Gifts by the Book

There's no better time than Christmas to give Texas to a friend. This year's cookbook output from talented Lone Star authors is phenomenal, with something for every passionate cook and cookbook collector on your list.

Soup Someone Else (self-published, $10 paper) by Dorsey Barger, Elaine Martin, and Ruth Carter. This delicious collection of soup recipes is the sequel to Eastside Cafe's very successful Soup Yourself and the fourth in a cookbook series from this beloved Austin restaurant. The soups are arranged according to seasons and based on inspirations from David Kolasta's magnificent Eastside garden. The recipes are simple and easy to follow whether you have an acre of garden or not. Many are followed by "Hot Tips From the Kitchen," explaining techniques or imparting sage advice. Testing the fall soups, I found the Turkey and Wild Rice flavored with garlic and fresh thyme to be the perfect use for Thanksgiving leftovers, and the robustly flavored Chicken Chipotle Chowder will be a hearty comfort on a cold day. Recipes for Cream of Asparagus or Golden Gazpacho made me eager for the fresh vegetables of spring and summer to return. Available at Pitchforks & Tablespoons (2113 Manor Rd., 494-1464).

Baking Across America (UT Press, $19.95 paper), by Arthur L. Meyer. Master baker Meyer meticulously researched the history of baking in America to bring forth this impressive collection of 700 authentic home baking recipes. Using such diverse sources as historic cookbooks of the last two centuries, self-published family collections, and regional and community cookbooks, he has compiled recipes for breads, pies, cakes, and cookies representative of every regionof the country. The recipes are clear and concise, and very approachable for the home baker.

The Herb Garden Cookbook (Gulf, $24.95 hard) by Lucinda Hutson. This is the second edition of the definitive work on growing and cooking with Southwestern herbs from Austin herb specialist Hutson. The original edition was a groundbreaking work on Southwestern herb gardening and cookery, well ahead of its time with the inclusion of epazote, Mexican marigold mint, and several Southeast Asian herbs. The festive new volume is filled with inviting photos taken in the author's unique home and garden, plus new recipes, online and mail-order sources for herb plants, seeds, and information. There are 20 chapters dedicated to individual herbs with growing information and a selection of recipes to showcase each one. Other chapters feature Mexican herbs, Southeast Asian herbs, edible flowers, and making herbal vinegars. A must-have for cooking gardeners and gardening cooks.

The Texas Holiday Cookbook (Gulf, $24.95 hard) by Dotty Griffith. Dallas Morning News Lifestyle Editor Griffith offers a delightful collection of Texas holiday fare, everything you'd ever need to impress the family at Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, or New Year's. Griffith's recipes draw from many of the ethnic cuisines that influence Texas cooking: Southern cornbread, Tex-Mex tamales, German sausage and sauerkraut, Czech kolaches, Jewish potato latkes, and so on. The chapters are arranged by holiday, opening with classic Texas menus augmented by ethnic expressions. That means you can have an After Midnight New Year's menu with migas, cheddar cheese grits, brown sugar-baked ham, and kolaches, or a Tex-Mex Christmas Eve meal of guacamole, chicken mole, refried beans, Mexican hot chocolate, and flan. The author is a native Texan and the book is just the right gift for friends in search of authentic Texas holiday food traditions, displaced homesick Texans, or newcomers eager to assimilate, y'all.

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