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Friday, December 21, 2012

Stocking Stuffer Books for the 2012 Holidays!!!

Stocking stuffers are at the top of everybody's gift list: something affordable (under $10,
up to $20) that can also double as a host gift, something small and lightweight. Most of
the books here are paperbacks. And of course, they can stuff an adult stocking. Typical
for food are:
--MAKE, BAKE AND CELEBRATE! (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 128 pages,
$23.95 CAN hard covers) is a slim book on how to create decorated cakes for every
occasion, including weddings birthdays, children's parties, Mother's Day, and Christmas.
There is good detail, good photography, and preps for about 50 cakes to decorate.
--GOURMET WEEKDAY (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, 192 pages, $23.95 CAN
hardbound) contains some recipes from the former Gourmet magazine that are useful for
busy weeknights and easy entertaining. There are vegetarian mains, seafood dishes, quick
and easy dishes, and desserts, with cooking times and some included menus.
--GOURMET ITALIAN (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, 192 pages, $23.95 CAN
hardbound) contains some recipes from the former Gourmet magazine that are useful for
our love affair with Italian food. There's a mix of classic and contemporary here, well
over 100 preps on vegetarian dishes, pastas, meats, cheeses, and desserts.
--MMM…MARSHMALLOWS (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 64 pages, $19.95 CAN
hard cover) is a collection of some 30 preps, including the basic making of
marshmallows. You can, of course, use the commercial ones for her recipes on fudge,
cookies, candy bars, cakes and s'mores. Interesting single ingredient book.
--SUNDAY BRUNCH (Chronicle Books, 2012, 120 pages, $19.95 US paper back)
provides a year's worth of food through 80 preps for eggs, stratas, pancakes, waffles,
quickbreads, hash and beverages. There are also menus.
--PANINI (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 64 pages, $18.95 CAN hardbound) deals
with Italian toasted sandwiches, usually with melting cheese, veggies and some meat.
They can be cooked on a grill or stove or with a panini press. Coverage in the 39 recipes
includes breakfast, lunch, brunch, desserts, and a variety of condiment for pickles,
mayonnaise, pesto and roasted tomatoes.
--THE LITTLE BOOK OF COUNTRY BAKING (SkyHorse, 2012, 186 pages, $19.95
US paper covers) has classic recipes for cakes, cookies, breads and pies, as well as tips
and advice for sprucing up dishes. The 136 recipes also include gluten-free productions
using a GF flour mix, muffins, bars, scones, crumbles, crisps, and cupcakes. Everything
is easy enough to follow.
--OILS & VINEGARS (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 64 pages, $18.95 CAN
hardbound) is a nifty little collection of some 23 recipes for infusing oils and using nut,
seed, and fruit oils such as walnut or hazelnut or pumpkin seed oil. And there is also
arrange of gourmet vinegars, beginning with balsamic.
--WAFFLES (Chronicle Books, 2012, 108 pages $19.95 CAN) is by Dawn Yanagihara,
and covers both sweet and savoury. She gives us 30 recipes plus toppings, and advice on
different kinds of waffle machines.
--TACOS, QUESADILLAS AND BURRITOS (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 64
pages, $16.95 CAN hard covers) has 30 preps for classic and contemporary Mexican
street food. Sides and salsas are also included here.
--101 THINGS TO DO WITH POPCORN (Gibbs Smith, 2012, spiral bound $9.99 US) is
concerned mostly with toppings. But there is also a good variety of trail mixes, balls,
bars, and savoury popcorn. There is more at
--SIMPLE SUSHI (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 128 pages, $23.95 CAN hardbound)
promotes bold flavours and fresh ingredients through such as miso asparagus rolls or
ginger duck salad. The book also includes miso soups and noodle bowls. 54 recipes,
including accompaniments.
--THE ICONCLAST'S GUIDE TO FOODIES (Dog 'n' Bone, 2012, 128 pages, $8.95
CAN hardcover) is by Alexandra Parsons. She has 50 article covering cooking, kitchens,
menus, restaurants, grocery shopping, wine and lifestyles. Her baby names for foodies
runs to over 7 pages: Aubergine, Galantine, Polenta, Epoisse, Apple (Mal!)…These are
fables for the food obsessed.
