My Favorite Books to Feed Your Inner Chef

“…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”  -Julia Child


Years ago when my man and I were newly married, he asked what I wanted for Christmas.

“I really want to learn to bake a pie.”

He looked at me quite confused because, at that time in our life, I had only four dishes under my belt: spaghetti sandwiches, burritos, a baked chicken, and pasta sauce. I was barely a cook, let alone a ‘baker’; me + kitchen was not a natural fit.

“Pies?” he asked? “Seriously?”

“Yes,” I said with enthusiasm and a big smile. “That’s what I want for Christmas… I want to learn how to do it.”

Weeks later as we opened gifts on Christmas morning, I had honestly forgot all about the pie request. But, lo and behold, he hadn’t! My passing comment of wanting to learn to bake pies planted in his heart; and, as I unpacked his  present to me I was dumbfounded! Inside the perfectly wrapped box was every tool necessary to make me the very best pie baker I could be: rolling-pin, pie board, pie weights, pie guard, cooling rack, tart pans, pie plates, and the most amazing pie book in the world, and other little goodies.

I was overwhelmed with excitement – not just because they were the most beautiful kitchen tools I had ever seen, but because he remembered!

“If you’re going to do it right, you must have the right tools,” he said as I unwrapped each piece, “and now you have no excuse not to make the best pies in the world.” (Turns out he had researched and visited several cooking stores to make sure he had all the right stuff. He’s a good man, isn’t he?)

I tell you this story because it was that gift that launched my love of the kitchen. While my man thought he was just giving me tools for pie baking, what he really gave me that year was confidence in my kitchen.


As the years have passed, I’ve learned it’s less about following recipes and more about cooking from the heart. It’s about passion, and creativity, and a desire to really honor and serve those we love with our food. So, with that in mind, here are some of my favorite books to feed your inner chef – books you might want to put on your Christmas list, or give to someone you know is a foodie at heart:

Cooks Illustrated The Science of Good Cooking


Table Life by Joanne Thompson

Bon Appetite

… and a few more that are on my Christmas list this year:

How about you: do you have any favorite food books you recommend? Please tell!

4 Replies to “My Favorite Books to Feed Your Inner Chef”

  1. I reviewed on of your favorite books, A Homemade Life. I’m also reading about you and your passions.
    My husband died suddenly & tragically after a welding accident at our church. I’ve lost my way. I’ve lost myself. I don’t want a new day yet and I don’t want food. I want Jack. I want to cook for him not me. I want to eat together, not alone. In fact, alone scares me to my knees. This truth had made me sick. I’m not treating myself with respect. Perhaps, hopefully you and Molly will help me turn the corner. I’ve always loved to bake. Our three daughters have baked professionally off and on for years. I’d like to think I somehow inspired them. I know their Dad did! He cooked for over 20 on the fire department. I couldn’t boil a wiener the correct way when we first married so Jack was influential for me learning to appreciate food and our kitchen.
    Your stories warm my heart. Your words are restoring my faith. I’m still not sure I can do this life thing without Jack but I feel like trying for the first time in seven months. With gratitude, Sherry

    1. Sherry – wow, THANK YOU. I don’t know how I’m just finding this comment, but I want you to know I will be praying for you as you continue on without your sweet man. I’m going to email you directly… please keep an eye open for my note. I’d love to communicate with you personally 😉 I’m so glad you found me – and especially glad you found a book you love through me. God is good… and a Light that leads us out of the darkest of storms. Talk soon,-e.

  2. My suggestion would be Quinoa Revolution, which I’m sure you may have previously recommended. For one new to quinoa, I found so interesting that I purchased after perusing the library’s copy! I managed to order almost all your suggested titles from my local library conveniently located across the street from my home, a five minute walk! Thank you Elisha!

    1. Oh, yes! Great one!!! I LOVE the library and I’m so glad most of them were in for you! Where do you live? I have a 5 minute walk to my library, too.

      You’ll have to let me know which books are your favorite once you read through them. I’m so excited for downtime over the holidays to get my reading in. 🙂

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