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Cooking is about flavor, inspiration and our lives, and a great cookbook can encourage and excite for experimentation and new discoveries. Cookbooks are made to be used, to be read, to be scribbled in, and of course, splattered with ingredients. Here are some cookbook gift ideas for the kitchen master of Chopped-level proportions on your Christmas list as well as those tiptoeing into the world of creating culinary delights. Each of these beautiful cookbooks I chose was written by an Arkansan and would be great to gift this holiday season.
Clean Paleo One-Pot Meal (The Whole Cook)
By: Christina Shoemaker
Have you ever wanted to try clean eating paleo style, but are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Christina Shoemaker makes it easy for you with her Clean Paleo One-Pot Meals cookbook that includes 100 mouth-watering and family-friendly recipes that are uncomplicated in both time and preparation. She shares recipes on how to make healthy food fast without it being complicated or weird. You can find her regularly blogging at The Whole Cook where she shows you how to make fun, tasty, healthy meals in 30 minutes. Her cookbook is gorgeous and would make a great gift this holiday season.
Leave It To Liz
By: Liz Bray
Liz Bray is a lifelong learner who has let her passion for food and life spill over into a beautiful cookbook. Bray said, “ I have loved every decade of my life and think that each one is the best!”. She shows you how much healthier and cleaner you can prepare your food, and how much better you feel about food when you create it with her delicious recipes. Liz has faithfully studied food, nutrition, changes in food trends and findings and has found that with it all everyone just wants to be their healthiest selves, enjoy what they eat, and get the most out of this wonderful life. Grab her cookbook for new food inspiration.
Buy: On her Blog, Just Leave it to Liz
The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook
By: Crescent Dragonwagon
For 18 years, Crescent Dragonwagon ran an acclaimed country inn and restaurant called Dairy Hollow House in Eureka Springs. Her experience as a chef/innkeeper/ restauranter led Dragonwagon to write eight culinary memoirs, including the James Beard Award-winning Passionate Vegetarian, Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook, The Cornbread Gospels and Bean by Bean. She has prepared beans and cornbread for a U.S. President (Bill Clinton) and titled royalty (Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia), as well as preparing brunch for 1200 people at Bill Clinton’s first presidential election.
One of her most popular cookbooks is The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook, which is filled with simple, proven and easy to prepare recipes that are out of this world. Each recipe is preceded by an anecdote of how the dish was invented and each dish comes with many suggestions for modification. Modifications are based on what is fresh and available during different times of the year. Incredibly easy to follow, these recipes are rich and varied. “The Salad” recipe is one of the best salads you will ever eat and takes five minutes to prepare and will turn out the same every time if you just follow the simple directions. One of the best things about this book is that the recipes always, always turn out just as delicious as she describes!
Seasonal Recipes From The Garden
By: P. Allen Smith
Arkansan P. Allen Smith, America’s best-known gardener and garden designer, celebrates the bounty of each season with recipes of flavorful fruits, vegetables and herbs at their garden-fresh best. P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes from the Garden features 120 recipes, 30 for each season. These are dishes that everyone loves to eat. Taking delicious advantage of ingredients as accessible as bell peppers and carrots and as beloved as fresh peaches and tomatoes, the recipes are Allen’s favorites, most from his own kitchen and some adapted from family and friends. They are perfect for those who garden as well as anyone who simply enjoys fresh food.
Buy: P.Allen Smith Garden Home
An Ozark Culinary History Cookbook
By: Chef Erin Rowe
Northwest Arkansas’ High South cuisine is replete with nostalgia, fresh ingredients, tall tales and rural roots. In the 1890s, Ozark apples fed the nation. Welch’s Concord grapes grew in Arkansas vineyards. Local poultry king, Tyson, still satisfies America’s chicken craving.
Local chef turned author Erin Rowe recounts her culinary adventures stomping grapes, canning hominy, picking Muscadines, gathering wild watercress and tracking honeybees. Featuring 50 heirloom recipes dating as far back as the early 1800s, this delectable narrative is sure to whet your curiosity and appetite. An Ozark Culinary History celebrates it all, from chow-chow to moonshine.
