Return To The Chicago Food Swap

Yesterday, as my title indicates, I returned to the Chicago Food Swap. I used to attend monthly, but it’s been literally a year since I could get my schedule to mesh with the monthly weekend. Yes, it’s a weekend commitment for me. The Chicago Food Swap may only last two hours or so on a Sunday afternoon, by my usual M.O. is to spend the entire day before in my kitchen because I can’t keep from overdoing it.

Even though I was SO! SICK! of my kitchen by Saturday night…

Sick of my kitchen

…I survived my marathon baking session and made it to Sunday. Shew! My sister and I headed to the Broadway Armory Field House in Chicago, where the Peterson Garden Project provides a big and beautiful space for the swap (thank you!).

We set up our little areas with signage, including Julesie’s powerful and true suggestions about how “yummy!” and “so good!” her sticky toffee pudding cakes are. (SO TRUE OMG YUMMY SO GOOD!)

sticky toffee pudding cake

Oh, I brought chocolate chip banana bread and whiskey cake in two convenient sizes.

chocolate chip banana bread and whiskey cake

The procedure is this: everyone sets up their stuff and fills out a little sheet that has information about ingredients you use, what your food can be used for or with if it isn’t clear, how you should store it if you have special instructions, and then space for people to sign up to potentially trade with you. After you get set up, you start eyeing what’s being set up around you, and then eventually walk around and spend about thirty minutes “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over—and sometimes tasting if there are samples!—the amazing goods that have been baked, canned, grown, or otherwise created. (If you see something you want, you fill out that person’s form.)

After that, it’s announced that swapping can begin and you use the sign-up sheet by your items to figure out who you might want to start trading with, and then you negotiate. The sign-up sheet isn’t binding; if you don’t want to trade with someone for any reason, you don’t have to.

The stuff that arrived yesterday was awesome. There were Yucatecan pickled onions, hot sauces, biscuits, jams, cookies, organically-grown vegetables (including the most beautiful pumpkin I’ve ever seen in my life), syrups, and so much more.

Chicago Food Swap collage

One of the things I love about the Chicago Food Swap is that kids can join in on the fun. Farmer Jim, who brought the incredible pumpkin and assorted squash (squashes?) was accompanied by a young lady who I think was his daughter. A woman brought spicy soup, some delicious cookies, and her son who is clearly a marketing wizard. My sister and I were thoroughly impressed by his signage.

food swap spicy soup

I came home with a great haul and lots of interest from my Chicago-area Facebook friends, a few of whom might be joining in on the next Chicago Food Swap in January. (Follow the swap on Facebook to keep an eye on things!)

Here’s what I got: spaghetti squash, acorn squash, apple bread, Kolacky, Kombucha tea, ginger and pumpkin cupcakes, chocolate Hanukkah lollipops, pear and cranberry jam, sweet potato and corn chowder, Greek oregano, quince paste, lemon curd, apple chips, apple pie bites, and OF COURSE a sticky toffee pudding cake because OMG YUMMY AND SO GOOD! For real.

Chicago Food Swap

In January my plan is to figure out something delicious to make that doesn’t keep me standing in my kitchen all day on a Saturday. Something simple.

That said, I think we all know what’s really going to happen.