Archives for August 2013

Summer Bucket List: Make a cookbook

It’s August. That sticky month where summer exhales in a warm breath on your neck, smelling of freshly mowed grass and rich dark compost.

Normally I’d be writing about the latest backyard barbecue or late night canning session, but this summer is scripted completely differently than the last, oh, thirty-four or so. Social events, garden work and home preserving have taken a backseat to my latest occupation: book writing.

I’ve been so busy and completely immersed in this project, that I’ve neglected to share with you just exactly what ate up part of June and most of July.

It’s called Brown Eggs and Jam Jars and is slated for release in Spring of 2015 by Penguin Random House. You can read more about the cookbook on Simple Bites – and even sign up for a nifty newsletter of sorts.

 Image by Tim Chin

While book-writing sounds like I am ensconced all day at a private (and tidy) desk in my sunny loft, dreamily tapping out my food memoirs, what actually is happening is much more frantic.

Any given week could involve pages and pages of list-making-recipe-scribbling-ingredient-brainstorming-headnote-musing, dashing all over the city sourcing ingredients, recipe testing with three kids around and underfoot, eating and testing again, dishesdishesdishes, hurried antique prop shopping with very unhurried shop owners, more dishes, more eating, and then writing, some, but never enough.

Then there are the weekends of the photo shoots, which we are doing one chapter at a time, to capture our family food life directly amid the seasons of this produce-driven cookbook. Again, lists and more lists. Staying up late to iron the linens, buff the props, and clean up my gardening nails – if I’m lucky.

The morning of the shoot comes quickly and I am in the kitchen preparing each dish for its turn in the spotlight, looking for the heroes among the ingredients – that ruby red tomato, a perfect cluster of radishes, the evenly browned bun, and the diamond-shaped grill marks on the featured protein.



Image by Tim Chin

At some point in the day, I’ll rush out of the kitchen, round up my kids, dig feverishly through their drawers for something- anything– that doesn’t clash terribly or have Ninjago on the front (pre-laid out outfits for the whole family? Haha, I wish), scrub their faces, and march them outside to the garden, or wherever we are shooting that day.

I’ll draw a curtain at what happens after that, but lets be honest and admit that a small amount of bribery is offered and a good number of stern words are emitted before the shoot is half over. They’ll thank me later.

I had big plans to hire a virtual assistant, send my kids to day-camps and recruit guest bloggers for Simple Bites, but of course none of that happened. Instead I am fitting this new project into our life, weaving it into the day to day, and giving up other time consuming things.

I’ve relinquished my garden to nature (not entirely by choice, though that is another story completely), I won’t watch another minute of TV until Downton Abbey returns, and I have a tidy set of auto responses written to ship out to inquiries, invitations and opportunities that come into my inbox.

No more. Not now. This is my season to put my head down and write this book. 

It could very well be Christmas before I post here again. It is yet another area where I am giving myself grace to lay aside until time permits. You know where to find me in the meantime.

Our Nova Scotia road trip Part 2: markets, darn good coffee and more

Did you catch Part 1 of our summer road trip? I shared our favorite eats, views and trails.

We kept up a rigorous pace for our family road trip to Nova Scotia, but it never felt overwhelming for a couple of reasons:

  • the province is quite small, so even our bigger driving days meant only a couple hours in the van.
  • there are no mega metropolises outside of Halifax to navigate through, only clearly marked small towns and villages and so we traveled the 2600 kilometers without getting lost. Success!
  • we took plenty of breaks…I was forever requesting a roadside stop to take photos, and we made time along the way for local markets, antique shops and, of course, good coffee.

More on that last subject after the jump, along with my remaining six highlights from our trip.

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Our Nova Scotia summer road trip: beaches, trails, lighthouses and good eats

Part 2 of our road trip is now live. In it I share our favourite markets, goooood coffee and much more.

We are home from a 2600 kilometer (1600 mile) summer road trip around the previous undiscovered (to me) province of Nova Scotia and have lived to tell the tale! Actually, we thrived, despite our jam-packed itinerary which put us in a new town nearly every night with a host of sights and tastes in-between.

I’m excited to share a few of the highlights with you in a couple of posts as I attempt to put into words the rugged beauty of the coast, the quaint towns and the and generous people who occupy them. Experiencing this portion of Canada opened my eyes to the true diversity that our country offers. I eagerly drank in the coastal beauty and ate up the local fare. Both were spectacular.

sunset over Cheticamp lighthouseSunset over Cheticamp lighthouse.

As we sank into our own bed last night, surrounded by duffel bags and laundry, Danny asked if I had a favorite part of the whole 12-day trip and I really couldn’t narrow it down to a single experience or place. Each day was an adventure and brought a magnificent new vista; each town offered their take on seafood chowder and lobster rolls. I never tired of either!

Rather than retrace our steps around the province, I’ll feature my top twelve highlights from our Nova Scotian adventures, delivered in two posts.

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Veggie Pasta Salad Header

Roasted Veggie Pasta Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette

Please welcome Hanna from Honey & Huckleberries as my guest poster today sharing her favorite picnic supper.

Summer has come, with all it’s sunshine, long days, and heat. Here in the Kootenays, summer days are spent out at the lake, playing by water that some would say is freezing but we prefer to call “refreshing”.

My girls still nap in the afternoon, so in order to get in enough beach time to make the effort of getting all of us and all our gear out the door, it’s nice to have a picnic supper. I prefer to make something that is easy to whip up while they nap so that we can have everything ready to go when they wake up.

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