Let’s be honest, the holiday season started on November 1st. The second Halloween was over the Christmas decorations went up and the holiday radio stations kicked into high gear. Poor Thanksgiving has become the forgotten middle child in the relentless push towards December 25th. While I am a huge proponent of Thanksgiving, and meal-centered holidays in general, there really is no escaping the Christmas juggernaut. It is in that spirit that I debut the 2014 Eat, Write, Go Cookbook Gift Guide.
I love giving cookbooks as gifts, especially cookbooks that I love and use often. This year however there is such an exciting crop of new cookbooks that I am recommending titles I myself can’t wait to get my hands on. My selections also all happen to be written by folks I know and trust, and I can promise you that each and every one of these cookbooks are well worth the purchase. Without further ado, here are the five cookbooks that I recommend as the perfect gift (or gifts) for the cook in your life.
One last thing – while some of these links will send you to Amazon, I encourage you whenever and wherever possible to purchase your cookbooks from your local, independent bookseller. If they don’t have one of these titles in stock, just ask! Often they will be able to order it for you, and in the process you keep more money in your community. Win-win!
This first cookbook is from the News & Observer’s food writer, Andrea Weigl, and it is most definitely a keeper. Andrea is an avid canner and she doesn’t just stick to your summer essentials of jam, pickles, and tomato sauces, no no. She whips up Jerusalem Artichoke Relish in the winter, bright red Strawberry Preserves in the spring, and delicious fall Fig Preserves. This is a cookbook for both the novice and seasoned canner, with great tips and a wide range of recipes from across the South.
This is another first cookbook, this time from one of my favorite food bloggers. For years now Kamran has been wowing me with incredible writing, gorgeous photos, and delicious recipes over at his blog The Sophisticated Gourmet. Filled with some of his best recipes (and of course more jaw-dropping photography), this is perhaps the one cookbook I have been most excited to get my hands on this year. Kamran’s recipes are clear and concise, and he has an innate ability to lead even the novice baker through some of the more difficult and tricky techniques. This cookbook is a must for the baker in your life, and then go ahead and buy an extra for yourself.
From the author of Deviled Eggs (and who converted me into actually enjoying the concoctions) comes another in the Savor the South Series. Before you chastise me for recommending a holiday cookbook as a gift for Christmas, let me go ahead and assure you that this book is more than just December recipes. Debbie Moose (author of numerous other cookbooks and one of the most hilarious women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing) covers all of the big Southern holidays, from Mardis Gras and Juneteenth to Hanukkah and even the Blessing of the Fleet. This is the perfect gift for that lifelong Southerner who’s relocated to Chicago or, god forbid, New Jersey.
Only the unflappable Sheri Castle would tackle a task as gargantuan as compiling a single cookbook from the voluminous files of reader recipes that Southern Living Magazine has amassed over the years. I kid you not – Sheri read through every single published recipe that appeared in the magazine between February 1966 and February 2013. It was very important to Sheri that the every recipe that made the final cut be the kind of recipe a home cook would make for his or her family. There are old Southern classics in there as well as some surprising standouts, including a collard recipe that calls for kimchi and a marinated tomato dish that Sheri says “flies in the face of every piece of advice and conventional wisdom.” Tack on the incredible cover art and you’ve got yourself one hell of a gift for Southern cooks and Yankees alike!
Who can resist a cookbook entirely dedicated to the South’s most famous spud, the sweet potato? April McGreger, of Farmer’s Daughter fame, has compiled fifty of the best recipes utilizing everyone’s favorite orange root in another volume from the Savor the South series. Don’t just think Sweet Potato Pie and Sweet Potatoe Fries, imagine Sweet Potato Chiles Rellenos and Sweet Potato-Ginger Creme Caramels. McGreger, the daughter and sister of Mississippi sweet potato farmers, elevates this classic Southern staple to the heights it rightly deserves. Give this cookbook as a gift this holiday and forever banish the banal Candied Sweet Potatoes to holiday side dish hell; you can be guaranteed whoever receives this book will bring something delicious next year!
What are some of your favorite cookbooks that you like, or would like, to give as gifts? Leave me a comment and let me know!