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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Drawbacks to culling – 01 Jun 11

Over the last few weeks or so, my grandson Dilin, after finishing his first year of college, had been down to help with some stuff around the house. His last task was to repaint the inside of the kitchen pantry. That he did and then restocked it with the stuffs he had distributed all over the kitchen and dining room. That is all except the nearly six foot high stack of cookbooks he had left out on direction from his grandmother—my wife.

As you might expect, I was tricked into helping sort out and cull what cookbooks were not to be retained. I accomplished this from my chair completely across the room from Patsy who actually handled the material—I was not allowed to touch it.

The first item in the stack tackled by my better half was a three ring binder with lots of loose and punched items stuck in it more or less randomly. The good stuff looked to be a compilation of what looked good and needed saving at the time. Some really interesting keepers I thought as Patsy read them out as she went through the binder. I thought most of it deserved retaining—I was obviously out voted and as she claimed that she was the collector of the good stuff, she was also the final decision on whether to keep or cull.

There were such items as: (1) a newspaper clipping with the recipe for chocolate chip pie, (2) recipe for deluxe Mexican cornbread, (3) warranty and operating instructions for a 52” ceiling fan we no longer possessed, (4) same with a char-broil grill we no longer possessed, (5) page after page of clipped recipes I had never used or seen, and (6) a book entitled “Famous Chili Recipes from Marlboro Country” that looked like a keeper. I would estimate there were over two thousand recipes carefully clipped and pasted to yellow pages neatly filed away for later use. I’m not sure when later is going to be; I haven’t seen that binder off the shelf since we moved into this house.

The last item in the binder, I did think was of special note and thought I would give it a little more attention. I ask Patsy if I could review it just a bit. She relented and took it out of the binder and gave it to me. The item peaking my attention was a pink colored brochure that was most likely picked up at the Alaska State Fair in 1972 (see pix of prize winning 38 & 1/4 lb cabbage below) titled “Making Mukluks and Mittens With Fur.” Now I know you will side with me on this one: this is a keeper!

I am positive that I fully intended to make a pair of mukluks at one time or another. I always liked the ones the Air Force wore; we didn’t have that option in the Army—we had the VB boots though: better and cool looking. But still, I always liked their mukluks and wanted a pair.

The pamphlet looks to have been distributed by the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service’s division of Statewide Services (Pub #4). Page one provides a list of materials required to construct a quality pair of mukluks. The first item listed is “One pair Eskimo crimped soles, or soft soles of moose, caribou or hairseal. Only oogruk soles, prepared by Eskimos, are water proof.” Nuff said: that’s what I need. Step two did allow a little leeway on the fur requirements: “Two square feet of short haired fur such as hairseal, calf skin, caribou shanks or ground squirrel for tongue and ankle of mukluk.” I just might be able to acquire a few squirrel hides. My back yard seems full of them some days. The instructions for the trimming strips allows one to use “long haired fur, such as rabbit, fox, or otter, for tops.” That fox or otter may be just a tiny bit hard to come by but I bet I just might be able to come across a rabbit or two. I do believe I’m agonna leave off the pompons though. It was nice of them to allow one to use dental floss instead of the nylon thread.

Page 2 followed with very detailed instructions on laying out, cutting, preparing and assembling of the finished product. Shouldn’t be that hard once I get the material together. The second half of the pamphlet deals with mittens and as I have a perfectly good pair of Arctic mittens I’m just not going there.

The next item I reviewed later that same day. It looked to be very interesting: the 315 page “Recipes from Old Virginia” compiled by The Virginia Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs and first published in 1958. I remember seeing this book on the shelf many times. Upon review I discovered only one page with any real use and that looked to have been me; it was no doubt that the notes appearing on that page were in my writing. I don’t remember making molasses spice crisp but must have at some time. The recipe was contributed by N. Lula Pope of Southampton County. Looks good though!

My wife remembers obtaining this book on our first trip to Virginia upon entering the Army in 1970. The price sticker says $2.65. She also remembers seeing the same book (no change) in Williamsburg on our last trip to Virginia just a couple of years back—price at the time as far as she remembers was in the $15 – 20 range; I guess ya might say that was the change. My review of the collection pointed out a couple of quizzical options in some of the recipes. I had to giggle just a little at the use of the term slow oven and the attachment of 300ºF with that term. I finally found a note up front that explained that some of the older recipes came from long, long ago when ovens had not the fancy instruments we have today; thus slow oven is 300ºF, medium oven is 350ºF, etc.

