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Get ready for Groundhog Day. January 27, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. How do you celebrate Groundhog Day? If you’re like us, maybe you check out the local paper’s report on whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, but really are more interested in the photo of the famous groundhog than the weather report. Or maybe your family has a tradition of watching the movie “Groundhog Day” every year. Well, how about upping the ante this year with some groundhog cookies?

Sure enough, our local paper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call, recently had a feature about Betty Bamberger, who makes groundhog-shaped sugar cookies every year with special cookie cutters. And yup, the little critters really did look remarkably cute and groundhog-like.

Now, our friend Ben and I are no fans of sugar cookies, which strike us as a tasteless waste of calories. Give us some yummy chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies, chewy peanut butter cookies, melt-in-your-mouth buttery thumbprint jam cookies, or white chocolate-cranberry-pecan cookies. (We also love plain oatmeal cookies, as long as they’re chewy, and for a specially decadent treat, chocolate chip-toffee-oatmeal cookies or buttery toffee shortbread.) Pallid sugar cookies just don’t do it for us.

However. Rolled, stamped cookies like Betty Bamberger’s groundhogs require a refrigerated, sugar-cookie-ish dough that takes to being rolled out and cut. If I wanted to make them, but didn’t want to be confronted with tasteless, boring cookies at the end of my efforts, what could I do? Two options sprang to mind, both of which use refrigerated, rolling-pin-friendly dough. One is hickory-nut cookies, a regional specialty that OFB and I can never get enough of, and the other is pecan sand tarts, the homemade equivalent of Pecan Sandies.

Revitalized, I returned to the article to find out the critical info: where to buy groundhog cookie cutters. Apparently, you can buy handmade groundhog cookie cutters just minutes from us at H.O. Foose Tinsmithing Co. in scenic Fleetwood, PA. If you’re local, you can pick up a Foose handmade groundhog cutter at their shop on 18 West Poplar Street, Fleetwood, when it opens at 9 a.m. on February 1st after its annual winter break. Or order one or more cutters online at www.foosecookiecutters.com for $1.95 for each 3-inch groundhog cutter, plus $7.50 shipping for as many cutters as you want. Order now and you’ll get your cutters within five days, just in time! You can also order 2 1/2-, 3-, and/or 4-inch groundhog cookie cutters from that bastion of all things groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil’s Official Souvenir Shop. Prices are $1.75, $2, and $2.50 respectively, plus a shipping fee of $6.95 per cutter, which should arrive in four days; order from www.groundhogstuff.com.

Don’t share our distaste for sugar cookies, and fired up to make your own groundhog cookies? Here’s the recipe Betty uses to make her celebrated cookies:

         Betty Bamberger’s Groundhog Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond or lemon extract

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix butter and sugar, add eggs, vanilla and flavoring of choice. Mix well. Mix dry ingredients and mix into batter. Chill for at least three hours or overnight. [Ahem, guess you’d better wait to preheat that oven!—Silence] Roll out chilled dough to the thickness you prefer and bake on cookie sheets that have been covered with parchment paper. Bake for seven to nine minutes, depending on the cookies’ thickness, until they’re done to your liking. [Note: The photos show those little chocolate sprinkles you can buy as cake decorations used, one per cookie, for the groundhog’s eye. Looks good, recommended.—Silence]

I recommend that you check out the entire article, which also includes recipes for Punxsutawney Phil’s Spicy Groundhogs (more cookies) and Punxsutawney Phil’s Groundhog Sundaes. Look for “A New Take on Groundhog Day” by Diane W. Stoneback at www.themorningcall.com. And enjoy!

As for us, maybe I can finally get that top-secret hickory-nut cookie recipe from our friend Rudy, his friend Joanne, or our next-to-next-door neighbor, Mrs. Snyder. If not, we just might be having groundhog biscuits or mini-groundhog pizzas on February 2nd!

           ‘Til next time,

                          Silence

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