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Chef Gilligan's Groundhog buns

Chef Gilligan's Groundhog buns

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Chef Gilligan's Groundhog buns

As any fan of Bill Murray will know, Tuesday is Groundhog Day. This year it is pretty poignant to Birmingham City and Jets fans as we were given a glimpse of glory just to see it all go rat arsed like usual! Same old, same old!

Groundhog Day is an annual holiday celebrated on February 2. It is held in the United States and Canada. The legend of Groundhog Day is based on an old Scottish couplet: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year."

According to folklore, if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day fails to see its shadow, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter will soon end. If on the other hand, the groundhog sees its shadow, the groundhog will supposedly retreat into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks.

The holiday, which began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European weather lore, wherein a badger or sacred bear is the prognosticator as opposed to a groundhog.

The holiday also bears some similarities to the medieval Catholic holiday of Candlemas It also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 1 and also involves weather prognostication.

Modern customs of the holiday involve celebrations where early morning festivals are held to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow. In southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges (Grundsow Lodges) celebrate the holiday with fersommlinge, social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more g'spiel (plays or skits) are performed for entertainment.

The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event, and those who speak English pay a penalty, usually in the form of a nickel, dime or quarter, per word spoken, put into a bowl in the center of the table.

The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds as high as 40,000 have gathered to celebrate the holiday since at least 1886.

Pork sausage qualifies as Groundhog in my book and is faster and easier than cooking one of those little rodents to serve at a Groundhog Day celebration!

Did you know that groundhogs are edible? There are brave souls around who actually eat these small rodents! However, since groundhogs are not readily available at grocery stores, serving a dish containing “ground hog” (pork) is a more reasonable option.

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage with Peppers & Onions is a perfect dish to serve on Groundhog Day.
This dish can actually be put together in just a few minutes of hands-on time in the morning, then left to cook all day. Classic Italian street food when served on freshly baked Italian buns, these sausages may also be served over creamy hot polenta or any kind of pasta.

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions
12 Servings

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 mild Italian sausages
6 hot Italian Sausages
2 red onions, cut in half then sliced very thin
2 red bell peppers, quartered then cut into thin slices
2 green bell peppers, quartered then cut into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.
Add the sausages and brown on all sides over high heat.
Transfer the sausages to the slow cooker.
Cover the sausages with the onions, peppers, garlic, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, fennel, salt, and pepper.
Cover and cook on low 5-7 hours.

If the mixture has a lot of liquid near the end of cooking, turn the slow cooker to high and set the lid a little to the side so that the excess water evaporates.
Serve over hot polenta, pasta, or on crispy Italian buns.

AND FINALLY… People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is on a mission to save Punxsutawney Phil. The animal rights group has suggested the season-predicting groundhog, appointed to determine how long we’ll have to tolerate Ol’ Man Winter each year, should be replaced with a robot.
The tomfoolery of this organization never ceases to amaze me. Why are these people allowed to walk the streets without medication?

Bill Deeley, president of the Groundhog day Club, has called the request “crazy.”

“Phil {the groundhog} is probably treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania,” Deeley said. “He’s got air conditioning in the summer, his pen is heated in winter … He has everything but a TV in there. What more do you want?”

I would like PETA to mean “People Eat Tasty Animals”

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