Recapping 2013 (if that is even possible)

This year. It will forever go down as life-changing.

2013 has has brought opportunities of a lifetime, has required me to work harder than ever, and has challenged me to prioritize my time and find a balance between family and work. A handful of kind and mentoring people have come into my life and a few new landscapes and seaside towns have stolen my heart. I’m working on projects that once seemed like wishful dreams and I am daily living out the life of an urban homesteader.

Now, on the cusp of another year, I find myself in a position of gratitude. This past year has set in motion a few changes, challenges and chances; many of which have unfolded right here on the blog. I loved Tsh’s prompt to  spend a little time reflecting on the year past, so I though we’d take a look at a few of the highlights. I’ll spotlight some of my favorite recipes along the way, as well as popular posts from the year.

A simple Easter dinner for 4 on simplebites.net

January

My Bringing Back Sunday Dinner series kicked off in the new year, with the goal of inspiring others to plan a slow feast of their own on the weekend – for family or guests. We enjoyed doing this so much last spring, and again in the fall, that there’s going to be an entire chapter in my upcoming book dedicated to Sunday Dinners. For now, you can read the archives, and watch the #simplebitessundaydinner hashtag on Instagram.

In the post How to make Roasted Brown Chicken Stock (and young love in the summer), I gave a tutorial for a whole food staple ingredient – and shared a rather personal look at my early days as a prep cook.

Also? Clara starred in a Baby-Led Weaning update, and she’s been a enthusiastic, curious eater ever since.

Clara's favorite foods on simplebites.net

February

We went from snow to sand in our first ever snowbird adventure when we packed up the kids and spent two weeks traveling in Mexico. We had some adventures, made many memories, and feasted. Boy, did we feast.

Before we left, we made our own travel snacks (best.decision.ever.) and those chocolate-oat cereal bars still come into rotation, mostly for school lunches.

Chocolate-Oat Cereal Bars www.simplebites.net

March

On March break we learned what happened when you let your (school-aged) kids loose in the kitchen. Good things, I promise. I also discovered the endless possibilities of working with Meyer lemons and made Clara’s first birthday cake through a flood of tears.

We ended the month on a sweet note – with our very first sugaring off project on our urban homestead! I’m pretty sure I was on a natural sugar high for two straight weeks.

Sugaring off on www.simplebites.net

April

Spring arrived, and with it a renewed determination to succeed at gardening. I shared 5 things I won’t do in my garden again and confessed that, like most things on this urban homesteading journey, I’m just learning as I go along.

The organizers of Canada’s first food bloggers conference invited me to speak on making a living with blogging and I kicked off the panel by sharing these 9 photos that show my culinary journey. Little did I know how pivotal that weekend was for the next leg of my journey.

Contributor Allison made an Asparagus Goat Cheese Galette that was one of the most popular recipes all summer long. Understandably so.

asparagus-2 blog

Things got pretty exciting in April. Simple Bites was shortlisted for a Saveur 2013 Best Food Blog Award, and want on to win for Best Kid’s Cooking Blog. Absolutely epic. Read the full story, although it doesn’t even begin to capture my range of emotions on that day.

Looking back, April was an extremely personal month. Whew. Good thing there was honey whole wheat bagels.

homemade honey-whole wheat bagels on simplebites.net

May

May was a good month for eating. We threw a taco party and I discovered my new favorite cake. My five year old made dinner (totally!) and I discovered how fast and easy it was to make cookies in the food processor.

Garden produce started to kick in, so I began building salads in jars and sending them to work with Danny. I stashed a few for myself for week-day lunches and we carried this on all summer long.

A week of Salads in Jars on simplebites.net #salad #jars #lunch #realfood

The good eating carried on through the end of the month, when Saveur kindly flew me out to Las Vegas for the BFB awards. It was quite a change of pace for this homesteader, but I was so grateful to Saveur for giving me the opportunity to catch up with some of my favorite people over bubbly and endless feasting.

June

The first three weeks of June were a complete blur as so much was happening – and fast- behind the scenes between my agent, myself and my future editor at Penguin. With a rush of emotions, I announced my plans to write a cookbook and began working on it the very next day.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family recipes from the kitchen of Simple Bites will be published simultaneously by Penguin Canada and Pintail, a boutique imprint of Penguin USA, in Spring, 2015.

It’s shaping up rather nicely, and is full of all sorts of surprises that I can’t wait to share. In some ways I am flying through the process – and believe me, it is a process – and in other ways, it feels like I’ve been writing it for ages.

Apparently, I’m not the only one to think bookwriting is a lengthy affair , judging by a recent conversation with my eldest.

