Our family just enjoyed a wonderful holiday together. Thought we weren't all blood-related, by gathering around the dining room table we were all connected by food and fellowship. Some foods like the creamed onions and my Grandmother's corn casserole are always part of the Thanksgiving tradition and this year we added several new dishes like a wild rice mushroom casserole and a sweet potato casserole topped with peanuts which I imagine will become part of the annual gathering.

Food is comfort, celebration and best of all an endeavor which ties us together by tradition. Recently, The New York Times and Bon Appetit Magazine acclaimed Nashville as 2012's “Tastiest Town in the South”. But we knew that didn't we? I'm happy to say whether your Southern by birth or a recent transplant, we are lucky to have such a wealth of food talent in our town – starting with the farmers, retailers, chefs and food writers and bloggers. I just heard on the radio that cookbooks are the hot gift item this year and I thought it would be fun to look at some of this past year's cookbook and food guide releases by our own local food writers. You can find them at your local bookseller and specialty stores.

A great way to get started is with “Food Lovers Guide to Nashville: The Best Restaurants, Markets and Local Culinary Offerings”, Globe Pequot Press. Tennessean food writer Jennifer Justus' new guide is a delightful map to all things foodie in Nashville – organized by neighborhoods, each section includes foodie faves, landmarks, meat 'n threes, specialty stores, markets and producers – even including some recipes from some of our most celebrated local chefs.

The only downside to this is Nashville's rapidly expanding food scene will soon need a second edition!

“Farm Fresh Southern Cooking: Straight from the Garden to Your Table”, Thomas Nelson Press, by Nashville's original farm to plate foodie Tammy Algood. A simple and straightforward cookbook using whole foods straight from the garden and farmers' market. Promoting local food for 25 years, Tammy focuses on the garden staples of the South, including profiles on seasonal fruits and veggies, and some of the finest farms and markets across the South. Her goal is to get others to experience 'food that comes from the soil, but is grown from the heart'.

“Jack Daniel's Cookbook: Stories and Kitchen Secrets from Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House”, Thomas Nelson Press, Lynne Tolley and Mindy Merrell. This is a perfect gift for fans of Jack Daniel's Distillery and Miss Bobo's Boarding House. The easy to follow recipes focus on items from the pantry, sometimes mixed with a little Jack Daniels. With a particular focus on barbeque, the collection is a nice collection of dishes found at a meat 'n three.

“You Be Sweet: Sharing Your Heart One Down-Home Dessert at a Time”, Thomas Nelson Press, Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson. Of course no Southern meal is complete without at least one dessert and this new book takes some interesting twists on old favorites, such as Fried Pecan Pies, Doughnut Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce to the Big Easy Blueberry Beignets. The gorgeous photos start the mouth watering and the straightforward recipes practically guarantee success.

“The Southern Foodie Cookbook: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die”, Thomas Nelson Press. Nashville's Southern foodie blogger Chris Chamberlain has come up with 100 places to eat in the South (a tough assignment), along with the recipes that made them famous. Organized alphabetically by state, this is not only a foodie's road guide, but an in the kitchen peek at their landmark recipes. Locally, Chris' includes Arnold's Turnip & Collard Greens and The Capitol Grille's Roasted Heirloom Pumpkin with Mulled Sorghum Glaze. A great read too!