When Gayle Selisch says the spirit moved her to create a cookbook of her heralded recipes from her 26 years owning Middle Fork River Tours, she’s not being obtuse.
“People have always asked me to do a cookbook. I love cooking, but I hate writing recipes—I would rather clean the barn. And,” added the energetic nurse, “I hate sitting. This would never have happened if it weren’t for Brooke.”
Brooke Ellen Estelle Selisch died at age 16 after a car accident on June 1, 2008, on Gannet Road. Her friend Pauline Hoagland died as well. Police reasoned that Brooke fell asleep in the early hours of that morning, lost control and rolled the vehicle.
There is already a scholarship in her honor, which is awarded to horse-loving kids like herself. She was a rodeo queen, an avid horsewoman since age 8, competing in dressage, show jumping and cross-country competitions, barrel racing and pole bending.
She left behind a sister, Reid, and her parents, Gayle and Kurt, and tons of friends.
In what seem to be prophetic statements left on the Idaho Mountain Express’ comment boards at the time, it was clear that while Brooke may have left the world in body, her spirit would remain alive and close to her loved ones.
“Brooke was a beautiful person. Her spirit will remain with us always,” wrote Daisy, from Hailey.
Dr. Bryan Sohl, who delivered both of the Selisch daughters, had an odd encounter days before he heard the news of her death.
“This Sunday, at church, I ran into another woman who played a big part in Brooke’s delivery named Stella. I hadn’t seen her for years, and hadn’t talked to her specifically about Brooke for even longer. That day, early afternoon time in Idaho, she approached me and the first thing she mentioned was ‘I was just thinking of Brooke just now. How is she? Have you heard any news of her of late?’ I told her about the rodeo queen news. It wasn’t until Tuesday that I learned that at the very moment of our conversation Brooke was fighting for her life. Such is part of the great mystery. This cannot be pure coincidence, can it, that we would be thinking of her and her birth at such a time out here in Oregon?”
And her spirit has been pushing her mother along ever since.
Selisch and her husband sold Middle Fork River Tours in 2010 to Clint and Molly Frank, who have incorporated some of the longtime favorite dishes into their operation, but people still pestered Selisch to disclose some of her secrets from the Dutch oven. It was the last thing she wanted to do, but Brooke was not going to be denied.
“She’s come to me and said, ‘Get off your ass and do it!’ She has come to me several times,” Selisch said. “The book has a little more than 100 recipes, lots of pictures and little blurbs about river life, history, etc., with a little river humor mixed in. Of course I think I’m funny, but will anyone else?”
There are also tips for Dutch oven cooking.
Most important though, said Selisch, is that the book will benefit two causes close to her daughter’s heart and hers, Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped, now relocated to state Highway 75 south of Bellevue as Swiftsure Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and Bald Mountain Rescue Fund in honor of Teresa Hukari. Brooke volunteered her time at the equine therapy center and Selisch was close with Hukari, a longtime family friend who broke her neck skiing in Sun Valley in 2006. Hukari’s friend Brian Barsotti, started the rescue fund for people in the valley who were likewise catastrophically injured.
“Brooke pushed me, but my love and concern for Teresa pushed me just as hard,” Selisch said. “Being close to a person living with a spinal cord injury was a gigantic reason for me writing the book. The cost of living paralyzed is astronomical. I wish I could do more to educate people on the need to support people with spinal cord injuries.”
Selisch has three upcoming book signings and numerous commitments from area merchants who are supporting her effort by selling her books, including Iconoclast Books, Ketchum Kitchens, Sturtevants, Atkinsons’ and Sawtooth Tack and Feed in Bellevue.
“Now it’s done, and it’s beautiful, but I’m never going to write a recipe again!” she said.
Cookbook benefits two unique programs
Gayle Selisch will be signing books starting Friday, Dec. 7, from 3-5 p.m. at Sawtooth Tack and Feed in Bellevue, on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 4-6 p.m. at Iconoclast Books in Ketchum, and Sunday, Dec. 9, from 4-6 p.m. at the Hailey Atkinsons’.