, let alone try to find your stuff.

South Sacramento, the area we live in, has the highest crime rates in the city. Our neighborhood has a subscription service for extra sheriff's patrols. Homeowner pay $51.00 a month for dedicated service. Now that the sheriff's department has suffered such deep cuts, it's likely that the only patrols we'll get will be those we have paid for directly. Those obviously won't be enough.

California is a sinking ship and we are rats clinging to the ever more precariously tilting deck.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Food Friday - Fettucini w/ Brussels Sprouts

Fettucini with Brussels Sprouts

3/4 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/2 pound dried egg fettucini
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp pine nuts
parmesan cheese
lemon juice

Slice brussels sprouts into ribbons.

Cook fettucini until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until foam subsides. Add pine nuts and cook 2-4 minutes stirring constantly. Add brussels sprouts, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot. Add brussels sprouts mixture to pot. Add parmesan and enough cooking water to moisten. Add lemon juice to taste.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy.

Mary has mentioned how much she loves lasagna a couple of times this summer. So, I made a vegetable lasagna the other day. I added eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and mushrooms to the sauce and cooked spinach to the ricotta. And after weeks of great dinner behavior, Food Battle 2009 suddenly reared its ugly head.

We had been planning to go out for ice cream and a trip to the park after dinner. But if you want ice cream, you've got to eat dinner. And Mary wouldn't. First, she ate all the cheese off the top of her piece. She picked out all the noodles and ate those. Then, she stopped eating. And started stirring the remaining vegetables and ricotta around in the bowl while singing to herself about how gross it was. For an hour.

So, we canceled ice cream and the park. And she lost it. She was sent to her bed where she proceeded to literally wail about how unfair it all was. I have a video of her door through which you can hear the ridiculousness of it (and me snickering in the background). It's hilarious; you'd think we had just amputated some of her fingers without anesthestic. I was going to post it here.

But then, this morning, I backed into the garage door. And I completely lost it. I stormed into the house and threw my coffee cup into the sink. I went back outside to look at it and started screaming about how "We can't afford this. We can't even afford to drive the car, let alone wreck it." I slammed some doors. I slammed a couple of them multiple times. Then, I sat down and cried. Wailed, really.

The door is, um, completely screwed up. And there's a huge dent in the back of the car. And we can't afford an accident like this right now. Or ever. It sucks. The one bright spot is that there is no video of me freaking out about it.

Obviously, I won't be posting the video of Mary's bedroom door. Here's one of Thomas instead.

Will Talk for Food ... Sort Of from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Crazy Baby

Thomas gets a little punchy about an hour before bedtime. Also note, in true McNolty family fashion, the blaring television in the background. Good times.

Crazy Baby from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Food Friday - Falafel Pita and Lentil Salad

This meal is a little more involved than most of the dishes in my rotation but it's worth every second you put into it. I used to make my own pita too but since it involves opening up a 500 degree oven every two to four minutes I haven't done it since Thomas was born. It also turns the whole meal into a five hour ordeal so I wouldn't recommend homemade pita unless you've got someone you really need to impress.

Traditionally falafel are formed as little balls. I recommend forming them into patties instead; they're much easier to fry.


1 cup dried / 1 can chickpeas
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 - 1/2 cup flour


Put chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak overnight, then drain. Or use drained and rinsed canned chickpeas

Place chickpeas, onions and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until blended but not pureed (you may need to work in two batches). Add fresh herbs and spices and pulse to mix.

Move mixture to a bowl. Stir in baking powder and 1/4 cup flour. Add flour until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Form the chickpea mixture into patties. Heat oil in a skillet and fry 1 patty to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Fry patties for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Brush patties with olive oil and bake in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, turning once.

Stuff half a pita with falafel, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, etc. Drizzle with yogurt and/or tahini.

Lentil Salad

3/4 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup cucumber, diced
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed into paste
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp black pepper

Cook rice.

Cover lentils with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer partially covered 25-20 minutes. Drain.

Sprinkle garlic with salt. Mash into paste with side of a chef's knife.

In bowl, whisk together garlic paste, oil, lemon juice and pepper

Toss lentils and rice with dressing. Cool to room temperature and add tomatoes, cucumber and dill

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Green Things

I'm doing some container gardening. Thomas and Mary like to help water. I wasn't sure that anything would really produce in a pot so I just bought a grape tomato, a green pepper, a strawberry and a watermelon. The watermelon is the most experimental. I have no idea if we'll get anything off of it. The strawberry should have done well but somehow I managed to drown it. But the tomato and the green pepper are going like gangbusters.

Look at all those tomatoes. Only one has turned red even though its younger than the others; you can just barely see it peaking through. I have big plans for that one little tomato.

I have four green peppers already! They only grow to about 4 inches long so two of them should be ready to pick in a week or so.

The clothesline is my greenest endeavor, though that's not why I did it. Our dryer is broken. It tumbles but doesn't produce any heat. Eventually, we'll get it fixed but we don't know anyone here who can help us and we don't want to pay a repairman right now. So, I strung up a clothesline. My pride at having done this is way out of proportion to the actual accomplishment. I'm kind of glad that the dryer broke. I never would have hung a clothesline otherwise. Twenty-five dollars, my incredible handiness (I learned how to tie a knot!) and we can dry our clothes for free for the rest of the summer. Now if the dryer would just magically repair itself.