After a year of eyeballing and envying the Chicago Food Swap, I finally got to attend my first swap, last Sunday. I’ve been riding on so much giddiness and excitement that I’ve decided to start a NWI Food Swap. It quickly took on a life of it’s own. How amazing that so many people, right here in my own area, are interested in homemade and homegrown foods! Within a week, a date, time and location has already been determined…and the swap Facebook page just blew up with likes. Wow. The first swap can’t get here quick enough.
One of the great things about a food swap is everyone’s different tastes. Cinnamon Plum Preserves? Spicy Nut Butter? Fermented Red Wine Vinegar? I find these new foods extremely exciting. Although, what does a “beginner” chef do with food products that are not familiar? For seven days, I used items that I received in the Chicago Food Swap. With a bit of creativity, it’s simple to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor. Many items can just be eaten as is. On day one, our lunch consisted of vegetable beef soup and olive oil focaccia topped with rangpur lime curd. How simple, right?
On day two, I knew I wanted to make something with the small jar of Thai Chile Lime Cashew Butter I brought home. It wasn’t something that I was going to spread on toast with jelly, so I decided to make a delicious sauce out of it. Such an easy dinner with new, exciting flavors. Actually, I wish I had gotten more than one jar.
- ½ c. Thai Chile Lime Cashew Butter
- ¾ c. Coconut Milk
- ¼ t. Cayenne
- Salt to taste
- Whisk all together in saucepan until heated through. Pour over chicken, pork chops or use as a dip for shrimp (or chicken fingers!)
- **If you do not have the cashew butter from the swap, just use regular cashew butter, a bit of lime zest and some crushed red pepper**
Another “as is” lunch on day three, consisting of two types of hummus and naan from the swap. I threw in a few organic blue tortilla chips, mainly, because I love them so much. Already, I started realizing how the swap foods have made meal preparation very time efficient. Fun AND tasty.
Hey swappers, did you come home with a jar of cranberry orange ginger jam? On day four, I turned mine into an Asian BBQ sauce. I only wish it was summer so I could have finished the chicken on the grill. It went perfect with the richness of coconut rice.
- Asian BBQ Sauce
- ⅓ c. Ketchup
- ¼ c. Soy Sauce
- ¼ c. Sugar
- 2 t. Worcestershire Sauce
- ¼ t. Ground Red Pepper (cayenne)
- ¼ t. Black Pepper
- ½ c. jar Cranberry Orange Ginger preserves
- (if you don't have that, use orange marmalade, grated ginger and a few dried cranberries)
- Coconut Rice
- 2 c. Rice (Jasmine)
- 2 c. Coconut Milk
- 1¾ c. Water
- 2 TB Shredded Coconut
- ½ t. Sea Salt
- Oil (coconut or other oil)
- Asian BBQ - Whisk all ingredients until sugar is dissolved and heated through.
- Coconut Rice - Oil pan. Bring all ingredients to boil on medium high heat. Reduce heat & cover. Boil 15-20 minutes. Take off heat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
By day six, we had already eaten (or froze) many of the fresh sweets and breads that had been brought from the swap. Therefore, it was time to whip up something yummy with a jar of smooth pumpkin butter. Immediately, my husband’s grandmother’s recipe for “Good Coffee Cake” came to mind. I knew the pumpkin butter would be a perfect addition, and it was DIVINE. We ate it hot, topped with vanilla bean ice cream.
- 1 c. Butter
- 1 c. Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 t. Vanilla
- 1 c. Sour Cream
- 1 t. Baking Powder
- 2 c. Flour
- 1 t. Baking Soda
- 2 t. Sea Salt
- ⅓ c. Brown Sugar
- ¼ c. Sugar
- 1 t. Cinnamon
- 1 c. chopped nuts
- 1 c. Jar Pumpkin Butter
- Cream butter & sugar. Add vanilla. Beat eggs and add to cream mixture. Beat again.
- Add sifted dry ingredients by thirds with sour cream.
- Spread half of batter in 8" or 9" square pan.
- Spread pumpkin butter over batter. Sprinkle with a scant amount of topping.
- Add rest of batter then rest of topping.
- Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until done.
- **If you are using pumpkin butter (or apple butter) filling, only make ½ the amount of topping. Without filling, use topping recipe as written.**
Day seven ended in a dinner of taco salad topped with tangy salsa verde, straight from the food swap. What a fabulous week of food we had! See how advantageous going to a food swap can be? We’ve barely scratched the surface with our food haul and can’t wait to keep using our goods in new and delicious ways.