Recipe Post: Penne Pasta with Wine Sauce and Sun-dried Tomatoes

And… another recipe post. These will automatically tell you that the paralysis of going too long without a post has set in and so I trot out the already created content as a way of knocking myself out of it. It’s like my L Dopa. (Oliver Sacks reference there. Drink up.)

And , as I’ve mentioned before, I am working on a LONG running project of trying to finish a cookbook which is why I have so many recipes as existing content to use. This is ongoing from 2011 and it’s about damn time to not have hanging over my head anymore. Write a cookbook, I said. It’ll be fun, I said…


You’ll need a couple of these. Image by Andrzej Jakubczyk


Penne Pasta with Wine Sauce and Sun-dried Tomatoes

I would recommend memorizing at least one recipe- it impresses the hell outta your friends if you bust it out of thin air at their house. Also it’ll mean you are pretty guaranteed* to not forget ingredients while grocery shopping. This is the one I always can pull out of the ether,  hippocampus, or wherever memories are actually stored. Typing sounds. Google tells me memories are stored in the limbic system of which the hippocampus is a part. Jesus. Did my hippocampus actually just remember that the hippocampus is where memories are stored?! It’s too damn early for this.

Oh. Does that literally tell you NOTHING about this recipe? Okay, well let’s see, This is universally loved by everyone from the 1 year-old through inlaws and all kids/ teens/ adults in between and that’s great considering the amount of onion it has in it. Ummm… it doesn’t need a side dish- like what a huge plus that is, right? Reheats well for next day lunches (woot, woot- right teachers?), and… ah! Is vegetarian! But not vegan- because of the cheese. And seriously vegans- if you are against cheese then you have NEVER felt the relief of being a breastfeeding mother and being able to nurse after a delay in your normal schedule. Ugh… look. I don’t know where this is going either, honestly. Back to the pasta.

1 8oz. package of Penne pasta

3 Tbsp. olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

10-12 Cremini mushrooms, sliced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

8 sundried tomatoes, reconstituted in water, drained, and sliced lengthwise

1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and cut into thirds

1 can black olives

1 ½ cup white wine, dry

Juice of half a lemon

1 cup of Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Cook pasta, drain, return to pot and put lid back on to maintain temperature. In a large skillet or sauté pan heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes until mushrooms have reduced in size and released their juices. Add sundried tomatoes and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add wine and lemon juice as well as artichoke hearts and olives. Continue cooking until sauce is reduced by half. Pour sauce over pasta, add Parmesan cheese, and mix to combine. Top with fresh chopped parsley.

This is also good topped with grilled chicken or shrimp, but I prefer it just like it is, honestly.

*Nope. I usually forget the olives, myself. It’d be nice if it worked that way in real life though, wouldn’t it?

The Battle of Vicksburg… Monday Morning in a Central Texas Town Version

So. It’s EFFING cold in this house. Worse than last year? Maybe. I have cold weather plastic over the windows in the baby’s room- and that is JUST about the only thing getting us through. That and the belief that this is fleeting and is therefore romantic in an “Oh it’s cold, let’s all cuddle up” type of way.

So therefore know, when I told my middle daughter that “I need you to bundle up and go play outside.” I wasn’t being cruel… hell, it’s probably warmer outside. Besides. Character building.  But how was I to know THIS was the hill I was to die on? Did Johnny Reb know the Battle of Vicksburg was the turning point in the war when it happened? Did they know it was a slow, inexorable slide from that point to defeat? Because I can sure as hell tell you I knew the SECOND she replied with a not impolitely phrased: “That sounds like a want more than a need” and walked out of the room- that this war was lost.

They’ve won. Oh lord. The children have won.


Insufferable Parenting #489- Of Wood and Plastic

Plastic is scary stuff, what with all it’s mimicry of estrogen in the human body. And in fish. And in animals. And… yeah. So I actually think this latest generation will be similar to the last generation that grew up with lead paint and leaded gas- we are very close to a full realization as to how dangerous this stuff is and our behavior as a society and products WILL change to reflect that very soon- of this I believe. *Hand on heart while staring knowingly into the distance. Sunset behind me. Eagle cries ringing overhead.*

BUT- I sure as hell wasn’t going to wait for Johnson and Johnson to make the change for me. So with all the girls- we used glass jar baby food as much as we could. Glass storage containers. Few plastics in the girls eating utensils- no melamine plates, ever, but there were some plastic cups for a short period of time. Those have long been replaced with small glass jelly jars. I buy olive oil in glass jars. I’m… yeah. It’s important to me.

I have gone off the deep end, a BIT, with it with our latest daughter. Metal baby spoons (turns out Oneida makes some still). Organic blankets. Organic crib mattress and mattress pad. I tried glass bottles, but she wouldn’t go for it- but we use the only organic, American made formula once we started supplementing at 7 months when I was just DONE pumping at work 3 times a day. Morning and night we still breast feed though. And yeah, we can’t help but use the plastic baby food pouches, but they’re organic at least- scout’s honor. Wooden toys and teether (she uses the teether to hit the wooden drum and has never once put it in her mouth. But then, she hasn’t been teething yet either, so I’ll hold off saying that $17 was wasted yet. Who am I kidding. Totally was.) Did I order wooden baby bowls and plates? Maybe.

