Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Get your swap on!

OK swappers, tickets are now available for our first event on Sunday, May 15th from 12 noon - 3 pm. Sign up here. As of now there are 12 spots left!

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Swapping How-To

While we’ve had enormous interest and positive responses from lots of folks (thank you, thank you), many of you may be still scratching your heads and wondering how this swapping thing actually works…

Let me demystify. This will be a casual and friendly gathering of food makers and cooks, who are all willing to bring their homemade goods and barter with others for them.  

You know how it is when you get fixated on an ingredient, or perfecting a new baking process, or just get too much of something in your CSA box and need to get creative with ways to consume it all? Well now instead of contemplating how you could possibly eat all that pickled whatever yourself, you don’t have to! 

Just sign up for the swap, make the items you want to trade and show up.

Goods from a recent BK Swappers event.
© All rights reserved by janelerner 
What to bring

Appropriate items for swapping include jams and preserves, syrups, oils, infused liquors and vinegars, home brewed alcohol and spirits, baked goods, candies, teas, home canned foods, pickles, chutneys, salsas, smoked meats, honey and more... In the words of our fellow swappers in Brooklyn, “if you made it and it's edible, you can trade it!” 

The event timeline

The swap event itself will last 2.5 to 3 hours. During the first hour or so we’ll sign-in, set up, have some brunchable eats, and get to know each other. 

Upon check-in each swapper will be given swap sheets where they write down the details of the items they brought to swap (what it is, ingredients etc.) See sample sheet here from our pals across the Bay, EBCA Food Swaps.

In the second hour, swappers will walk around and purvey all the goods. They will place bids on the sheets for the items they’re interested in trading for. Once bids have been placed, the swapping begins! 

Note that just because you write down a bid on someone’s sheet does not mean you will necessarily get the item. There may be multiple bids for each available item and every swapper can choose what they want to trade for. Swappers may also approach people who didn’t place bids on their sheets if they have items they want to try to trade for anyway. Swaps take place through discussion and agreed upon exchanges.

Tricks of the trade
  • Plan to bring 5-10 items (some people bring more, some less), which can range from packages of homemade granola to honey from your hives. You can also bring a mix of items if you want.
  • We suggest between 4–16 oz. as portion sizes, depending on the cost of the materials involved.
  • We definitely suggest bringing extra for samples. People are going to be more keen to swap when they can taste your amazing creations.
  • While packaging and presentation is wholly up to the individual, recycled containers are encouraged. 
  • Consider whether you need to bring something extra (bag, box etc.) to carry your new food items home! 
The event will be a potluck with a few dishes and special drinks provided by the hosts, so also plan on making a favorite dish to bring and share.

Want some visuals? Watch the below video of a recent PDX Swappers event taking place in Portland.

Hope this helped and has gotten you excited for the first swap on May 15th! 
Next steps
  1. Please “like” us on Facebook so you’ll be tuned in for event announcements and news from your fellow swappers. You can also follow us on Twitter: @sfswappers
  2. If you haven’t already joined our mailing list, do so by shooting an email to asking to be added. 
  3. Mark your calendar with the following dates: 
    • The first swap event is on Sunday, May 15th from 12-3 pm in the Mission (address provided upon confirmed reservation) 
    • Free tickets will be available starting on Tuesday, April 19th at 6 pm. Space is limited is 25 swappers, though we will have a waiting list in case there are cancellations.
Lastly, if you are interested in starting a food swap in your town, a couple of our swapping cohorts have posted their advice on how to host a food swapsee Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking and Brooklyn Homesteader

Also have a look at the links on the right-hand side of this page if you are interested in reading more from other swap groups around the country, plus recent stories in the news!

Looking forward to a swapping good time with all of you!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Springtime bounty

Nature is really showing off around the Bay Area lately. Maybe it’s just after all that cold and rain, the appeal of being provocative and showing off the equivalent of a lot of skin is just too enticing. Go check out the verdant green and wildflower brocade of Bernal Hill if you don’t know what I mean.

In addition to windy walks, I’ve savored a couple incredible beach days and have been especially enjoying some farmers market forays. I don’t usually go to the Heart of the City one at the Civic Center on Wednesdays, but since I had to hit the Steps Sale at the San Francisco Public Library this week, it was an easy add-on. I think the most astonishing award has to go to the tables of gigantic cauliflower heads that really drove home the fact that these are actually flowers. If they had longer stems, I would be making vase arrangements for sure. 

