If you live somewhere where snowy winters can be an October through April type of deal, seasonal cooking looks a little different than it might in a warmer climate. While spring offers up tender asparagus and summer and fall farmers markets overflow with choices, winter tends to be more limited for those trying to eat in seasonal and local ways. Winter options can seem restricted to canned goods, anemic tomatoes, and expensive berries, but the authors in the following cookbooks can help you master the task of winter cooking by embracing what the season has to offer, whether you’re searching out comfort food favorites or something entirely new.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
The only novel on this list, Stradal’s writing is evocative enough to make this story feel more like a memoir, and to give the reader a taste of the lutefisk, braised pork shoulder, and chili-laced chocolate that makes this book both a delight and an inspiration. Tracing the story of a culinarily gifted family, the book takes us through the early years and young adulthood of Eva, whose mother left when she was a baby to have her raised alone by her food-obsessed father, Lars. Combining commentary on new food trends with Eva and Lars’s roots in the cooking traditions of their native Minnesota, this book will inspire you to reach back into the recipes of your past and use them to inspire the dishes of your future.
If, like I do, you live in the part of the country where fall seems like a brief and lovely stopover on the way to endless winter, Dooley’s book can help you gain some new perspectives on the rhythm of the seasons and incorporating it in your home. Additionally, Dooley’s explanation of her native Minnesota’s cuisine helps those of us that live in much less temperate climates think about what it means to eat and cook in local, sustainable ways. An adventure story of Dooley and her husband’s Thanksgiving in Minnesota, readers are treated to a feast not just of food descriptions, but also opportunities to think about how food fits into where we are right now, wherever that may be.
Great British Bake Off: Winter Kitchen by Lizzie Kamenetzky
What goes better with winter marathon watching than a cookbook created by the Great British Baking Show team? Whether you’re in search of a great brownie recipe or a slow-cooked roast, this book delivers a collection of recipes that draw on the cultural and familial cooking traditions of different contestants. Try ginger-laced chili to spice up your average weekday dinner, or commit to a cider braised ham for a special occasion.
If winter’s got you craving something comforting, warm, and tasty to eat check out this book by the former co-host of The Chew, Carla Hall. Hall mixes classic comfort food recipes with international flavors, bringing new spices and twists to old standby dishes. Start by picking a favorite recipe like burgers, vegetable stew, or roast chicken, and then use Hall’s map of flavors to take your cold days comfort cooking to a new, more varied level.
The 8×8 Cookbook: Square Meals for Weeknight Family Dinners, Desserts and More in One Perfect 8×8-Inch Dish by Kathy Strahs
While summer finds me content with throwing together salads or slices of cheese, bread, and fruit for dinner, winter always causes me to want meals that are a little more, well, square. There’s something about being able to put together a filling meal for yourself with a minimum of dishes to do or ingredients to prep, and Kathy Strahs’s focus on straightforward yet delicious recipes can help you pull that off. Whether you’re craving lasagna, apple stuffing, or a croissant bread pudding, Strahs will show you how to get the absolute most out of an 8 x 8 pan and how to eat well along the way.
Whether you choose to dive into a food-themed book for inspiration or escapism, you’re sure to find something to delight you in these books. Hopefully these reads help you make it through the winter well feed and feeling confident in the kitchen!