It’s always wonderful to see someone’s dream become a reality. A couple of weeks ago, I was excited to receive the long-awaited first cookbook from Aimée Wimbush-Bourque (of the blog Simple Bites) – Brown Eggs and Jam Jars . I’ve known Aimée for a few years now and remember when the book was but an idea, noted down on scraps of paper here and there, so to see it finally come together in a gorgeous cookbook was really neat.
Brown Eggs and Jam Jars is a family-friendly cookbook with a focus on urban homesteading – but it’s relevant even for those of us who don’t have chickens in our back yards (so, that would be most of us here in Toronto…). Aimée wants the book to be a springboard for people thinking about jumping into homesteading – making it accessible for those of us who can’t give up our urban lifestyle and buy a piece of land in the country. Aimée believes that “urban homesteading offers myriad ways to embrace our modern domesticity and find contentment in it, right where we are” and that’s where Brown Eggs and Jam Jars comes in.
Aimée’s rural homestead upbringing and years working as a professional chef combined with her everyday life as a busy mom led to the creation of her blog and the book is the natural extension of the blog. As well as focussing on urban homesteading, Aimée’s all about getting whole foods on the family table (and getting kids in the kitchen), all the while sharing stories and tips and to inspire readers to connect with their families over food – both eating and making it!
With chapters organised by season the recipes celebrate fresh produce and simple food with bright flavours. Aimée walks us through each season, focussing on some of the special events that her family celebrates throughout the year (Sugaring off, Harvest Dinner, Orchard Outings and Backyard Grilling to name but a few) with recipes to celebrate with. Each chapter also offers tips and tricks for teaching kids about food (where it comes from and how to prepare it) and urban homesteading.
The book includes a useful introductory section where Aimée outlines key ingredients to always have on hand (in the pantry, fridge, spice shelf, freezer and liquor cabinet). She lists the tools and equipment she uses regularly (small appliances, pots and pans, bakeware, knives and other gadgets) and gives an overview of how to build a greener kitchen – all of which are extremely useful for people wishing to dip their toes into urban homesteading.
The photography in the book (by Tim Chin) is stunning, and as you turn each page, you’ll find yourself marking more and more of the recipes as “must make”! Alongside the recipes and photos, there are also stories which make the book so much more than a cookbook – it’s got a place in the kitchen, on the coffee table and on your nightstand, depending on your mood. I’ve made a couple of the recipes already and if I can tear myself away from the stories, I might even get some more made soon!
Aimée and Penguin Canada have generously agreed to share one of the recipes I made recently – an addictive (and so simple you’ll want to make it every weekend for the week ahead) Maple Walnut Granola. I dare you – try to stop eating this after one bowl!
Maple Walnut Granola
Homemade granola is a household staple that tastes better than anything you can buy and is much cheaper to make yourself. Ours is sweetened with maple syrup, while applesauce aids in forming those delicious clusters. Noah and Mateo like their breakfast version plain, no raisins or other dried fruit, merci, although I shake in a few sunflower seeds and walnuts for texture. For an extra-special version of this granola, I add ¼ cup (60 mL) organic maple flakes for a burst of sweetness. They’re available from online retailers and some Canadian grocers.
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) applesauce
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) pure maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) cinnamon
- 4 cups (1 L) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup (250 mL) walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) organic maple flakes (optional)
- Position oven racks in middle and top third of oven and preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together applesauce, maple syrup, oil, salt and cinnamon. Add oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds and maple flakes, if using. Stir well to combine everything, taking care that the oats are fully coated.
- Divide the oat mixture between the baking sheets and spread to an even layer. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets and giving the granola a stir halfway through the baking time.
- Turn off oven. Dry granola for 15 minutes in the oven with the door slightly ajar, then cool completely on the counter.
- This granola will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Canadians! Win a copy of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars! Details here.
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars for review purposes. I was not required to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing do. All opinions 100% my own.
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