If there’s a time of year where we are most content to cozy up to a warm stove and bake our hearts out, it’s this one. The winter months motivate us to find renewed joy indoors, within the heartbeat of every home – in the kitchen. There is perhaps no better time than a pandemic (when sourdough starters, kimchi experiments and other “slow” cooking habits found room to stretch and grow) to encourage the gifting (and getting) of titles that will further ignite that glow coming from the kitchen. So roll up your sleeves, and find the perfect gift cookbook for you and yours this season. Cheers to meals that feed our bodies as well as our souls, and food that takes time.
All titles listed below available from Slow Food USA’s affiliate page on Bookshop.org
View the full book list of holiday recommendations:
The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen
BY Beth Dooley and Sean Sherman
Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2017. Print. ISBN: 9780816699797
I’m familiar with cooking seasonally using ingredients that grow in this region. This book introduced me to ingredients that are indigenous to this region. To cook the recipes in this book is to step into greater relationship with the northern plains, using food as the tool to guide us. Sean Sherman and Beth Dooley have created a cookbook that is so much bigger than a collection of recipes. It is a gateway into understanding the personhood of a region.
The Little Library Cookbook: 100 Recipes From Your Favorite Books
by Kate Young.
New York, New York: Sterling Epicure, 2017. Print. ISBN: 9781454930129
Author Kate Young is a voracious reader of fiction who often thinks about food as she reads, while also conjuring up memories from her past. She regularly ends up in the kitchen, book in hand, to try to create the food that is mentioned. The Little Library Cookbook is a collection of these book-recipe combos. Each entry includes a quote from the book and personal anecdote from Young. Her chapter titles are “Before Noon”, “Around Noon”, “After Noon (Tea)”, “The Dinner Table”, “Midnight Feasts”, “Parties and Celebrations”, and “Christmas”, and her Australian and English influences are quite apparent. I have been reading this cookbook slowly over the course of a year or so, and when I got to the recipe for Crab and Avocado Salad inspired by “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, I stopped to actually read that book myself (as it had been on my list of books to read). The funny part is that the crab and avocado salad in “The Bell Jar” actually causes pretty severe food poisoning for those who ate it! Regardless, once I am through reading through the book, if not sooner, I Iook forward to trying out some of her concoctions. This cookbook would be a great gift for anyone who loves food, fiction, or food-induced reminiscing.
This Will Make it Taste Good
by Vivian Howard
New York, NY: Voracious/Little, Brown, 2020. Print. ISBN: 9780316381123
Vivian Howard has made a name for herself by championing the bounty of ingredients with roots in the South (namely her home of eastern North Carolina), along with the farmers who grow them, and the stories behind them. From grits to potlicker, these dishes celebrate how these ingredients onto our plates as well as honor the history behind how they came to be. Howard breaks her newest (and second) cookbook into flavor profiles. Using a base recipe per chapter (from the “Little Green Dress” to “R-Rated Onions” and the “Community Organizer”), she teaches you her tried and true with the goal that “this book will change the way you cook.” Learn how to make “Herb-dacious” for example (a garlic confit and herb filled sauce/dressing), and you’ll be on your way to divine gravy to top a bowl of warm grits, a new take on chicken salad and “chef’s mix” (Vivian’s version of Chex mix), among others. As a bonus, I highly recommend watching A Chef’s Life or Somewhere South while you cook your way through this book! Where I am, my local PBS station airs an episode of A Chef’s Life on Saturday afternoons and even if I’ve already seen it, I try not to miss it.
Julia Child, The Last Interview and Other Conversations
by Julie Child
New York, NY: Melville House, 2019. Print. ISBN: 9781612197333
While this title isn’t a cookbook, it does transport me back into the kitchen. Hearing Julia’s talk about her love of food and cooking was a welcome retreat from the dishes I have awaiting me in the sink. Further, these conversations with this cooking icon before her passing in 2004 remind me that good food doesn’t have to use certain ingredients or special tools, it just has to be made with heart. In a 2004 interview with Wilbert Jones, Julia Child said “As long as the items [food ingredients] are fresh and flavorful, they are my favorites!” I’m with Julia.
Less Waste, No Fuss Kitchen: Simple Steps to Shop, Cook and Eat Sustainably
by Lindsay Miles
Melbourne: Hardie Grant Books, 2020. Print.
One of the biggest challenges of cooking is combating food waste. Lindsay’s thoughtful book will encourage you to be a smarter shopper, and a more resourceful cook. From buying in bulk, to going package-free and even to storing produce (in the fridge vs. on the counter and near what) so that it does not go rotten as quickly (i.e. potatoes and onions may be friends in your favorite dishes, but storing them together will make them turn faster – so keep them apart!) – this book offers tangible advice that everyone can put into practice to be a less wasteful eater. Since reading this book, I’ve changed my storage methods, I opt for package free produce whenever possible, and have implemented an “eat first” shelf in my refrigerator. Plus, the book includes recipes from making your own spice blends (which saves $$$) like “Italian Seasoning” “Five Spice” and “Za’atar” to DIY nut (or seed) butters and preservation techniques like preserves, pickling, and dehydrating. -Katie