Today was my very first Chicago Food Swap! Back in March, I heard all about the Chicago Food Swap through the Good Food Festival and a couple weeks ago, my talented “foodie friend” Sarah and I decided to register and see what it was all about! We wanted to make something innovative, something unique, something all the swappers would be talking about long after the swap was over. And above all, we certainly didn’t want to look like amateurs when we arrived.
For weeks we discussed what we were going to bring. Following my comment of “fermented foods are trendy right now, let’s do something fermented” came Sarah’s idea to create infused vinegars. So we started with making some Peach Lavender infused white wine vinegar…
And then some Cherry Fig infused balsamic vinegar…all in these adorable mini glass jars we found at Wal-Mart of all places. We made 6 small 4oz jars of each flavor and labeled them accordingly.
But we couldn’t consider the swap complete without bringing some Spicy Corn Salad with Feta and Walnuts too! So we made 11 containers of corn salad to take as well.
Fully equipped with 23 items (the recommended amount per Sarah’s friends (and swapping veterans) Kristl and Rachel of Sustainably Queer) we set out to Green Home Experts in Oak Park – the location of this month’s swap!
We brought our own table and set up shop!
Sarah ready to swap! I could not have asked a better person to join the swap with me – I owe the hilarity of all my kitchen experiments (good and bad) to her – we have so much fun in the kitchen together and cannot wait to start planning our next swap together!
At the ready! Me and my new hairdo – bye bye long hair days.
Once everyone was set up, Emily of the Chicago Food Swap welcomed every one and the bidding began.
Each individual item had a big sheet. If you are interested in an item, you simply right down your name and the item you are willing to swap for it. The ladies at the table next to us had everything – they were clearly professional swappers!
There were so many great items, it was hard to choose!
Some tables had lots of things while others had just a few. Regardless, it felt like we bid on nearly everything!
Breads, and jams, and muffins, oh my!
The variety was absolutely incredible! There were so many friendly and talented people at the swap!
Not to mention all of the delicious samples!
Talented ladies Kristl and Rachel brought a variety of infused vodkas, sourdough starter, and so much more!
While everyone loved our vinegars, we were surprised that our most popular item was our corn salad!
I cannot explain how much fun we had at the Chicago Food Swap! This is absolutely something I will be frequenting every month and hopefully encouraging more people to join me! It’s like going to the farmers market without needing to bring any money – you simply trade away your own items! There is no cost to attend the swap and we spent nearly $35 per person on food, jars and equipment for the swap (just to give you an idea).
And check out the bounty of items we came home with! In no particular order: sassafras leaves, tonic syrup, rum vanilla extract, fermented pickles, dill pickles, bean spouts, green beans, fresh chives, grapefruit jalapeno soda concentrate, Paleo herb crackers, fresh lemon balm, brown butter rice krispie treats, mint chocolate fudge, caramel pops, English toffee, blueberry butter, summer iced tea, mustard BBQ sauce, Sriracha lime salt, pickled sour cherries, raw strawberry vinegar, and something I never thought I would ever own…a kombucha starter!
The other day I was inspired by the Balanced Bites most recent podcast to home brew my own kombucha. Diane and Liz have the most hilarious and informative podcast – if you don’t listen to it, you should, it’s one of my favorites! Anyways I cannot wait for Liz Ciciarelli’s new book Fermented to be released so I can get more into fermenting my own foods and of course as luck would have it, a gal at the food swap was swapping kombucha starter…so I absolutely HAD to have it. Will on the other hand isn’t exactly thrilled about our new scoby friend in the fridge…but he’ll get over it.
I am SO exited about all of my new items from the swap – I cannot wait to get creative in the kitchen with all of them! I would highly encourage anyone who loves to cook and loves food to join the swap for September – you will not be disappointed! It was way more than I could have ever hoped for. The people were amazing, the food was delicious, the creativity was flowing and we could not have had more fun being a part of it all! Thanks to Emily of Chicago Food Swap for organizing such a great and innovative community event!