My Favorite Cookbook of the Year

The mission of John Besh's new cookbook, My Family Table, is "a passionate plea for home cooking." That's a nice sentiment, home cooking. Home cooking means cooking at home with family. Home cooking means cooking what you have at home--be it a deer you hunted, a walleye you caught, or a winter squash you grew. Home cooking means sharing a meal at home, at your family table. Home cooking is the best kind of cooking, and My Family Table is the best cookbook I've seen in a long time.

If you've read the December-January issue of Field & Stream, you already have one of the recipes from this book--the duck stewed with apples and turnips, which Besh shared with us because he loves to hunt and read this magazine. I've tried that dish, and it's one of the most delicious meals I enjoyed all year.

There are many other recipes from this book that I can't wait to try: the slow-cooked brisket, the blueberry cobbler, and especially the fried catfish. But like the best cookbooks, this one is more than a collection of recipes. Besh shares thoughtful stories of making breakfast with his boys, of his grandmother's fried chicken, and of cooking a Christmas goose. Even the photos tell a story: As you flip through the pages, you feel as though you're looking at a family album.

My Family Table now has a permanent spot on my cookbook shelf. But if I can help it, the book will spend more time open on my kitchen counter as I cook at home for my family.