I Thought Last Winter Was A Challenge

Reader Contribution by Ginnie Baker
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It’s almost the middle of January. The weather has been a real challenge lately. With warm weather at Christmas, it definitely has changed, and not for the better. Our schools were closed four days out of five last week and today, Monday, they were closed again. The flu is beginning to take a toll on a lot of people.

The weather was predicted to be very bad overnight and it lived up to the prediction. We had temps in the mid 30s with rain, sleet and freezing rain that changed to snow as the temperatures dropped.

I live in the southern part of the county and had to go to the northern part this morning. Richland County is only 65 miles from Cleveland and the northern part of the county can get the wicked weather that comes from the Cleveland area with lake effect snows and all that Lake Erie can deliver.

It wasn’t a pleasant drive with frozen slush and even a state route down to one lane in each direction. There were several cars in the ditch; I hope no one was injured.

A good friend and I are beginning to go through the “cabin fever” syndrome! With all the seed catalogs arriving, I look forward to spring and a new garden! The shelves in the basement are still filled with things I canned for the winter, but I think to myself, will they last until I can start the canning process again in summer and fall?

The green and yellow beans I blanched and put in the freezer are already gone but I still have pumpkins and squash. I make a stuffed pumpkin that we enjoy during the winter. It’s a recipe from Country Living from years ago.

I like lamb and use ground lamb for the stuffing. To me, it’s a “comfort food” for the winter months.

Stuffed Pumpkin

(From Country Living magazine: “Native Americans were enjoying wild rice, pumpkins and venison for centuries before the first Colonists discovered the trio’s delicious flavors.”) Yields 6 servings.

1  1/2 cups water
1/2 cup wild rice
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (4 to 5 pounds) sugar pumpkin
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground venison or lean ground beef or lamb
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon crushed dried sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a 1-quart saucepan, heat the water to boiling over high heat. Stir in wild rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return to boiling; cover; reduce heat to low and cook 40 to 45 minutes, or until rice is tender and all the water is absorbed.

Heat the oven to 350 F. Cut the top off the pumpkin and remove the seeds and fiber from the pumpkin. Place 1/2 inch of water in a shallow roasting pan and place the pumpkin in the pan.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the ground meat and sauté’ until brown. Set aside 1 tablespoon green onions and stir the remaining onions, the cooked rice, sage, remaining salt and the pepper into the mixture. Spoon the meat mixture into the pumpkin and cover the top with aluminum foil.

Bake the stuffed pumpkin for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender when pierced with a fork. Add more water to the pan as needed to keep the pumpkin from sticking.

Remove the foil and place the pumpkin on a serving dish; sprinkle with remaining onions.

To serve, cut the pumpkin in wedges.

It’s really delicious!

My miniature donkeys, Samson and Delilah, have such heavy coats, I wonder if the winter is going to get worse instead of better!

A good friend and I are beginning to feel the effects of “cabin fever.” She works a seasonal job and it’s hitting her harder than it hits me …. My big deal is going to the barn to feed Samson and Delilah. Her big “outing” today was going to our local post office!

Can we make it until spring? You bet! We’re used to Ohio winters … whatever the weather, wait 10 minutes and it’ll change!

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