Sledding in Wilmington

Wilmington sits in region of Massachusetts that is sadly bereft of protrusive terrain.  Coming from hilly Connecticut, I quickly noticed the lack of sledding opportunities.

It’s not all sad flatness, however.  We have a great prominence left by the glaciers at the south end of town, by a local ball field.  I’m not sure if the hill or the field have a name – Google Maps is currently mum.  It appears to be about 100′ high.

From the road, you would never know a sledding track is there, except for the number of cars in the parking lot that appear immediately after a snowfall.

There are two sledding tracks, one steeper than the other.  The flatter one is a favorite of the little kids, but the “ruts” tend to be better defined on the steeper track (ironically, making that one the safer track as you’re less likely to drift off-course).

Mt. Sled Helens

For a couple of years now, I’ve been pushing all the snow in the driveway into a single pile at the end.

As few as six inches of snow makes a pile three feet high, with a run of eight feet.

The kids have dubbed it “Mt. Sled Helens.”

mt. sled helens
Sledding down Mt. Sled Helens

We don’t have many hills of any decent size in this corner of Massachusetts, so this fills the gap when I can’t drive the girls to the good sledding hills.

Mummenschanz!

We took all of the joneslings to see the Mummenschanz at the VETS Theater in Providence tonight.  They come through every few decades – the last time I saw them was 25 years ago.

But first: dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (right around the corner from the theater).  We relegated the cousins to their own end of the table.

joneslings at dinner
Joneslings around the kids’ end of the table

I think it’s safe to say we were all in good spirits.

20150122 Meghan at Cheesecake Factory
M., being especially beautiful tonight

Finally – the show.

happy joneslings
Happy joneslings

Breakfast Casserole

breakfast casserole - finished product
Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of frozen hashbrowns (about 1/2 package)
  • 1/2 pound sausage (we like spicy chicken, but pork or another kind is good too)
  • 1 small/medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 bell pepper (any color) (optional)
  • handful of sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1-2 cups mexican cheese
  • black pepper to taste

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. grease a 1-2 quart baking dish
  3. Brown the sausage, onions, and peppers/mushrooms/what-have-you in a skillet over medium heat
  4. Whisk the eggs, milk, garlic powder, and pepper
  5. Spread the hashbrowns into the baking dish
  6. Pour the egg mixture over the hashbrowns
  7. Layer down half the cheese – enough to cover the hashbrowns
  8. Spread out the sausage mixture
  9. Layer down the rest of the cheese – enough to cover everything
  10. Cover with aluminum foil and back for an hour
  11. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes to brown the cheese a little

Makes 5-6 servings.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top!

The Last Ringbearer

I was reminded over the weekend about The Last Ringbearer while talking with my buddy Sam, who likes The Lord Of the Rings but had never heard of TLR.

The tl;dr version is it’s LOTR as told by the losing side.  I enjoyed LTR more than LOTR because it provides more context to the events – the political manoeuvring and intrigue, about-faces, and a far more rational  explanation for why the battles portrayed in LOTR are so important.

The original is in Russian, but the English translation is “non-commerical” (the translator’s words) and is free.  It can be found at http://ymarkov.livejournal.com/270570.html where the translator provides backstory for why TLR exists and why the translation is free.

Tortillas

Tortillas are surprisingly easy to make, but it does go a lot faster with two: one to flatten dough while the other cooks the previously-flattened dough.  Each tortilla takes about as long to cook as to roll.

These tortillas are good enough to eat plain.  They store well in a ziploc baggie.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • (up to) 1 cup warm water

Steps:

  1. Preheat a large skillet on medium heat (our stove runs hot so it’s more like medium-low, YMMV)
  2. Mix flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl
  3. Cut in oil with a pastry blender or a fork
  4. Slowly incorporate water, mixing until a soft dough forms
  5. Make 2-inch dough balls – probably ten or twelve
  6. Roll flat with a rolling pin.  The dough should be as close to paper-thin as you can make it (you’ll probably wind up with cardstock).
    • You  won’t need to flour the surface – if the dough is good it won’t stick (except maybe to the rolling pin)
  7. Cook the tortillas one at a time until they start to bubble, then flip and heat until brown spots form.

Credit to https://kbmillers.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/169/

Black Bean Burgers

I love black bean burgers, which means in my house I’m the odd man out.  That used to be ok because I didn’t make them – I would only buy them when we went out so no one else had to put up with them (I happen to love the ones from Blimpies but Subway has a good one too).  That is, until now.

  • 16-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 or a small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  1. Dice the bell pepper and onions
  2. Mash the beans (optionally reserving some to mix back in after mashing).  I find a regular pot and a potato masher work well.
  3. Mix the beans, peppers, and onions together
  4. Mix in the egg, chili powder, and cumin
  5. Mix in a half-cup of bread crumbs
  6. Add more bread crumbs, a little at a time, until the mixture isn’t wet anymore
  7. Form into patties
  8. Fry in a little oil on medium heat, or better yet in hamburger grease, until both sides are toasted.  Serve on a hamburger bun.

Extra patties can be frozen for later.