Thursday, July 16, 2015

June 2015 Swap Recap

I hope that many of you can join us for the July Chicago Food Swap which will take place on July 18, a Saturday this time because the Broadway Armory Field House, which houses the Fearless Food Kitchen, is closed on Sundays during the summer.  Registration for the July 18 swap is now open.
I am hoping to have a great turnout for this event because we have a terrific sponsor, Villa Gabriella Organic. Villa Gabriella imports small-batch olive oil and Balsamic vinegar from family-owned producers in Tuscany. The products are outstanding and very reasonably priced as well. Everyone at the July 18 swap will have a chance to taste Villa Gabriella’s oil and vinegar. Two lucky winners will take home a special door prize each from one of Villa Gabriella’s producers. (Hint, one winner needs to be over 21.) So, do not miss this special swap. With summer and farmers’ market season in full swing, the offerings are sure to be delicious.  
The Chicago Food Swap last met on June 14th and if you needed proof that summer was here, the fresh and delicious swap offerings would have convinced you. Not were there plenty of fresh herbs and even some healthy-looking plants on display, but one swapper brought homemade strawberry buttermilk ice cream.  It tasted like summer in a bowl.
Indeed several swappers brought strawberry and rhubarb goodies to trade, true signs of the season.  In addition to Christina’s strawberry ice cream, I saw rhubarb jam, two kinds of strawberry syrup, strawberry lemonade and even Gena’s rhubarb blackberry toaster pastries, which made such a yummy breakfast for me two days in a row. I was responsible for several jars of the strawberry maple granola that I posted about a few weeks ago.

I swapped for enough spreads, soups and healthy pasta salads to keep me lunching for weeks. I especially enjoyed the butternut squash soup with sage, Sandy’s tortellini with veggies, Lori’s whole wheat pasta salad with corn, Chris’s labneh yogurt cheese, Christina’s polenta tarts with goat cheese and Lori’s sun-dried tomato spread. I love it when swappers bring such healthy and practical fare. One first-time, college-age swapper even brought homemade crab cakes, which caused quite the stir. Alas, none for me with my shellfish allergy!
I thought that there were almost no sweets at this swap, but somehow I managed to come home with cocoa biscotti and chocolate caramel corn. I also saw homemade marshmallows and S’mores Bark but was not quick enough to swap for either. I had to pass on Danielle’s Cap’n Crunch treats because of Zuzu’s peanut allergy, but they looked decadent.
I also saw plenty of pantry items from apple chips to raspberry mint jam to Danielle’s compound butter — terrific on steak — that will make the swap love last for weeks. But despite all this delicious food, the most exciting part of the swap for me was the presence of a professional photographer there to capture some images of the beautiful swap items, and the enthusiastic swappers, for my upcoming food swap cookbook. There are so many reasons why I cannot wait for this book to come out next spring and seeing the photos from this event is just one more!

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