I'm reading two great books just now. The first, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee is a loaner from the library--although it's at the top of my Gimme list.
I flip through this 884 page tome at the dining room table during meals and snacks, usually to research whatever I'm eating at the time. It's an endless font of fascinating details. In all the writing I've done about coffee (and all the espresso barista-ing I did in my younger days) I never before learned that the foam on a capuccino serves as insulation. The airy bubbles hold in the heat below, allowing you to sip your coffee at temp, at leisure.
Want to know how burning wood creates flavor on the surface of a trout, the etymology of the word "ripe", what the hell lutefisk really is, or what seventeenth century French sauces you can make with the ingredients in your kitchen? Harold McGee's your author.
The second book, Putting Food By by Janet Greene and friends, is the gift I gave myself this holiday season. I'm enjoying its pristine, clean appearance at the moment--it won't stay that way for long. The end all be all of food preservation guides, this book is my new farmer's market shopping companion--so I expect it to pick up both food and dirt stains along the way.
As those of you who have been reading for a while know, I have a strong preference for freezing (because it's... easy! And I have a chest freezer!). My first five minutes with this book revealed an embarassing number of mistakes I made last summer, while simultaneously charging me up for next summer. In addition to my standard dry pack method, Putting Food By has convinced me to give salt preservation a try and...
...we're seriously considering digging a root cellar. It can double as a guest room for Guests who Go Bad (and you know who you are). ;-)