The Best Books For Cooks

My favourites from 2012

best cookbooks 2012

At this time of year, book stores are clearing titles out and there are a lot of titles to choose from. What should you buy? Here's some of my favourite titles from 2012, both to cook from or just read.

  Most useful for everyday cooking, budget conscious, and beginner cooks

You saw her win The Next Food Network Star, and Melissa D’Arabian delivers in Ten Dollar Dinners, her first cookbook. Not only is this book great for the budget conscious, but the beginner cook as well. You won’t find any strange or hard to find ingredients here, and the directions are clear and well written.  Included are money saving tips that really do work. Easy to follow and recipes that work make this book one of my favourites! 

  Inspires me to get in the kitchen and play

I’ve always loved to read Smitten Kitchen online, so when Deb Perelman’s book The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out, I couldn’t help but snap it up. If I could describe the book, I’d say that it’s one of those beautiful ones that entices me to go play in the kitchen, but it’s so beautiful I don’t want to get it dirty! Tips and tricks give you advice on how to make things ahead, substitutions, and more. Deb’s amazing photography and short stories before each recipe have the same feel as Smitten Kitchen so if you love the site, you’ll love the book. I would place this book as one moderate or experienced cooks, as there are some specialty ingredients and methods used. Having said that, I’ve never made a Smitten Kitchen recipe that has turned out badly and am inspired to try each and every recipe in it.

  Incredible food for experienced cooks

Jamie Oliver is always having new cookbooks come out so it’s hard to stay on top of all the titles. Meals in Minutes teaches you how to put an entire meal—main, sides, and even dessert on the table in 30 minutes. It’s a very ambitious way to cook that would be difficult for those new to the kitchen to follow. I didn’t always want to make the entire meal, and found it a little confusing to weed out directions for the other dishes from the one I was making. Having said that, the food was amazing. So amazing, in fact, that even though I borrowed the book I must buy it so I can make the rest of the recipes in it. 

  Teach your kids with this one

What’s for Lunch by Andrea Curtis is a fascinating read about what school children eat around the world. Packed with all kinds of information, one can see what their counterparts eat from as far away as Dubna, Russia to Lucknow, India. Cultural differences and attitudes around lunches are also highlighted, along with how governments and citizens have tried to change school food in their home countries. Great photographs show kids how their home country’s school lunch compares to other countries, and the differences are amazing.

  Specialty cookbook packed with information

Canadian Living always delivers on their recipes, and The Complete Guide to Preserving does just that. Gorgeous photography, well laid out recipes, and everything you’ll ever need to know about canning comes together in this guide to stocking up your pantry. One thing I especially love about this book is that recipes to use what you’ve just canned are included! Canned goods make wonderful gifts from the kitchen for Christmas, and this book won’t disappoint. If you are going to buy a book about canning, this is the only one you’ll need.

  Good story for food lovers

At Blogher Food, I had the opportunity to meet Kim Sunee, author of Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home. Adopted from her native Korea by an American couple, Kim weaves her life story about growing up in America, and traveling to France where she became a wealthy businessman’s mistress. Throughout the story, she never really quite feels at home anywhere else but in the kitchen. Rich descriptions and a compelling storyline had me unable to put it down until I finished. Kim even includes some recipes of the food that is described in the story along the way. 

  Guide for Parents with picky eaters

It can be tricky writing a book about kids and food and not come off as preachy, but Karen le Billon hits it out of the park with French Kids Eat Everything {and yours can too}. Detailing her family’s move to France and the ensuing culture shock, you can’t help but empathize with a Mom who wants to do the right thing but is torn between two very different cultures. Included are the French food ‘rules’ that Karen learns, along with recipes that are kid friendly for you to try with your kids at home (or as is the case with the Chocolate Stuffed Baguette, one you’ll want to make for yourself!)

She may go by the name Scatteredmom online, but Karen really is anything but scattered when it comes to the kitchen.  Churning out tasty treats within view of the Georgia Strait on Canada's west coast, Karen will hand you an organized weekly meal plan or teach you how to make meals from scratch.  As Mom to a teenage boy, she knows exactly what it takes to keep kids full and happy-which has really come in handy with her job as the Food Editor at Yummy Mummy Club.

A strong supporter of Food Revolution who has been endorsed by Jamie Oliver himself, by day Karen can be found working as a special education teaching assistant, running a kitchen and showing teenagers how to cook nutritious meals for themselves.  By night, when she's not chatting on Twitter and answering cooking questions,  she writes her popular blog Notes From the Cookie Jar, or posting mouthwatering recipes over at Chasing Tomatoes.  Not afraid to give her opinion and passionate about community, Karen spoke at Blissdom Canada 2010 and her writing has been published in Canadian Living magazine, as well as in various online publications. 

Follow Karen on Twitter @scatteredmom