A book tour of sorts: the (very long) recap

This post is a series of stories from my recent book tour, strung together as a nod to World Storytelling Day. I told my story to many people and was so grateful for the opportunity. The storytelling theme for 2015 is “Wishes”, and on this journey I wasn’t wishing for anything or to be anywhere else.

I had two telephone interviews scheduled for the day after we got back from our road trip. The second one was right after dinner, and I had crashed on the sofa to take the call, worn out from trying to catch up with a week of laundry, emails and general household upkeep.

We chatted for a bit, then launched right into the questions. The funny thing was, after 30 minutes, I didn’t remember that I had felt tired; I was standing, waving my arms, and gesturing to no one in particular. “You sound so excited about this cookbook” my interviewer noted. “Aren’t you tired of promoting it?”

Apparently not. I only hope you aren’t tired of hearing about it! BEJJ (“Bedge” as we affectionately call it in my home) is about the most exciting event to happen around here since Clara’s arrival three years ago. The book is an extension of our family and the past month has been spent promoting it from coast to coast. Here’s a glimpse of that book tour…

Aimee signing book launch

A little over a month ago, I stood in front of eighty friends and family at a private book launch and tried not to cry as I introduced my cookbook and thanked them for their support. I stammered a bit when I told them about the voices in my head that had told me I wasn’t good enough to write a book…or that it had all been done before…or that I didn’t have anything to contribute.

Thankfully, with the support of people like the very ones present that night, we pulled it off. And by “we” I mean Penguin Random House, Danny, Tim & Angela and myself – what an incredible feeling to see our work completed (and presented so prettily, if I may say so)!

photobooth Collage

On that bitterly cold February evening, we toasted the final product together, feasted on sweet and savoury bites from BEJJ, and goofed off in a photo booth. It was such a tremendous relief to have the cookbook out there…yet there was a vulnerableness about it all, too. It felt a little bit like dropping a child off at kindergarten on the first day: enormous pride and absolute terror.

The Cookbook Corner, Toronto

Well, I didn’t have time to be nervous about my cookbook’s launch into the world, because I went straightaway to Toronto for a whirlwind of press events and social engagements. They began with a live cooking demo on Canada AM, which you’ll never catch me linking to because I had utterly no idea what I was saying. (True to form, my children were painfully honest with me about the whole business.)

Canada AM

Sufficient to say, I had a microphone within an arms length of me all day, whether it was for TV, radio or an interview. My favorite part, however, was finishing the day with a book signing at All the Best Fine Foods. It was another bitterly cold night, but my hosts served up Maple Pumpkin Chili and Zucchini Cornbread from BEJJ, along with cups of hot spiced cider.

Toronto book tour

I met so many of YOU, dear readers, and was completely taken aback by the support. Thank you for coming out! The Toronto food blogger community also made a strong show of support and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Below, L-R: me, Heather, Britt, Kevin, Jenny, and Mardi. (That’s also Joel photobombing me in the image above).

Toronto friends

Barbara-Jo’s, Vancouver

I spent Valentine’s Day with two very special people: my parents. They joined me in Vancouver, having traveled down from the Discovery Islands. As my father contributed the original illustrations for BEJJ, it was particularly meaningful to have him present at my event at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks.

radish butter on cumin crostini

I  chatted about the book writing process and demoed Cumin Crostini with Radish Chive Butter (above), while my ‘assistant’, the incomparable gentleman Ethan, baked and served my Whole Wheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies to about 35 attendees. It was such a lovely group, I wanted to hang out with them all afternoon. Cheeky Baker Anna was utterly vibrant and sweet, Sarah brought the whole adorable family, and Kristy kept me from getting nervous by randomly winking at me from the back row. Thanks, girl!

Vancouver

Vancouver completely showed off on that Saturday, so much so, that I felt a little guilty for my family back home, weathering out the coldest February on record. But I was headed for snow the next day.

Two Sisters Cafe, Smithers, British Columbia

Smithers book tour

After my emotional fennel-stuffed salmon post about returning to my hometown, I had always planned to bring the book back to the valley and the town of Smithers. It just seemed right. Fortunately, a local cafe and a bookseller got on board to help me host the event. The local paper even got wind of things and wrote a lovely article.

