Books for Christmas Holiday Gift Giving 2013

Chuvalo: A Fighter's Life: The Story of Boxing's Last Gladiator
Chuvalo: A Fighter's Life: The Story of Boxing's Last Gladiator
Chuvalo: A Fighter's Life: The Story of Boxing's Last Gladiator
Chuvalo: A Fighter’s Life: The Story of Boxing’s Last Gladiator

By Lori Bosworth

For the true bibliophile, hard cover books make a great holiday gift. Yes ebooks are convenient, especially when you want to get your hands on something quickly, but there’s nothing like turning the pages of a crisp, new or weather-worn book while sitting next to the fireplace and enjoying your eggnog or Cabernet Sauvignon. Here are a few recommended books for holiday gift giving and reading for 2013:

1. Chuvalo: A Fighter’s Life: The Story of Boxing’s Last Gladiator by George Chuvalo with Murray Greig, HarperCollins Canada, 380 pages, $33.99

George Chuvalo’s well-publicized life has included suicides of several of his family members. Chuvalo, who was never knocked out during his career, obviously has one tough core, developed during his formative years growing up in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. His memoir is a detailed catalogue of his fights with Muhammad Ali, Floyd Patterson, Joe Frazier and George Foreman during the 60s and 70s, which would thrill any Canadian sports fan. Chuvalo is unabashedly honest in his recollection, which includes references that don’t always put him in the best light.

2. Prude: Lessons I Learned When My Fiance Filmed Porn by Emily Southwood, Seal Press, 264 pages, $18.95

In this true story, Canadian Southwood moves to L.A. to follow her fiance, Robbie, who has accepted a job as a cameraman shooting porn for Web Dreams. Southwood, a struggling author, recounts her frustration with her fiance’s job as well as her own inability to convert her post-graduate English studies into marketable success.  Her memoir is brutally candid as she is forced to confront her body images and attitudes to the porn industry. It’s also a highly entertaining read as Southwood navigates L.A. with Robbie and alone at Hollywood Hills parties and experiencing chance meetings of A-list celebrities in popular L.A. grocer, Ralph’s.

BYOB The Unapologetic Guide to Being Your Own Boss by Gloria Roheim McRae
BYOB The Unapologetic Guide to Being Your Own Boss by Gloria Roheim McRae

3. BYOB: The Unapologetic Guide to Being Your Own Boss by Gloria Roheim McRae, Wedge 15 Inc., 118 pages, $10.28

Roheim McRae shoots from the hip in her book based upon her own experiences of starting her own marketing consulting company. A self-starter who managed to work full-time while completing her M.A. full-time at the University of Toronto, Roheim McRae shares practical tips for the millennial who is dissatisfied with current job prospects who wants to break out on her own. I found the advice such as clearly identifying your ideal client helpful and relevant whether you are a millennial or older.

4. Pick Up the Damn Phone! How People Not Technology Seal the Deal by Joanne S. Black, Booktrope, 216 pages, $16.95

Technology has radically changed the way we do business, but Black warns that business relationships still require personal communication including face-to-face or over the phone. In fact, research shows that salespeople who add personal communication to their client relationships increase their business by 30%. While consumers can and do research products and services on the web before considering a purchase, sales representatives still must use their expertise and knowledge to ensure customers are making the right consumer decisions.

5. The Healing Herbs Cookbook by Pat Crocker, Robert Rose, 192 pages, $19.95

If you have a cook in your house, then there is almost certainly a bookshelf dedicated to cookbooks. Devoted chefs can’t get enough. The Healing Herbs Cookbook by Pat Crocker teeters between classic good cooking and New Age wisdom incorporating herbs into time-honoured recipes, as well as herbal recipes for healing teas and cough syrups. For example, did you know that thyme is the perfect remedy for chest coughs and bronchitis? Before the recipe section, there is an index of herbs listing their description, flavour, healing properties and methods for cooking. There are about a dozen photos of recipes in the book and recipes are fairly simple with no more than 10 ingredients on average. This book would make great holiday reading for the cooks on your gift list.

Excerpted from The Healing Herbs Cookbook by Pat Crocker © 2013 Reprinted with publisher permission.

Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Topping, page 114

  • Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C)
  • 13- by 9- inch (3 L) baking dish
Vegetable Pot Pie from The Healing Herbs Cookbook by Pat Crocker
Vegetable Pot Pie from The Healing Herbs Cookbook by Pat Crocker

4 large dried black mushrooms        

4 cups chopped winter rutabaga  

1 1/3 cups chopped carrots      

1 1/3 cups chopped parsnips   

3 tbsp olive oil         

4 cups chopped potatoes   

3 cups chopped onions      

6 cloves garlic, slivered          

2 cups chopped leeks         

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves 

2 tbsp fresh chopped sage           

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces  

2 tbsp butter 

1/4 cup plain yogurt  

1/2 tsp nutmeg         

1 cup broccoli florets         

1 cup frozen peas  

2 tbsp cornstarch    

1 cup tomato juice  

1/2 cup dry red wine   

1.         In a medium bowl, soak mushrooms covered in 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry, reserving 1/2 cup soaking liquid. Slice mushrooms thin; set aside.

2.         Meanwhile, in baking dish, combine rutabaga, carrots, parsnips and half the oil. Toss to coat well. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Add potatoes, onion, garlic, leek, thyme, sage and remaining oil. Toss to coat evenly, roast in oven for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring once, until vegetables are browned and tender. Remove from oven; reduce heat to 375° F.

Serves 6

TIP: The complex tastes in this recipe and the fact that it can be made a day in advance make it ideal for buffet and pot luck dinners. It can also be easily put into two 10-inch (25 cm) pie pans and frozen. If dividing this recipe between two pans, cook an extra potato for the topping.