Cookbooks by People I Know and Like


09 Dec Cookbooks by People I Know and Like

I often get asked for cookbook suggestions. Since as much depends on the recipient as the book itself, I created a long list of possibilities to share in a special Cookbook Gift Post. Then I realized I know many of the authors personally and should disclose this information. But how would I distinguish which books are written by friends and which are not? An asterisk? Colour coding? The yet-to-be invented Christie’s Corner Friendship Seal?

Oh heck. It’s my blog and I’ll flog if I want to. Here goes: I have a personal relationship with each of these cookbook authors. Even though I haven’t met them all face-to-face, I feel I can pick up the phone and say, “Hi, this is Charmian. Do you have a minute to chat?” And they’ll say, “Why yes, I always have time for you, you special food blogger, you.”

Now before you think the order of presentation reflects importance, I assure you, this list is random. It’s not alphabetical, in order of preference or by how well I know the author. Instead, it simply reflects the  higgledy-piggledy order of my chaotic bookcase.

And so, without further ado, here is a list of cookbooks I like, by people I like (and know).

Dana's Top Ten.1Dana’s Top Ten Table
by Dana McCauley


Why I like Dana: She’s generous with her knowledge and encouragement. She also leaves comments on my blog whenever I post,  which gives me a disproportionate sense of joy and validation.

Why I like her book: Dana’s recipes are practical, easy to prepare and don’t rely on a lot of pre-packaged ingredients. They’re also amazingly tasty. I know I can find something the whole family will like, which if you know my family’s diverse tastes, isn’t always easy.

A recipe I liked: Stromboli.

Grazing_CoverFinalGrazing: A Healthier Approach to Snacks and Finger Foods
by Julie Van Rosendaal


Why I like Julie: You know you’re kindred spirits when you call for what is supposed to be a 20-minute interview and you end up talking for almost 2 hours. Julie is just so darned engaging and real I want to adopt her.

Why I like her book: While the recipes are diverse, all are quick and easy to make. The best part? Every time I make one of Julie’s snacks, people ask for the recipe.

A recipe I liked: Romesco

One-Smart-Cookie-Cover-204x300One Smart Cookie: All Your Favourite Cookies, Squares, Brownies and Biscotti… With Less Fat
by Julie Van Rosendaal


Why I like Julie: AGAIN?  I know, with two cookbooks under her belt, I really shouldn’t like Julie. But I do. And I like her cookies. And it’s almost Christmas…

Why I like the book: These recipes are lower in fat the the standard recipes yet maintain all the flavour. Go ahead, eat two.

A recipe I liked: Double-Berry Crumble Squares

ModernSpiceModern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen
by Monica Bhide


Why I like Monica: Thanks to Monica I sold my first essay (The Kitchen God) to The Globe and Mail. She’s smart, funny and gets mushy about cookbooks. I know when I get all soppy about culinary moments she’ll understand.

Why I like her book: Quick, tasty and lower in fat than traditional Indian cuisine, these recipes use the Asian spices I love without requiring hours in the kitchen. Like Monica, the recipe are approachable, fun and inspiring.

A recipe I liked: Roasted Cauliflower with Fennel

Anita-Stewart-CanadaAnita Stewart’s Canada
by Anita Stewart


Why I like Anita: Despite being dubbed The Patron Saint of Canadian Cuisine, Anita thinks I’m “brilliant.” And I have the email to prove it. Anita’s passion is infectious, and despite her truckload of credentials, she’s not a food snob.

Why I like this book: This book refuses to be pigeonholed. It’s our nation’s culinary memoir—an affectionate tribute to our past, a realistic look to the future, an intriguing science lesson, ripping travelogue and sumptuous mix of regional recipe secrets and arcane cooking techniques.

A recipe I liked: Great-Grandma’s Sour Cream Apple Pie

Asian GrandmotherThe Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook
by Pat Tanumihardja


Why I like Pat: She actually went to the bother and expense to ship me some “mother” so I could make homemade vinegar. And, knowing the contents of the package was extremely smelly, triple wrapped it. Generous, considerate and tidy? What more could you want in a foodie friend?

