Sunday, January 31, 2010

Another snow day...but February 2 is coming...

AND it is the last day of January...and so...once we get through the Groundhog, we should be in the final stretch...I thought maybe you might like to know a little history about the infamous groundhog day. Having grown up in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil became the key to the end of winter. Of course, I always felt sorry for the poor rodent as they pulled him out of a makeshift burrow and held him know that the guy is not thinking kind thoughts.

The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

According to an old English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

It is also tied to nature and the hibernation cycles of some animals. The current prediction is:
If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

Now, I am not sure why cloudy weather would be a sign of spring...heaven knows that every cloudy day has brought us that which you see above! Anyway, if you are so inclined, here is a recipe for a Groundhog Cookie that is served at the festivities held in Punxsutawney that day (if you saw Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day, you know that this is a big day in that little PA town!) The cookie is a spice wafer style...and you can even order groundhog cookie cutters!

Groundhog Cookies Recipe

2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
1 egg, slightly beaten
Currants or raisins

Sift together first seven ingredients. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Blend in molasses and yolk. Stir in flour mixture and mix well. Form into a ball.

Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill overnight, several nights or freeze.

Place small amounts of dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and cover with plastic wrap. Roll 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies with lightly floured cutter.

Place cookies on greased baking sheet. Brush with slightly beaten egg. Decorate with currants or raisin eyes. Repeat until all dough is used.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 72 or more medium-sized groundhogs.

So, this week it is all about weather...whether we want it or not! And, as someone once said, "Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while."


Anonymous said...

The weather sure does start a lot of conversations, as you say. I am always amused at the predictions for snow and the actual amounts that fall. Oh, how I wish we had only gotten the 1-3" that was called for. 8" of the powdery white stuff is just a bit much for us "old" people. George

ann at greenoak said...

its so beautiful.....

De esse Boutique said...

GroundHog Day is one of my favorite movies, partly because it was pretty funny and partly because I am in several scenes as an extra and behind the scenes as the stand in for the Redhead piano teacher. Bill Murray is as funny in person as he is on screen, nice guy too.

I understand that Puxatawney was not happy that the movie was filmed in Woodstock IL instead of the actual town that made it famous.

The reason was purely practical, proximity to major airports and interstates was the determining factor.

They still have a "Groundhog Day" celebrations that weekend in Woodstock, some of the stars used to come back to town for it.