Gift Guide: Local Flavor

2014's best regional cookbooks – for giving and keeping

Used to be that local cookbooks were little more than a few typewritten pages held together with plastic binding and bookended with the stray observations of women named Viola and Ima Jean. We've come a long way.

This year's crop is lavishly photographed, thoroughly researched, and not opposed to the occasional use of Helvetica. Let the rest of the nation stock up on books by Giada and Guy. We prefer our own food network.

GOODBYE GLUTEN: HAPPY HEALTHY DELICIOUS EATING WITH A TEXAS TWIST

by Kim Stanford and Bill Backhaus
University of North Texas Press, 224 pp, $21.95

While the market is now flooded with gluten-free cookbooks, the new work by Austin caterer Kim Stanford and her ex-husband, Bill Backhaus, includes an important difference. The authors did extensive research into which brand name ingredients such as baking powder, baking mixes, spices, and condiments contain hidden gluten, so the recipes they've developed using brand name ingredients can be prepared completely gluten-free. And the best recommendation? The savory dishes are very flavorful and the baked goods from this book taste like real food, not cardboard and mush. – V.B.W.

THE BIG BEND COOKBOOK

by Tiffany Harelik
History Press, 288 pp, $24.99

While author Tiffany Harelik still keeps her finger on the pulse of the Austin food truck scene, she now travels back and forth between Austin and Marathon* and her newest book offers an insiders perspective on ranching history, the arts scene, and the culinary offerings of far west Texas. In addition to simple and easy recipes, the book includes profiles of some of the region's most interesting characters as well as anecdotes about various eateries in the small towns written in Harelik's trademark casual, breezy style. – V.B.W.



CAMILLE STYLES ENTERTAINING: INSPIRED GATHERINGS AND EFFORTLESS STYLE

by Camille Styles
William Morrow Cookbooks, 320 pp, $29.99

If the once-humble radish suddenly becomes the most expensive ingredient in your meal, Camille Styles shares at least part of the blame. The red root makes appearances throughout Entertaining – here as a place card, there topping garlicky white beans on a crostini, elsewhere back to its roots as a crudité. It's a vegetable that suits Styles approach to entertaining well, beautiful, a bit earthy, and as casual as Austin itself. – B.W.





JACK ALLEN'S KITCHEN: CELEBRATING THE TASTES OF TEXAS

by Jack Gilmore and Jessica Dupuy
University of Texas Press, 327 pp, $39.95

The subtitle to Jack Gilmore's labor of love doesn't lie. The hefty title is one handclap away from singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas." Gilmore may be on the cover, but this isn't an exercise in ego. Central Texas suppliers and farmers are lavished with profiles and glossy photo shoots, and given pride of place in inspired recipes. And the spread of jams, syrups, and butters lovingly smeared on vintage spoons is one of our favorite culinary photos of the year. Call this one farm-to-coffee-table. – B.W.



TEXAS ON THE TABLE: PEOPLE, PLACES, AND RECIPES CELEBRATING THE FLAVORS OF THE LONE STAR STATE

by Terry Thompson-Anderson
University of Texas Press, 464 pp, $45

Those who think that Texas cuisine is just barbecue, chili, and chicken-fried steak should spend some time cooking through Terry Thompson-Anderson's exhaustive collection of recipes. There's nods to the classics, sure – chicken-fried venison or chili made with leaf lard and toasted whole coriander – but this isn't the type of fare you'll find at a country cafe. Instead, the thoughtful dishes celebrate Texas foodways and honor that maverick Texas spirit. – B.W.



IRMA HARDING 2015 CALENDAR AND RECIPE CARDS

Octane Press, $19.99

Though this retro calendar with 12 seasonal recipes isn't a local cookbook, it does have a local book tie-in, namely Marilyn McCray's Canning, Freezing, and Pickling with Irma Harding (Octane Press, $22.95). Irma was the advertising personality developed by International Harvester to market their signature line of refrigerators, freezers, and other appliances. Each month is decorated with a vintage ad photo and a simple, seasonal canning or pickling project. – V.B.W.




*The original version of this story incorrectly reported that Tiffany Harelik lives in Marfa.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Gift Guide 2014, Kim Stanford, Bill Backhaus, Jack Gilmore, Jack Allen's Kithcen, Camille Styles, Jessica Dupuy, Terry Thompson-Anderson, Irma Harding

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