Pennsylvania has two famous marmots. Punxsutawney Phil and Gus, the spoked marmot of the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Gus is the second most famous marmot in the state. He is seen daily on television and disseminates information about the lottery selling points in Pennsylvania. Phil is the most revered animal in the entire nation and parts of Canada. He predicts the weather on February 2nd. If he sees his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter. No shade – there will be an early spring.
He is the most famous weather forecasting groundhog. Over the past 10 years it has been accurate about 40% of the time. His full name is “PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL, seer of seers, sage of the wise, forecaster of forecasters and extraordinary weather prophet”.
It was housed in the local library for many years. Its fame has grown along with Punxsutawney’s tourism. Some time ago it was moved to a purpose-built structure outside the tourist center – specially equipped for Phil and his wife Phyllis.
In recent years, personal observation of this event has grown from a small town gathering to nearly 50,000 to 100,000 people showing up to watch in an area called Gobbler’s Knob outside of town. It has been televised nationwide in recent years. The Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day” helped increase its popularity.
As with most events this year, its appearance and prediction will be virtual. Only in the presence of Phil will his Inner Circle be his guardians. Phil loves the camera and looks good because he’s 135 years old.
Marmots have a lifespan of up to six years. But it’s magical that, according to the Inner Circle, there has only been one Punxsutawney Phil in all these years. It can be traced back to the fact that the Inner Circle takes very good care of Phil.
Punxsutawney called by the Indians of the region, the name means “City of the sand flies (mosquitoes)”. It is located in the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania in Jefferson County, about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh.
The Delaware Indians settled this area between the Allegheny and Susquehanna Rivers around 1723. This area was later settled by the Germans. Many old world traditions were brought to the new world; like Candlemas Day from Germany. A marmot was used on the way to predict the weather for the next six weeks. Don’t tell Phil, but records show it might originally have been a badger or a small black bear.
Dandelion is a groundhog favorite. Dandelions are not a weed as most people think. It was actually considered a cultural vegetable when it arrived in this country and was planted by the farmers. Somewhere along the way, that leafy green plant got out of hand. Dandelion lovers use both the plant and the flower to make wine, liquor, vinegar, jelly, jam, as well as salads. There are some who brew a strange drink from the roots.
1 cup white chopped onions
6 to 8 whole spring onions, chopped
6 cups of freshly wilted dandelions *
12 ounces. cottage cheese
1 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon. chopped allspice
1 ½ cups of milk
4 large eggs
½ tsp. cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon. Salt-
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tablespoon. minced garlic
1 cup baking mix (bisquick)
To wither fresh dandelions, wash them thoroughly several times to remove dirt and sand. Put in 1 cup of water in a large saucepan with a lid and steam until just wilted (flabby like); not cook.
Instead of whole milk products, all or a few can be replaced with fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
* Replace dandelions with other withered greens. Like kale, cabbage, or broccoli.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drain and chop wilted dandelions. In a large bowl, combine the dandelions, onions, green onions, cottage cheese, olives and allspices. Spread it evenly in a 9 “x 13” lightly greased baking dish or pan. Mix the remaining ingredients well. Pour the liquid mixture over the dandelion and cheese mixture in the pan. Bake on the middle rack for 55 to 60 minutes. I recommend serving it in the baking dish and a 3 “x 3” serving is ideal.
TIPS: Fresh dandelions can be bought in local markets and specialty stores. You can pick your own, but make sure the soil they are picked from has not been treated with chemicals or pesticides.
STAY SAFE – WEAR THIS MASK – KEEP SOCIAL DISTANCE.
Contact columnist Bette Banjack at banjack303.verizon.net. Search YouTube – with BetteBanjack and phoenixvillenews.com (Banjack search bar). She can also be found on Facebook.