5 Cheap Ways to Spruce Up Your Gathering & The Kitchn Cookbook giveaway

The brand new cookbook from the creators of the beloved The Kitchn blog was waiting for me when I returned home earlier this week. Oh joy!

I had met Sara Kate at Big Summer Potluck two years ago and I had the pleasure of hosting Faith here on the homestead last fall. These two kitchen geniuses teamed up to author The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cooking, a warm, inspiring cookbook that offers much more than just recipes (although the recipes are great, too).

If you like peeking into other peoples kitchens, you’ll love how this cookbook opens, with snapshots and stories of real kitchens around the country. Tucked in and around the features are solid, practical tips for setting up and caring for your kitchen. There is so much to learn here, whether your kitchen is tiny or too-large (is that really a thing?).

The next section is close to my heart: Stocking the Pantry and Planning Meals. This is the backbone of really cooking well. The authors guide you through the best set up so you can be prepared for my favourite part of the book: The Kitchn’s Cooking School! These 50 essential skills are so darn practical and well-written, I wanted to reach out and give both Faith and Sara Kate a virtual high-five.

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Michael Smith’s Family Meals (giveaway)

You know we recently vacationed in P.E.I, a place where beloved Canadian Chef Michael Smith calls home. You can’t go far on the island without seeing his face in a bookstore window or on a poster.

I’m a big fan of Michael’s cookbooks, Fast Flavours is in regular rotation – and his latest, Family Meals, is right up my alley. In fact, it hasn’t left my kitchen since it arrived in the mail; that is entirely the point of the book.

With sections such as ‘Lunchbox & Snacks’, ‘ Cook Ahead’ and ‘Family Meals in Minutes’, it’s obvious Chef Michael is familiar with juggling the demands of a busy household and a career.  And while many family cookbooks deliver recipes to cook for your family, Chef Michael’s shows you how to have fun in the kitchen with your family. It’s a subject we love around here!

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Aimée’s 2013 Cookbook Gift Guide

This isn’t going to be a ‘Best of 2013’ cookbook list. The simple reason being that I haven’t cooked from, read through or lapped up every new cookbook that came out this year.

My particular list is compiled with books that have inspired me in the kitchen and homestead and motivated me to learn more about cooking, baking, canning, and more. They have sparked research, initiated conversations on everything from pudding to preserving, and made. me. hungry!

In some cases, they’ve picked me up when I’ve been completely uninspired to make dinner (oh, it happens) and coaxed me back to the stove. Although they are new to my shelves, many of these cookbooks are already old friends.

I was a judge for this year’s Taste Canada Cookbook Awards and that experience really taught me how to scrutinize a cookbook. Before my involvement, I could intuitively separate the solid cookbooks from the weaker ones, but now I’m also aware of how important elements such as the author’s voice, research, organization, originality and food safety play into my choices.

2013 was an epic year for cookbooks. For the home preserving enthusiast to the vegetarian on your holiday gift list, here is my inspired cookbook gift guide for 2013. Happy browsing. Happy cooking.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2012 – Food Memoirs And Non-Fiction

It was food writer Molly O’Neil who said that food preferences, habits and rituals are also intimate windows into disparate cultures, classes, eras and places. We see this clearly between the pages of our favorite food memoirs, the latest, hottest coming-of-age stories.

This year I’ve traveled to Berlin with Luisa Weiss in My Berlin Kitchen, I donned chef whites and piped buttercream alongside Jenna Weber in White Jacket Required, and I ducked behind the scenes of Top Chef with Gail Simmons in Talking with My Mouth Full – and all from under a quilt on my sofa.

I’ve fallen hard for food memoirs and non-fiction this year, reigniting a love that began with Kitchen Confidential and Ruth Reichl’s books a many years ago.

I’m sharing a few of my favorites today; they’re certain to make a perfect Christmas gift for the foodie in the family.

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My cookbook gift guide & Bite this Book 2012 recap

In my opinion, the gift of a cookbook – to yourself or anyone – is about the best present to unwrap on Christmas morning. Today’s recommended gift guide is a collection of cookbooks that were all featured in my monthly Bite this Book feature.

This is not a ‘best of’ list, by any means, but these are the ones I can vouch for, believe in, and cook from. I have cracked their covers and spilled flour on them. I’ve left them stacked up on the kitchen counter, within arms reach because of recipes between their pages that are calling me.

These are the books I am gifting to a bunch of my girlfriends – the vegetarian, the novice home canner, the new mom, the dessert queen, and the gluten-free girls. Ready to see my picks? Pour yourself a coffee and hit the jump.

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