Driving home from the ultra-modern Rutgers University’s Busch Campus, my granddaughter pointed out a woodchuck nonchalantly grazing in the grass a few feet from our car. She said on other occasions she has seen the critters all over the campus. We went through the “how much wood would a woodchuck chuck…” tongue-twister–our guy remained unmoved.
Woodchuck and groundhog are one and the same animal (who knew?) The etymology of the name probably derives from the Native American wuchak. According to a “woodchuck trainer” at the Staten Island Zoo, the woodchuck is a nasty little bugger with an aggressive nature. (What this man trains woodchucks to do remains a mystery.) Groundhog Day has a better ring to it than Woodchuck Day which is probably why no one has suggested altering the name.
The critter front and center of my life this summer has been the chipmunk,
which turns out to be a small, striped member of the squirrel family. Possibly because last year’s winter was so mild, southern Vermont is currently heaven for Alvin and his brethren who are driving those of us who garden, um, nuts. Chipmunks burrow and manage to keep their sleeping quarters extremely clean, storing shells and other debris in separate refuse tunnels (note to those dealing with teenagers: chipmunk as role model?)
Sorry folks, cuy is guinea pig and to be entirely fair, it was pretty tasty In today’s vegan-friendly world where people say things like “I don’t eat anything with a mother or a face,” I certainly wouldn’t advocate eating guinea pig (or chipmunk or woodchuck) although this is rather duplicitous since my grocery list often includes items like chicken, sliced ham and pork chops.
In the spirit of not eating moms and things with faces, here is a recipe for an excellent cole slaw that stands up so well it can even be made the day before you want to serve it.
Crunchy Slaw Martha Stewart
(as I recall, this easily feeds 6-8)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1 tablespoon sugar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 small green cabbage, about 2 pounds, halved, cored, and thinly sliced (the food processor does this brilliantly)
1 bunch radishes, ends trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups) (ditto for the food processor)
In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, lime juice, and sugar; season generously with salt and pepper. Add cabbage and radishes; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors meld for at least one hour and up to one day. Before serving take dish out of refrigerator to let it come to room temperature.
No woodchucks, guinea pigs or chipmunks will be harmed in the making of this dish.