--200 APPETIZERS (Gibbs Smith, 2012, 208 pages, $12.99 US spiral bound) is by
Donna Kelly in the publisher's "200" series. These are typical hors d'oeuvre, canapé,
apps, finger food, mainly for entertaining. Lots of ideas here. The spiral binding is also
pages, $18.95 CN hardcover) deals with 50 bottled sauces, plus six you can make on your
own (with habaneros, chipotles, Scotch bonnets, cayennes). There are 11 recipes using a
variety of them in food. His burn ratings run to 7, which is Mad Dog 357 Silver or Blair's
Ultra Death. Other tame sauces include Psycho Juice 70% Ghost Pepper (only 5). A book
for the machos and machas in your life. Bottles are illustrated so you'll know what to
avoid. Not for the faint of heart…Try The Source at 7.1 million scovilles.
--CABIN COOKING (Gibbs Smith, 2012, spiral bound, $12.99 US) is full of rustic cast
iron and Dutch oven recipes, useful for the modern home and family life as well as
cabins. 150 preps detail breads, breakfast, sides, soups, stews, mains and desserts.
Other little books, for beverages, include:
--THE HOME DISTILLER'S HANDBOOK; make your own whiskey & bourbon
blends, infused spirits & cordials (Cider Mill Press, 2012, 144 pages, $14.95 US paper
covers) is by Matthew Teacher. The title is a bit of a misnomer – it doesn't tell you how
to distil your own booze, but it does tell you how to blend and re-use it, once you have
bought it from an alcohol store. And there is only one recipe for blending whiskies. The
rest of the book deals with infusions such as lavender liqueur, pineapple basil cordial, and
jalapeno & lime vodka.
--THE CLASSIC COCKTAIL BIBLE (Hachette, 2012, 176 pages, $10.99 CAN hard
covers) includes 200 recipes for all the tried and rue (daiquiri, dry martini, margarita,
mojito, manhattan, and comopolitan. Very good drink illustrations and techniques,
pleasant layout. Covers wines too.
--BEER COCKTAILS (Harvard Common Press, 2012, 104 pages, $15.95 CAN
hardcovers) is by Howard and Lesley Stelzer who want to liven up your ales and lagers.
There are 50 preps here, including a warm ale flip from the Colonial period and the Black
and Tan, snake bite, bee sting, and shandy gaff. They make up most of them, and the
book is arranged by style: pale and US beers, Belgian-style, brown ales, and
pages, $14.95 CAN hardcover) has 27 sure-fire cures, such as Atholl Brose, Bull's Penis
Soup, Elvis Sandwich, The Sauna). There are recipes for a restorative cocktail, for non-
alcoholic remedies, and for comfort food. There are some drastic remedies too, so read
the book.
--THE BOOK OF BEER AWESOMENESS (Chronicle Books, 2012, 204 pages, $15.95
US paper covers) is a guide to party skills and 40 drinking games. There are some history
and trivia here, plus even some culture. Included are Beer Pong rules and Cornhole, and
the book is loaded with tons of illustrated detail in case you cannot read.
2012, 64 pages, $14.95 CAN hardcover) emphasizes that the major problem with
drinking games is that you forget the rules by the end of them. Fear not, for here they are
written down. For those who can read. Included are Beer Pong, Edward Ciderhands,
Cereal Killer, Boatrace, and Monkeys. Just don't lose your derring-do.
--BREWERIANA (Shire Publications, 2012, 56 pages, $11.95 CAN paper covers) deals
with American beer collectibles. Authors Kevin Rious and Donald Roussin are beer
researchers. Here is the story of the evolution of the beer can, with paper advertising,
packaging, signs all nicely reproduced. Prohibition is detailed. There are colourful
reproductions of cans, posters and adverts. This is a good introduction, brief and
affordable as a stocking stuffer.
--MEAN MARGARITAS (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 64 pages, $9.95 CAN hard
covers) gives us 40 different kinds of Margaritas using the base of tequila, orange liqueur
and lime juice.
--MR. BOSTON OFFICIAL BARTENDER`S GUIDE (John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 322
pages, $11.99 CAN paper covers) is based on the 68th edition with about 150 new
recipes. Here then are 1000 cocktail recipes. Just about all that you would ever need to
know, without the flashy illustrations. A great database at a rock bottom price.
--GATSBY COCKTAILS (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 64 pages, $9.95 CAN
hardcovers) is a collection of some 24 recipes from the bygone Prohibition era. Cocktails
became the height of fashion in order to mask many homemade booze flavours. The
sweeter the cocktail the better the mask. Classics include Gatsby's Mint Julep, the
Manhattan, and more.