It looks like they turned no recipe down that the testers (two pages of) pasted judgment on as being worthy. Why else would you need cocoanut icebox cookies I & II (Mrs. John W Gunter of Appomattox County and Alice Garrette of Appomattox County respectively), icebox nut cookies (Mrs. C G Siebert of Norfolk County), icebox cookies (Mrs. O S Crute of Augusta County), vanilla icebox cookies and almond icebox cookies (both from Mts. H Van Vleek of Norfolk County), mincemeat (Stella Dellinger of Shenandoah County), mincemeat (Mrs. Tom Boyer of Grayson County), mincemeat (Mrs. W A Sherman of Orange County), homemade mincemeat (Mrs. Stanley Dawson of Westmoreland County), grandmother’s mincemeat (Churchill Wright of Orange County), and green tomato mincemeat (Mrs. Frank Trainer of Prince Edward County). It does look like they eat a lot of mincemeat in Orange County and a lot of various icebox cookies in Appomattox and Norfolk Counties.

There were a couple of humorous entries, at least I thought so at any rate. On page 50 I came across a recipe for Scrapple for Canning (Mrs. M H Pannill of Orange County). I don’t know many people that eat scrapple anymore and I am sure I haven’t seen one of the ingredients on my HEB butcher’s shelf. There were only two ingredients: (1) 4 hog faces and (2) 16 feet. You did need to clean the faces and feet and cook until the meat falls from the bones. Next you had to “Remove bones and all liquid fat, but leave right much of the other liquid.” I do want to point out that both scrapple recipes were NOT in the index.

It was interesting to me that you had to wait two months for the “Best Ever” cucumber pickles of Mrs. Marcellus Boyer of Shenandoah County when I can go over to the HEB and get them this afternoon if I want. I could cut my wait in half by taking up the 14-day sweet pickles recipe of Mrs. Leslie Gordon of Appomattox County.

By the way, I did see a great number of really interesting recipes that I just might try down the road.

The primary drawback of culling is that ya just don’t know unless ya spend the time lookin’ close at each and every item in the stack what ya just might chunk that might be of use just around the corner or some time in the future. I’m more in tune with finding another place to store it and hold on; there’s plenty of corners in my future.

I know if I’m in need of scrapple that I can find pigs feet but I guess that I’m agonna have to call my HEB butcher over to the side and see if he can get me some faces; I just never see them on the shelf.

I am also in a quandary as to where I might come across some oogruk soles prepared by Eskimos. There’s really not a large population of any Eskimos, regardless the tribe, any where in Central Texas. I guess my mukluk project remains a No-Go without proper Eskimos tradesmen or women residing close by. Anybody out there got any contacts I could use? I’m still not much for this new fangled culling idea.


  1. Oooh. Sign me up for a pair of mukluks. I'll provide the squirrels. I have a pair of lambskin boots with the fleece on the inside. I've had them for 30 years, and still love them. I put my bear feet in them and they stay toasty warm in the coldest weather. Heaven. You can keep the hog faces.

  2. Hello John. I know this is an old subject but would you be willing to scan Making Mukluks and Mittens With Fir for those of us without access to such a great find?

    Thanks for your time!

  3. Wayne, I am replying to your email (I hope) with the scan you requested.

  4. Hi John,
    I stumbled across your blog while searching the internet for good instructions on making fur mukluks. I live in Alaska, but even here there's not a lot of step by step information available. Any chance you'd be willing to also send me a scan of this pamphlet?


    1. Erica, I am going to try to email the scan of the pamphlet to you. I hope this works. I never heard back from Wayne, so I don't know if it got through or not. By the way: What is a Faux Cuban doing in Alaska? Also, have any of you guys tried getting this pamphlet from the State - that's where I got it in the first place?

  5. Erica, If you do not receive an email with the Mukluk document attached today (Thr - 26 Apr 12) send me an email at and I will forward it that way.