Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary to Us (and a Kitchen Aid Giveaway!)

Danny and I were married in an apple orchard in rural Quebec exactly ten years ago today. It was a late spring that year; the apple trees shimmered in green, but withheld their blossoms for warmer days.

Although the sun shone, it was a cool day, but we only felt the warmth of our young love and the thrill of the moment we had been anticipating for years.

My dad walked me down the freshly-mown aisle of thick spring grass, while my sister-in-law, Laura, played Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ in a violin solo. Before family and friends, in a simple ceremony, we were wed.

Today we will return to the very same orchard with our three little ones in tow, to picnic on the grass, play tag among the trees, and reminisce over our wedding day.

Later tonight, Danny and I will slip away for a dinner on the town where we will sip champagne, slurp oysters, and forget for a few hours that we are responsible adults with a family, car payments, mortgage and the like.

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Ten, 10-Minute Meals

We all have those days when life is hectic and tiring, or maybe the weather is just so gorgeous, that the last thing we want to do is spend time in the kitchen at the end of the day. It can get us dialing takeout or making unhealthy dinner choices as soon as we walk in the door, because the last thing we want to think about is what to make for dinner.

The meal ideas I’m sharing today are for those kinds of days. They’re quicker then takeout and tasty to boot, so everyone can be excited about dinner and you’ll find yourself lounging outside, or on the couch, in no time.

If you keep some of these ideas on hand at all times  you will always have a filling and satisfying dinner, no matter the day.

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Warm Potato Salad with Grainy Mustard, Bacon & Ramps

This past weekend was gorgeous and sunny and we spent a good part of it outdoors, puttering in the yard, walking down by the water, and picnicking on the grass. It seemed like all it took was that burst of heat and the whole countryside exploded into vibrant green foliage. Our forest is carpeted with trillium, ferns, and in certain areas, ramps.

Synonymous with spring, ramps, or wild leeks, are slender white bulbs with a delicate green fronds and a mild garlicy flavor that grow on the forest floor in Northern US and Canada.  Ramps are known as ail de bois up here, and are held in high regard by chefs and foodies alike. The fact that we have our own special stash behind our home is amazing and enough to make this chef-forager positively giddy.

Last Saturday I took my morning cup of coffee, donned my purple Croc boots, and set out to harvest ramps for the potato salad I was making for a pot-luck that evening. Within just a few minutes, I had a handful of ramps, but I lingered amidst the wildflowers to finish my coffee, and let the sweet smell of spring rain in the forest rejuvenate my spirit.

I’m not sure which was more rewarding, the few minutes of solace or the haul of ramps.

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Musings on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is particularly poignant this year as I’m basking in the warm rays of new motherhood. Clara still carries the newborn look about her, and utters those precious little squeaks while fast asleep and produces content coos when engaged face to face.

The wonder of her birth and arrival is still fresh in my memory, but fresher still is loss, as last Friday, at the age of 91, my grandmother passed away peacefully.

Today my mum will be marking her first Mother’s Day without her own mother, Baba to us grandchildren, and Babka to Clara. This isn’t meant to be sad (I believe it was my Baba’s time, however difficult it was to hear of her passing),  but more of an observation of the passing of generations. It’s only natural to contemplate the seasons of motherhood when the eldest in the family tree leaves this earth within weeks of the arrival of the youngest little girl.

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Bite This Book! Food in Jars (giveaway)

Welcome to Bite This Book! Each month, I feature a cookbook of my choosing that is hot off the press, host a Q & A with the author, and then give you a chance to win a copy or two. It’s Bite This Book! good reads on Simple Bites.

Marisa McClellan is a woman of many hats. She is a freelance writer, an expert at home canning, a blogger, a canning instructor, and a contributor here at Simple Bites, among other things. She can now add published author to her resume because her beautiful book Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round comes out on May 22!

Marisa’s popular canning blog, Food in Jars, begged to make the jump to book; as her devoted readers, we wanted a hard copy of her recipes right in the kitchen with us. Fortunately, a publisher at Running Press helped make it happen and Food in Jars, the cookbook, is a thing of beauty. I know my copy is destined to get sticky, very sticky.

Packed with full-page color photos, and engaging anecdotes from Marisa’s food-centric upbringing, the Food in Jars cookbook is a fresh approach to home preserving. It holds a wonderful assortment of over 100 recipes from pickles to jam, fruit butter to salsas and much more. The small batch recipes make them approachable for novice canners, and there is enough variety in the recipes to entice the more experienced home canner.

Read on for a short interview with Marisa and a chance to win a copy of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round!

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