Why I like her book: It’s beautiful, informative, touching and hunger-inducing. Heartwarming profiles of the grandmothers from across Asia, unusual yet authentic dishes and amazing photographs combine to make a memorable tribute to the women, their customs and their cooking skills.

A recipe I liked: Yellow Coconut Rice (yet to be posted).

Got a book you love? Feel free to list your favourite cookbooks in the comments section. Today is all about sharing.

No Comments
  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 12:43h, 09 December Reply

    What a magnificent selection, Charmian! I’ll be adding several of these to my wish-list, thankyouverymuch! 😉

    As for suggestions, I really love “Almost Meatless” by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond. Joy is a blog friend, though even if she weren’t I’d like this book. Its perfect for my husband and I … he’s a major carnivore – me, not so much, the recipes in “Almost Meatless” satisfy us both!

    Here’s a link:

    An ugly, cumbersome link, but I don’t know how to make it short and pretty here. Sorry!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:13h, 09 December Reply

      Of course! Almost Meatless. How’d I miss that one? And to think, I was part of the virtual potluck. I knew I’d drop the ball on some titles. Darn my messy bookshelf!

      Anyway, here is the tiny URL:

      Courtesy of

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 14:08h, 09 December Reply

    Duh, I forgot about both tiny URL and the fact that you did the virtual potluck too. Can you say brain-dead-Diva? LOL

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:20h, 09 December Reply

      Let me get this straight. I took part in the Almost Meatless virtual pot luck. I forgot to mention the book and YOU’RE the brain-dead one?

      Exactly how does that work? Cause if there’s some universal loophole where blame shifts to the smarter person, I want to know about it. (And we must never, ever tell our husbands.)

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 14:41h, 09 December Reply

    I know and like you, too!

    Thanks for the plug!

  • Stephanie - Wasabimon
    Posted at 15:20h, 09 December Reply

    Great list! I’m going to add this to my holiday gift list…

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 18:34h, 09 December Reply

      Love your gift list idea! Thanks for including me — and all the titles.

  • Dan @ Casual Kitchen
    Posted at 15:31h, 09 December Reply

    I’ll second Almost Meatless too, that cookbook was built around a creative and timely concept and it is chock full of exceptional recipes.

    And I’ll add in one of my all time faves (I hope the formatting for the link works!) Sundays at Moosewood. It’s got a really wide range of healthy, interesting and ethnic recipes. Yes, it’s technically a vegetarian cookbook, but we use it religiously here at Casual Kitchen even though we are NOT vegetarians.

    Thanks for sharing some of your favorite cookbooks Charmian!

    Casual Kitchen

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 18:37h, 09 December Reply

      Thanks for endorsing Almost Meatless. It’s a great concept, well executed.

      I have the classic Moosewood Cookbook but haven’t seen their Sunday version in a long time. Good to know. And the link worked perfectly!

  • Joy Manning
    Posted at 18:09h, 09 December Reply

    What a good round up. And I’m glad the peanut gallery (The Diva on Diet, Daniel) did mention a certain other excellent cookbook. (Not that you had to include it, Charmian, just because you came to the “party”!)

    Already love Modern Spice, but I am definitely going to check out Grazing. I sure love finger food!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 18:39h, 09 December Reply

      What can I say other than my readers are way smarter then I am.

      Grazing is great and has a wide range of recipes. I’m sure you’ll love it.

  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 23:32h, 09 December Reply

    This was a great post (as all of yours are). You could write reviews for me any time. I love the idea of presenting your recipe choice for each book. I might not have learned how to be a great cook yet (not your fault), but making comments without spell check has taught be how to spell recipe finally.
    Big Sis

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 14:33h, 10 December Reply

    All good books… or so I hear with respect the Asian Grandmothers one, I’ve not seen that.

    Another current fave is Kitchen Scraps – humour, good recipes, and 100% illustrated. And I recently had dinner with Pierre, there’s my bias.

  • Cheryl@5secondrule
    Posted at 15:19h, 10 December Reply

    I love to see writers like this get the love they deserve. These books (at least the ones I own and have cooked from) have soul, and the writing is as good as the recipes.

    I still haven’t gotten my hands on Dana’s book. No more excuses — I’ll need to seek it out in 2010.

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