Gift Ideas for the Food Curious

Reviews by Kristina Sepetys

For anyone on your list (young or old) who is curious-minded and enjoys reading about food, here are some suggestions for new titles to savor this holiday season.


Best Food Writing 2015
Edited by Holly Hughes
(Da Capo Lifelong Books 2015)

Da Capo’s terrific series anthologizing the best culinary writing of the year offers a mix of thoughtful reflections, humor, social commentary, personal memoir, and everything in between from a wide variety of publications and authors. This 16th volume of the series includes writing by local writers Phyllis Grant, Cal Peternell, Emily Kaiser Thelin, and Edible East Bay’s own Sarah Henry. Cooks eagerly anticipate the appearance of this annual anthology, as its engaging stories capture many of the most topical issues in food and gastronomy from the previous year.



Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!)
By Deanna F. Cook
(Storey, 2015)

For the young chef in your life, Deanna Cook serves up a new cookbook to get kids into the kitchen. Cook has authored more than a dozen cookbooks for families and kids, including the award-winning Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook. Her new, colorful, easy-to-handle spiral-bound book contains directions (rated 1–3 spoons for ease of preparation) for 57 healthy, fun recipes for breakfast through dinner, together with full-color, step-by-step live-action photography for cooks ages 6–12.



Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day
By Leanne Brown
(Workman Publishing, 2015)

Leanne Brown was working on her food policy degree at New York University when she began exploring food options for people living on the meager four dollars per day provided by the U.S. government-sponsored food stamp program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Her research evolved into a cookbook for eating well on a tight budget by shopping well, maximizing ingredients, and cooking economically. No one will go hungry eating dishes like Spicy Pulled Pork, Green Chile and Cheddar Quesadillas, Vegetable Jambalaya, Beet and Chickpea Salad, and Coconut Chocolate Cookies. For every copy of Good and Cheap purchased, a second copy will be given to a person or family in need.



The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science
by J. Kenji López-Alt
(W.W. Norton, 2015)

J. Kenji López-Alt is “culinary nerd-in-residence” for Serious Eats and a San Francisco–based food writer deeply interested in the science behind creating great tasting food. In this book, he examines beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that make food taste good. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don’t work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using simple, new techniques. In hundreds of easy-to-make recipes with over 1,000 full-color images, learn how to make foolproof Hollandaise sauce in just two minutes, how to transform one simple tomato sauce into a half dozen dishes, and how to make a crispy, creamy potato casserole.



Growing Vegetables in Drought, Desert & Dry Times:
The Complete Guide to Organic Gardening Without Wasting Water

By Maureen Gilmer
(Sasquatch Books, 2015)

We’re always thinking about gardening in temperate Northern California, although now the focus is on using water efficiently. Gilmer has produced a helpful guide to growing healthy organic vegetables without wasting water. She focuses on four different low-water conditions in the western United States: voluntary water conservation, drought, and both high and low desert. Using modern techniques, as well as tips and stories from native traditions ranging from the southwestern United States to the Middle East, this guide offers the best of ancient wisdom and the newest innovations in conservation, and includes varietal recommendations and a seasonal crop guide.