Anyone who knows Shirley Frost shouldn't be surprised to find out she's written a cookbook.
The veteran culinary instructor lives in O'Fallon with her husband Bob, who's also her kitchen jack-of-all-trades.
Last May, "I got the brillant idea to put together a cookbook," she said with a laugh last week. She admits that at the time she told Bob: "This will b a piece of cake!"
After all, she had six years worth of healthy and delicious recipes in the computer at home -- ones she'd developed for monthly Saturday cooking classes at the O'Fallon YMCA, where she also is a board member.
Bob wasn't quite so sure.
"He said to me, 'Shirley, it won't be a piece of cake.'"
It took until last month for "Adventures in Cuisine, Healthy Eating Classes at the YMCA" to make it into print.
The cookbook, which has 145 recipes, as well as tips and suggestions, costs $10. It benefits the YMCA's Partner with Youth campaign. The first edition of 200 copies sold out immediately, but another 200 are available for holiday purchasing.
Shirley will sell and sign copies from 1-5 p.m. Wednesday at the O'Fallon Library. She'll also be at the O'Fallon YMCA from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Dec. 19.
The cookbook project got her and Bob's full attention for five months. Shirley took the summer off from teaching cooking in their home and her husband, whom she calls a computer wizard, found the crucial piece of programming needed to determine the nutritional value -- calories, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, etc. -- for each of the recipes.
But, "there are two to three steps to do for each recipe," she explained. "It took a good 15 to 20 minutes for every recipe. And there are 145 recipes."
She can laugh about it now that it's done, but not only was it tedious work to input each recipes, but the database didn't always agree with her work.
"You couldn't just put in (a recipe) 'salt and pepper to taste.' It wouldn't calculate," she explained. Yet, a small apple had the same amount of calories-- no matter its size.
The words "bunch of (parsley)" didn't register. And the program didn't know what jicama was.
With all the kinks worked, the couple, who are both 74, went in search of a printer. Since they were footing the bill themselves for the first edition, they wanted to keep the cost down so they could make a profit to turn over to the YMCA program.
"I gave up at one point," Shirley said of how expensive it was going to be.
But then they found Advertiser Press in O'Fallon.
"They came to the rescue," she said. "They knew what I was doing and they wanted to be a part of it."
So far, about $1,800 has been donated to the Partners With Youth campaign, which allows needy and disadvantaged children an opportunity to participate in Y programs.
What: Cookbook author and culinary instructor Shirley Frost of O'Fallon will sell and sign "Adventures in Cuisine, Healthy Eating Classes at the YMCA."
When: 1-5 p.m. Wednesday at the O'Fallon Public Library, 120 Civic Plaza, and 8:30 to 10 a.m. Dec. 19 at the O'Fallon YMCA, 284 North Seven Hills Road.
Cost: $10 to buy a cookbook in person, or $13 if purchased through the mail. Cost includes shipping and handling.
To order: e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone, 624-0725. Cash or check only made out to Shirley Frost.
Benefits: Proceeds go to the YMCA's Partners with Youth campaign.
Here is a recipe from the book.
Chicken Breast with Raspberry Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 pinch salt and pepper
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook 5 to 8 minutes.
Turn chicken over. Reduce heat to medium and cook 5 to 8 minutes longer, or until juices run clear when thickest part of the chicken is pierced with the tip of a knife. Transfer chicken to plate.
In the same skillet, cook sweet onion 2 minutes, stirring often.
In a cup, mix broth and cornstarch. Add broth mixture, jam and vinegar to skillet. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Cook sauce 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened stirring. Return chicken to skillet and heat through. Makes 4 servings, each with 231 calories, 7 grams fat, 83 mg cholesterol, 572 mg sodium, 13 grams carboydrates, 1 gram fiber, 29 grams 2 grams sugar, 29 grams protein.
Tip: Yellow onions cooked with 1 tablespoon brown sugar can be substituted for the sweet onions if not available.