Tuesday, May 5, 2015

April 2015 Swap Recap

The Chicago Food Swap‘s April event had a very special guest: food preservation expert Cathy Barrow of the blog Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen. Cathy is touring the country promoting her new, award-winning cookbook Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry and stopped by the Chicago Food Swap to sign some books and, yes, swap with us.
Cathy had sent ahead some jars from her pantry so she could join in the actual swapping. What a thrill for the attendees to trade with a food preservation celebrity! I swapped some of my coffee meringues for a jar of Cathy’s raspberry sauce which, I am told, is delicious swirled into vanilla ice cream. Needless to say, Cathy’s book is stunning and I am very pleased to have my own signed copy.
Perhaps because of Cathy’s presence, turnout for the April swap was especially high. It was wonderful to see many returning veteran swappers but also new faces, some of whom had recently moved to Chicago or had heard about the Chicago Food Swap from friends or through the Peterson Garden Project. I think all of the first-time swappers had a blast and many promised to come back. I will hold them to it!
It is a food swap truth that each swap seems to have a theme that is usually impossible to predict. Sometimes there seems to be pesto everywhere or five kinds of hummus. More than one person remarked that the April swap seemed to have an abundance of chick pea dishes. Who can say why? All I know is, I brought home some of Lori’s chick pea and feta salad and it made an awfully tasty lunch.
Other than the healthy chick pea salad, vegan asparagus soup from Leigh and some truly creative pineapple-goat-cheese guacamole from Elyse, I was very naughty and swapped for sweets upon sweets, from Betsy’s vegan cinnamon rolls to Connie’s beautifully decorated chocolate-covered pretzels to Katie’s lemon sugar cookies. Not to mention the caramels, the apple strudel and Leena’s galub jamun.
Although not a sweet, Sandy’s pimento cheese spread, of which I got two jars, could also not be called health food. But it sure is delicious! I have no excuse for my naughtiness — my children were not even with me. But they were sure happy when I got home.
Again, perhaps because of Cathy Barrow’s presence, there seemed to be quite a lot of food in jars at this swap. I saw many pretty jams, jellies and pickles on display. I suspect some of the home food preservation junkies are clearing out last year’s leftovers to make room ahead of the spring and summer preserving season.
Indeed, by the time the Chicago Food Swap meets again, on June 14, there should be local rhubarb, strawberries and asparagus at the farmers markets. Although June seems a long way off, registration for the June swap is now open.

In the meantime, the Chicago Food Swap will be having an informal meet-up at the Peterson Garden Project’s Plant and Bake Sale Fundraiser from 1-3 pm on May 16. This sale is one of Peterson Garden Project’s biggest fundraisers of the year and it is a great way to support their mission of teaching Chicagoans to grow and cook their own food. Shop for your garden plants and indulge in some tasty treats with your swap friends!
We also need people to donate canned or baked goods to the fundraiser.  The Peterson Garden Project staff will take care of packaging and pricing the items. All you need to do is drop it off. Here’s what we’re looking for:
  • something that is stable at room temperature (refrigeration is not an option)
  • any quantity is helpful- 5 dozen or more earns you a BIG HUG!
  • something that can be packaged individually or in pairs (ex. brownies, cookies, slices of quick bread, muffins, macarons, rice krispie treats, etc.)
  • gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, or vegan options are welcome!
  • savory baked goods are welcome as well (bread, scones, etc.)
Here’s how to donate:
Send an email to swap veteran Christina Bello- communications@petersongarden.org, and include the following:
  • Your name and contact info
  • Name of baked good item
  • quantity
  • List of ingredients (for signage)
  • Preferred drop off day (Thurs, Fri, or Sat) *drop-off location is 4642 N. Francisco Ave
Thanks so much for supporting Peterson Garden Project which does so much to support the Chicago Food Swap. See you in May or back at the swap on June 14.

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