Cookbook Giveaway Winner!

Hi everyone!  

Thank-you SO much to everyone who entered the Brown Eggs and Jam Jars cookbook giveaway!  I am pleased to announce that Judy A. has won the book!

Thanks so much for entering, and for reading Purple House Cafe – your response was overwhelming!

To purchase Aimee’s beautiful book, head on over to Amazon.  And, to read more about her urban homesteading adventures, click on over to Simple Bites.

Have a great weekend!

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY!


Brown Eggs and Jam Jars |

Having followed the urban homesteading adventures of Aimee Wimbush-Bourque on her much admired blog, Simple Bites, for the past couple years, I was delighted to be asked to review and make a recipe from her new book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, for the Food Bloggers of Canada Brown Eggs and Jam Jars blog tour.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars |

The book is every bit as heartwarming and down-to-earth as Aimee’s blog,  and really deserves the time it takes to occupy the kids with some play-doh, brew yourself a cup of tea, and cuddle up by the fire for a leisurely peruse.  Packed with irresistible seasonally-inspired recipes like sticky maple blueberry pudding, roasted peach barbecue sauce, and sour cream pear pie with cornmeal pecan streusel (!!), your copy of the book is bound to quickly look like mine – riddled with sticky tabs on the concoctions you can’t wait to try.  Connecting the recipes is Aimee’s beautiful prose, telling the stories behind the food she presents the reader, and offering tips on urban homesteading and involving kids in the kitchen – two of my favourite culinary pursuits.

As you can imagine, choosing just one recipe to make as a contributor to the BEJJ blog tour was unspeakably challenging, but I thought it my obligation as the sole East Coaster from the group of bloggers participating on the tour to make Aimee’s Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars |

I was happy enough NOT to have my daughter participate in the making of this chowder, I have to admit – it ended up being a thoroughly meditative, contemplative process I embarked on, on just the type of blustery, damp day that seafood chowders are meant to brighten.  Not an original East Coaster, I had always thought that my simple version of chowder – onions, garlic, wine, seafood and cream – was quite delicious.  I have realized, after making Aimee’s version, accented with fennel, saffron and tomatoes, that my chowder is truly just adequate, and that this will be my go-to recipe from here on out.  This recipe pulls together in time to decide, spontaneously, on a somewhat indulgent weekend lunch – complete with a glass of white wine – but is exquisite enough to save for when your prairie-dwelling relatives show up expecting fresh, locally-caught seafood.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars |

There are two ways to get your hands on this recipe and the 99-or-so others that grace the pages of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars:  you can enter my give-away, sponsored by Penguin Random House Canada Limited, who graciously provided me with an extra copy of the book to give to YOU, or you can grab it on Amazon or at your favourite bookstore.

To enter, simply comment below, and I will draw for the giveaway on Thursday, February 26th.  Only Canadian residents will be considered for the give-away.

To increase your chances of winning a copy of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, hop on over to the other blogs on the FBC Blog Tour, and enter their giveaways too!  Here’s who they are:



The Creative Mama Post: On Homemade Yolos and Experimentation


I published my first recipe video over on The Creative Mama earlier this week….click on over and check it out!  Hope you enjoy it!


Holiday Recipe Roundup, and what the holidays look like from here

Despite not being together as a family this Christmas season, I’ve decided to make the best of the holiday spirit.  This will be the kiddo’s first Christmas where she really understands what’s going on.  Before having kids I actually wondered if I would want to do the Santa thing.  Well, it seems the season is a bit undeniable, and my little girl had been well apprised of the ins and outs of the whole affair long before I had a chance to weigh in.  But it doesn’t matter:  also undeniable were the squeals of excitement at the lights!  Santa!  reindeer!  (more lights!) sparkles!  Christmas trees!  (ligggghhhhhttts!)

And then, when I was grumbling my way through Toys R’ Us a few weeks ago (“grrr….commercialization….grrr….no gender neutral toy options….grrrr…..$100 for a tricycle…..a whole freakin’ section of electronics for toddlers….argggghh”), I found the Cabbage Patch doll section, and was hit by a double whammy of nostalgia and the anticipation of my wee one’s thrilled little face upon receiving her first “real” baby for Christmas.  

(make that a triple whammy, when I realized that my little girl’s nature is to nurture, and that after three years of buying mostly blocks, play-dough, books, and art supplies, buying her a doll didn’t necessarily have to be about pandering to cultural norms, but rather allowing her to build on skills and strengths that she had already begun to show on her own.  The kid snuggles dish cloths and puts them to bed.  It was time….)