A huge rosemary harvest and a large $2 bunch of lemongrass has also led me to make some delicious simple syrups I am at this moment enjoying in cocktail form. C’mon, it is Friday evening, after all!

At the Bakesale for Japan at Bi-rite last weekend, it was heart-warming to see how everyone rallied to the cause and donated an incredible array of goodies. I did my part by bringing home some coffee-passion caramels from the Tell Tale Preserve Co., a jar of lemon curd, sunflower butter cups, peanut butter apricot cookies and a piece of matcha pound cake. I am still trying to find out who made the phenomenal sunflower butter cups - they were amazing.  

On the home front, I planted some herb starters in containers on the deck including a lime-scented geranium that I can’t wait to do something exciting with once it’s grown a bit larger and can give up some of its fragrant leaves.

Lastly, today I made Pickled Chard Stems! While sometimes I definitely cook the stems with whatever dish I’m using the chard in, lately I’ve been going right to the leaves, and just discarding those gorgeous red stems seems like such a waste. I had literally set aside a bunch of them in order to do something useful with them later, when I came across this recipe on the Local Kitchen blog. It felt extremely satisfying to get such a beautiful result from something I otherwise wasn’t going to use.

Happy weekend friends, hope wherever you are spring is rearing its magical head for you too.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

All good things come in threes

Welcome to the SF Swappers blog, a place for like-minded food lovers and cooks to celebrate and explore all things homemade.

How did we get here? Let me tell you the story…

There once were three girls living in Santa Cruz, CA, and they loved rock and roll, and sunshine and healthy and delicious food and none of this seemed incongruous. They became friends and had fun and all ended up post-college in San Francisco where they continued living the good life.

Girl 1 (me): A lifelong chronic traveler, I've built up a checkered resume in between and during trips. From event planning for the United Nations 50th Anniversary to harvesting lavande sauvage in the Alpes-Maritimes in France, I ultimately landed at international travel publisher Lonely Planet where I worked for the past nearly 11 years. Love of books and language also made me find a home as a ESL/writing tutor and events conspirator at 826 Valencia, and a love of food stays with me wherever I go. I am currently taking a break from the work world and have reverted to my natural night-owl state where I stay up into the wee hours reading, and after sleeping in of course, spend my days swimming in the ocean and taking photos. There’s been lots of spring cleaning, and an array of personal/crafty projects on simmer. Perhaps above all though, I have been reveling in the leisure of having time to shop for good food and cook! I cook at least two meals a day, often three…and to enjoy sharing lunch every day with my sweetie is a luxury beyond compare. 

Girl 2: At UCSC, Stephanie worked at the Whole Earth Restaurant – the closest thing to a nerve-center the decentralized, woodland college campus had. For me, no trip to campus was without a stop at the Whole Earth, where I either had a spicy chai and delicious pumpkin bread to fuel me up for a stint at the library, or a big amazing green salad with a signature tasty blend of seeds on top. Always with seeds. Actually now that I think of it, what were those seeds, Stephanie? So, it was no surprise Stephanie went on to make her way in the world as a chef and culinary mistress – working in highly reputable restaurants and kitchens for the past twenty-some years. She now runs her own personal chef/catering business and is a founding member of a green wedding collective, both with an emphasis on sourcing local and sustainable ingredients and services.

Girl 3: Miss Jane Lerner is a gal who knows everyone and gives the perfect gift. I still cherish a big blue Boscoware bowl she gave me one birthday, and will always remember her going away party where all of the guys from the neighborhood institution Lucca Ravioli she was a regular at, not only hooked her up with incredible platters of food for the party, but all actually showed up to wish her bon voyage in person. This was late night and we were well past Jane's homemade limoncello shrimp appetizer and on to the stronger booze, but as a testament to how much they appreciated Jane, I think they even put up with the intoxicated dual brother/sister dance-off taking place. In New York she now earns her living and happiness writing. About food, about the Brooklyn Flea, and she also helps run BK Swappers which was recently featured in the NY Times!

Jane posted the article on her Facebook wall, both Stephanie and I saw it, and a simple “Are you thinking what I’m thinking Aimee?” comment from Stephanie was the only spark it needed. Here we are. 

So thank you Facebook. For making it so easy to stay in touch across the distance, and stoke the fires of similar interests, and provide inspiration when needed. Oh yeah, and for making starting a food swap community in your town – wherever you may be – so easy.

Stay tuned for swapping how-to's and details on our first swap event coming up May 15th!