A cool collection of fun little hard covers, Tim Pawsey photo

Our column in Friday’s Vancouver Courier offers up some handy, bookish suggestions for fun stocking stuffers, as well as a few more serious offerings that explore the culture of culinary foraging, both here in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.

One unexpected perk of research: seasonal treats that Vancouver’s Books to Cooks lays on for its clientele, prepared in the in-store teaching kitchen. During our visit we enjoyed some pretty delicious mince tarts and shortbread from Michel Roux’s Pastry.

The challenge of a list like this is that it’s never complete, nor is it intended to be. For instance, another handy book we’d suggest for anyone about to launch their son or daughter into life away from home would be Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything—which, incidentally, you can now download as a very handy Smartphone / iPad app.  We’ve long been a fan of Bittman’s, ever since he came to Vancouver, some years back, to promote The Minimalist Cooks Dinner, which includes the best fast roast chicken recipe around—spatchcock style.

Check out the picks here.