If Fran Gillette's cookbooks could talk, they'd do nothing but extoll the virtues of hearty, American fare. And each page would then shout: "Eat me!"
That's what the newest edition to the Yacolt woman's recipe collections is all about. The book, called "The Old Farmhouse Kitchen," was recently released in both hardbound and paperback form.
Each page bursts with color photos — which fill the pages to the edges — taken by Gillette's granddaughter, Gabrielle Massie of Yacolt. The book is almost impossible to put down once you pick it up.
A word of advice: Don't read it hungry.
The newest offering is Gillette's fourth. Two of her previous three cookbooks are still in print. Her first book, "Tastes of Country," is no longer published, but Gillette said she gleaned some of the recipes from that publication to use in the farmhouse edition.
The other books, "Sleigh Bells and Sugar Plums" and the patriotic tribute following 9-11, "Bounteous Blessings," are still available to the public, she said.
She and Massie began the latest project in February. Gillette, whose full-time job is as a registered nurse, did the majority of the cooking, while Massie snapped photos. The close-ups of meatloaf and soup look nothing like gourmet food art — but are mouth-watering in their homey realism.
"I'd call her up and say, 'Hey, Gabrielle, can you come over? I have five dishes set out for you,'" Gillette said.
Not only does Gillette's love of cooking, baking and general good food shine through, so does her adoration of all things old.
It starts with the vintage Westinghouse Automatic stove on the cover. "I had a stove just like this when I started cooking when I was 9," Gillette said.
She was dreaming about the stove, imagining it on the cover of this cookbook. "The very day I thought of this, a lady called me," she said.
The woman told Gillette she had a stove left over from a rummage sale. Gillette imagined a brown or olive green, circa 1970s, but as she heard the details she got more excited. The stove was a near-perfect replica of the one on which she had learned to cook.
The cover sets the tone for the entire book, which Gillette described as "old-fashioned."
"It also says on the front that it's 'recipes and old-time nostalgia,'" Gillette pointed out. "So it's full of that." Poems and sayings share space with time-tested recipes.
Massie also took a bit of artistic license and featured a pair of Belgian draft horses on the back cover of the book.
Considering the photographic challenges for Massie, it only seemed fair.
"There's definitely a trick to making food look, like, 3-D," the tall, dark-haired young woman said. "And making it look edible. The first 30 or 40 photos weren't."
What helped was having the freshest ingredients available outside the kitchen door.
"My husband (Sonny) grew the berries," Gillette said. "Aren't they cool? He helped us with this and did many dishes."
The recipes come from Gillette's kitchen and are offered up by family and friends. They are tested by Gillette family members, which includes eight children and their spouses, as well as a plethora of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her biggest sampler, Gillette said, is her son-in-law, Joe Massie. While Gillette and her granddaughter put the book together, he helped consume the loaves of baked bread, pots of casserole and hams.
"He likes to eat," she said.
Other book work, including typing, editing chores and some of the cooking, were also shared by Gillette's family. She's quick to credit them, as well as those who shared their family recipes.
"That has kept us on the map to be moving forward," she said.
"We're just plain people," she added. "I just want to share good, all-American food that anyone can cook."
Anyone wanting to purchase Fran Gillette's newest cookbook, "The Old Farmhouse
Cookbook, can do so in these ways:
- Visit the Pacific Rim Log Furnishings in Woodland to pick up a copy of the
book. The publication is also for sale at the Rose Boutique and Main Street
Station in Battle Ground, Wash., and the Amboy Store.
- Write to Fran Gillette, P.O. Box 351, Yacolt, WA 98675; call (360) 686-3420;
or visit Gabrielle Massie's Web site at
http://www.simplyfocused.org/cookbooks.html to purchase the book via Paypal.
There will also be a shipping charge and tax for books that are purchased via
mail or online.
The cookbooks are $27.95 plus tax for hardbound and $19.95 plus tax for
4 quarts beef stock
2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
3 large carrots, cut up
2 cups chopped onion
5 stalks celery, cut up
1 package frozen spinach, chopped
1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes
1 (16-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (16-ounce) can garbanzo beans with juice
Small can pork and beans
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 cup salad macaroni (small elbow pasta, uncooked)
Bring all ingredients except that macaroni to a rolling boil. Add the macaroni and simmer soup just until pasta is cooked through. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
CABBAGE PATCH SALAD
1 small head cabbage, shredded
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons almonds, sliced
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 seasoning packet from a Top Ramen mix
1-2 packages of Top Ramen noodles
Combine all salad ingredients, adding optional broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, green onions, etc.
Make dressing by combining oil, sugar and the Top Ramen seasoning (try different flavors). Pour over salad, and top with (uncooked) crunchy noodles.
SPARE RIBS WITH APPLES AND SAUERKRAUT
Arrange sauerkraut over the bottom of a covered roasting pan. Core apple haves, fill the cavities with brown sugar and place them over the sauerkraut. Arrange spareribs over all. Season with salt and pepper and roast at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
There are many ways to fry chicken. This recipe is great! Sometimes just plain flour, salt and pepper satisfy the palate. Grandma Lucy always fried chicken Southern style using simple ingredients and frying in 1/2 inch of shortening melted in the pan. Fry uncovered until crisp and done.
1 fryer chicken but in pieces (about 3 pounds)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Place chicken in a large, flat dish. Pour buttermilk over chicken and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Combine flour, salt and pepper. Drain chicken pieces and toss in the flour mixture, one piece at a time. Shake off excess and dry on waxed paper for 15-20 minutes.
Melt shortening about 1/2 inch deep in skillet. Brown chicken on all sides, then cover and simmer, turning occasionally, for about 45 minutes.
Uncover and cook 10 more minutes.
APPLE DAPPLE CAKE
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Mix egg and flour mixtures together.
1 cup coconut
1 cup nuts, chopped
3 cups apples, diced
2 teaspoons vanilla
Batter will be stiff. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
For Icing, boil together for 3 minutes:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
Pour on warm cake immediately after it comes out of the oven. Using a meat fork, pierce cake all over so the icing will seep in.
— Originally from Lillian Lehtola
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons flavoring of choice (vanilla extract, lemon extract, almond extract, etc.)
3 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Cream butter, sugar and egg. Stir in flavoring.
Sift together flour and baking powder and add to creamed mixture. Chill dough. Roll very thin and cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 7-9 minutes until barely golden.
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Sift sugar. Combine with melted butter, vanilla, salt and milk, and beat until creamy.