So, a day after my Vancouver Valentine’s, I flew into the shadow of Hudson Bay Mountain once again and hightailed it to my brother’s kitchen (we toured his homestead once) to get baking. Three-year-old Gabe went to collect the eggs for my Chocolate Beet Sheet Cake, and while it was in the oven, we mixed up cookies together. Then we were out the door to the signing before the cake had even cooled.

Smithers Book Tour Collage

These open book events don’t require an RSVP, so you never really know who will show up. But in Smithers, people started trickling in 30 minutes before the scheduled time, and by 2PM the room was full. We sold out of books in the first 45 minutes, though folks stayed for another hour to sample cake, have their books signed and snap a photo together.

Smithers book tour event

It was thrilling to see the response. I chatted with old school friends and my very first employer, a fellow who hired me to work as a nanny for his two boys for a summer. I finally got to met Kimberley, who surprised me with a gift bag of her famous marshmallows. Even the town mayor came – talk about a welcome!

Later, we sat around my brother’s dining room table and I soaked in some much needed family time. My sister-in-law Laura braised a lamb shoulder with tomatoes and olives for our dinner, and poured her sparkling cider from the apples we pressed together last fall.

Metier Cooks Supply, Austin

Austin book tour

Why Austin? So many people asked this question, and I had a number of easy responses. For starters, it’s Austin, a destination I have wanted to hit for absolutely ages. A city with fantastic eats, super supportive friends like Megan and Kate (above), and warm weather in February!

So many people told me I needed to bring my book to Austin, that Austinites would ‘get it’. They were right. My event at Métier drew a group of urban homesteaders and parents who were in full support of backyard chickens, kids in the kitchen and eating local. I left feeling inspired – and full of barbecue, too.

Appetite for Books, Montreal

15-102_BEJJ_Launches_18

I was eager to have my children join me for my local event at Appetite for Books, and fortunately Jonathan was totally cool with letting three kiddos loose in his reputably classy and utterly gorgeous store. We invited the book’s photographers, Tim and Angela Chin, too, who brought their kids, and, well, it was a memorable time for lots of reasons!

15-102_BEJJ_Launches_16

Mateo helped me demo more radish butter crostini while Noah passed around hot spiced cider. This was the first time they were observing me present the book, a project they had watched me work on for nearly two years. Having them there made it all the more special, like a full circle moment, right in my hometown of Montreal.

Montreal BEJJ_Launches_13

BookCourt, Brooklyn

Oh, New York, you were fun for a few days. NOT because of your weather, but mostly because I was able to connect with great people like Stacie, Vanessa, Demetria, my literary agent, Stacey Glick, and the lovely girls from Pintail.

Mother Natured battered Brooklyn with a mixture of ice, rain and snow the evening of my BEJJ event at BookCourt. Sigh. A handful of lovely brave people came out anyway and we had an intimate evening discussing all my favourite topics: cooking, kids and homesteading.

Stacie

My dear friend, Stacie from One Hungry Mama jumped in last minute to moderate my talk after my initial interviewer took sick (Stacie’s a born natural speaker) and then ushered me and a few friends to June for a late night feast. She’s one of a kind (and one to watch, seriously).

If you ever are strolling around Cobble Hill, be sure to pop into BookCourt, because it is everything you ever want in an independent book store.

Below: various treats from tour stops, all recipes from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, loving made by yours truly.

sweets collage

The Way Home

On the official last leg of our journey, we made our way through the snow-covered rolling hills of  The Berkshires to the home of Alana Chernilla. You know her from The Homemade Pantry, and her blog, Eating from the Ground Up. Alana gets the importance of a healthy family food culture like few people I know. Her home exudes hospitality; her kitchen is open and friendly, her dining room table long and welcoming.

Alanas

We shared a homemade feast of granola & yogourt, broiled grapefruit with maple sugar, bacon & egg burritos, and pour after pour of Chemex coffee. Then, while the kids chased the puppy and perused her husband’s comic book collection, Alana and I talked straight through the morning.

Without really knowing it, I had arrived empty, drained from a month of book promotion and events, and hungry for home cooking. More than that, though, I needed to hear that it is possible to go through the whole cookbook process again and be equally as proud of a project. (This is probably a good time to tell you I’ll be writing a second cookbook.)

Alana laid out an array of sample pages from her next book, The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure and I sighed over her recipes and ideas. It’s exactly the kind of cookbook I adore; I can’t wait to get into it.

