I’m obsessed with a new cookbook. It’s called Brown Eggs and Jam Jars and has topped my list of best cookbooks for families. The recipes are simple, but yield impressive results. Not so impressive, though, that kids won’t eat them. In fact, the book is written by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque of Simple Bites, a professionally trained chef and working mom of three who totally gets it. It’s also full of stories, many of them about the lifestyle that inspired the book: urban homesteading.
Yes, I’m recommending—highly recommending—a cookbook written by an urban homesteader and I’m not kidding. Not because I expect you to homestead (I don’t), but because more than the fact that Aimee grows much of her food, raises chickens, and taps the maple trees on her within-city-limits property, she doesn’t make you feel guilty if you don’t.
Aimee is a wonderful cook and storyteller who understands simple, wholesome family eating to her core. And her recipes work for any family, no matter where they live or how they get their food.
Flipping through Brown Eggs and Jam Jars feels like being invited into Aimee’s warm home, full of kids helping in the kitchen, good food all around, and plenty of time eating and foraging in the back yard (even in winter!), which you’ll hardly believe is in a major city. In fact, the book has a year’s worth of inspiration for eating all three meals (and then some!) with the seasons.
That may sound precious, but the truth is that Aimee knows that living off of the land, to any degree, means keeping it simple, especially when you’re also managing a career and family of five. So when you finally bring home that maple syrup you worked so hard to get (or that you bought at the store, as the case is more likely to be for 99% of us), you want to throw together something easy and hearty like Maple Pepper Glazed Pork Chops (pictured), a recipe that I have made many times over. It’s nothing more than olive oil and salt seasoned pork chops with a glazed made of three ingredients and it’s crazy delicious.
Or, once you’ve done the work of harvesting your summer veggies — or simply picked them up at the farmer’s market like me — she keeps dinner suggestions fresh and simple to let the vegetables shine.
Recipes like Corn on the Cob with Chili Basil Brown Butter, Quick Marinated Beets, Caprese Salad with Fresh Thyme Drizzle each call for only 4-8 ingredients, including salt and olive oil.
That’s my kind of cooking.
This book is packed with simple dinners that I know families will spark to, like Peach-Glazed Grilled Salmon and Cheeseburgers with Smoky Onions; snacks like One-Bowl Carrot-Spice Oatmeal Muffins; hearty breakfasts like Buttermilk Buckwheat Pancakes (pictured); easy to pack foods for lunch or road trips like Gingered Beef and Cheesy Bean Burritos; drinks to keep you going like perfect Cold Brew Coffee and Strawberry Lemonade; and even holiday meal staples like Slow Cooker Cider Ham and Eggnog.
Are you falling in love with this book, too?
If you are, it’s probably because you get the point: simple, fresh, and delicious. Now I want you to taste the point. Because that’s what really matters. The Spinach and Ricotta Pappardelle from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars has become a staple in my house. In true form, the recipe turns a handful of easy to get or grow ingredients into a quick dinner that’s perfect for families. Because, yes, selective eaters can pick out the spinach if they must and eat some carrot sticks alongside the creamy, cheesy pasta which you will surely devour as is.
We’re so happy to be able to share the recipe.
Spinach and Ricotta Pappardelle
From Brown Eggs and Jam Jars
2 Tbsp salted butter
5 cups packed fresh baby spinach
500 grams Pappardelle pasta
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp light cream (15%)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large frying pan on medium heat and add all the spinach to the pan and salt lightly. Using a pair of cooking tongs, turn spinach in the pan until it is wilted, but not completely cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. When your water has boiled, boil pasta for 5-7 minutes or according to the package’s recommended cooking time. In a large serving bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cream and ricotta while the pasta is cooking.
3. Drain parpadelle and add it to the ricotta mixture. Toss well to coat. Add wilted spinach and Parmesan to the pasta and mix well. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper as needed and serve at once.
Reprinted from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites (Pintail; February 10, 2015)
Recipe: © Aimée Wimbush-Bourque, 2015
Images: © Tim and Angela Chin