So here we are, preparing for a perfect imperfect Christmas, brimming with excitement, and at least, while A is mostly just excited about sparkles and the possibility of a new pair of underwear (as opposed to, like, a pony), gratefully indulging in what the season should really be about.

Speaking of indulging…I’ve pulled a few recipes out of the archives that you might find useful this season – for entertaining, gifting, or just hunkering down at home.  Enjoy!

First up, the recently published Icebox Cookies.  Though these are traditionally a holiday-time treat in our home, it’s always handy to have some in the freezer, ready at a moment’s notice.  They make a great gift too!

Dad's Icebox Cookies |

If you’re looking for a super simple hostess gift, or a Secret Santa surprise, why not infuse some maple syrup with some fun flavours (here I used vanilla bean and star anise)?  Seriously, this could not be easier, and it’s a really special treat.

Vanilla and Star Anise Infused Maple Syrup |

Holiday entertaining made simple:  meatballs, chili sauce and grape jelly.  It will have people hovering around your slow-cooker at your next gathering.

Grape Jelly Meatballs |

Every Christmas morning for well over a decade, I’ve eaten a breakfast strata.  In the good old days, growing up, it was made with simple ham and cheese.  As I grew up, started a family of my own and became more knowledgeable about food and flavour, our strata morphed into this prosciutto, onion and spinach version.

Christmas Breakfast Strata |

Last but not least, you just have to make homemade egg nog.  Seriously:  once you have this, the grocery store variety will not hold the same appeal.  It’s the one thing I’m truly missing this year – apparently, when you’re pregnant, you’re supposed to avoid things like raw eggs and brandy.  It just means that I’m going to be drinking eggnog in April, once this wee one has arrived, to make up for lost time.

Homemade Egg Nog |


Enjoy the holiday season, everyone! 

Rick’s Coconut Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Rick's Cookies |

These past few months, I’ve struck up somewhat of a relationship with a man I’ve never met, whose life bears a somewhat uncanny resemblance to mine, in ways, at times.

It’s not often that reading a book inspires me to seek out the contact information of the author and send him an email, but after reading Rick Taylor’s book “House Inside the Waves,” I couldn’t help but reach out.

I first heard of Rick when I read an article in one of my favourite magazines about his adventures swimming the Waikiki Rough Water swim.  Fellow long distance open water swimmers – the people who are, like me, crazy enough to jump in lakes just after the ice melts to paddle out kilometer after kilometer; the only people, perhaps, other than astronauts, who know what it feels like to adjust to gravity after having been without its’ influence for hours at a time – are rare.  Then, I found out that Rick and his family had spent a year living (writing, swimming, and surfing – three of my favourite pasttimes) in a little town that I too called home for a while, when I was working there as a divemaster.  Rick wrote about this experience in his book “House Inside the Waves,” which also shares a candid peek into the life of a stay-at-home dad, and what’s it’s like to parent small humans.  It’s a beautiful, introspective, philosophical and adventuresome book that I couldn’t put down.

Rick's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies |

Throughout the book, Rick references these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and like any good writer, describes them in a way that make them sound irresistable, in that gotta-get-one-in-my-gob-right-now kind of way.  I was highly motivated to reach out to him for the recipe to these when, in fact, I turned the page of the book where he had kindly shared with his readers how to create the friendship-building, child-assuaging, magical sweets.  

So I made the cookies immediately – and yes, they are all that, and emailed Rick anyway, to say hey, loved your book, loved your cookies, and isn’t it cool we share a few hobbies and a deep love for a little Australian town that captivated us both.

To my surprise, Rick wrote back, sharing some articles that he had written or was featured in, chatting about his family, and his time living in Byron Bay.  He emailed me when his grandson was born in August, and shared some musings on writing, swimming, and life.  I wrote to him about the pause I’ve taken in my writing to attend to family and home, and about my dreams of one day publishing a book.  

 It’s an unlikely friendship, in ways made less “virtual” and more genuine with the help of warm, gooey cookies.

Rick's Coconut Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies
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  1. 1/2 cup butter
  2. 1/2 cup white sugar
  3. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 1/4 cups oatmeal
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  11. 3/4 cup sweetened grated coconut
  12. 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars. Add in the egg and vanilla, and mix until incorporated.
  3. Whisk together the flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, hand-mixing until well incorporated. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips.
  5. Drop cookies onto baking sheet, and bake 8-10 minutes or until they begin to brown on the bottom.
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