Cookbooks by my friends make great holiday gifts

I saw a post on Dorie Greenspan’s blog titled Cookbooks by Friends: 2014 Edition. Dorie is well known for her French cuisine cookbooks, and her real life friends include authors like Ina Garten, Mark Bittman and David Lebovitz. I love the idea of shamelessly promoting your friend’s cookbooks for the holidays so I’m stealing it.

As you’re making your lists and checking them twice, think about who may appreciate one or more of these books by my food-writing friends from the region. These books aren’t specifically focused on local foods, although many of them have recipes that would make use of our abundance in the region, but they are written by local writers. We’re all about supporting local in many forms around here.

Sweet Eat’s for All by Allyson Kramer has 250 decadent gluten-free, vegan recipes–from candy to cookies, puff pastries to petits fours in her latest cookbook. And, if a dessert book isn’t what you’re looking for, Allyson has previously published “Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats” and “Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats from Around the World” that include recipes for every meal of the day.  For a peak at how amazing Allyson’s recipes are, check out her blog,

teawith tea by Alexis Siemons isn’t out yet, but it will be in time for holiday giving. Alexis is a tea expert, and she writes about and teaches how to do everything with tea from steeping it to cooking with it. “With tea” will be  a quarterly journal of seasonal tea infused recipes and stories. The first issue will have original photos and 12 winter tea infused recipes. Alexis is also the star of the Alexis Show at The Daily Tea, a professionally produced video series featuring tea-inspired recipes. 

eat prettyEat Pretty by Jolene Hart makes the connection between nutrition and beauty – inside and out. It’s a “full lifestyle makeover, exploring stress management, hormonal balance, and mindful living.” For more information on “Eat Pretty,” check out my MNN interview with Jolene, where she discusses how you can eat your to being beautiful. Make sure you visit Jolene’s website for more natural, mindful beauty and wellness information.

almost meatlessAlmost Meatless” by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond. Joy is a former vegan. Tara loves meat. They teamed up to create a cookbook that uses a lot less meat in its recipes for those who want to eat less meat but not give up the tastes and flavors they love. For a non-cookbook gift option, check out Joy’s League Street Press creations, a collection of food themed note cards. (And, while I’ve never met Tara, I’ve been told by several of my friends that her “Choosing Sides” cookbook should be on this list, and that her soon to be released cookbook “Full Belly,” would be a perfect gift for an expecting mom.)

food in jarsFood in Jars” or “Preserving by the Pint” by Marisa McClellan are must-have books for small-batch canners. Marisa makes canning for novices or experts with any size kitchen easy – at least she has for me. It took me a long time to get my courage up to can, and when I finally did it was by using Marisa’s recipes. After my first batch of peach jam, I realized how silly I was for thinking it would be difficult. Follow Marisa at her Food in Jars blog for even more great canning advice, and check out my MNN review of Preserving by the Pint.

house of cheeseDiBruno Bros. House of Cheese by Tenaya Darlington takes a look at Philadelphia’s oldest cheese counter and introduces you to 170 of the world’s artisan cheeses. Tenaya has a poetic way of describing each wedge and adds a few recipes, some pairing suggestions and tips for selecting and storing cheese. Tenaya is the voice behind the Madame Fromage blog, a must-read for every cheese lover. She also has a short story in a new anthology called “Books that Cook,” a collection of American literature written on the theme of food. (Oh, and she’s currently working on a cocktail book that I can’t wait to get my hands on.)

Something else to consider as a gift is a subscription to one of the local edible publications. Edible Jersey (which I write for from time to time) and Edible Philly (which Joy Manning edits) are offering discount subscriptions for the holidays and if you order by December 19, they’ll send an issue with your gift message in time for Christmas.

The One Year Women in Christian History Robin Shreeves Randy PetersenFinally, one last shameless plug. My recently published book would make a great holiday gift, too, even though it’s not a cookbook. The One Year Women in Christian History is about strong, intelligent, brave, faithful women throughout history who are part of the Christian heritage. Some of the women are from the Bible, but the majority are women from throughout history – from the earliest recorded Christian women to a few young Christian women from today.


Cranberry Mule Mocktail

Cranberry Mule Mocktail |

Last I heard, New Jersey was the third largest cranberry producing state in the country. Lots of the tart berries that end up as jellies and relishes for Thanksgiving come right from the Garden State. Cranberries and their juice are also wonderful in … [Continue reading]

All the raves you’ve heard about Philly’s Russet are well deserved


Earlier this month, I met my sister-in-law Cheryl at Russet for Sunday brunch. Raves about Russet have abounded from various friends in my food world so I had high hopes for a wonderful meal. I was not disappointed. This cozy, BYOB on Spruce Street … [Continue reading]