--LET`S BRING BACK: the cocktail edition (Chronicle Books, 2012, 208 pages, $21.95
CAN hard covers) is a compendium of older cocktails which have disappeared over the
course of time. And they should be brought back, according to author Lesley Blume.
Long forgotten drinks, from the Ancients to the 1960s, with clever illustrations, are
noted. Many are fizzy and sweet, and go by such illustrious names as Angel's Tit,
Monkey Gland, Runt's Ambition, and my fave, the Bee's Knees. 144 recipes in all.
--WILLIAM YEOWARD'S AMERICAN BAR (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 144
pages, $28.95 US hardcover) is by interior designer William Yeoward. He visits his
favourite American bars and selects some cocktails from each. Presentation is paramount
here, so the photography adapts well. There are over 60 recipes, with tips and advice for
And for no alcohol, consider –
--SIP & SAVOR (Gibbs Smith, 2012, 96 pages, $19.99 US hardcover) is meant as a non-
alcoholic book for parties or front porches or backyards. Here are some all-season teas,
lemonades, nectars, fizzes, cordials, punches, and milkshakes. There are some recipes for
breads and cakes, plus some cultural history about porch entertaining.
--SINFUL SMOOTHIES (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2012, 64 pages, $9.95 CAN
hardcover) is a slim book of some 20 recipes for making mainly creamy smooth fruit
drinks, from yogurt and milk. Add cream and you have some desserts too.
--AFTERNOON TEA (Douglas & McIntyre, 2012, 72 pages, $14. CAN hardcover) is by
Muriel Moffat. It's a look at the tradition of the afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel in
Victoria, BC. It was self-published and sold 30,000 copies at the hotel itself in five years.
Here it has been redesigned for the book trade. Some recipes from the Tea Lobby at the
hotel are here, which has been serving teas since 1908. Here's a good book about tea
service, the Empress Hotel, and some memoir-type material from Moffat herself.
Annual calendars are always monster hits and are often appreciated, both the wall and the
desk type. The best of the desk are the two "page-a-day" (PAD) calendars from
Workman. A YEAR OF BEER 2013 (Workman, 2012, $15.99 CAD) has a combined
Saturday and Sunday page. Most of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise
there are few Canadian brews included. Lights, wheat, lagers, ales, porters, stouts,
seasonal beers, and lambrics – they're all here, 161 craft beers. Check out Brew Dog's
The End of History at 55% ABV. Other material in this PAD includes beer festivals, beer
facts, label lore, trivia, and vocabulary. There are also "must-try" beer recommendations.
If you buy any of the PAD calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up
other stuff, usually free at
For wall calendars, there is COLLECTIBLE TEAPOT CALENDAR 2013 (Workman,
2012, $14.99 CAD) which has, for every month, a distinctive teapot and tea service set
(September has a Victorian Gaudy Welsh pot), plus an indication and preps for sweets
and nibbles for a tea party. Great fun, which encourages you to have a monthly tea party,
even if you don't own the appropriate tea pot. The calendars are worth saving if you are
a collector. 365 DAYS OF EXTREME CAKES 2013 (Workman, 2012, $15.99 CAD)
has been put together with cake designs from Cake Alchemy, City Cakes in New York,
Colette's Cakes, Lulu Cake Boutique, and Riviera Bakehouse. These edible masterpieces
are sculpted out of sugar and fondant: wedding cakes, replicas of cathedrals, holiday
cakes, "sushi platter" cake. Each month has a theme, and there is lots of baking here.
There are also some novelty items. There's THE WINE TASTING PARTY KIT
(Chronicle Books, 2012, $24.95 US), with "everything you need to host a fun and easy
wine tasting party at home" (says the blurb). There's a 64-page book, four tasting
notepads, 100 wine glass markers, four reusable cloth bottle covers, plus one cheat sheet
of tasting terms. Here are suggestions on what kinds of wine to buy (many can be found
in Ontario), how to compare wines, and how to write tasting notes. It is the Seven Esses
method – serve, see, swirl, sniff, sip, swallow (although the pros all "spit"), and scribble.
