Tag Archives | Simple Bites

Cookbooks: Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

cover of brown eggs

I met first met Aimée Wimbush-Bourque in person at one of the early Big Summer Potlucks. We’d known each other online for some time before that, so in many ways, that first encounter was like reuniting with a friend, just one I’d happened never to have met before. We bonded over our shared love of canning and have stayed in touch ever since.

brown eggs and jam jars Aimee

When Aimée announced that she was working on her first book, I knew immediately that it would be one that I’d add to my shelf for the long haul. There has been little that Aimée has posted on Simple Bites over the years that I didn’t want to cook immediately and so I was certain that Brown Eggs and Jam Jars would be full of just the kinds of things I would crave.

Maple Walnut Granola

This book has far exceeded my hopes and expectations. It is a gorgeous, hefty paperback, bursting with delicious words, recipes, and images. The book is organized by season, with each time of year broken down further by the special activities that time of year contains. I particularly want to crawl right into the Sugaring Off chapter which kicks off the meat of the book.

making canning work

In addition to the very useful recipes, you’ll find that the book is studded with essays that deal with topics like making your canning work for you, tips on urban homesteading, and how to thrive with kids in the kitchen. There’s also a great introduction that goes through equipment and basic ingredients to keep in the pantry.

Gingery Pickled Asparagus

A note for those of you without kids. This book has a strong family focus. That makes sense because Aimée and her husband Danny have three young children. If that fact makes you pause, worry not. There is plenty in this book for households of just one or two.

Baba's Sweet Mustard Pickles

All told, this is a lovely book, bursting with appealing recipes and a personable voice. There are so many preserves I’ve added to my list for the coming season, from Baba’s Sweet Mustard Pickles pictured above, to the Roasted Peach Barbecue Sauce and the Cranberry Pear Mincemeat. I am certain that this is going to be a well-loved and much stained book by this time next year.

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Honey Sweetened Cara Cara Orange Jam on Simple Bites

finished orange jam

I got back from Chicago last night with a stack of other peoples’ business cards, half a dozen water bottles from the Housewares Show (more on that soon), and a fog-inducing head cold. I’m good for nothing right now beyond curling up on the couch with a book and some tea.

Happily, I don’t have to leave you all entirely empty-handed. I wrote a piece for Simple Bites on Honey Sweetened Cara Cara Orange Jam that went live today. It’s bright, well-balanced, and can be used a number of different ways (on toast! with yogurt! in vinaigrette!). Please do head over there and take a look.

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Honey Sweetened Apricot Thyme Jam at Simple Bites

apricots in a bowl


This time of year, I get a little bit obsessed with apricots. I buy them by the half bushel from a local orcharding family (I get the seconds, which are cheaper but just as tasty) and make five kinds of jam, butter, preserved halves, mustards, and ketchups, all from apricots. I also eat my way through a small mountain of them plain, because there is nothing in the world so good as an apricot that ripened on the tree, traveled all of 100 miles and has never seen the inside of a cold room.

I’ll have a new apricot recipe or two for you guys soon, but also wanted to point you in the direction of a apricot post and recipe I wrote for Simple Bites that went live today. I dearly love this simple, small batch of honey-sweetened apricot jam, made herbaceous with a few fresh thyme leaves. It’s still lovely on toast, but really shines when served with a creamy wedge of cheese or some succulent tidbit of roasted meat.

The recipe is here. I daresay that it will make you want to leap up and find your way to the closest quart of sunny stonefruit to make your own batch.

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Curds, Pickles and Soups! Oh My!


This morning while I was bending over to make the bed, I felt a noisy ping in my lower back. I went from feeling entirely energetic and ready to leap mountains to a painful lump, crawling for a heating pad.

