In this week’s edition of Canada’s Tastemakers, FBC’s Shareba Abdul talks to fellow blogger, Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, about the her new cookbook: Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.
Aimée Wimbush-Bourque is a Montreal urban homesteader, former chef, and mother of three. After ten years of restaurant life, she left professional kitchens to start a family and foray into recipe development and food writing.
Now, Aimée is the editor of food blog Simple Bites, named “Best Kids’ Cooking Blog” by Saveur Magazine in 2013, where she chronicles her kitchen adventures with recipes, cooking tips, photos and stories. She writes a monthly column for JamieOliver.com and is the newly published author of the much anticipated cookbook, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars (Spring 2015, Penguin).
FBC: There are so many cookbooks already out there, why did you decide to write this cookbook? What are you doing that’s different?
Aimee: Whoa! We’re off to a serious start! Well, in the early stages, it felt like this book was writing itself in my head. Experiences from my past intertwined with the present and there was solid material there to go on.
I knew I had a string of stories to share, and a recipe to go with each one. When the opportunity came, formulated as a question: “Have you ever thought about writing a cookbook?” my answer was a solid “Yes.”
As far as what’s different? Any author wants to contribute something unique, and the best way to do that is to share your story because no two are alike. This is my story.
FBC: How did you come up with the title of the book? Is there a story behind it?
Aimee: It just popped into my head one day and I kinda loved it. I sent it off to Penguin, fully expecting it to change at some point in the book publishing process, but they loved it as much as I did.
FBC: Describe your cookbook - what should we expect to see?
Aimee: Brown Eggs and Jam Jars follows a year of seasonal eating on my urban homestead -- with family at the centre of it all. I share more than one hundred recipes that have a touch of nostalgia, feature natural ingredients and boast plenty of love.
And because I love being insanely useful, each chapter has two extra features: one on urban homesteading and one on kids in the kitchen.
FBC: Where did you get your inspiration for the recipes in this book?
Aimee: My rural homesteader upbringing, an education in culinary arts, years of restaurant work experience and my everyday life as mom and chief cook all contributed to the recipes in this book. [The recipes] are very personal. Some have been with me for more than 20 years and others were developed specifically for the cookbook.
FBC: Your book has more than 100 recipes! How did you decide which recipes would be included?
Aimee: The recipes are divided into seasonal events that center around family life on our urban homestead, like Sugaring Off, for example. I wanted every event to include a ‘menu’ of sorts, from breakfast to dessert. So that helped me balance everything out, I suppose.
I plucked a handful from my childhood, reworked many family favourites and developed new ones with beloved ingredients from my garden.
Of course I included several popular recipes from Simple Bites. The blog turns 5 years old this month! There’s a good amount of recipes that have stood the test of time and deserved to be immortalized in print.
FBC: How long did it take you to create this cookbook?
Aimee: It was a good 9 months of recipe development, photo shoots and writing. Like a baby! Actually, a LOT like a baby - weight gain and all.
FBC: Did you shoot and/or style your own photos for this book? How did you decide on which images to use?
Aimee: I cooked every piece of food and styled every image. Actually, I called in help from a few local bloggers twice, but I certainly had creative control over all the shots.
I brought in professional photographers – Tim & Angela Chin -- to shoot my food and it was the best decision ever. I’m such an amateur behind the camera. I never wanted to do the photography and in the end, I loved being able to focus on the recipe and the styling exclusively.
There’s also a lot of lifestyle content, and it was amazing to have two photographers around to document our family through the seasons. They did an outstanding job.
FBC: I've heard that you wanted to create this cookbook with a no-waste philosophy. Can you tell us what your goal was, and what you did to make that happen?
Aimee: Sure. Food waste is something I feel very strongly about and I didn’t want to set aside my standards just because I was photographing a cookbook. It didn’t feel like a free pass; it felt like a challenge.
First, I gave up on everything looking perfect. That ‘hero’ everyone talks about? It’s not as important as wasting 7-8 other perfectly fine food items to attain. Besides, I wanted my food to look attainable – not styled to high heavens.
I planned every photo shoot carefully, so we had little to no waste. For every event in the book - like Harvest Dinner - the food my guests ate was the same dish that was photographed for the book.
At the end of every shoot, the crew and I sat down and shared a meal together. And I always sent my photographers home with dinner. I froze what I could and gave away the rest. In the end, I feel like we did a good job and I would do it all over again.
FBC: What was your biggest challenge in making this book?
Aimee: Maintaining any sort of social life at the same time. Wait… that’s not specifically about making the book.
I suppose the discipline of recipe writing became the most tedious. I loved essay writing and head notes are fun, but the wording in recipes is SO important. It has to be taken very, very seriously.
FBC: Were you surprised by any part of the process?
Aimee: I suppose deciding on and shooting the cover image was an eye-opener. It’s a big deal. Like, a lot. You want to get it right. Hopefully we did, because I flipped a lot of pancakes!
FBC: Do you have any regrets? Or, is there anything that you would do differently if you had the chance?
Aimee: You know, I really don’t. I loved the whole process and feel so fortunate to be able to do it all over again soon.
FBC: Do you have any advice for people who want to create their own cookbook?
Aimee: Start writing! If you have a genius idea, see if you can summarize it in one paragraph. Then one sentence. Then just a title. Narrowing your focus can help you weed out all the ho-hum material and focus on the gold.
FBC: Where can we buy your book?
Aimee: Thanks so much! It should be out in major bookstores, like Chapters Indigo, on February 10, 2015 (FBC Editors note... there have been sightings of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars in shops already!)
As for online:
Find it at Chapters Indigo
Find it on Amazon.ca
Be sure to join us next week as we embark on a week long blog hop tour of Aimee's new book. Nine different FBC Members from BC to New Brunswick will be sharing their experiences with the recipes and the book! You won't want to miss their posts!
Want to meet Aimee?
You can check out events this week in both Toronto and Vancouver where you can meet Aimee, get a copy of her book and get it signed!
- Thursday Feb 12th
- All The Best Fine Foods, 11o1 Yonge Street, Toronto
- Saturday Feb 14th
- Barbara-Jo's Books To Cooks - 1740 West 2nd Ave, Vancouver
**All Images by Tim & Angela Chin, courtesy of Penguin Canada