And there are some ideas here for food snack pairings. The similar BEER TASTING
TOOL KIT (Chronicle Books, 2012, $24.95 US) is by Jeff Alworth. He has a 48-page
booklet, four tasting notepads, one quick reference card, and 18 paper covers and twine
for concealing bottles for blind tastings. He covers international porters, ambers, lagers,
lambics, IPA, etc. Other material discusses how to organize a beer tasting party, with
food pairings. This can be complemented by 99 BOTTLES OF BEER (Chronicle Books,
2012, $15 CAN), a set of three small pocket-sized journals which provide an easy way to
record beer tasting notes in a small notebook format. Each has space for 33 beers, with
guide words for brewer, appearance, aroma and flavour. There is even a beer flavour
And so on to the wine annuals. The two leaders are HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET
WINE BOOK 2013 (Mitchell Beazley, 2012, 336 pages, $17.99 CAD hard bound) and
OZ CLARKE'S POCKET WINE GUIDE 2013 (Pavilion, 2012, 368 pages, $17.95 CAD
hardbound). Both are guides to wines from all around the world, not just to the "best"
wines. Similarities: Johnson claims more than 6000 wines are listed, while Clarke says
more than 7000, but then recommends 4000 producers. News, vintage charts and data,
glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are in both books. The major
differences: Johnson has been at it longer – this is his 36th edition (Clarke is celebrating
his 22th anniversary) -- and has more respect from erudite readers for his exactitude and
scholarliness. His book is arranged by region; Clarke's book is in dictionary, A – Z form
(about 1600 main entries). It is really six of one, or half a dozen of another which one to
use. Apparently, Amazon.Com reports that many people buy both, for about $20 US
total. Both books have notes on the 2011 vintage and some details about 2012, along with
a closer look at the 2010. It is fun to look at the two books and find out where they
diverge. As a sidelight, Johnson and Oz are moving more into food: there is a 16 page
section on food and wine matching in the former, while Oz has 6 pages. Johnson also has
a listing of his personal 200 fave wines and a special chapter on Champagne and
sparkling wines. Both books could profit from online accessibility or a CD-ROM
production. What I don't like about both books is that they come out too early. Johnson
was available August 15, while Clarke was released on October 2. I guess that this gets
them off the hook about having to comment on the 2012 harvest and vintage in the
Northern hemisphere!!
Other wine annuals – mostly paperbacks -- deal with "recommended" wines, not all of
the wines in the world. They can afford the space for more in-depth tasting notes (TNs)
of what they actually do cover (usually just wines available in their local marketplace).
----THE 500 BEST-VALUE WINES IN THE LCBO 2013 (Whitecap, 2012, 250 pages,
$19.95 CAD paper back) takes a more determined run at the wines at the LCBO. This
fifth edition (now biennially issued?), by Rod Phillips (wine writer for the Ottawa
Citizen), has wines arranged by wine colour and then by region/country with price and
CSPC number. Each value wine gets a rating (the basic is three stars out of five), and
there is an indication of food pairings. A good guidebook, but I'm afraid most people will
just look through it for the 5 star selections and leave it at that. Turnover in Ontario is
enormous because this update claims over 150 new wines for a book that deals with just
500. Coverage is limited to LCBO General Purchase wines and LCBO Vintages
Essentials, the wines that are available (if only by special internal order) in every LCBO
--BILLY'S BEST BOTTLES; wines for 2013 (McArthur & Company, 2012, 240 pages,
$19.95 CAD soft covers) by Billy Munnelly is back for another round (23 ed), creating
more emphasis on wine and food pairing, party planning, and some social manners.
There's some info about country trends and frequently-asked questions about wine. Plus
data on Ontario winery tours. His whole concept of wine is organized by Mood, with
sections on wine colour and style/weight, and the wines are usually those available at the
LCBO. Most should be available across the country. He has over 400 best international
wine buys, with most under $20 and many under $12. And there is a wine index at the
back where wines are listed by region. Check out
--HAD A GLASS 2013; top 100 wines under $20 (Appetite by Random House, 2012,
170 pages, $19.95 CAD paper covers) is now by James Nevison alone, the co-author of
2003's "Have a Glass; a modern guide to wine". He reports regularly at Had a Glass (now in its sixth edition but with a new publisher)
showcases top inexpensive wines available with national distribution. He tries to pick
wines available to match any occasion, and along the way he provides tips on food and
wine pairing and stemware. The first forty pages present all the basics. I am not sure why
it is here since the book is really about the top 100 wines. Most readers/buyers will head
straight for the listings which follow, one per page, for whites, roses, reds, aperitifs,
dessert wines and sparklers. This year, in view of rising prices, he has enlarged his scope
to cover some "splurge" wines. For Ontario, this is just at the very time that the LCBO is
concentrating on the $15 to $19.95 spread. There are indexes by countries and by
wine/variety. Tasting notes are pretty bare bones, but each wine does have a label,
description of the product, a price, and some food matches.

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