Focus in on the delights of the kitchen and the table with ...

Here is my list of wonderful, marvelous, varied, worthy, fascinating, beautiful, interesting, practical, fanciful, thoughtful, moving, funny, poignant, truthful, inspiring, delicious, fine, and worthy cookbooks and food-centric books that are on my list for 2011. It’s a long, no, make that generous and thorough list.  There is no short list. It is completely subjective and very personal, and if you know me well, you will know that many of these authors are my friends. Not all of them, but many of them. I love my work, which brings me into friendships with people who share my fascination and love of food, cooking, history, stories, and such. This is not a list of the Very Best — it’s a list of my favorites, and I know I left something out. I was going to comment on each one, but that would have made this the 90,000 word post (verbosity is my blessing and flaw), so I leave you to figure out why I like each one (different reasons), or more importantly, whether you might want to buy a given book for your own kitchen or as a gift for someone who would enjoy it and appreciate you. Please go to or order from an independent bookseller. They are angels straight from God, and it’s not easy in 2011 to make a living, even a Bob Cratchit-level living, from being a merchant of words, stories, pictures and ideas. I want them to prosper and stay open. If you need to find the lowest price, no harm done. But if you, like me, are lucky enough to have discretion in what you spend and where, consider being a patron of booksellers and authors (Full disclosure: I am one and surely my opinion is colored by that fact.) But here we are. You can find a bookstore near (-ish) to you, or find ways to order these books, by going to  .  Holiday greetings and happy winter wishes to you. And if I missed your favorite food-centric book this year, tell me all about it in commentland!

All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art

Molly Stevens

Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes

for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries, and More

Maria Speck

Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company

Virginia Willis

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

by Gabrielle Hamilton

Big Vegan:  More than 350 Recipes, No Meat, No Dairy, All Delicious

Robin Asbell

Cake Ladies: Celebrating a Southern Tradition

Jodi Rhoden

Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading

Janice Cole

Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes

Andrea Reusing

Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865 – 1960

Rebecca Sharpless

The Feast Nearby: How I Lost My Job, Buried a Marriage, and Found My Way by Keeping Chickens, Foraging,

Preserving, Bartering, and Eating Locally (All on Forty Dollars a Week)

Robin Mather

The Food of Morocco

Paula Wolfert

French Classics: A 10-Minute Souffle, a Contemporary Bouillabaisse, a Lighter, Quicker Cassoulet —

250 Great Recipes Simplified for the Modern kitchen

Richard Grausman

The Glorious Pasta of Italy

Domenica Marchetti

High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America

Jessica B. Harris

Julia M. Usher’s Ultimate Cookies

Julia M. Usher

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook From Scratch

Jennifer Reese

Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country

Suvir Saran

A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food

Elizabeth S.D. Englehardt

The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best

from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes

Sheri Castle

The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes that Bring Together

the Boldand Beloved Flavorsof Latin America and the American South

Sandra Gutierrez

Quick-Fix Southern: Homemade Hospitality in 30 Minutes or Less

Rebecca Lang

Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen: Soulful, Traditional, Seasonal

Sara Foster

A Southerly Course: Recipes and Tales from Close to Home

Martha Hall Foose

Southern Biscuits

Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart

Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge

A Spoonful of Promises: Stories and Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table

T. Susan Chang

Stir It Up! 

Ramin Ganeshram

Sunday Roasts: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering Roasts,

from Old-Fashioned Pot Roasts to Glorious Turkeys, and Legs of Lamb

Betty Rosbottom

Supernatural Everyday: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen

Heidi Swanson

Sweet Auburn Desserts: Recipes from Atlanta’s Little Bakery That Could

Sonya Jones

Tart Love: Sassy, Savory, and Sweet

Holly Herrick

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker

Jess Thompson

Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook

Stephanie L Tyson

You made it all the way to the end! How wonderful. May I wish you the very best as this year of 2011 winds down and the New Year of 2012 blooms open like a winter sunrise, slowly and filled with promise, hope, and if we are lucky, friendship and love. “God bless us every one!” as Tiny Tim hollered in his outside voice.

