September Food Swap

The September food swap had one additional swapper this month: Evie.

She was *so excited* to go to the food swap with her mama. You could just see how proud and grown up she felt. Sara had her make yogurt to bring for her special swap item, and she had big plans on what she was going to swap for.

I wasn’t actually at the swap, so my knowledge is second hand, but it sounds like she tried a lot of samples. Her yogurt was reasonably popular, but she unfortunately didn’t get her first choice of red velvet cupcakes (how could someone resist trading with a proud 6 year old with homemade yogurt?) Nonplussed, she turned around and scored some orange chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate swiss meringue buttercream and black sesame seeds. (Can you believe we haven’t eaten them yet? They got a lot of desserts.)

Her other exciting swap was getting her daddy some bacon cupcakes. She was so excited to tell me about them! She convinced someone to take some pickled radishes (they were NOT a popular item), and nabbed 2 bacon maple cupcakes and 2 pistachio nutella cupcakes. That’s a good deal, right there (thank you for making so many cupcakes!)

All in all, a very successful swap.

September food swap

I inspired someone!

As frequent readers know, I cross-post my blog to Glipho. As frequent readers also know, Sara is a frequent participant of the Chicago Food Swap, and I usually post a recap of what we traded after she attends one. Recently, these two things came together in the perfect storm of awesomeness.

Sam, a friend over at A Few Fine Things read the most recent food swap write up and was so inspired that she decided to bring the concept over the pond, and start her very own food swap in Manchester, England!

You can read her announcement post here, but I will summarize the important part (a.k.a. the part about me) below. (Forgive her the errant ‘u’; she’s British.)

Shane Halbach is a favourite blogger of mine. He has an amazing outlook on life and he and his family are a constant source of inspiration to me, his Baconfest for example…..

So every few months Shane blogs about his wife Sara participating in a Chicago Food Swap. A delicious concept where food-lovers gather to exchange homemade goods. No cash is exchanged and no goods are sold. In silent auction format, homemade goodies change hands; bread for cheese, cheese for jam, jam for peanut butter, peanut butter for houmous….. the combination and swaps are never ending. The end result is a happy community with happy tummies.

What an amazing concept.

So after searching for a Manchester Food Swap (there isn’t one) and a chat with Shane I have decided to bite the bullet and start one up.

Whaaaaaat? How awesome is that.

Since the time of that announcement, Sam’s been a busy bee. She’s got a date and a venue for the first swap. She’s getting interviewed for the local paper. She’s set up a website, a blog, a Facebook, and a Twitter account. This is happening for REAL, yo.

As much as I’d like to take all the credit, the credit is really Sam and all of the hard work she’s put into organizing the event. A million times an hour someone sees something on the Internet that’s cool, but they don’t go DO anything about it. Sam’s the one in a million who actually did. Even the inspiration credit goes to the Chicago Food Swap for organizing such a great event in the first place. Me writing the blog post was really the least part of it.

So why am I so excited about this?

Actually, I’m not really sure. Partially because I just get so excited when anybody around me is creating something. It often happens that I get more excited about something than the person who is actually *doing* the something, which can be a little awkward. But in this case, Sam is WAY more excited and committed than I am, which just makes the whole thing even more exciting.

Aside from that, blogging is such an inherently useless activity; pushing bits around on a computer screen without any hope for anything real to come out of it. This is one of those rare, shining cases where something in the world changed because of words. My words! That feels amazing. I could have lifted the stone, but I didn’t. I could have fashioned the lever, but I didn’t. But I did play my small part, and afterwards there was a real, tangible result. The stone was moved. Who’s to say my hand on the lever was any less important than any of the other pieces?

Alright, you’re right, it was totally me. I DO take all the credit.

I wish I could do more to help out. As far as I know, I don’t have any readers in Manchester to send to the food swap. But on the off chance someone is in a position to signal boost this, please do!

May Food Swap

I’m a little late in posting this, but Sara attended the May Food Swap.

In exchange for:

  • whole wheat honey bread (6 loaves)
  • yogurt (5 14 oz jars)
  • cantaloupe vanilla jam (3 4 oz and 1 8 oz jar)

We received:

  • Cinnamon pecan butter
  • Preserved lemons
  • Overnight French boule
  • Focaccia
  • Orange sea salt caramels
  • Hot pepper jam
  • Strawberry rhubarb orange preserves
  • Potato, cheddar & chive frittata
  • Rhubarb curd shortbread bars
  • 2 copper river heirloom tomato plants
  • 1 wapsipinicon peach tomato plant
  • Garlic & oregano butter
  • Plum with vanilla orchid tea jam
  • Cardamom peanut butter
  • Cashew butter with candied Pomegranate
  • 4 chocolate peanut butter Whoopie pies

May Food Swap

Naturally, the desserts are always the favorites at our house. In this case the Whoopie pies carried the day, with the rhubarb curd shortbread bars a close second. However, for my money, nothing beat the garlic & oregano butter / focaccia combination.

It was also a cool idea to get tomato plants. We’ve planted them in the garden, so hopefully they take off (I believe they had been started from seedlings, so two of them at least were little tiny baby tomato plants). If they do, they are certainly “worth” a lot of food compared to a loaf of bread.

Speaking of bread, that was a lot of bread! I was baking bread for 2 days, since I did 6 loaves for the swap, another two loaves for us, a couple of batches of granola, and a batch of oatmeal cookies on top just for funsies. Seems like it was worth it though, since Sara traded all the bread, including even the one that she had sliced up for samples. Besides, usually Sara makes everything for the food swap, but i do a lot of the eating, so it was probably time to pull a little weight.

As always, very glad to have an opportunity to try a bunch of unique homemade items!

February Food Swap

Time again for a Chicago Food Swap wrap up! (You can see previous food swap posts here.)