Home

There were so many more places I wish I could have traveled to, and people I would have loved to spend time with. To everyone who wrote, I saw your messages, tags and queries, and I thank you for the support. But in the end, I did what I could, and now I need to be home. I’m cooking, more than I ever have before (the homestead is buried in snow; what else is there to do?) and am excited for what lies ahead: several new projects, Easter, reconnecting with local friends, and eventually, spring.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all the love. It means so much.

Special thanks to photographers Tim Chin and Jenn Hols, whose images appear throughout this post. They were generous with their time and their work. Also thank to Bartek and Magda who freely supplied us with a photo booth for the book’s launch party. Most of all, thanks to my family and extended family, who let me go and sent their love every step of the way.

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 the book tour. Hope you can now get some well deserved rest and family time! I am working my way through BEJJ and loving every recipe!!!

    Sara

  2. I didn’t know you were from Smithers!! I lived in Kitimat for 2 years and just barely moved the beginning of January. Smithers is awesome. Your book is gorgeous and it looks like your book tour was a busy success! Congrats!!

  3. Such a lovely recap, and so fun to meet you in Vancouver…I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the demo. I’ve already made quite a few recipes including the asparagus + fried egg (my new favorite Spring light meal, which I’ve been making at least once a week), and the roasted tomato pizza sauce. My batch is completely gone already and my husband loved the flavor!
    I just recently saw your book at my local Costco…wow! Congrats! Looks like you had a lovely time celebrating BEJJ. 🙂
    Sarah M

    • Sarah – I’m so glad you’re cooking from BEJJ! Sounds like you’re really getting into it!!
      Yes, the book is in Costco stores across Canada!
      Thanks again for coming out. 🙂

  4. So fun to see this overview of the whole tour – you did good, lady!!

  5. This is so exciting to see, Aimee! I’ll admit that I’ve only started following your journey recently, but am so happy to see what you’ve done. Keep it up and best of luck!

  6. So glad you were able to make it to Austin. It was wonderful to visit with you and catch up. We love BEJJ and have been cooking and baking using your recipes since we got home! Congrats! We are looking forward to the next cookbook! Much love!

  7. Loved reading this. So happy for your success!

  8. Sounds like so much exhausting fun, Aimée! Congratulations on all your success with “Bedge.” Can’t wait to see the next book from you…

  9. I was so looking forward to being a tiny teeny part of the North America BEJJ tour and being put to work was just a bonus! So glad we got to hang out in Vancouver, love the book and love that I had the chance to watch the Bedge master at work!

  10. Aimée, I’m so proud of you, friend! Your book is absolutely beautiful and I loved reading about your book tour. It sounded exhausting and so fun at the same time. xoxo

  11. The view from here is both exciting and nostalgic. Our hearts are laid out in this book too. As much as it is your baby, we feel like we’re something of a very involved uncle or aunt. We didn’t have anything to do with it’s creation but it’s still our flesh and blood and pride, and we’re gonna treat it like our own. It is family. We’ve been so grateful for the experience – having been behind the scenes, literally tasting every page I can truly say that the journey thus far is one that Angela and I will remember till we’re old and grey and lost our wits. Cheers.

    • I love this response, Tim. Like I said in the acknowledgements: you are all family.
      It was such an exciting journey! And we get to do it all over again!

  12. Charlene A. says:

    I loved the recap and it all sounds so exciting (and tiring)! Great photos, too. I’m still crossing my fingers that you’ll make it to Ottawa 🙂

    • Charlene, you got the exhausting part. By the time it was over, a trip to Ottawa sounded like a trip to the moon.

      We’ll get there. We love Ottawa! Let me know if you have suggestions for a fun location for an event.

  13. Hi Amiee,

    When my wife bough another cookbook, I roll my eyes a bit and thought here is another attempt at getting me to cook more “healthy” for my wife and 2 kids, again.

    But I have to say I find I’m reaching for it more and more. It’s late but I’m still reading as I prep meals for the week. Besides the recipes, I like the semi-parenting advice on getting the kids involved. Keeps it real for parents.

    My wife has always wanted to be a homesteader, and now she’s pulling me in. We seem to be accumulating mason jars, romanticizing moving to the country, and building square gardens. Too bad we sold our freezer!

    Many thanks for taking a risk and writing a great cook-book.

    My best, Jack

    Ps. I also liked the story about Debbie and Sunday dinners.

    • Jack, thank you so much for the honest feedback. I super appreciate it as I don’t often hear from the dads out there. Keep cooking and keep me posted on the homesteading progress!

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