Tasty Titles: New Cookbooks for the Holidays

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Following Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds may have replaced the old recipe box crammed with magazine clippings, but if the holds for our new and upcoming cookbooks are any indication, print cookbooks are here to stay. Recently, I wanted to expand and diversify our cookbook collection, so I did some hunting through review journals and online sources; I was thrilled when the hold requests started to pour in! If you’re looking for some inspiration in the kitchen, try out some recipes from these new and forthcoming books.

I had a feeling that All-Time Best Dinners for Two (from Cook’s Illustrated) would be a big hit, and I was right! If you’re an empty nester, a couple without children, or living with college roommates, recipes that serve 4-6 people can result in wasted food or improperly prepared food (or constantly buying microwave meals/prepared foods), not to mention leftover fatigue. Not only does this include recipes, but it also gives smart advice on how to shop for a small household.American Cookie by Anne Byrne book cover

I thought I was done with ordering seasonal cookbooks until I came across American Cookie: The Snaps, Drops, Jumbles, Tea Cakes, Bars & Brownies That We Have Loved For Generations. I knew our patrons would want it; sure enough, we already have multiple holds placed. Yes, it’s not specifically for the holidays, but Christmas is definitely the season for cookies (and just add red/green/blue/gold sprinkles to add a Christmas or Hanukkah touch!). Like Anne Byrn’s previous cookbook, American Cake, you’ll also get a history lesson with each recipe.

Carla Hall’s Soul Food is also a must-read for the food history fan. Hall put her own unique adjustments to classic soul food dishes, and emphasizes vegetable dishes that tend to be overlooked when people think of soul food.

Appliance cookbooks are usually a safe bet for our collection; apparently, our patrons want new ideas for their Dutch oven! As someone who received a Dutch oven from her wonderful coworkers, I am definitely coveting Cook It in Your Dutch Oven as well. Patrons know that a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen will be top-notch! We also have their All-Time Best Holiday Entertaining cookbook.

When my husband and I received an Instant Pot from his mother/my mother-in-law, we were super stoked but somewhat intimidated at first. (We’re still figuring it out, but we’ve discovered that it makes pretty awesome chili in about 30 minutes!). I’ve purchased several Instant Pot cookbooks for our home library, but I am still eagerly anticipating our latest Instant Pot cookbooks, as are many of our patrons! The Essential Mexican Instant Pot Cookbook, Fresh and Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook, The Instant Pot Holiday Cookbook, and The Complete Indian Instant Pot Cookbook all contain flavorful recipes, step-by-step instructions, and enticing photographs to help you expand your Instant Pot offerings.

If you’re familiar with Cooking Light, you know their recipes are carefully detailed and are great variations of calorie-filled dishes. While Everyday Slow Cooker is designed specifically for slow cookers, many recipes include instructions for multi-cookers.

One of the most accessible (and fun!) ways to learn about cultures is through food. Flavors of Africa features Evi Aki’s Nigerian family recipes (with her own spin), as well as recipes that reflect other African cultures. If the cover is any indication, the photography alone will inspire your taste buds!

When I saw Homefront Cooking: Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom From American Veterans and Their Loved Ones, I thought it would be a terrific addition to our Veterans Day book displays. It was an immediate hit once it hit our shelves; family stories, recipes, and military traditions from the Civil War to present-day conflicts round out this unique cookbook. The organization of the recipes makes browsing easy and fun (“Things That Can be Made in a Hurry,” “”Healthy Choices,” “Budget-Minded Meals and Stories,” “Dishes Meant to be Shared,” and “What Gets Us Through Difficult Times,” among others).

Red Truck Bakery by Brian Noyes cover

One of the most eagerly anticipated cookbooks by our patrons (and me!) is undoubtedly the new Red Truck Bakery cookbook. Brian Noyes’ beautifully designed cookbook includes recipes from the bakery’s most popular treats (as well as some of his favorite recipes from home) and short introductions for each recipe. While he does make some very specific recommendations for ingredients that might require some hunting, he does recommend substitutions and easily attainable ingredients for most recipes (and helpful hints).

When I originally ordered Sister Pie, I only ordered one copy; I wasn’t sure how interested people would be in a cookbook featuring a bakery in Detroit. I should have known that any kind of baking cookbook goes over pretty well here, and that the message of community and inclusiveness would resonate. This is definitely for serious pie makers; entire chapters on the art of crust, crust design, pies divided by seasons, and other non-pie desserts.

If museum cafes are known for anything, they’re mostly known for serving overpriced food that’s “okay” at best. The cafes at the Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC) are another story; reflecting the cultures celebrated in their museums, the cafes were designed to serve authentically inspired dishes, use locally-sourced food, and have becomes destination dining in their own right. Sweet Home Cafe Cookbook: A Celebration of African-American Cooking includes recipes from the NMAAHC’s cafe and showcase the variety of African-American cuisine.


When looking for new holiday cookbooks, I went with tried-and-true names that patrons would immediately recognize: Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook, The Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook (also their 2016 Christmas cookies cookbook, Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook, and Taste of Home Christmas. I also ordered titles that offered some variety in our holiday selections:

If you’re celebrating with your family of choice, or if you plain just want some new ideas for your Thanksgiving feast, check out Friendsgiving. This fun cookbook has been quite popular with our patrons, including themed recipes for a Cuban feast, a Southern-inspired spread, and more. It also includes music playlist suggestions and ideas for games.

If you’re expecting vegetarian visitors, or just want to offer healthier party food without sacrificing on taste, try Ready to Eat Vegetarian Party Food. Everything from dips to finger food is included, with a substantial section on vegan treats.

I am enormously pleased (and a little surprised!) that Vegan Christmas has proven to be a hit with patrons. I think most people are comfortable with offering vegetarian options, especially with the semi-vegetarian/”Meatless Monday” trends that have been popular for years, but trying to accommodate vegan guests can definitely be intimidating! Either many Fauquier patrons are expecting vegan friends and family this holiday, are vegans themselves, or (perhaps more likely) want to diversify and offer lighter/healthier options this Christmas. Recipes for Christmas morning and full vegan meal plans for Christmas are included (including dessert!).

Finally–the multicultural aspect of Winter: Warm Recipes For Cold Nights caught my attention; when I quickly glanced through this gorgeous cookbook before it hit our shelves, I was struck by the beautiful design and the amazing-sounding recipes for stews, soups, meat dishes, and desserts. This is definitely not designed for quick or healthy cooking; rather, this is full-blown “stick-to-your-ribs” kind of cooking. It is already super popular with our patrons.

Want more new titles? Check out Wowbrary, your guide to the latest titles ordered and added by Fauquier County Public Library.

Jennifer Schultz Angoli, Collection Services Development Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

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