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10392 The McCashin   s Story
10392 The McCashin s Story

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Christmas Elf"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Anne Isabella Ritchie (1885)

The Christmas Elf in me has started serious shopping for my presents before too many other people realise that the overseas Christmas posting dates are shooting past and Christmas itself is a mere 30-odd sleeps away. Some years ago I only ever gave food presents that I had made; then I thought how good it would be if my friends could make these things themselves and so have them whenever they wanted, so I started giving cookbooks.

There are so many good cookbooks coming out every year that my only problem is which ones to give to whom and for my non-cooking friends (I do have a few of them) there is always a choice of books on other foodie subjects. I still make the food presents of course but as small gifts that I don't have to send anywhere.

To help make your Christmas shopping a little easier here are the top ideas from my shopping list:

The Complete New Zealand Seafood Cookbook
By Auckland Seafood School
The Complete New Zealand Seafood CookbookPublished by Penguin Group RRP $60.00 hardback

I see this is as the outstanding book for New Zealand fish and seafood. Not just a wealth of wonderful and innovative recipes, it also offers information about and advice on identifying, choosing and storing fish, filleting and preparation, availability and best cooking methods and more. I think it would be great catch for any kitchen bookshelf and an excellent present to inspire anyone that enjoys good fish and good food.

Ladies, a Plate: Jams and Preserves
By Alexa Johnston
Ladies, a Plate: Jams and PreservesPublished by Penguin Group RRP $47.00 paperback

If you know someone who enjoys chutneys, sauces and pickles; prefers the superior taste of homemade jams and conserves or just needs help to cope with seasonal oversupply of fresh produce, you can be sure they will welcome this book. With over 100 reliable, easy-to-follow and home-tested recipes, even a novice can look forward to shelves of colourful preserves. I know I will be making quite a few of these recipes for my pantry and for my special food presents.

My Little French Kitchen
My Little French Kitchen
By Rachel Khoo
Published by Penguin Group RRP $50.00 hardback

I really enjoy good French food and welcome this second book by the author of the bestselling The Little Paris Kitchen. Rachel Khoo has collected classic recipes from farms and villages, food shops and homes in some of France's best-known food regions like Alsace, Provence and Normandy and given each of them her personal and modern touch, sharing her love of France, its food, its elegance and its joie de vivre. What a perfect gift this book would make for the Francophile foodies in your life.

Nadia Lim's Good Food Cook Book
By Nadia Lim
Published by Random House RRP $49.99 paperback

Nadia Lim's Good Food Cook Book
With today's concerns about healthy diet, a book like this is pure inspiration. The recipes are simple, fresh and colourful and best of all they are balanced and healthy. If you want them Nadia Lim gives nutritional analyses for each dish as she did in her first book, Nadia's Kitchen and a suggested menu plan but the book is really about good food. With it's delicious and easy to cook recipes I can think of a number of friends who would benefit if I gave them this book; the sort who say they don't have time to cook and others who are iunder the misapprehention that healthy food is boring… it would show them they have and it isn't!

For those who think they have enough cookbooks, or want a good read that doesn't come with ingredients first I can recommend this short selection:

Under a Mackerel Sky
Under a Mackerel SkyBy Rick Stein
Published by Ebury Press RRP $39.99 paperback

I think anyone who likes Rick Stein's television programmes and cookbooks and who perhaps agrees with his food philosophy will find this very readable autobiography as surprising and interesting as I did. As well as the story behind his Cornish empire, he writes frankly of his childhood and early adult life. I had always thought of Rick Stein as a celebrity chef who knows his food but since reading this book I have had to change my thinking to Rick Stein the person who did the hard graft to get where he is. A book not just for cooks and but for those interested in people.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking
Mastering the Art of Soviet CookingBy Anya von Bremzen
Published by Doubleday RRP $29.99 paperback

If I ever chose a foodie "Book of the Year", I think this would be it. It's not a cookbook although it does include a few recipes, it is, in the words of the authour, "… a work of nonfiction, woven from family anecdotes and historical facts spanning ten decades of Soviet and post-Soviet experience." Three generations of family history brilliantly told through food and cooking it is fascinating, moving and at times very funny. It cannot but make any reader consider the part food plays in their life and how it should never be taken for granted. Give this book to everyone.

The McCashin's Story
The McCashin's StoryBy John McCrystal and Simon Farrell-Green
Published by Random House RRP $45.00 paperback

With the wealth of choice now offered by craft beers in New Zealand it is not always remembered where it all began.

In 1981 Terry and Bev McCashin started the change "…a very Kiwi kind of revolution, involving more beer than blood although there was also plenty of sweat and tears." Taking place alongside all the other changes in New Zealand society during the time, this story should be recommended reading for all Kiwis who love their beer. Best read in the summer shade with a cool glass of Stoke KPA.

There are so many fabulous food books in the shops and alas, so many not so wonderful. My old chef/tutor told me that if there were five recipes in a cookbook you felt were really worth doing then get the book. My advice is don't just go by the cover of the book or the name of the celebrity chef that wrote it, have a good look through and find those five recipe… if you can.

Happy shopping!