Weekend Cooking: Cookbooks for Christmas

In addition to several other great gifts, I received two visually stimulating cookbooks for Christmas.  Both cookbooks are filled with stunning photographs of ingredients, preparation methods, and finished meals–I can’t wait to get cooking!

The first cookbook, A Year of Pies by Ashley English of Small Measure, was an early gift from Anthony.  While away for his birthday (40!) in mid-December, we visited an independent bookshop in Ludlow, Vermont called The Book Nook.  The pie cookbook was part of a lovely cookbook display, and I fell hard for the photographs and recipes.  I also thought it was about time for me to finally learn to make a pie crust.

Come to mama! (photo credit NAM, 2013)

The proprietor of The Book Nook uses some clever marketing to offer discounts to customers: At checkout, if the customer correctly identifies the literary quote of the day (written on a chalkboard above the register), he/she earns a discount.  I thought this was such a sweet idea, and liked it even more when I correctly guessed a quote from Bleak House.

The second cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by food blogger Deb Perlman, has been on my radar since Perlman announced her book deal on her website at least a year ago.  I’ve used several of Deb’s recipes–a pasta sauce was even featured for another Weekend Cooking post–and haven’t been disappointed.

These covers are drool-worthy for sure! (photo credit NAM, 2013)

I keep going back to the photographs in both cookbooks, but I’m such a visual learner when it comes to preparing food that I need to see the finished product before attempting a recipe.  A cookbook without photographs just doesn’t inspire me at all.  My culinary skills are limited and without photographic motivation, it’s going to be breakfast for dinner…again.

Can’t you just taste the delicious pie and sandwich?  These two authors aren’t fooling around! (photo cred NAM, 2013)

When I opened the SK cookbook on Christmas Eve, my mother-in-law and I spent 10 minutes flipping through the pages oohing and aahing over the photos and recipes.  She’d never heard of Smitten Kitchen but became an instant fan after seeing photos and a recipe for pasta with peas in cream sauce.

I’m looking forward to whipping up some terrific pies and recipes in the upcoming months for future Weekend Cooking posts and hope you’ll stop by to see how they turn out.

Many thanks to Candace over at Beth Fish Reads for hosting Weekend Cooking!



  1. They look like great books and I love the few pictures I see here. Looking forward to reading some of the recipes in the course of the year.

  2. Oh you can’t go wrong with Smitten Kitchen — I love her recipes. And that pie book looks wonderful! I can’t wait to learn the secret to a good pie crust. Mine are only ever just passable.

  3. You know I love to cook, but pastry is the bane of my existence! I love being inspired by recipes, but hate actually following them, so baking is really not my thing. Thankfully Tony’s mom is a phenomenal baker and she passed those skills on to him! Also, the last time we had a Minnesota Christmas, she taught me how to make pie crust; having a hands-on experience definitely helped, though I am still scared of doing it on my own. I hope you have better luck!

  4. Oh yummy! I can make a pie crust – at least I used to be able to – but haven’t in a long time. When I bake something, I end up throwing half of it away because we don’t eat it all. I really want that Smitten Kitchen cookbook!

  5. I wrote about the same thing as you this week! 🙂 The Smitten Kitchen is on my radar too, I love the site!

  6. I think cookbooks are a wonderful present. Kind of a gift that keeps on giving! Also, I loved the discount idea at the indie bookstore. What a great way to make book buying a bit more fun.

  7. I love cooking and I could read cookbooks all day but I really just came by to say Hi! It’s been a while. Hope the holidays treated you well.

  8. What wonderful Christmas gifts; I have had my eye on the Smitten Kitchen as well.

  9. Somebody must love you! What beautiful gifts.

  10. I have to agree about the photographs. I have some great cookbooks with limited/no photos, but for the most part, the photos are what draw me in first. I’ve heard great things about SK’s book and have enjoyed some things off the blog also.

  11. I made sure that if I got nothing else from my husband at Christmas I got The Smitten Kitchen cookbook! Haven’t made anything from it yet, but it’s a beautiful book.

  12. I, too, got the SK book – have made tons of things from the blog over the years but so far only the pumpkin cheesecake from this book – which is excellent. It is beautiful, though, and I’m sure I’ll get to it soon… might have to get that pie book for my husband for V-Day. Pie is definitely the way to his heart.

  13. I’m not much of a cookbook person. I am a long-time fan of Cooking Light magazine and have more than 10 years’ worth of issues lined up on my kitchen shelves! I mainly cook from that and my own recipes, though I do like to look at cookbooks!

    These two do look enticing – enjoy them!


    Book By Book

  14. Both of these look amazing. Cookbooks without photos is a huge pet peeve of mine. Enjoy!
    2 Kids and Tired Books MM

  15. Oooh, these look fab — and I’m definitely drooling over the cover of A Year of Pies. Too bad I’m starting Weight Watches in, oh, a few days. Guess that’s a few days I have to fly off the handle and go dessert crazy, eh?

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