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
  1. Malachy Duffy Reply

    Hi Nancie,

    By far the most interesting and eclectic of the 2011 Cookbook Lists I’ve seen. Thanks! m

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Merci, Malachy! How kind. Eclectic indeed, that’s me. Me and Walt Whitman, as in : “I am large, I contain multitudes.” And certainly I carry a big ol’ crush on all things Southern. Hope Santa brings all you long for.

  2. jwlucasnc Reply

    I have and greatly enjoy a few of these but am envious of your bookshelf! I ordered “Roasting” for Tim and plan to get “Ancient Grains” and Andrea’s book with holiday cash.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Tim will be able to thank you all year long with “Roasting” ‘s recipes at his fingertips. I wish I had a big bookshelf (shelves, actually) in the kitchen. It’s always a pile and a stack, going or coming from the office. Not complaining, not a bit.

  3. sallypasleyvargas Reply

    What a great selection! Thanks Nancie, I’m hoping one or two of these will be under the tree for me. Happy, happy holidays, and hope we can meet in the new year (NYC for sure!)

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Thank you, Sally. I know you share this passion (‘obsession’ would be TOO strong a word, right?). There is no “enough” in this department for me. Looking forward to in-person meet-up with you in 2012!

  4. robin Reply

    Honored to make the list- you have broad tastes, Nancie- the mark of an inquisitive mind! I hadn’t heard about Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens- I’ll have to get that!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Right where you belong, Robin. “Big Vegan” is such a great package of yummy/practical/healthful/interesting/unique, handsomely produced. I see many many printings in your future. And I’m so glad you’re interested in “Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens”. It’s excellent, and we need all the truth and insight we can get out there in terms of where we’ve been and where we need to go.

  5. Cynthia Reply

    Thank you, Nancie! Love being in such great company!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      My pleasure, Cynthia. “Southern Biscuits” was written for ME, personallly! I’ve kind of ‘gotten by’ on what I have cast about and found out, and I’ve long wanted to get clear on how to make wonderful ones, and varied ones. You two are mind-readers — there are lots and lots of “me’s” out there.

  6. Patricia Neal Reply

    Wow. A lot of cookin’ comin’ from the South. Love it.

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Yes, indeed, Patricia. You picked up on something of a theme in there, yes, you did! I seek to keep an open mind, but I do keep finding Southern treasures, and I know more are coming out in 2012. (I didn’t even put all of the ones I love on there — I also adore the new Southern cookbooks by the Neely’s and by Paula Deen, but since they both have major spotlighting already, I lef them off my already looonnnnnnggggg listing. Thanks for visiting here, and I hope your holidays are lovely and fun.

  7. Nancie McDermott Reply

    I just amended this list, adding three more fine and wonderful books. Can’t believe completely forgot one of them, by a good friend. Can’t believe I left out one of them, having heard the author give a brilliant talk a few months back. Can’t believe I just got around to reading one of them, which I shoulda’ known about and grabbed hot off the press. But never too late to UpDate, so here they are. Can you find them, you who are returning readers? Thanks for stopping by, one and all.

  8. Julia M Usher Reply

    So honored to be included on this list! Thanks, Nancie!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      My pleasure, Julia. It’s a beautiful, use-able book.

  9. Pat Reply

    some wonderful selections you have here, nancie. i have a few to add to my list 🙂 thanks for sharing and happy holidays!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Thanks for checking in, Pat, and thank you for these kind words.

  10. Jamie Reply

    OMG Nancie! This isn’t a list, this is a library!! Geez where would I even start? Oh, I know – Maria and Domenica are darling and dear friends I have gotten to know (as I’ve gotten to know you) and their books are most definitely on my list! Then Nathalie Dupree’s Biscuits yessiree… and Paula Wolferts’ The Food of Morocco of course since I’ve heard amazing things about it. And all books that tell a story of a life and a culinary journey. Well, I have so many now to add to my own list. Fabulous!

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