I shelved my cooking schedule and spent the day on the couch watching mindless TV. After a couple of doses of Ibuprofen, some gentle yoga and plenty of quiet time, I’m feeling better. While I continue to recuperate, check out a few recipes I’ve cooked up recently for some other websites.

orange cardamom curd

Orange cardamom curd. I made this for Simple Bites and it’s positively dreamy. I ate it this morning stirred into yogurt and later went back for a spoonful as an afternoon pick-me-up.

pickled Brussels sprouts

For my latest In a Pickle column, I pickled a pound of Brussels sprouts. They are yummy and my new favorite thing is to eat them along side a bowl of chicken soup.

marinated carrots

Though this recipe is more marinated salad than pickle, it is very much worth making. I cooked it up when I was still out in Portland. Both my parents went back for seconds and my aunt asked for the recipe. Not bad for a quick, cheap and simple salad.

lentil soup

Finally, for my most recent piece for the FN Dish, I made Alton Brown’s lentil soup recipe. It’s easy, inexpensive and warming. This is another one I made while out in Portland and I froze the bulk of it in lunchtime-sized portions for my mom. It was nice to know that I left her with a week’s worth of stressless mid-day meals.

Just one word of advice if you do choose to make that recipe. Go easy on the salt, particularly if you’re using boxed stock. I followed the recipe exactly and ended up having to add extra water to counteract the effects of the salt. Beyond that, it was excellent.

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Demos, Classes, Can-It-Forward and Canning Week on Simple Bites

peach salsa

This last Saturday, I did a peach salsa demonstration at Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA for their annual peach festival. The audience was filled with stone fruit enthusiasts, as well as a handful of Food in Jars readers. It was so much fun to meet everyone who made the trek and I hope I’ll see even more of you guys on September 24 when I make apple-pear chutney.

giving demo

Speaking of canning instruction, this Saturday, August 13, I’m teaching a Garlic Dill Pickle class. There are still four more spots available in that class should you be interested in joining us. The cost is $45 per person and the class is being held at Indy Hall in Old City, Philadelphia. Leave a comment or shoot me an email (foodinjars AT gmail dot com) if you’d like to sign up.

two full jars

Also happening this Saturday, August 13 is the National Can-It-Forward Day. Organized this year by Ball and the Canvolution folks, the event will include coast-to-coast canning parties, live demos in Seattle and a full day of streaming programming all about canning. Click here to download the Web TV schedule.

Finally, it’s Canning Week over at Simple Bites. Last year, I wrote about canning tomatoes and this year, expect to see a small batch plum jam recipe from me up there later in the week. Last weekend at the Big Summer Potluck, Aimée gathered Shaina, Megan and me to film a kick-off video. Take a look!

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Canning 101: How to Make Apple Butter and How to Use It


Last Friday, a piece I wrote about making apple butter ran on Simple Bites. For those of you who’ve been reading this site for awhile, the technique won’t be unfamiliar to you. It’s essentially the same one I use for all my butters, including the blueberry butter that was so popular this summer.

With apple butter, I cook the fruit down into sauce on the stove top or in the slow cooker. Then, using a slow cooker, I cook the sauce down into butter. With this last batch, I did a bit of experimentation with my newer slow cooker (for the blueberry butter, I used an older one that has a lower cooking temperature). What I found is that the “warm” setting on my newer cooker (vintage 2003) was quite similar to the “low” setting on older cooker that dates to the early seventies. In case you were wondering.

Now, as far as apple butter goes, it can be canned without any additional sweetener. However, I typically find that a bit of cane sugar, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup brightens the flavor. I don’t like artificial sweeteners, so I don’t use them, but they could also be used in this case if you tend towards them.

So, how to use all this apple butter that you’re cooking up in your slow cooker? Personally, I like it stirred into greek yogurt or slathered on peanut butter toast. You can also use it in place of applesauce in baked goods. For instances, it would go nicely in my Maple-Banana Bread. I also like the looks of this Apple Butter Bread. Consider subbing some apple butter for the pumpkin puree in these spiced pancakes. Use it as one of the moisture lenders in a granola recipe.

Now for your ideas! How do you like to use apple butter?

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