About the Author: Jerry Johnson
I have known Jerry – and his wife Millie – Johnson for decades. Jerry and Millie have been (Jerry is officially retired) mathematics educators at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA for almost as long as I’ve known them. I have worked with Jerry on several projects over the years – he’s got a great sense of humor and a variety of interests!! (You’ll hear of part of one of them below.) I think you’ll enjoy Jerry’s story – I hope to entice more from him in the future!
As a side note, the Johnsons live just outside of Bellingham on Lake Samish, the subject of at least TWO of my shared photos over the past year. I was visiting them when the shots were taken!
As I entered a local estate auction already in progress, they were selling huge piles of books under two tables. I raised my hand as the only bid and later discovered that I was now the prize owner of 1000+ cookbooks. They now serve as wall decoration in my kitchen…my den…my mud room…and my storage room. They also serve as great resources, as I love to cook. I know that most people now use the internet as a primary source for recipes, but nothing beats browsing through recipes in a “hand-held” cookbook, plus discovering all kinds of carefully clipped recipes inserted in these books, complete with “review” comments and food stains.
Best of all is the unique nature of many of the cookbooks, which somebody had apparently been collecting for many years. The books include recipes for every occasion imaginable and represent foods from a great many countries internationally —all but one continent.
My favorite book is a little resource called the Shishmaref Eskimo Cookbook, printed in 1989. In case you have never heard of the place, Shishmaref is a small Eskimo village, population about 500, on an island just north of the Bering Strait. The proceeds from the sale of the cookbook supposedly funded ivory and bone carving workshops.
Consider this sample of mouth-watering recipes: Fermented Walrus, Bearded Seal Intestines, Reindeer Tongue Soup, Seal Oil Donuts, Tom-Cod Livers with Berries, and Willow Bark. To lure your appetite even further, this is my favorite recipe:
Eskimo Ice Cream
Grate a piece of dried fat from moose, reindeer or caribou into a large bowl.
Add a big spoon of seal oil. Mix well.
Add a big spoon of water. Mix well.
Add a spoon of seal oil. Mix.
Add a spoon of water. Mix.
Keep adding seal oil & water and mixing til the tallow whips into a smooth cream.
This takes a lot of hand mixing. Now many people use electric mixers.
After the cream is mixed light and smooth, mix berries into it.
Add salmon berries, blue berries and black berries (crow berries).
Sugar to taste.
I must admit that I have not made this recipe, but only because my local grocery stores do not stock the necessary ingredients. But, maybe someday….
Note: As if an act of serendipity, it turns out that the Shishmaref Eskimo Cookbook is available via Amazon. If you are interested, only one copy remains!