Noah: “Mom. What’s the name of the book you’re writing?”
Me. “Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.”
Noah. (a thoughtful silence…and then) “You’re STILL writing THAT one?”

As a friend aptly put it, that child clearly has no sense of his own mortality.

Crispy bacon and roasted asparagus with baked eggs in simplebites.net

I know we published amazing recipes in June….Oh yes! Homemade hot dog buns, a killer green bean salad, and that breakfast in minutes….One-Pan Crispy Bacon and Roasted Asparagus with Baked Eggs. Danny still asks for that, even though asparagus has been out of season for ages.

July

A storm whipped through in early July, toppling an enormous willow and flattening our garden. It was devastating (not to mention frightening), but we moved through the loss and experienced the beauty of regrowth and renewal.

Nova Scotia beckoned to us and we packed our bags and headed for Canada’s East coast. I polled the audience for their best tips for a family road trip and we zipped around the province in a mini-van. It was our favorite family vacation ever, filled with beaches, trails, lighthouses and good eats….markets, darn good coffee and much more.

Farmers Market: Lunenburg, NS

August

Work on the cookbook cut into my time for canning projects for the month of August, but I still managed to preserve in small batches here and there such as oven-dried tomatoes and peaches. Figuring other folks were probably in a similar time crunch, I shared 12 ways to preserve the August harvest (without canning).

This Harvest Corn Chowder was on the table frequently, thanks to its ease and full flavor.

Harvest Corn Chowder recipe on www.simplebites.net

September

Tears were shed by me on the day (and, let’s be honest, all week long) I sent my little Mateo off to kindergarten. We were sure to pack his lunch box with homemade chewy fruit snacks and chicken nuggets to keep him thinking of mom at least a few times during his fun day.

Back at home I ate brussels sprouts nachos to console myself, then smartened up, and switched to the absolutely addicting chia pudding instead. It’s currently one of my favorite snacks.

Simple Chia Pudding on www.simplebites.net

October

We went a little nuts for apples and apple cider in October, but when you live a few kilometers away from a host of apple orchards, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the romance of the season.

We picked apples as family in the warm autumn sun and spread a picnic to share with friends on a Sunday afternoon.

apple picking

My sister in law showed us how to make a cider press for apples, and we started cooking with cider like crazy. I’m still dreaming about this Squash-Roasted, Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Roulade with Cider Gravy.

And this Roasted Apple & Rosemary Tisane made the transition into grey November all the more bearable.

Roasted Apple Rosemary Tisane on www.simplebites.net #apples #tea

November

There is no better time for a warm kitchen tour than the quiet, dark days of November, and so I posted a virtual walk-through of my kitchen space and shared a few tips for things that really make it work.

Simple Bites Kitchen Tour: Fridge & Freezer Organization #kitchen #hacks

Following the kitchen tour, we kicked things into holiday high gear with Jan’s classic gougères. These do-ahead cheese puffs are on our New Year’s Eve menu tonight, as a matter of fact.

December

It was the  month of the After-School Gingerbread Project! Noah and Mateo led a sweet tutorial designed to inspire others to make a gingerbread house from scratch. Readers around the world joined in (hashtag #tasgp on Instagram) and we got to see some of their handiwork.

It wasn’t just children who got into the holiday spirit with a gingerbread house project. I received a touching email from a reader who needs a bone marrow transplant and is living this Christmas with no regrets. She thanked me for the tutorial and described how she and her partner made the most beautiful memories through the rolling and cutting (and even a little flour throwing) of the gingerbread house project. Her words were an incredible gift to me, an encouragement that, although it doesn’t always feel like it it, my work here as a writer, blogger and recipe developer is impacting lives.

It goes without saying, I really appreciate when you drop me an email or leave a comment if you loved a recipe, enjoyed a story, or just to say hello.

*  *  *

I’ve always been one to stop and look back at where I’ve come from before moving ahead; it reminds oneself to be grateful, to work hard and to stay open to anything that comes one’s way. And now, here’s wishing your 2014 brings you challenges, positive changes and a chance to live out a dream.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what the New Year brings. Happy New Year!

Did you have a favorite Simple Bites moment or recipe from 2013?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Congrats on a big, delicious year, Aimee!

  2. What a beautiful year! 🙂 I may not have a brand new refrigerator, but the sight of that gleaming beauty inspired me to clean off a particularly dirty shelf in my own fridge the other night and it puts a smile on my face every time I open it.

    I love reading your blog, Aimee, and look forward to more posts in 2014!

  3. Wow, what a year! I’m still so new to the whole food blog scene, but am loving the learning process and am so encouraged by stories (and photos!) like yours. Thanks for sharing some inspiration with this newbie! 🙂

  4. Kristina Best says

    Okay the chicken in the first picture looks really good where can I find that recipe. I love your post too.

