Saturday, October 20, 2012

Philly Food Swap

Earlier this month, Abi and I ventured into Philly to participate in the Philly Swappers October Food Swap.  Tickets sold out and it was only 2 days before that I was confirmed off the wait list.  I'm not sure exactly how many swappers were there, but I'm going to guess about 35? The venue was the incredible Greensgrow Farm - an urban farm in Kensington.  I recommend everyone check them out!


We were really excited as the Philly Swappers are very well represented and have a lot of unique people who wait patiently for their events.  Abi and I looked over the Eventbrite preview list of what everyone was making.  I asked her what she was going to bring and she replies, "Er, humble pie?"  The Philly Swappers are that good.  There were things there that I had never seen before, and I finally got to try Kombucha, a sweet yet tart fermented drink with tons of health benefits.

We ended up bringing canned tomatoes, fresh pizza dough, concentrated vegetable stock, produce spray, granola, and spice rubs.  The hosts, Marisa from Food in Jars and Amanda from @forkspoonknife, made a few announcements of how the night would go and reminded everyone to be nice.  And another important reminder, you can say no to a swap - something I need to get better at.


Sample time was insane.  There were so many great items.  Something to remember for next time...I need to write down who, what and where something is that I REALLY want.  Because come swap time, I didn't know anyone and it was kinda hard to navigate the masses in search of name tags.  Also, during the course of sampling I should have periodically looked back at my swap sheets just to get an idea of who I may be looking for come swap time.  I'm so used to only having 12 or so swappers, so coming to an event this big you definitely need a game plan.

Abi and I both did really well.  I went home with: Fig & Blackberry Jam, Caramel Apple Bread, Apple Cider Bread, Fall Sugar Cookies, Skeeter Pee (adult lemonade), Bacon Jam, Granola, Tomato Jam, Caramelized Spiced Pear Butter, Irish Soda Cake, Apple Jie Jam, Pumpkin Gnocchi, Caramel Spread, Cream of Zucchini Soup and more!  Abi went home with a ton of goodies too.

It was nice being a real swapper, as in not being a host and worrying about everyone else.  I learned so much, met some great people and look forward to future swaps with the Philly folks soon!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

{Swapper Spotlight} - Stefanie Modri

I'm starting a new regular post called Swapper Spotlight.  After each swap I'll choose someone to feature so we can all learn a little more about each other.  Our first Swapper Spotlight is with Stefanie Hawk Modri.  Stefanie came to her first swap with a variety of goodies and even brought three other swappers with her!

Stefanie and her husband Ryan with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms

You just attended your first swap. What’d you think?
I loved it! It felt like a Pinterest Party, which I just made up. Seriously, it's everything you can learn to do or make from Pinterest. There are lots of good things about the swap--there is no money exchanged, it feels like everything you come home with is bonus, you are surrounded by others who appreciate handmade and homemade items and there was no limit on what I could show up with to the swap. Well, maybe not my old bike. Overall, it was very stress-free and fun--both the prep and being there.

Stefanie's take-home loot

How did you hear about us? I read about it in one of my favorite magazines, Edible Jersey.

Do you have any swapping specialties we can look forward to?
I can make yogurt from soy milk or cow's milk so I'm thinking about making some next time in beautiful large Ball jars. I may make the soaps with loofah again, too. I can also make homemade German noodles called spaetzle. I can come with several bags of frozen spaetzle but swappers would need to come with a cooler because you don't want them to thaw before you are really ready to cook them.

Why do you love swapping?
Well, I started swapping last summer when I grew 100 lbs of butternut squash by accident. Really. I ended up trading them for eggs, peaches, vegetables and even some house cleaning services. It was one of the most fun things I had ever done and it made my summer really fun, too. I felt like the squash was my "cash crop" and I could trade it like cash. Plus, it seemed like everyone showed up with their best to offer at the swap and I liked that.

Stefanie's garden

Do you have any advice for first-time swappers?
I would recommend making something that can last in the fridge for at least 1-2 weeks or can go in the freezer. While I came home with delicious cookies and breads, I like to spread my enjoyment of my loot over a week or more. The maple pecan butter, roasted red pepper and eggplant dip and the strawberry applesauce felt very special. Bring something that is unique and made with love.

