Gather ‘Round: Holiday Cooking and Baking in 2020

By Gwen Vanderhage, MLIS

So many things have changed in 2020, and the way we cook is one of them. Did you learn a dozen new ways to eat beans during the initial shutdown? Have you nurtured and then mourned the death of a sourdough starter like I have? Have you been finding creative ways to use odds and ends in a frittata or casserole? Maybe you’ve taught a child to cook or become more proficient in the kitchen yourself. Whatever you’re doing in your kitchen, even if it’s just discarding take-out boxes, one thing we and our patrons will begin to think about soon is holiday cooking and baking.

How will we celebrate our favorite winter holidays this year? Will there be a family gathering or will we serve Cornish game hen for two? How many cookies can your household consume in December if there’s no office cookie exchange?

Holiday cookbooks are a popular segment of the cookbook publishing market. Some of our perennial favorite cookbooks need refreshing over and over as patrons try to remember, “Now what was that Alton Brown said about spatchcocking a turkey?” Or, “Maybe THIS year I’ll try Julia Child’s Baked Alaska!” If you go by what the magazines are touting at the check-out stands in your grocery store every year, most of us are looking for a creative new side dish or beautiful glazed cookie recipe.

This year’s trendiest topic seems to be how to host a "Friendsgiving" celebration. Friendsgiving is a large meal among friends eaten during the Thanksgiving season that celebrates how the friends we love are like family to us. It may have picked up steam these last few years as people of all ages have struggled with social changes and family arguments about politics heated up dinner table conversation. There are several new titles around the topic of hosting the holiday. Hopefully you can celebrate Friendsgiving with your “pod.”

Other fun holiday cookbooks feature holiday cocktails, pairing recipes with Hallmark Christmas movies, pulling together a fabulous tablescape, and even how to eat your holiday conifer. New holiday cookbooks are available for vegan and gluten-free diets, as well. There are also great new holiday cookbooks for kids—and even a picture book about Friendsgiving!

Check out our list of new and featured holiday cooking titles for all ages.