It not unusual for me to want a good, rustic apple pie and a bowl of chicken noodle soup in the dead of summer or an ice cream sundae and a fruity, leafy salad in the winter months. The problem is that I love food way too much and I'll eat it any way, time, or how I can get it.
My body clearly knows no seasons.
One thing is for sure - I love my desserts. Cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pastries? There are some days I can't get these baked goods in my face fast enough. But pie? Pie holds a delicious nostalgic connotation behind it for me.
You see, my Mom made pies from as far back as I can remember. When I was about six, she worked in the kitchens at a very popular local orchard. She was one of the principal bakers and responsible for all the tasty desserts that went onto and into the display cases and tables. Her speciality was the rustic apple dumplings and peach pies - one of my FAVOURITE pies to this day. When the orchard's pear trees finally reached maturity and bore fruit, her pear cobbler, crisps, and pies sat proudly on the tables with the other seasonal fruit desserts. When the orchard shut down for the season, Mom picked up where she left off and continued the baking frenzy in our own kitchen.
Several years later, when I was about ten or eleven, Mom was offered a fantastic job in a completely different line of work. Unfortunately, when she left the bakery, it was never quite the same. We'd visit often, but the baked goods left a lot to be desired. Thankfully, the fruit trees always welcomed us with open arms and remained true. Sadly, about ten years ago, Mom called to tell me that the orchard closed its doors forever as the owner's children chose to sell the land rather than keep it going. I can still feel the aching sadness I felt when I first learned this news. I swore up and down if I had a sackful of money, that vast property would be mine. A once thriving, beautiful piece of real estate is now just withering away, not properly fulfilling its purpose.
Did I just confuse you with that story? Let me explain. You see, my beautiful friend Aimée's cookbook, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, brought back parts of my childhood that lay dormant in the back of my mind. Her photos, her stories, her recipes brought back a nostalgic aspect for me; it took me back to an innocent time. Her simplistic approach to eating seasonally is beautifully documented; Brown Eggs (Spring) and Jam Jars (Autumn) with everything in between.
Aimée is a self-proclaimed urban homesteader. My Mom, despite throwing us McDonald's birthday parties so we didn't feel left out from the other kids, was also a bit of a homesteader in her time as well. In a roundabout way, Aimée reminds me of a much younger version of my Mom. We had some of the most gorgeous gardens in town and Mom made sure we understood the importance of good, healthy food while indulging our sweet tooth as well. And she was always feeding everyone - friends, family, the neighbourhood; no one went hungry when Tootie (that's what everyone calls Mom) was around. Potlucks, BBQs, church functions; Mom's goods were always the star of the show. Every summer without fail, she would take the unused, dusty jars from the basement, clean them up, and can the bounty from her garden. I imagine Aimée to do the same.
Aimée brings food basics to the forefront, focusing on three important aspects: Family. Food. Life. This same mantra, if you will, also serves as her personal trademark. She creates recipes that are wholesome, yet delicious that any parent would be proud to serve to their family - or the neighbourhood.
I was super chuffed to have the opportunity to review her cookbook, especially after many months of teasers from her on social media and her blog.
The verdict? As expected. She nailed it.
Aimée shares everything from how kids can learn life lessons from the garden and talking to them about where food comes from, to canning 101 to preparing a menu plan. She also shares lovely stories in between recipes and chapters such as Jam Swaps and Holiday Gatherings. You can almost feel the love she's poured into this cookbook. My favourite page? 117, hands down. I could stare at that photo for hours. It is everything I long for in a dinner party.
But her recipes?
Aimee's Everyday Sandwich Loaf closely mimics a recipe I make in my kitchen, but she incorporates two wholesome ingredients that upped the ante for me. I thought the additions were absolutely brilliant and wished I would have thought of it myself.
Her Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes are a big hit with my kids. Unfortunately, we don't hold pure maple syrup in the same high esteem as Aimée (I know, I hang my head in shame) but we're getting there. I mix half maple syrup, half pancake syrup in hopes that one day full on, proper maple syrup will be crowned king. I know it's blasphemy, but it's better than nothing I suppose. Baby steps, folks. Baby steps.
Her Radish Chive Butter? FRIENDS. A quick disclaimer: You should know that I truly dislike radishes. Gag me with a spoon dislike. I find those red, Fraggle-Rock looking vegetables horrid, but guess who has a bunch sitting in her fridge as we speak? Seriously, I wanted to spread it over everything - and I pretty much did. She's made a believer out of me.
But this pie. This Sour Cream Pear Pie with Cornmeal Pecan Streusel reminded me of many beautiful childhood memories aforementioned.
The paring of pears and sour cream gives it a lush creaminess while the pecans and cornmeal streusel give it necessary crunch and texture.
Was this pie a success? If you call eating half the pie while catching up on Reality TV episodes I've missed, going in for the last bite, but realizing it had already been eaten before one could mentally prepare oneself for it, then yes. It was a success.
Of course, don't take my word for it.
I'm giving one lucky reader (courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada) a chance to win a beautifully signed copy of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimée and the photographer, Tim Chin!
I'm also participating in a Food Bloggers of Canada Brown Eggs and Jam Jars Blog Tour and I implore you to check out all the gorgeous eats some of my fellow bloggers across Canada have whipped up in their kitchen.
• Anna from Hidden Ponies made Honey Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
• Karlynn from The Kitchen Magpie made Coconut Cream Baked Oatmeal
• Renee from sweetsugarbean made Roasted Carrot, Parsnip, and Thyme Soup
• Ashley from The Recipe Rebel made Maple Walnut Granola
• Christina from Strawberries for Supper made Everyday Sandwich Bread
• Janice from Kitchen Heals Soul make Iced Cider Caramel Popcorn
• Jessie from Purple House Cafe made Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder
• Bridget from Bridget's Green Kitchen made Chocolate Beet Cake
Congratulations and big love, Aimée! Your cookbook is as lovely as you are and a beautiful insight to your world.
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Winners must answer a skill-testing question.
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Giveaway will run from Wednesday February 18, 2015 to Friday, February 28, 2015. Winner will be contacted via email and displayed on Rafflecopter widget. Email address will never be given out to any third party or anyone for that matter.
Dislosure: I was given a copy of this cookbook by the lovely folks over at Penguin Random House Canada Limited; one to keep, one to give away. As anything and everything I review, all opinions and views are completely my own. I will never endorse anything I don't love, use, or believe in and will always give my honest opinion regardless.