  5. What a year Aimee! Phew! And I’m so glad this was the year we got to meet in person 🙂 Thanks you so much for all your support in 2013 – it has meant a lot. Wishing you and your family a wonderful new year and I hope we get a chance to raise a glass together in 2014!

  6. What a fabulous year Aimee!!….can I say I’m SO jealous of how organized your fridge is!! lol

    Wishing you and your family a beautiful and tasty 2014

  7. “Noah: “Mom. What’s the name of the book you’re writing?”
    Me. “Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.”
    Noah. (a thoughtful silence…and then) “You’re STILL writing THAT one?”

    As a friend aptly put it, that child clearly has no sense of his own mortality.”

    >> I laughed SO MUCH!!! 😀 Thanks Noah for such words of wisdom!! ahahahahah !
    And, more seriously, I loved reading your recap! 2013 was certainly a very full year for you! All the best for you and your family! Bon réveillon and an amaaazing 2014!

  8. 2013 was an amazing year for you, Aimée, and I know that 2014 has even more exciting things in store! I’m crossing my fingers that it may even entail us (and our sweet two year olds!) seeing each other again.

    • It just might, Courtney! I’m thinking about BSP again…although I’m not sure if little Clara would make the trip…

      Happy New Year to you and yours!

  9. Thank you so much for a great 2013 full of recipes and techniques. I had to go back and read your stock post as I started following your blog a bit after that post. I used to save all my chicken backs and wing tips in a baggie in the freezer and make stock from that when I had enough, and just throw away the carcasses left over from roasting whole birds! Can you believe that?! And then I learned you could make stock from those bones and I have never looked back. I just bagged up 27 1/2 cups of turkey stock made from the bones of Christmas turkeys. That will last us a good while and it is so inexpensive and delicious! I see lots of soups this winter! Thank you so much for all you do. It is truly appreciated.

    • Whoa. I’m so glad you are making good use of those kitchen scraps now, Laura.

      Congrats on ample turkey stock! That is like liquid gold.

      Happy New Year and thank you for the kind comment.

  10. Aimée,
    You’ve picked some of the memorable posts for sure–I loved your writing about young love and Danny’s sugaring post. I’ve enjoyed following all your work in 2013. Looking forward to 2014!
    Thanks!

  11. Hi Aimée!

    I’m usually not a commenter, but your year-in-review post made me smack my head in the realization that you’ve become one of my essential go-tos. There are lots of food blogs out there. Not all of them feature food that is tasty AND doable by the distracted mom-at-home. Your cereal bars, tres leche cake (oh, my!), chicken nuggets are all part of our repertoire (I like the chia seed puddings, but I’m alone in handling the texture). The Skillet Chicken, Chocolate Chip Chili, Brown Butter Steel Cut Oats and Triple Chunk Cookies (from previous years) are constants favorites around here (I currently have a quart of chili, three quarts of 4-ingredient tomato sauce and 3 dozen scooped cookies in the deep freeze).

    Beyond the pantry, you’ve inspired me with your new fridge and a road-trip to Nova Scotia. Meanwhile, I showed many people your snap of developing eggs in the chicken…fascinating!

    THANK YOU

    • Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing, Jen. You just named a bunch of our favourites, too. 😉

      All the best for the new year ahead. xox.

  12. Favourite Simple Bites moment? Meeting the Simple Bites family and sharing good food and conversation with you all. =) XO

    Beautiful recap, Aimee. All the best in 2014!

    • Aghhh…that was a little bit magical, yes. And already seems like so long ago…If you guys ever want to house swap for a week…we’ll do it! We love Wolfville and can’t wait to return.

  13. Your year has been nothing short of triumphant! So many amazing accomplishments (and great recipes out of it all too)! Happy New Year!

  14. Happy new year Aimee! What a wonderful, inspiring post. My little girl turns one this month and I will be sure to try the cake you made for Clara. All the best for a great 2014!

  15. Laura Susan says

    So enjoyed this recap… hands down, your post about brown roasted chicken stock is one of my favorite blog posts I’ve ever read. I’ve shared it with numerous friends. You have such a gift for storytelling, as well as creating amazing food!
    Thank you, Aimee, and happy new year!

  16. I’ve just found your blog, and this post was a great way to dive right in! Congratulations on all of your success in 2013 and all the best in the new year.

  17. What a jam packed and exciting year you had! I need to make that apple tisane, it sounds wonderful.

  18. What a year that was and I’m sure 2014 is going to be even better! I loved that your recap took us through month-by-month, I haven’t seen that on any other blogs. All the best in the New Year, Aimee! 🙂

  19. Thank you so much! Happy days in new 2014!

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