First prize winner of the Farmer's Almanac 2018 recipe competition: Cran-orang couscous salad

Can it be that a full month has passed since Christmas?

Dec. 25, 2018 feels like it was just yesterday and yet, yesterday was Jan. 25, 2019.

And I am just now getting to really go through presents! And can you guest what one of them is?

For years I have been given by a friend, a friend who knows me and who knows that she can never be wrong if her annual Christmas gift is “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.” This year is the 227th issue.

The introduction to this year’s edition:

“Welcome friends, to the 227th consecutive edition of the Almanac! It is our privilege and pleasure to provide you on these pages, with the elements that make this a true  almanac — a calendar of the heaven and a time capsule of the year: timetables for the year’s astronomical events, traditionally 80 percent accurate —  daily weather forecast for all of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

“You will find quirky facts, timeless adages and advice, pithy quotes and profound proverbs, contests, Anecdotes & Pleasantries, Best Days to do things (from fishing to weaning, from planting to setting eggs) and more, including these entertaining and informative articles:

2019 Trends: A forecast of the fun and fascinating ideas that will define this year.

Join the Green Thumb Club: Foolproof  advice for beginners and anyone trying to grow food.

Plate Your Petals: Edible flowers are blossoming into an old-is-new-again culinary trend.

The ABCs of pickling asparagus, beets, corn — and cukes: Whether you pick a peck or purchase a few pounds, preserving this harvest is as easy as — well you know.”

Well, I am going to stop with the things that I think are among the thousands of things that you can find in the 288 pages of this book that can keep you reading and wanting to read.

But, I couldn’t pass up the first prize in the annual recipe contest. In the 2018 recipe contest, the theme was an orange recipe and the winner from hundreds was from a person who lives on a big farm in New York; no, no not even a farm, but a city  — Staten Island, New York (so you can see that people all over the land from farm to city reads “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.”)

First Prize: Cran-orange couscous salad and vinaigrette

— 3 cups pearl couscous, cooked according to                       package directions

— 1 cup goat cheese

— 3/4 cup dried cranberries

— 1/2 cup chopped pecans

— 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

— 5 basil leaves, chopped

— 2 large oranges, peeled and chopped

— 1 small red onion, chopped


— 1/2 cup olive oil

— 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

— 4 tablespoons orange juice

— 1 tablespoon orange zest

— 2 tablespoons honey

— salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

1. For salad: Place couscous in a bowl. Add goat cheese, cranberries, pecans, chickpeas, basil, oranges and onions. Mix well.

2. For vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, orange juice, orange zest, honey and salt and pepper.

3. Pour vinaigrette over salad and stir to coat.

Makes 8 servings.

Alright. You can get a good start with 2019’s Almanac and you have pages to read, study and put to work.

Oh, I forgot, The Ohio Valley Region Forecast:

For Georgetown, Kentucky: February 2019

Temperature: 39 degrees (seven above average); precipitation: two inches (one inch below average); Feb. 1-4: snowy periods, cold; Feb. 5-11: sunny, mild; Feb. 12-15: rainy, mild; Feb. 16-20: snow showers, cold; Feb. 21-28: rainy periods, quite mild.

Joe Rhinehart can be reached by  e-mail at

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