I really like sharing food with friends. (I mean, sort of - not from my own plate... Depending on how hungry I am, sometimes I side with Joey on the "Joey doesn't share food" front.) But I love situations where people make food and then everyone eats together. BBQs, holiday meals, and especially pot lucks! This year, I discovered a super super fun addition to that list of food sharing events: the food swap.
The basics: at a food swap, participants grow, forage, or make (cook, bake, can, etc.) foods, bring them to a gathering, and then trade (in an organized way). A friend of mine helps run a swap in my city (Victoria!), and first convinced me to try it out a year ago this June. Our latest swap was on Saturday April 16th - here's what my experience was like this time!
Choosing, planning, and creating the foods I'm going to bring is a big part of the fun for me. This time, I decided to bring a few different things: salted caramel sauce, paneer, and koolickles.
The salted caramel is a recipe I'm very comfortable with. I've made it a bunch of times, usually so I can make caramel apple pie! I ended up with 7 jars of caramel.
I also brought paneer! This is something my husband and I use in Indian cooking (one of our favourite cuisines). Saag paneer, for example, is sooooooo good. Paneer takes a LOT of milk and you get a smallish yield, so I only had 4 portions of paneer. I packaged it in heavy ziploc bags.
Lastly, I brought just two jars of a super weird item that I actually love: koolickles, or kool-aid pickles! I heard about them from Alton Brown of Good Eats fame, and if it's good enough for Alton, that's good enough for me ;) (Essentially regular ol' store bought dill pickles, that are flavoured with cherry kool aid - which you can no longer buy in Canada! What.) They're not for everyone, so I didn't bring very many. They're aggressively red and kind of unique and fabulous.
Here's all my swap stuff ready to go!
Once at the swap, it's time to set up and fill out your swap sheets. Here's my section, with my three types of item, and samples of the pickles and caramel. I brought some cut up apple and a little spoon for the caramel, too. Samples are completely optional, but they make it feel even more like a pot luck, and I love being able to share what I've made with people even if we don't end up swapping.
Next, everyone checks out the bounty! It's so exciting to see people coming in and setting up delicious things :) This is a good time to ask questions about ingredients and preferences too. Once everyone's taken a look, swap sheets can be filled in with bids. So, if you brought some amazing kombucha, I'd write on your swap sheet whatever I'd be willing to trade for it - and my name of course.
Our swap was held at the gorgeous Robazzo, an eco-modern design studio. Their space is GORGEOUS and they're super lovely people! Check them out here (they have some veeeery tempting wood jewelry and amazing coasters and... you want to look :) )
All that's left to do is actually swap! There's always SO much amazing stuff to choose from that even if I don't get a particular item I had my eye on, I'm never disappointed.
Here's what I came home with this time:
A bunch of beautiful rainbow chard, red wine velvet cupcakes (I've already eaten these and they were amazing), a variety of fruit leather (so pumped to bring these to work for snacks!), spanish tarragon, rosemary, banana chocolate chip muffins, coconut chocolate cookies, BEST granola (this swapper had both "best granola" and "second best granola", a naming scheme that was delightful to me! Best had added chocolate chips), sprouted wheat tortillas, granola bars, pear chutney, chipotle bbq sauce, peach jam, daikon refrigerator pickles, leek cauliflower soup, and some super fancy mini cupcakes.
Isn't that an amazing haul?! I love having such a wide variety of treats, new things to try, and foods that I enjoy eating but don't always make myself. I'm a huge jam and pickles person, for example, so it's lovely to snag those.
I'm already looking forward to the next swap, which will be in June! Thinking about what kinds of summer-ey things I'll be able to bring... :)
If you live in or near Victoria and you'd like to get involved, YOU SHOULD! :D There's more information about the swap process, future dates, and a place to have questions answered in our facebook group HERE. Hope to see you at a swap soon!