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Stuff a pumpkin with a fall feast

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By Judyrae Kruse
Herald Columnist
Really now, would it be Halloween if we didn't have dinner and/or dessert made in and served from a hollowed-out pumpkin?
Let's not chance it. Let's hop out there while pumpkin pickings are at their peak, then shop for whatever ingredients might be needed for whichever or whatever.
First, of course, comes what has become a classic, a tradition, something that became an instant Forum favorite from the minute the late, popular Lynnwood recipe-sharing Bonnie Teeters gave it to us just about forever ago. She told us her first fork-up chance at it came at the home of her daughter, Cindy Wilson, and she liked it so much she asked for the recipe, then turned right around and passed it along to us.
In what would shortly became a roaring understatement, Bonnie told us, "Everyone who has eaten it loves it. It really is delicious, and spooning some of the baked pumpkin out along with the filling is a must. Oh, it is just so good.''
Now, before you start to wonder -- no, the filling is not too dry, it's perfect as given in Bonnie's recipe. The only thing you might want to do -- need to do -- is buy two pumpkins and make a double batch. (Forum cooks say it's that good!)
As much a must-make in Forum homes nowadays as the dinner-deal pumpkin, we have a yummy creamy custard, another faster-than-a-flash favorite, a pumpkin treasure deliciously brought to our attention by Everett cook Jody Harnish.
"Pumpkins are in the store now,'' she first told us in an Oct. 21, 2009, Forum column, "so it's a great time to try one of George Washington's favorite desserts. It's delicious and really easy to make.
"I used to have a dog named Isabelle who loved this dish. Whenever I had a bowl of it, she would sit patiently and drool on my foot while I ate my half. When she decided I'd had enough, she'd put her front paws in my lap and scarf down the rest. I always got a big slurpy kiss afterward.''
Remembering both Bonnie and Isabelle today, and for a sturdy start and a sweet ending to our Halloween suppers, let's make:
Bonnie's dinner in a pumpkin from Cindy
1 medium pumpkin, preferably about 5 to 7 pounds (bigger is better than smaller)
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 can (4 ounces) mushrooms, undrained
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups cooked rice
Optional decorations: olives, steamed carrot, whole cloves, fresh parsley
Wash, dry and cut lid from pumpkin; set lid aside. Scrape out the inside of the pumpkin well, discarding all seeds and membrane; set pumpkin aside.
In a large skillet, brown hamburger, green pepper, celery and onion. In mixing bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, soy sauce, brown sugar, mushrooms, soup and rice, then add to the hamburger mixture.
Mix well and turn into the prepared pumpkin. Put lid on, place pumpkin on foil-lined, rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
To serve, be sure to scrape up some of the inside of the cooked pumpkin along with the hamburger mixture. To decorate the pumpkin, use toothpicks to attach black olives for eyes, steamed carrot for the nose, and whole cloves for the mouth. For hair, use fresh parsley around the top.
Isabelle's favorite colonial pumpkin pie (baked whole pumpkin)
1 pumpkin, 5 to 7 pounds
6 whole eggs
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons butter
Wash, dry and cut the lid off the pumpkin just as you would for a jack-o'-lantern.
Remove the seeds and save for toasting later.
In a mixing bowl, mix together thoroughly the eggs, whipping cream, brown sugar, molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, fill the pumpkin with the custard mixture and dot with the butter. Cover with the pumpkin lid and place pumpkin in a baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the mixture has set like custard.
To serve, scrape some of the meat from the pumpkin and top with the custard.
Makes 8 servings.
The next Forum will appear in Friday's comics pages.
Story tags » Cooking

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