Cost: $11.50- $33.99
Love Welcome Serve
By: Amy Hannon
Amy Hannon is the owner of Euna Mae’s, a one-of-a-kind kitchen boutique in Springdale that has become not only a special place to locals but has quickly become a destination shop for many around the country. In addition to her kitchen shop, Hannon has an expansive media platform that includes a cooking show on KNWA Northwest Arkansas’ NBC station, a food blog, and an engaging social media presence.
Having been a Southern preacher’s wife for more than 20 years, Hannon’s heart for hospitality was established, confirming her long-held belief that people who are cooked for feel cared for. Modeled after her grandmother, Euna Mae, Hanon’s big-hearted lifestyle has become noticed by a disconnected world that is drawn to her mission of using food to love, welcome and serve those around her.
Hannon’s first cookbook, Love Welcome Serve: Recipes that Gather and Give, is filled with more than 100 comfort recipes that will encourage you to embrace hospitality, so you can enjoy the life that happens when you make and serve food to your people.
Buy: Euna Mae’s
Secrets of the South- Tasty Recipes for Healthy Living
By: Mrs. Alice Mae Johnson
Secrets of the South is a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality gourmet foods. They were founded in 1993 by husband-and-wife team, Alice May and Glenn Johnson, and their products are not only Arkansas made, but also made in Arkansas County. Alice was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago, and she has designed her product packaging with an eye toward making pertinent health information prominent and easy to find.
Her third cookbook, Secrets of the South: Tasty Recipes for Healthy Living, is for those looking for a healthier fare without losing all the flavor. “The food journey that must be traveled by all diabetics is a constant point of interest for them, so they decided to produce a cookbook with recipes that diabetics could use without any of the normal “adjustments.” This book will renew your culinary faith in the healthy meal.
Buy: Secrets of the South- Tasty Recipes for Healthy Living
And, the one close to our heart that helps us to serve our communities….
What’s Cooking at First Security Volume 2
This beautiful cookbook is filled with more than 800 recipes from First Security Bank employees and customers. The cookbooks cost $20, and they donate all the proceeds to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, which helps feed those in need all across the state. You can pick up the cookbooks at any First Security Bank location. We have featured several of the recipes from this cookbook here over the past year. You can find them here.
Not a cookbook, but this book would make a perfect gift for anyone who appreciates Arkansas stories, food, and history by one of the most well-known, reputable, and down-right nice writers in our state, Rex Nelson. Nelson recently received an entry into the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, well deserved.
Southern Fried: Going Whole Hog in a State of Wonder
by Rex Nelson
Few writers in Arkansas history have delved into the state’s nooks and crannies like Rex Nelson, who always seems to find something new and insightful about small towns, the people who live in them, and one of the things that bring them together, Arkansas food. His writing infuses his deep knowledge of Arkansas history with an unabashed optimism for the future of the state.
Nelson learned to love the back roads, small towns, and people of the state while going on trips with his father, who sold athletic supplies to high schools. They sat in old Depression-era gyms built by the Works Progress Administration, ate in small-town cafes, and waded in streams on warm spring days. In this collection of columns from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nelson brings to life the personalities, communities, festivals, and tourist attractions that make Arkansas unique.
And, one to watch for, coming in March of 2021
The Living Table: Recipes and Devotions for Everyday Get-Togethers
By: Abby Turner
In The Living Table, Instagram personality and home chef Abby Turner shares easy-to-recreate recipes and fun, DIY projects that take 15 minutes or less. Each section starts with a first-hand account of the miraculous ways God has showed up at Abby’s table-how deep conversations have led to deep spiritual growth, how a new friend has become a forever friend, and how tears and laughs and mishaps have become treasured memories.
With each section focusing on specific tables (dinner table, coffee table, outside table, etc.), you’ll discover fast and easy ways to liven up any moment, whether that be Tuesday night home with family or a well-thought-out holiday meal.
Pre-order on Amazon $24.99
Do not forget regional, local and restaurant cookbooks, there are many out there are full of hidden gems. Check out these treasure troves on ebay and on Etsy from searching Arkansas cookbooks. Any of these cookbooks would make an excellent gift this holiday season. To make it even more fun, you could cook a dish out of the cookbook and present the meal with the cookbook as a gift! Enjoy and Happy Eating!
Special thanks to Debbie Arnold of Dining With Debbie for help curating this list. Be sure to check out her food blog and tune in as she is a regularly featured food contributor on THV11 This Morning.
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