The following column appears this week in The Atlantic Highlands Herald, http://www.ahherald.com, and is offered for your possible enjoyment this Groundhog’s Day!
Woodchuck Stew for Groundhog’s Day?
by Anne Mikolay
On a recent visit to Pennsylvania, a local farmer struck up a conversation with me.
“I hunt squirrels and groundhogs bigger than that!” The farmer said, pointing to my four pound chihuahua.
He had my attention, not because of his comment about my dog, but because I had never heard of anybody hunting squirrel other than Jed Clampett .
“You actually hunt squirrel?” I asked the farmer.
“Oh, yes, indeed!” He said, and happily described his hunting prowess.
Hunting squirrel and groundhog, I learned, is legal in parts of Pennsylvania, where schools close on hunting days, and each hunter is permitted to kill an assigned number of critters per day. The farmer explained how to skin and clean a squirrel in preparation for squirrel stew, and was rather amused by my claim that a city girl like me would never dream of eating the furry creatures that scamper through the backyard.
“Domestic squirrels,” my country friend pointed out, are different than the squirrels hunted in the wild, though both probably taste the same (like greasy chicken), he said.
I wouldn’t know about that, nor do I want to.
When I was a little girl, my father often urged me to press my ear against a tree trunk, and listen to the chattering of the squirrels within. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that my father revealed he had made the animal sounds to amuse me. His ruse worked; I’ve been intrigued by squirrels ever since. I enjoy their tail-twitching antics, and regularly feed them peanuts and corn – but not because I am fattening them up for hunting season.
While my husband might be pleased to know that Mr. Groundhog, his long-time backyard nemesis, can be legally exterminated in Pennsylvania, I can’t imagine tossing Punxsutawney Phil into my crock pot. Serving woodchuck stew to my kids who used to make groundhog stick puppets every February 2nd seems downright insensitive to me. With all due respect to the residents of the beautiful state of Pennsylvania, only “groundhog cupcakes” will appear on my dinner table this Groundhog Day.
Here, courtesy of http://www.family.fun.com, is a recipe for a Groundhog’s Day treat I doubt will taste like greasy chicken.
Almond Joy candy
White jelly beans
Black decorators’ gel
Watermelon slice candy
Brown M&M’s Minis
1.Remove a piece of cake the width of an Almond Joy candy from the center of a baked cupcake. Set the candy upright in the hole, then spread a layer of white frosting on the cupcake.
2.For the groundhog’s eyes, trim the ends from a white jelly bean, stick them in place with frosting, then dot them with black decorators’ gel. Add a tiny triangle cut from a watermelon slice candy for a nose, brown M&M’s Minis for ears and cheeks, and a tiny rectangular piece of white jelly bean for teeth. Sprinkle chocolate cookie crumbs around the partially emerged groundhog, and he’s ready to greet his fans.