Published September 20th, 2012

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Fall always makes us want to cook. Maybe it’s the crisper weather, but lately we’ve been hankering for homemade cranberry muffins, a big pot of butternut squash soup, some tea or apple cider sipped over a good book. We must not be alone in equating fall with a return to the comfort of the kitchen, because this season three great new Maine-based cookbooks will hit the shelves, each of which make for a local gift that keeps on giving.

The first is a new book from one of Portland’s oldest and most beloved bakeries, the Standard Baking Co. Standard Baking Co. Pastries by Smith and Alison Pray with photography from former bakery deliveryman Sean Alonzo Harris (Down East Books, $29.95). The book includes 65 of the bakery’s most popular recipes, from chocolate cake to croissants to breads and scones.

For savory as well as sweet, check out Maine Home Cooking by Sandy Oliver of Isleboro. Oliver, a food writer for the Bangor Daily News, wrote this book to simplify classic Maine comfort food for the amateur chef. The book also includes information about what Oliver grows in her garden, since many Mainers rely in part on this ultimate example of local produce. (Maine Home Cooking: 175 Recipes from Down East Kitchens, Down East Books, $29.95)

And last but not least, local dairy goat farmer Margaret Hathaway and her husband Karl Schatz compiled Portland, Maine, Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from Casco Bay, a collection of some of Portland chefs’ favorite recipes. They’ve done a good job of gathering everything from the simple to the complex from many of the major foodie hangouts in town. A really great memento for a foodie fans of the city. (Lyons Press, $24.95)

You can find most of these books at area bookstores, including one of my favorites, locally-owned stalwart Longfellow Books in Portland. And there’s always Powell’s or Amazon. Mmmm. I can almost smell the butternut squash soup simmering. Happy cooking!