How did that happen? It seems as if we blinked and the holiday shopping season was here already.
No worries. We have the perfect gift for everyone on your list: a cookbook. Because everyone has to eat.
Here are some of our favorites. (Maybe you'll even find one for yourself.)
For the travel buff
No need to pack your bags. Take a culinary journey across the United States with "America."
The extensive volume, by food magazine editor Gabrielle Langholtz, celebrates American food from Maine (lobster Newberg, Shaker lemon pie) to California (Baja fish tacos, steamed artichokes) -- and Hawaii (loco moco, kalua pork) and Alaska (warm salmon salad, halibut bisque), too. Regional favorites are also represented (Yankee pot roast from the Northeast, blackened red snapper from the South). The 850 recipes are organized by course/category, rather than geographically.
New Jersey is represented by nine recipes, including a sausage and pepper sub, calzone, Taylor ham breakfast sandwich, salt water taffy and bluefish with tomatoes. (What no blueberries or cranberries? Fuhgeddaboutit!)
In addition to highlighting eats from each state, the tome includes essays and recipes from guest contributors such as Alice Waters and Andrew Zimmern, and, as a finishing touch, three cloth bookmarks -- one each of red, white and blue, naturally.
"Our culinary canon (in the United States) is wild and wonderful. It is old and it is young. It is slippery and sticky, sour and sweet, and searingly spicy. It's black and white and brown. It's messy and it's meaningful," writes Langholtz.
"America: A Culinary Road Trip Through the 50 States," by Gabrielle Langholtz (Phaidon, 768 pp., $49.95)
For the harried mom (or dad)
No time -- or energy -- to fix a fancy meal for your family? Blogger Parrish Ritchie can help with her cookbook, "Halfway Homemade," which comprises 100 easy recipes using store-bought ingredients.
How about a Mexican hash brown bake made with frozen hash brown potatoes for breakfast; ham and cheddar pockets created from a can of crescent rolls for lunch; or mini chicken pot pies incorporating canned soup for dinner?
Appetizers (for example, cheesy ranch pull-apart bread, made with a loaf of bread) and desserts (caramel ice cream sandwich cake, from ice cream sandwiches, of course) are here, too.
"These are real recipes for real families: recipes anyone can make and everyone will love," writes Ritchie.
"Halfway Homemade: Meals in a Jiffy," by Parrish Ritchie (Countryman Press, 240 pp., $24.95)
For the chocoholic
It's a book about chocolate. With recipes. What else do you need to know?
Actually, as it turns out, a lot, even if you think you're a chocolate expert because you can talk tempering and know about nibs.
In "Making Chocolate," experts walk readers through each step of the process, so the most ambitious can craft cocoa creations from scratch in their own kitchen.
Even if you don't want to roast your own cocoa beans, you will enjoy making recipes such as gingerbread hot chocolate; "Nutella"-stuffed chocolate chip cookies; coffee cake with nib streusel, chocolate, and berries; dulce de leche bars; and -- surprise! -- red velvet beet cake.
"We wanted to write a book we wish we had when we started making chocolate," writes co-author Todd Masonis, co-founder of Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco.
"Making Chocolate: From Bean to Bar to S'more," by Todd Masonis, Greg D'Alesandre, Lisa Vega and Molly Gore (Clarkson Potter, 368 pp., $40)
For the guys
Is the man in your life smoking hot?
Well, he could be -- with a little help from "Smoking Hot & Cold." No, it's not a fitness manual, it's a guide to preparing food with that distinctive flavor.
Of course, food writer Charlotte Pike tells you how to smoke all kinds of meat -- and make homemade bacon! -- but also includes instructions for fish (salmon, shrimp), cheese (mozzarella, cheddar) and vegetables (corn on the cob, bell peppers), to name a few.
In many cases, there are recipes that incorporate your smoky fare (orecchiette baked with squash, smoked ricotta and sage; pork stroganoff, with smoked mushrooms). And could you resist barbecued lobster with smoked butter?
"To start to smoke your own food is to embark on a never-ending adventure," writes Pike.
"Smoking Hot & Cold: Techniques and Recipes for Smoked Meat, Seafood, Dairy, and Vegetables," by Charlotte Pike (Kyle Books, 144 pp., $24.95)
For the gals
Join ladies who lunch -- and make breakfast, dinner and other fare with "Cherry Bombe," the first cookbook from the indie magazine of the same name that celebrates women and food.
Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu, co-founders of Cherry Bombe, collected recipes from 100 women who inspire them. Among them are chefs, bakers, writers, food stylists, bloggers and even a couple of celebrities (you've probably heard of Chrissy Teigen and Karlie Kloss).
Some of the creative offerings include beet ricotta dumplings, with browned butter and sage; olive oil-poached tuna, with fennel and oranges; Caesar Brussels salad; pumpkin-swirled mashed potatoes, with vegan rosemary gravy; and maple chocolate pudding, with bacon spoons. Fun favorites, such as fish in parchment with herb sauce; noodle kugel; retro cucumber sandwiches; Irish soda bread; and yellow cake, with chocolate frosting, are here, too.
"As you chop, blend, beat, and saute, you'll realize there's girl power swirling all around you," write Diamond and Wu.
"Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook," by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu (Clarkson Potter, 256 pp., $35)
For the kids
"Kids are people, too," as was sung on a popular 1970s children's TV show.
They can also be talented cooks. Exhibit A: "MasterChef Junior Cookbook," a collection of recipes by 8- to 13-year-old contestants on the eponymous competition show on Fox TV.
Forget standard kids' fare such as mac 'n' cheese, chicken nuggets and fish sticks. This cookbook offers gnocchi, with brown butter-sage sauce and tomatoes; the soup Tom Ka Gai, with chicken meatballs; and salmon en croute, with minted peas and hollandaise.
Included are sidebars that focus on specific techniques, such as blanching and clarifying butter, and adorable photos and stories from the show.
"Cooking -- the art, the appeal of spending time in the kitchen -- has become a cultural phenomenon, and instead of taking piano lessons, learning karate, or going to ballet classes, kids are learning to cook," writes "MasterChef Junior" judge Christina Tosi in the foreword.
"MasterChef Junior Cookbook: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Cooks" (Clarkson Potter, 240 pp., $19.99)
For the gardener
Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow ... at home.
Produce expert Darina Allen wants you to cultivate your own garden and her book, "Grow, Cook, Nourish," is a go-to guide to all things green.
After she extols the many health, economic and environmental benefits of growing your own food, she tells you how to compost, and how to water, fertilize and rotate crops, which are grouped into five categories: vegetables (with more than 50 types); fruit (more than 30 kinds); herbs (about 30); wild, foraged and nuts (more than 20); and edible flowers (more than a handful).
Allen provides details, such as varieties and potential pests and diseases, about each category entry, and recipes that incorporate it. A sampling of dishes: spinach, feta and sweet potato frittata; cauliflower steaks infused with ginger and spices; lamb, turnip, onion and butter bean stew; eggplant fritters with honey and thyme leaves; pork with quince; Asian noodle salad with cilantro and lime; pickled crab apples; carrot and cardamom cake; pears poached in a basil syrup; chocolate and rosemary mousse; lavender shortbread; and lemongrass lemonade.
"Anyone can grow, anywhere, in any space. Even if you live in a skyscraper or a high-rise flat with a balcony, you can grow some of your own food," writes Allen.
"Grow, Cook, Nourish: A Kitchen Garden Companion in 500 Recipes," by Darina Allen (Kyle Books, 640 pp., $45)
For the baker
If croissant, eclair and macaron are a few of your favorite French words, say oui to "French Patisserie," a baking bible from the chefs at the legendary Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts in Paris.
The oversized book contains all of the information that a beginning baker needs, including details about equipment, ingredients and measuring (a important part of baking), and step-by-step photos of techniques from using a rolling pin to making brioche.
But experienced bakers shouldn't turn up their flour-dusted noses. Many recipes provide variations with increasing levels of difficulty. For example, the basic recipe for Black Forest gateaux is Level 1; the White Forest gateaux is Level 2; and the Black Forest Yule log is Level 3.
Other treats include a pear and almond tart; mojito creams; a quilted strawberry mousse cake; pistachio and sour cherry bites; and an Irish-cream mocha cake.
"In line with the school's philosophy, (this book) will teach you the basic techniques, but it will also whet your appetite for creativity and reflection -- essential ingredients in the meticulous and expressive art of patisserie," writes Bruno de Monte, director of Ferrandi.
"French Patisserie: Master Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts" (Flammarion, 656 pp., $60)...Read more