In exchange for:

We received:

  • 2 Blue Moon Cupcakes
  • Cranberry Pepper Jelly
  • Cinnamon Pecan Butter
  • Salsa Verde
  • Blood Orange Marmalade
  • Macadamia Nut Caramel Corn
  • Meyer Lemon Marmalade
  • Cranberry Curd
  • Homemade Granola
  • Cherry Pie Filling
  • Pumpkin Butter

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This month’s swap was at Katherine Anne Confections, so in addition to the above, we also tried 3 delicious varieties of fancy-schmancy caramels : rosemary sea-salt, chocolate walnut, and vanilla. Believe me, they didn’t last long. I was very suspicious about the rosemary sea-salt, because sweet and salty is *not* my thing. But actually, it wasn’t bad. I would probably choose one of the other ones personally, but after trying it I can definitely say I would choose eating a rosemary sea-salt caramel over not eating caramel any day of the week.

This time around, Sara went in targeting marmalade, and ended up with not one, but two of them! I call that success We haven’t tried any yet. Sara said the salsa verde was the best thing she tried at the swap, but I haven’t tried that yet either (Soon, my sweet salsa verde. Soon.)

There were a lot of baked goods this time, which isn’t bad, but it’s not really what we’re in the market for. We make lots of baked goods at home, so they’re just not as exciting. Canned jams, however, seems to be what we are in the market for. Right now we have something like 8 different open jars of spreads in the fridge, with a dozen or so more in the pantry. And they are all wonderful.

I should also mention that both of our jams were delicious and interesting too. I almost didn’t want Sara to trade them! Sara bought the Chinese 5 spice powder from the last food swap, and I hadn’t been super fond of it. It’s very anise-y, and it kind of takes over whatever it is in. But something about this jam really was the perfect use for it. The flavor combination was awesome. The mimosa jelly is really good too, although I’m not sure the champagne really made much of a difference (other than being able to say it’s mimosa jelly instead of just regular old “orange”, which is non-trivial).

Sara reports that after her 3rd swap, she’s starting to recognize people and just generally feel like she’s not the new kid on the block anymore, (Look, it was a phrase before the band came around, that’s why they used that as their name! No judging.) but more like she’s one of the grizzled veterans.

The kids and I are definitely still excited about getting all of the delicious food, that’s for sure!

Food Swap #2

Sara attended her 2nd Chicago Food Swap (you can read about the first one here). This was about a week and a half ago, but I’m just getting around to posting it now!

In exchange for:

  • Sweet and sour pickled red onions (4 pints and 5 half-pints)
  • Pomegranate molasses (5 4 oz jars)
  • Balsamic raspberry jam (1 half-pint and 1 4 oz jar)

She received:

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In case you can’t see everything in the picture, the full list is:

  • Amaretti ginger bars
  • Spicy chai concentrate
  • Jamaican sorrel
  • Coffee liqueur
  • Chocolate liqueur
  • Fig’n tipsy jam
  • Peaches N scream jam
  • Strawberry applesauce
  • Vegan banana bread
  • Brown soda bread
  • Pumpkin butter
  • Mint-chip cookies (x2)
  • Polish farmers cheese (twarog)
  • Hot fudge sauce
  • Quince paste
  • Spicy honey mustard

I think that we have tried most of the stuff (although we haven’t tried the sorrel yet, which I am particularly looking forward to, but we plan to try that and the chai tonight). Nothing has been bad, but the Amaretti-ginger bars in particular were mind-bogglingly good. O.M.G. good.

Just like last time I am struck by the sheer amount of interesting things to try we got in exchange for things that we already have a lot of. I’m telling you, this is the best deal in town.

Also, coming up with interesting and attractive things to bring has been more fun that I would have anticipated, and has been pushing us to make more interesting things than we otherwise might. As soon as Sara gets home from the food swap, she already starts coming up with ideas for the next one.

And I just get to sit back and enjoy. 🙂

(For other recaps of the December Food Swap, see here and here)

Chicago Food Swap

Sara participated in the Chicago Food Swap. You can read a recap here. The basic idea is, you show up with homemade food, everyone else shows up with homemade food, and you swap. You can basically bring anything, but the more desirable your trade is, the more you can dictate what you are going to get in return. So there is some incentive to come up with something interesting, or unique.

For her swap, Sara brought:

  • 6 half-pints of honey apple butter
  • 4 half-pints homemade ketchup
  • 2 pints of tomatoes from the garden

And in return she received this:

For those of you who can’t make out the labels, that is:

  • full sized Spinach Gruyere quiche
  • ~2 cups hot nuts
  • half-pint pickled fennel
  • half-pint cranberry sauce
  • half-pint tomato jalapeno peach jam
  • half-pint pear ginger jam
  • half-pint autumn apple-cran jam
  • half-pint whole cranberry jam
  • half-pint ginger spice syrup
  • pint sweet potato bisque w/ brown butter croutons
  • s’mores kit w/ homemade marshmallows and homemade graham crackers
  • small loaf of savory monkey bread w/ bacon, caramelized onions  & Gruyere

In other words, a pretty good haul!

The apple butter was a big hit (a whole quiche for a half-pint of apple butter??), which was kind of nice to hear. It’s fantastic to take something we have a lot of already, and trade it for a lot of interesting things that we can try. I think Sara is already making plans for what she wants to bring to the next one.

So far I can vouch for the quiche, soup, monkey bread, hot nuts, cranberry sauce, and the s’mores kit. You can guess which one the kids were most excited about.

I was actually surprised at how excited Evie was about the whole thing. She was dancing around excited, unable to wait as Sara pulled each new treasure from the box. This is a girl who does *not* like to try new things!

(I suppose I should say, she does not like to try new non-dessert things.)