It’s hard to believe we’ve been swapping for three months — a quarter of this year’s swaps are already in the past! And in that short time we already have a great group of regulars who are always ready to welcome each event’s new swappers.
We started the year with our very first swap and social at Empirical Brewery. Almost everyone was brand new to food swapping, but you wouldn’t know it by the vast array of tasty foods attendees brought. There were homemade Pop-Tarts in three different flavors, fluffy marshmallows to pop into ready-made mixes of hot cocoa, jars of sunny Texas marmalade and pickles, roasted pear and vanilla scones with salted honey glaze, macaroni and cheese, homemade sprinkles, hummingbird cupcakes, feta, soup, Italian breadsticks, artichoke dip, peanut brittle, and so much more! It was a cold, snowy day, but the brews at Empirical warmed us up and everyone hung around and socialized long after the swap was over. Co-founder Christina even sent everyone home with homemade spoon butter to season our cutting boards as well as bags of spice mix.
In February we were back at Empirical — on Oscar Sunday! The red carpet was rolled out for the stars of Chicago’s swapping community. Co-founder Cristina ran a cookie poll on Facebook to see what everyone wanted and chocolate chip cookies won. They were joined by homemade English muffins, garden flower tea, big fluffy waffles, Portuguese egg tarts, black pepper taralli, cinnamon rolls, pimento spoon bread, chicken soup, and even homemade Junior Mints in their own little boxes to enjoy while watching the Oscars. Everyone was a winner!
For March, we decided to leave the brewery to the St. Patrick’s Day revelers and swapper Nancy was kind enough to offer her beautiful Cafe El Meson 2 space for the group to use (and she swapped some fresh-from-the-oven guava cheese pastries). There were plenty of Irish-inspired culinary delights, including Irish whiskey and Guinness caramels, Guinness cupcakes, Irish-American soda bread, Irish stew, and whiskey and Irish cream Jello-O shots. Joining the Irish treats were a multitude of gorgeous breads from Ava, vanilla meringues and savory granola from Christina, chili crisp and crack sauce from Jenn, homemade Nutella and apricot scones from Anne, Moscow mules and brussels sprouts salad from Andrea, sumac and Aleppo pepper hummus from Mike, the most beautiful bottle of Felix Felicis (glittery limoncello) from new swapper Sarah, sundried tomato tapenade from Hope, and SO. MUCH. MORE.
It has truly been a joy to meet so many inventive, friendly home cooks from across Chicago. If you have never been to a food swap before, join us at our next event! We have new swappers at every single swap and soon you’ll see how easy and fun it is to share your homemade goods, plus you’ll go home with so many new things to enjoy. Stay tuned for our April date and location registration announcement! In the meantime, check out our Facebook group and join the discussion.