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Serving up cookbooks as holiday gifts

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Wondering what to get the foodie on your holiday list? Or perhaps you are stumped on what to give the hard-to-shop-for friend or family member who has everything. Well, everyone has to eat, right? Cookbooks can make great gifts, especially when they closely match the receiver’s interests and abilities.

Begin by thinking about the recipient of the present, said Barbara Brown, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension food specialist.

“Is the person receiving the gift interested in cooking? If not, maybe they’d prefer to get a murder mystery so they can read while eating out,” Brown said. “Or, for some, even though they don’t do a lot of cooking, a cookbook is more about reading and learning about food rather than finding recipes and actually cooking. In that case, maybe a cookbook is a good option.”

Gift givers also should consider the skill level of the recipient.

There should be a fairly close match between a recipient’s skill in the kitchen compared to the skill needed to prepare recipes in the cookbook.

It also is important look at the types of foods the recipes prepare as well as the types of recipes featured in the cookbook.

“Why give a cookbook on preparing meats to a vegan, right?” Brown said. “Meanwhile, a book of recipes with many ingredients and lots of steps probably won’t get much use by someone who wants a meal on the table in 10 or 20 minutes.”

Other criteria to consider are whether the cookbook features colorful pictures and readily accessible ingredients.

Although most foods are available for purchase through the internet, having to wait a couple days for a specific ingredient could dampen the excitement and anticipation of trying a new recipe.

While a more experienced cook or baker may be able to substitute local ingredients for what is not available and the finished product may taste good, it is not the same.

Finally, gifters should look for cookbooks in which the recipes are well written with ingredients listed in the order they will be added and given in common measurements.

“Most recipes are written in standard American format using volume to measure. But, it’s a bonus when cookbooks use both volume and weight, especially for baking, where weighing ingredients is more accurate,” Brown said. “It’s also a nice feature if nutritional information per serving is provided as well as how much equals one serving.”

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