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Local author pens new cookbook
Hungry Horse News Wednesday, September 12, 2012
West Glacier author Gail Jokerst grew up in a kitchen and has been cooking since her youth. Her new 128-page cookbook, “The Hungry Bear Kitchen: Recipes and Writings,” includes essays as well as 123 of Jokerst’s favorite recipes.

“I’ve been a denizen of the kitchen since childhood and was greatly influenced by my grandmother, mother, and my first cookbook, ‘Mary Alden’s Cookbook For Children,’ which I still have a copy of,” Jokerst said recently. “My grandmother made wonderful bread and pizza and memorable chicken soup. My mom loved to bake as well and always let me help her stir batters, scatter nuts over cookie doughs and lick the mixing bowls clean with a rubber scraper.”

Growing up in New England, Jokerst’s parents took her to a host of different restaurants as a child, which honed her culinary tastes.

“I became acquainted at an early age with Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Chinese and Polynesian eateries, as well as seafood restaurants and steakhouses,” she said. “My parents were not gourmets, but they did enjoy the various cuisines of the people who were also our friends and neighbors.”

Jokerst has been collecting and sharing recipes since her youth. She’s also been a professional writer for 20 years, appearing in many regional and national publications.

“Whenever I’ve come across a particularly stunning or exciting recipe that wasn’t too hard to prepare, I’ve shared it via mail, e-mail, index cards or phone with friends around the country whom I felt would be interested in that kind of food,” she said. “So sharing recipes has always been a part of my life.”

As her writing career expanded, Jokerst began to write essays about cooking and recipes in addition to the food-history stories she wrote for Montana Magazine on lutefisk, sourdough, pies and pasties.

“The Christian Science Monitor published 11 of those food essays,” she said.

Jokerst said her favorite recipe tends to be the one she’s cooking at the time and what’s coming out well.

“Most of my favorites are easy things to prepare that provide happy endings with minimum fuss—things that even an inexperienced cook can make and feel proud of,” she said.

She cited the grape-nut custard pudding and cauliflower chickpea curry in her new cookbook as examples.

“However, I also enjoy making something that takes a bit of effort and time but produces wow results,” she said. “That would be the World Peace Cookies with their distinctive chocolate-salt flavoring and the gumbo in my cookbook. Since I tend to be a practical cook and baker, I also adore recipes for anything that freezes well if I have leftovers.”

Jokerst moved to Montana in 1987 and lives with her husband Jim, a well-known artist whose paintings illustrate the book.

“The Hungry Bear Kitchen: Recipes and Writings” is available online at www.gailjokerst.com as well as area bookstores.