Urban Cottage Bookshelf ❆ Cookbooks for Last-Minute Holiday Gifting

Cookbook Gift Guide 2016 | © UrbanCottageLife.com 2016

So, a funny not-funny thing happened to me. After a solid fall season of work in my editing business (the proverbial “feast” of the feast-or-famine freelancer’s lifecycle), a hiatus arrived. I enjoy my work, mind you, but oh, how I was looking forward to a few weeks off to prepare for the holidays and then to relax and revitalize before the January projects start up.

I had so much planned for the two weeks before Christmas: finishing crochet projects, reading, shopping for gifts, more time with my Little Misses, lots of cooking and blogging …. And then I realized: I didn’t have two weeks until Christmas, I had only a week. What warp in the space-time continuum caused that to happen?

Do you know that feeling when you think you have lots of time for your holiday preparations, and then realize with a jolt that you’re actually behind schedule? Stunned disbelief might describe it. If you’re in the same boat as me this year (and by boat I mean scrambling to finish my shopping in time), you’ll be glad to see today’s post! It even includes a printable shopping list to help calm your last-minute shopping panic.

Why the Gift of Cookbooks?

Cookbook Gift Guide 2016 | © UrbanCottageLife.com 2016

Cookbooks are the perfect gift for all sorts of people on your list: people who like to cook, those who don’t cook but like to read cookbooks (lots of those out there!), folks interested in food photography, people who want to learn to cook, and those that you wish would learn to cook! And don’t forget about yourself; I like to make sure I have a new cookbook this time every year to lose myself in once all the hubbub settles down. So, be bold and share this post with someone who may be struggling to find a gift for you, or use it to treat yourself! (If you get bookstore gift cards in your stocking, now you know what to spend them on.)

Another thing about gifting cookbooks? Shopping doesn’t get much easier than this. Online shopping is always easy, but for us last-minute folks it’s likely too late for timely delivery. An e-cookbook that can be downloaded is a great solution for that dilemma. And if you prefer shopping in person (support your local booksellers!), fear not: if you walk into a bookstore with a list of titles you can be out in no time (and, if you get stuck in a lineup for the cashiers, just browse through the books you’re holding!).

I’ve cooked from some of the books on this list, others I’ve lingered over with a cup of coffee, and there are some that I’ve heard great things about and can’t wait to dip into. I’m also including an oldie but a goodie that’s been on my own shelf for many years and which I’ve given to my kids; it’s always exciting to see the new crop of cookbooks, but let’s not forget the old favourites either. Also, don’t forget to check out my cookbook gifting guide from 2015 — remember, good books don’t go bad!

(Non) Disclosure: I’ve provided links for these books, for the most part to Chapters Indigo because that’s where I like to buy books online. These aren’t affiliate links, meaning if you choose to purchase via the link, I won’t receive a commission. This is simply for your convenience. Because I’m nice like that.

Cookbooks by Canadian Food Bloggers

There’s a fabulous new crop of cookbooks by Canadian food bloggers out this year, and lots more coming up in the near future, too! There’s a certain thrill in seeing books on my shelf (or my hard drive) that have been written by people I know, and even more so when I call them friends.

Real. Good. Food. from the creator of eyecandypopper.com

Real. Good. Food.My friend Gabrielle is the creator of the stunning organic food blog eyecandypopper.com. Not only is her food good for you, but it always looks so beautiful and appetizing! She created this stunning e-cookbook of vegan and vegetarian food just in time for the giving season. When it comes to last-minute giving, what’s faster than buying a book online and immediately downloading it to your computer? The book is only USD $12 and you can buy it here. I can’t wait to make her Healthy Breakfast Cookies and Mushroom, Onion and Arugula Savoury Tart! Real. Good. Food. Simple vegan and vegetarian recipes for everyday meals.

Best of Bridge The Family Slow Cooker by Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Sue Duncan and Julie Van Rosendaal


Although I never had any of the Best of Bridge books in my collection before, I was always aware of this classic Canadian series. After all, I recall them being prominently displayed near the checkouts at many grocery stores. The original Best of Bridge team has retired and a new group of food writers has stepped in to keep up the tradition of providing solid, practical recipes for the home cook. Their new slow cooker cookbook is a great asset to my bookshelf. I made the Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls and was happy with how the recipe turned out. Best of Bridge The Family Slow Cooker

Out of the Orchard by Julie Van Rosendaal

out-of-the-orchardWhile this book showcases the tree fruits of the Okanagan Valley (one of my favourite places in Canada) you can use the bounty from your part of our beautiful country (or other countries, too, for that matter) in the wide range of savoury and sweet recipes presented. How about Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cherries, Ginger Peach Skillet Jam or Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread? Out of the Okanagan: Recipes for Fresh Fruit from the Sunny Okanagan

Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky by Karlynn Johnston

flapper-pieThis book made me do a little happy dance. I love books that celebrate the retro recipes of yesteryear, and Karlynn’s love and respect for cherished prairie home baking is evident throughout this cookbook. She shares both long-forgotten classics and revamped versions of old recipes. It seems that food bloggers across Canada have been buzzing about Flapper Pie. I made it for my family Christmas this weekend, and my kids loved it. It reminded them of the desserts my mother used to make and led to many shared memories at our table. This was a real reminder to me to keep making those old recipes in Mom’s and my recipe boxes, and not always be fooling around with new-fangled things! Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky: A Modern Baker’s Guide to Old-Fashioned Desserts

Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison

batchIf you’re at all interested in preserving, then this is the book for you. The authors explore seven (count ’em!) different preserving methods: waterbath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, fermenting, cellaring, salting and smoking, and infusing. Throughout there is a strong respect for food and a commitment to reducing food waste through “nose to tail” cooking (even for fruits and vegetables). A thoughtful and thought-provoking book sure to be an excellent choice for the serious cook on your list. Batch: Over 200 Recipes, Tips & Techniques for a Well Preserved Kitchen

Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon

oh-she-glows-everydayThis is the second Oh She Glows cookbook (I featured the first in last year’s cookbook gift guide), and it may be even stronger than the first. Yes, the food is vegan (or, in other words, plant based) but if you’re not vegan you still need this book. I’ve tried two recipes so far and they’re both delicious: Golden French Lentil Stew and Loaded Sweet Potatoes (OMG, now I want them for dinner tonight). In my opinion, everyone needs to know how to make dishes their vegan and vegetarian friends can eat, that are so good their omnivore friends won’t even notice there’s no meat or dairy. Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Simply Satisfying Plant-Based Recipes

Whole Bowls by Allison Day

whole-bowlsWhether you call them Buddha Bowls, Goodness Bowls, Whole Bowls or something else, the name always implies healthful, delicious food presented in a comforting bowl instead of on a plate. It was reading the review of Whole Bowls on the Food Bloggers of Canada site that got me on a goodness bowls kick myself this year. Now I have the book and I’m looking forward to making some of the recipes in it, like Black Rice Coconut Porridge with Toasted Coconut and Pineapple (breakfast bowl) or Tuscan Bean Stew (entree bowl). All the recipes are gluten free, so this would  be a thoughtful gift for the gluten-free eater on your list. Whole Bowls: Complete Gluten-Free Vegetarian Meals to Power Your Day

Layered by Tessa Huff

layeredCakes, oh beautiful cakes! There was such a buzz when this gorgeous book came out. I’ve read it practically cover to cover, and I appreciate that although the cakes all look stunning, and yes there are a lot of steps to many of them, Tessa writes her recipes in a clear, straightforward way that makes me feel I could make them successfully in my own kitchen. (Let’s just say fancy cakes are not my strong point.) Since I seem to be all about the pomegranate these days (like here) I just might start with the  Chocolate Pomegranate Cake. Or perhaps the Golden Celebration Champagne Cake. Then again, I know some Little Misses who would be enchanted by the Strawberry Confetti Cake. I think you get the drift … get this book for anyone who loves baking! And check out Tessa’s blog, Style Sweet CA, too. Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes

Books About Canadian Food Regions

Niagara Food by Tiffany Mayer

niagara-foodThe Niagara Region is known for much more than the famous falls. It’s also renowned for its orchards and, more recently, its vineyards and wineries. After all, that’s where the nectar known as ice wine originated! Tiffany is a journalist, skillful writer, food blogger at Eating Niagara and podcaster passionate about agriculture and food. She’s also a friend of mine. Her respect for the producers and bounty of the Niagara Region is evident in her interesting book about the Niagara food and farming story. I was especially drawn to her interviews with the farmers, vintners and others and how she allows their voices to tell the story. Niagara Food: A Flavourful History of the Peninsula’s Bounty

Food Artisans of the Okanagan by Jennifer Cockrall-King

food-artisans-of-the-okanaganJennifer is a widely respected food writer and founder of the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop, which I had the pleasure of attending in 2015. It was on her recommendation that my post-conference tour through the Okanagan took me through the Similkameen Valley; I’m so grateful that I experienced it, and happy to see it’s one of the Okanagan regions covered in the book. When (not if) I return to the Okanagan, I’ll peruse this book first and take it along too. Jennifer has produced more than a mere guide to the food producers, artisans and chefs  of the Okanagan region; she makes their stories come alive on the page. Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your Guide to the Best Locally Crafted Fare

International Big-Name Cookbooks

Let’s face it, Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten don’t need my help to promote their cookbooks. But they are both people that I admire, and there’s good reason they’re so hugely successful.

Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver

super-food-family-classicsI’ve been a fan of Jamie Oliver since his show The Naked Chef way back when on the Food Network. Since then, I’ve followed much of his journey. In recents years he’s earned my huge respect for his work to improve school lunch programs and his Food Revolution initiative (I’ve promoted it, here and here). Lately I’ve been enjoying his televisions shows again, this time on Gusto, including the one on super foods. His 15-Minute Meals program is fun too, but let’s face it, I don’t move nearly as fast as Jamie in the kitchen, so these might be 30-minute meals for me. I just got this book and haven’t had a chance to spend time with it, but it was seeing the the Jumbo Fish Fingers made on TV that influenced me to get it. Super Food Family Classics

Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten

cooking-for-jeffreyI have all of Ina’s books. Every. Single. One. Yes, she uses cream and butter with abandon and I sometimes modify her recipes, but I love her books nonetheless (especially The Barefoot Contessa Parties, which remains my favourite). I’ve learned so much about easeful entertaining from her, and the way she talks about her husband always touches me. Even though there’s more similarity among the recipes in her various books than I would like, I know that if she writes another one, it too will find a place on my cookbook shelf. After all, she’s Ina. (Oh my gosh, I don’t really have a crush.) Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

The Classic

I have a range of great cookbooks that I’ve been using for many, many years, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share one with you today.

The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

the-new-basicsThis book by the Silver Palate authors was first published in 1989 as a new approach to the standard cookbook, and I think it’s still fresh today even if the organization takes a little getting used to. After all these years, you can still purchase it new. The eye-catching red and white cover design is carried throughout the book, but more importantly many of its recipes have become family classics. Just last weekend I made a slightly adapted version of their Old-Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies and they’re honestly the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. The Lacy Oatmeal Cookies have been my daughter Meredith’s go-to cookie recipe since she was a young teenager. And then there’s Jimmy Schmidt’s Rattlesnake Ribs — oh my. I’ve given this book to my children and to friends over the years. The New Basics Cookbook

On My Wish List

Every year there are some new cookbooks that I just can’t get to right away. After all, a girl can only buy so many books at a time! These are two that caught my attention this year, and I hope to add them to my shelf in good time.

Purely Pumpkin by Allison Day

purely-pumpkinThis fall I experienced a revelation about pumpkin. I usually use it in pie, where its natural flavour is masked by the liberal use of spices. When I made my pies this year, I didn’t have time to make my own puree, so used canned. For some reason, I tasted the puree and it was bland and unappealing, confirming my notion that plain pumpkin isn’t anything special. A couple of weeks later I bought some local pie pumpkins and made my own puree. I couldn’t resist a taste and — revelation! — it was delicious. Flavourful, and beautifully textured too. And now I can’t wait to get my hands on Purely Pumpkin to see what I can do with all the beautiful puree stashed in my freezer! Purely Pumpkin: More Than 100 Seasonal Recipes to Share, Savor and Warm Your Kitchen

Rock Recipes Christmas by Barry Parsons

rock-recipes-christmasI very much enjoyed listening to Shelagh Rogers interview Barry Parsons recently about cooking for Christmas in his Newfoundland kitchen. You can check out the interview here. I enjoyed Barry’s humour and take on food, and look forward to reading this book and vicariously taking part in a Newfoundland Christmas. Rock Recipes Christmas

2016 Cookbook Gift Guide from Urban Cottage Life

  1. Real. Good. Food. e-cookbook from eyecandypopper.com
  2. Best of Bridge The Family Slow Cooker by Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Sue Duncan and Julie Van Rosendaal
  3. Out of the Orchard by Julie Van Rosendaal
  4. Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky by Karlynn Johnston
  5. Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison
  6. Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon
  7. Whole Bowls by Allison Day
  8. Layered by Tessa Huff
  9. Niagara Food by Tiffany Mayer
  10. Food Artisans of the Okanagan by Jennifer Cockrall-King
  11. Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver
  12. Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten
  13. The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
  14. Purely Pumpkin by Allison Day
  15. Rock Recipes Christmas by Barry Parsons


  1. Wow, thank you so much Marlene for the kind words and including my eCoobook on your list of amazing cookbooks! I’m a big fan of beautiful cookbooks too. It’s hard not to buy all of them! 🙂

    • Lol, well, I did pretty much buy all of them! Actually, some were from the FBC conference, and of course there’s a couple I still would like to get. (Who am I kidding … way more than a couple!) Happy to include your book here.

  2. While I have it easy at Christmastime because we don’t exchange gifts anymore, your list of cookbooks would make a nice gift to give any time of the year. Merry Christmas.

Leave a comment and let's chat!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.