The biggest one- which I could CARE LESS at the expense of- was a 100% wood high chair from Great Britain. Yes- I had a damn high chair shipped from Europe- but the only one I could find in the US was plywood- and hell, that might be worse than plastic. I just plan to turn it into a heirloom. And I figured we saved so much by borrowing baby stuff and not going overboard on swings or other baby gear that we still came out on top. And it may sound like it, but I am not justifying the expense- I’ve never once felt guilty about it- it was totally worth it for my plastic fearing self.


Wooden high chair, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

How self righteous does this post sound? Oh god. So very. Here’s my point though. What’s the WORST plastic in the house? The cheap bath toys- can’t seem to find a good alternate to those. What are Mary’s favorite toys? Take a guess. Does she crawl around the house with one in her mouth, INTENT on torturing me? You bet your ass she does.


What are you most proud of?

It’s an interesting question.

And the answer to “what are you proud of” has pretty normal answers. (I’d say my marriage and my children- but those feel more like winning the lottery than something I can take credit for) So… graduating college. Some trophies I got during my teenage years. Becoming an instructor in karate. Being promoted. This career I’ve worked hard at. Buying a house. The occasional exuberant spring show on my roses… And some others.  And I am proud of those, I am. But no. What comes to mind when I think of the thing I am most proud of is a day I was sitting sullenly on a shuttle bus- heading to take a final at UT Austin.


I was behind on my studying. It was much too early for me at the time- crack of 8:30am- and it was before my enthusiastic leap into the caffeinated world of coffee. So there I was- hair a mess and wearing a dog hair covered t-shirt. I’d timed my entry on the bus to snag one of the last seats so I could read my textbooks- cramming furiously. And yes- that means some pretty callous line cutting was committed by yours truly. And I was wearing uncomfortable shoes. I had about 5 years there of just uncomfortable, cheap shoes. I was 21, maybe 22.  And sullen. Don’t forget sullen. Painted that less than rosy picture yet? Okay. Moving on.

So a young mother and her toddler daughter get on a few stops later. There were no seats left. And nobody gave up their seat. Not any of the guys. Not any of the people on their phone or staring off into space. And so I – notebook and textbooks in my lap- offer her (sullenly, I’m sure) my seat. She turned me down, shyly. Politely. And so she stands there, holds her little girl’s hand in one hand, and holds onto the seat rest right behind me with the other. And… I know how precarious that is. Those shuttle drivers  were quick to brake, and even faster to accelerate. I’d seen people fall before. People who weren’t holding onto children.

And so… I had this weird tension. And I guess it was attentiveness, but not to the studying I needed to do. So when we braked suddenly, and that young mother pitched forward and would have fallen on her daughter- I caught her. I grabbed her upper arm and jerked her backwards. It happened really, really fast- but I was ready for it. Later, walking to class my right arm hurt from the force I used- I’m sure I left a mark on that poor lady. I stood up (dropping one of my books in the process) and told her to sit. She again tried to refuse, but I made her take the seat. She sat and put her daughter on her lap. I awkwardly picked up my book and stood in her previous spot. I had to put my books up in my backpack so I could hold on with both hands- there would be no more studying. My feet hurt. It was another 30 minutes to campus.

I bolted off the bus(sullenly, still, I’m sure) and trudged off to class so I could sit in the hall and try to finish my studying and then a few hours later took a test for a subject I can’t recall now. I have no idea what grade I got.

And yet- it feels like I passed the test that counted that day. And I may not have passed with flying colors or anything. But still.

It’s what I’m most proud of.

Parenting Advice: Kill the Pajamas

Baby sleepers and pajamas are ADORABLE. And I still have some. And my older girls still have pajamas- but DON’T YOU BUY THEM, IT’S A TRAP!!!!!

Look- it’s PERFECTLY acceptable for a baby to sleep in a long sleeve onesie, soft pants and socks. And guess what? You don’t get judge-y looks at the grocery store when they’re still dressed like that at 2 in the afternoon like you would if they were in a sleeper. And besides- diaper changes are easier like that. #somanybuttons

Older Kids: Soft leggings or cotton shorts and a teeshirt- perfectly acceptable to sleep in. And lookie there- that’s looking on the up and up if someone drops in at 2pm (why is it always 2pm? Shrugs.) and they’re still dressed like that! And maybe they go the whole day wearing those clothes! And then that’s an entire outfit (times THREE in our house!) that I don’t have to wash and fold! *Cackles maniacally and then starts crying while looking at laundry pile*


TL;DR: Don’t change your pants twice a day. (Is that the real lesson? Read the post then, Lazy.)