Friday, October 5, 2012

{Recipe Rewind} September: Kacie's Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip

Kacie and I met in 2002 at college in Anchorage, Alaska.  Almost immediately, we became friends - there weren't too many other (cool) girls in the aviation program :)  I spent a lot of time with Kacie and her family while I was in Alaska, and I'm so glad we kept in touch over the years.  Now living in Las Vegas, Kacie came to visit NJ and I timed it so she could experience a food swap.  

Thanks, Kacie for sharing this recipe with us - it was a bit hit!  We enjoyed your other treats at the swap too (hmmm, maple pecan butter).  It's so simple to make, just a bit to prepare the veggies.  And I was really surprised the red pepper skins didn't have to be removed.  

Kate and Kelli enjoying the dip


1 medium Italian eggplant, or 2 medium Chinese eggplants, skin peeled off with a vegetable peeler 
2 red bell peppers, washed well, and seeded
1 red onion
2-4 cloves minced garlic 
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp tomato paste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Chopping the eggplant, red pepper, and red onion into roughly 1-inch sized pieces.  Put them in a large bowl, and toss with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread them out in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet, then roast them for 45 minutes, tossing the vegetables once during roasting.  

Cool the vegetables slightly, then dump in a food processor.  Pulse the vegetables a few times to break them up, then add the tomato paste and pulse until well-blended and mostly smooth.  Serve at room temperature with chips or bread, or store refrigerated for a few days.   

Recipe from The Cilantropist (adapted from Ina Garten) 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

{Swap Sketch} - September 2012

This was our 4th swap.  Twelve swappers gathered on a Friday night at the Bellview Winery.  The winery has been such a perfect place to swap with their smaller-sized tables, wine tastings and a nice outdoor area for kids to explore.

This was also the first swap in which we incorporated crafts.  Although the food swapables were still the main focus, we had some neat crafty items such as wine bottle tiki torches, crocheted apple cozies, homemade modge podge, hair jewels, homemade soap and strands of paper cranes.

The food items included:
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Sweet Bread
  • Lara Bars (Coconut Cream and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip)
  • Maple Pecan Butter
  • Irish Soda Bread
  • Homemade Breads: Banana Chocolate Chip, Pear, and Blueberry Zucchini 
  • Dried Hydrangea
  • Candied Pecans and Almonds
  • Spinach and Basil Pesto
  • Homegrown produce
  • Farm-fresh eggs
  • Pollinator Garden Plants
  • Oil-free salad dressing
  • Flax Snax
  • Granola
And a really neat idea from April, a first-time swapper, who featured the "Seasons of Swapping".  April brought Low Sugar Strawberry Applesauce (Summer), Homemade Play Dough (Spring), Pumpkin Bread (Fall) and Peppermint Bark (my fav! Winter).

April's "Seasons of Swapping"

We even had mini swappers and a 4-legged visitor!

Please Read:

I know we had a lot of new swappers this past time.  And maybe it's my fault for not doing a better job of explaining how the swap works, BUT I need everyone to abide by the 1-for-1 rule.  This saves everyone a lot of hassle and awkward moments.  Remember this - if you write your name down for an item, it means you are comfortable taking that one item (given it's size and portion) for your one item.  There shouldn't be any signing up for and then negotiating later.  Thank you :)

The next event will be spaced out a little more.  I have a feeling our events were too frequent for some to attend every one.  I'm looking at the first weekend in December.  There's a poll on Facebook to vote for the day/time. Head over there and let me know what works best for you!

{Recipe Rewind} August: Kate's Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Better late than never, right! Here's Kate's recipe for her Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding.  BUT, according her she totally winged it - no recipe used!  Now we're really impressed.  But she provided me with one that looks similar. 

If you're wondering what chia seeds are, here's the scoop.  They are tiny bean-shaped seeds, black and white in color.  When they absorb liquids they become very gelatinous and take on the flavor of whatever they're in.  The health benefits are why these little gems are getting so much attention lately.  They are packed with Omega-3 oils and anti-oxidants, are one of nature's highest plant-based sources of protein, contain lots of soluble fiber and keep you fuller longer! So what are you waiting for?  Make the pudding already!


1 1/2 c coconut milk
4 T maple syrup or honey
2 T cocoa powder
1 T vanilla
1/2 t almond extract (optional)
1/3 c chia seeds


Whisk coconut milk, syrup/honey, cocoa powder and extracts until smooth. Stir in chia seeds. Divide mixture between 4 glasses. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Serve or cover tightly and refrigerate.  Serves 4.

(Recipe from Deliciously Organic)