See what CafeMoms are saying about saving time this holiday season..
Meet Aimee Wimbush-Bourque.
Aimee, tell us about your family.
We're a close-knit family of four -- my husband and high school sweetheart, Danny, and our two sons, Noah, 4, and Mateo, 2, living 20 minutes outside of Danny's hometown, Montreal.
We've just settled on our "homestead," a little piece of land that backs onto a maple forest. We're looking forward to putting in a big garden and an outdoor pizza oven, having a few more kids, and maybe even raising a few chickens someday.
Family Portrait by Tim ChinIt's hard to say what my boys love more: cooking and baking or the great outdoors. I like to think that I had something to do with both of those passions, as I am a country girl myself.
If only they enjoyed eating as much as their father and I do; they are both highly selective eaters.
Tell us about your blog.
After keeping a memoire-style food blog for years, I really wanted my writing to metamorphose into something much more instructional for the average cook. Fortunately the opportunity arose to be editor of Simple Bites and in February, under the umbrella of Simple Living Media. I launched a new food blog that provides practical cooking tips, nourishing recipes, and an encouraging perspective to help the everyday parent provide great food for the family.
Simple Bites focuses on seasonal, wholesome fare that is simple to make, like the sorbet pictured above. It has just two ingredients and doesn't require an ice cream maker. Simple? Certainly! Sublime? Indeed!
If "real food" can be considered a style, then that is what you'll find on SB.
Raspberry ice cream
Can we see the inside of your kitchen?
Come on in! My kitchen is indeed the heart of the home and is a pleasure to cook in. It's opened on both ends, making for a good traffic flow, and offers small seating areas at each end.
You can find me at this bar with a coffee checking my email every morning. The elevated counter also works well as a place to serve punch & pretzels during parties or as a perch for watching the usual hub of kitchen activity.
We entertain a lot and this kitchen has proved to be perfectly suited for hosting large or small groups. It can easily accommodate half a dozen individuals without anyone feeling crowded or getting hip-checked.
My favorite spot would have to be directly in front of the espresso machine, as I am somewhat of a coffee fanatic. There's also a kickspace heater under the counter in that particular spot, so the ceramic floors are always toasty warm there in winter. The sun pours in from the two windows flanking the coffee machine and it's a great way to start the morning.
I also love, love the stretch of counter under the windows where I can cook completely unrestrained by space. It's perfect for a major pie project or shaping bread.
Three items I reach for every day sit right next to the stove: organic extra virgin olive oil, salt, and fresh ground pepper.
One of my favorite features is the sink. It's unusually placed in a corner, but I wouldn't have it anywhere else. There is a window with a view and the bar is right there so folks can sit and chat with whoever is washing dishes.
The sink looks small, but I can actually fit a 20L stock pot in there for washing. I also love the built-in drainer (use it ALL the time) and small extra sink with a garbarator. Soooo, that's my sink!
Here's the back end of the kitchen that opens into the dining room. On the left is a deep pantry, on the right is built-in china cabinet and I love them both.
Finally I have a pantry that can hold all my jam! OK, just kidding, it's not all jam. It also houses the children's art supplies, tons of bulk food items and our board game collection.
This lower bar is usually where the kids have a snack; they can still feel like they are in the kitchen with me, but are not right under my feet.
Here's the brainstorming corner and Tweetdeck central, with just a handful of my favorite cookbooks. I try to keep this counter free of food and a safe place for my laptop, camera, etc., and use the counter under the windows primarily for cooking and baking.
So far I haven't ruined any electronics or books due to spillage, so this setup is working well for me -- I DO love to cook and tweet.
A photo tour wouldn't be complete without a close-up of a few cookbooks, now, would it? And did you know that a pasta machine makes a great bookend? Now you do!
Where do you find inspiration?
My biggest inspiration has to be my mother, who was about 30 years ahead of the recent "real food" movement. Growing up, we raised most of our own food, and made do with little to no pre-packaged food; she saw to it that we ate nourishing food and developed a taste for unprocessed ingredients.
Our day-to-day eating is definitely driven by what is seasonal and gorgeous looking at the market, like tomatoes for example. I just don't enjoy them during the winter months, but come June we're eating them in every way you could imagine.
Of course, no matter what the season, I'll cook up a pot of spaghetti & meatballs for the boys, as it remains a favorite and probably always will!
What rituals do you and your family have with respect to food?
My husband and I tend to buck at tradition (his family is quite traditional), and embrace spontaneity instead -- so far, anyway. It will be interesting to see if any rituals form as our children grow older. I have a repertoire of recipes, yes, but am so terrified of falling into a rut that I purposely never make the same dish twice for holidays!
Recipes that are handed down are another matter though, for they are too valuable to toss aside. My mother's Rhubarb Upside Down Cake is one.
I aim to equip my boys with a good solid repertoire of recipes before they leave home. In fact, we've already started; my 4-year-old makes a mean meatball. Cooking in the kitchen with my kid is more than a ritual -- it is a standard practice.
Family Portrait by Tim Chin
What do you make better than anyone else?
My husband should answer this one! Hmm, well, I've spent some time perfecting a basic muffin that is easily adaptable to a wide variety of flavours and add-ins. I've had enough people tell me it's the best muffin (not dry!) they have ever had, so I guess that qualifies for a winner!
Raspberry dark chocolate muffins
What is your one indulgence?
Oh, I have a few too many of those, but I've recently developed a serious addiction to cold-brewed iced coffee -- and occasionally floating in a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it. Mmm. It's heaven on a hot day.
How has your cooking changed since you had children?
It's actually changed very little. Once I realized that I had fussy eaters on my hands, no matter what the fare, I figured I wouldn't cook special meals for them. As a rule I cook what I love and sometimes the children's taste buds agree with me, and sometimes they don't.
It's not as easy as it sounds, but I've learned some survival skills for coping with picky eaters and we're making progress. Slowly.
What are some ingredients/food items that you could never, ever live without?
Spices! Fresh, exotic, and exciting spices. Some folks are wine enthusiasts, but I'm passionate about spices. On Simple Bites I‘ve debunked common spice myths and want to show that proper selection and addition of good quality spices to a dish can elevate the flavor of a dish with little effort and minimal cost. They are a home cook's best friend, and when purchased, stored, and ground properly, they can really transform ho-hum cooking into memorable fare!
Other ingredients I must have on hand are butter, citrus, coffee, bacon, oatmeal, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, onions, and as much fresh fruits & veggies that my fridge can hold.
Black pepper shrimp
What are you favorite food blogs or websites?
I find daily inspiration and motivation from my sister blogs who make up Simple Living Media: Simple Mom, Simple Kids, Simple Organic, and Simple Homeschool. These girls know their stuff and continually encourage me to be a better person in every aspect of my life.