I love cooking and I love reading, so it’s no surprise that not only do I have a lot of cookbooks, but I read them like novels. There’s something about cozying up with a cup of coffee or tea and reading a new cookbook. I like the glimpses into the author’s life and kitchen, and their philosophy when it comes to cooking and baking. I read it all: the resource sections, the header notes for the stories, and the full recipes to see if they appeal to me. Sometimes I even cook from my cookbooks, but not always — often I use them just for inspiration, comfort and enjoyment.
If there’s someone in your life who likes to cook, or someone who would like to learn, or maybe even someone that you hope will learn to cook, there just may be something on this list for them (or you!). I had a hard time limiting myself, so for the most part I stuck to recently published books and left off the ‘big names’ like Ina Garten (even though I have and love all her books).
As I sit here with a big stack of books next to me, I’m getting a little thrill from just how many of these authors I actually know through my membership in Food Bloggers of Canada. I get to rub shoulders with some truly talented people, and I’m happy to introduce some of them to you if you don’t know them already.
Disclaimer: I’m including links to these books at Chapters Indigo, but I receive no compensation for doing so; just making it easier for you to find them! With the exception of two books that I received as conference ‘swag,’ I purchased all the books myself. I’m under no obligation to anyone to include anything on this list.
Books by Canadian Food Bloggers
The Canning Kitchen by Amy Bronee
I had the pleasure of attending a launch event for Amy’s book in Guelph last summer. Reading the book got me all fired up about preserving, something I haven’t done much of. There are so many simple yet inventive recipes, both sweet and savoury. The clear instructions and chapters on Canning Kitchen Basics and Canning Kitchen Equipment put me at ease. I made Amy’s Blueberry Lime Jam (delicious!) and I’ve got my eye on Bing Cherry Barbecue Sauce. The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes
The Messy Baker by Charmian Christie
I reviewed this book last year, and it’s still one of my favourites. In fact, I featured the Cherry and Lemon Macaroon Meringues in the post celebrating the rebranding of this blog as Urban Cottage Life. I bought one to give a friend for Christmas this year, and I’ve got one to give away to a lucky reader! The Messy Baker: More Than 75 Delicious Recipes from a Real Kitchen
The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon
Even if you’re not vegan, I think everyone should have at least a few vegan recipes in their repertoire. This cookbook has received high acclaim and I can see why: the recipes and photos are tempting and there’s a lot of helpful information. I gave a copy to my cousin who is vegan and she loves it! If you’re looking for a gift for a vegan, or someone who would like to explore vegan cooking, this is definitely one to consider. The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out
Gatherings by Jan Scott & Julie Van Rosendaal
This is a real-life guide to entertaining at home. Practical and accessible, with all sorts of party tips and recipes. With Jan and Julie by my side I think I could even face throwing the dreaded (for me) kid’s birthday party! The book is organized by type of event like Weekend Brunch or Snow Day. I made the Roasted Potatoes with White Cheddar for Easter brunch last year, and what can I say, my family raved! Gatherings: Bringing People Together with Food
The UnDiet Cookbook by Meghan Telpner
If you’re looking for a health-oriented cookbook that doesn’t advocate for any one way of eating, you’ll want to check out this one. The book is chock-full of information and written in a lively voice. The recipes are plant-based and gluten free, with flexible options for any diet. There are also chapters on beauty care (the Blind Me With Your White Teeth Whitener is now my go-to for sparkly teeth), entertaining and travel. The UnDiet Cookbook: 130 Gluten-Free Recipes for a Healthy and Awesome Life
Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque
The commitment to the concept of urban homesteading shines throughout this family-centered book. But no fear, you don’t need to keep chickens in your backyard to appreciate the principles behind Aimée’s wholesome and heartfelt approach to food. There are lots of tips for involving children in cooking, too. The book celebrates the seasons, and it’s given me a new appreciation for the magic that is maple syrup. Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites
Back to Baking by Anna Olsen
This is a comprehensive baking book, updated to include dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free and low-fat/low-sugar baking along with traditional recipes, developed for both novice and experienced bakers alike. I purchased my book at a charity fundraiser in London last year, and was happy to have the opportunity to chat with Anna as she signed it. My granddaughters would be jealous — they’re fans of her show, Sugar, just like Nana. Back To Baking: 200 Timeless Recipes to Bake, Share, and Enjoy
Real Sweet by Shauna Sever
If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’ve been drawn to using less refined sugars lately, like here and here. Not to mention here. So I was excited when this book exploring alternatives to refined white sugar was published earlier this year. I like Shauna’s writing style — she shares so much information in a friendly and accessible way. Her recipe for Toasted Coconut-Almond Meringue Bark was the inspiration for my Pomegranate Coconut Meringue Bark. Real Sweet: More Than 8- Crave-Worthy Treats Made With Natural Sugars
Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
Here’s a book that proves how much I like reading cookbooks: I bought it on vacation in Florida a few years ago and read it poolside. What? Doesn’t everyone do that? I loved reading about cakes and other baked goods that were popular in yesteryear, many of them still around today. I haven’t actually made anything from it yet, but I think I’ll flip through it again later today. Vintage Cakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon and Icebox Cakes for Today’s Sweet Tooth
First things first: this cookbook is full of profanity. In fact, the subtitle is Eat Like You Give a F*ck. So, it won’t be for everyone. But it’s also full of kickass vegan recipes and rock-solid information. It was one of the hottest cookbooks of 2014 and may be perfect for someone on your list! In shameless namedropping mode, I’d just like to say that I had a drink with the two authors at the 2014 Food Bloggers of Canada conference. I’m so cool. Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck
There are two more of the many books by Canadian food bloggers that have caught my eye but haven’t yet made it onto my bookshelf (hint, hint!). Seven Spoons: My Favourite Recipes for Any and Every Day by Tara O’Brady (on the Globe and Mail’s best cookbooks of 2015 list) is highly acclaimed for both the writing and the expanse of recipes across flavour profiles. Homegrown: Celebrating the Canadian Foods We Grow, Raise and Produce by Mairlyn Smith is the first cookbook using only Canadian-produced ingredients (Mairlyn’s unique combination of humour and serious knowledge is not to be missed!).
Finally, I would also like to find Ruth Reichl’s new book, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life under the tree on Christmas morning. I seriously love her writing, and I think I need to hear the story she tells about getting through a tough period in her life through cooking. This book is also on the Globe’s best cookbooks list this year.
The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Amanda!
I have a signed copy of The Messy Baker by Charmian Christie to give away to one lucky reader from Canada*. Here’s what you need to do: leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favourite cookbook is, or which one you would most like to add to your collection. Simple, right? Be quick, the contest closes Monday, December 21 at 7 pm EST. I’ll randomly select the winner using random.org and will email you. You’ll have just 24 hours to respond with your mailing address and correctly answer a skill testing question (just keeping it legal). So, keep an eye on your inbox for mail from me! (It will be from Veranda Editorial, my business address since I’m having some trouble with my blog email.) If I don’t hear from you in 24 hours, I’ll move on to the next person on the list. I’m sure hoping this is all wrapped up before Christmas! *With apologies to my readers in other countries, but shipping is expensive and my blog is a labour of love and not exactly a for-profit enterprise (more the opposite). So, I’m limiting this giveaway to readers with Canadian addresses. If someone from London wins, I just may deliver your book in person!