As much as our lives have changed in the past few decades, there is a stronger push to return to some of the traditional values we’ve lost. Food swapping is a big piece of this, and it’s a movement that has exploded across the country. Emily Paster founded the successful Chicago Food Swap, and after years of running it and sharing her knowledge with others, she recently published a cookbook Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing, and Giving that does so much more than simply share great recipes.
If you’ve never been to a food swap, the concept can be intimidating, but as Emily shares, all you need is a simple recipe you enjoy that others can trade to receive. So often, home cooks and bakers end up with more of a single item than they need or want to eat, and bartering it with others is a fantastic way to share the wealth. While you might never dream of making salsa, the resident salsa expert at a food swap might not be comfortable making granola or hot fudge sauce or mini quiche or even cupcakes and would love to bring home some of all of those.
Food Swap shares stories of many of the successful food swap founders around the country and how they began and are thriving today in addition to the recipes. The book includes over 80 easy to make recipes, even if you never intend to attend a food swap yourself. These are recipes that make great edible gifts (perfect for the occasion where you have a multitude of gift giving needed and not the pocketbook to match) that can easily be packaged to delight your friends and family. In fact, the back of the book includes gift tags in various designs to allow you to easily dress up your food item.
And if you are interested in joining the local food movement, a good chunk of the book is devoted to explaining how food swaps work both for the novice attendee and – if there isn’t one already in your area – for those wishing to create their own food swap. The details behind the health codes and requirements for a food swap are reassuring for attendees and a great resource for those who plan to set up a food swap.
The photos make this an engaging read regardless, coupled with the stories and insights about the food swapping movement, and every photo makes you want to try out the recipe immediately. I appreciate that the recipes are divided into sections from “Quickly Consumed” to “Sip and Savor” to “Future Pleasures” – all of which provide an interesting take on divvying up the unique recipes included. Mini fruit pies are a great example of foods that I wouldn’t think to make offhand but need to be given and eaten quickly while Limoncello has a longer shelf life and a tomatillo sauce can last up to a year.
The creative recipes all have intros to give you tips – like why you shouldn’t walk away from your stove while making salted caramel sauce and how her friend Aaron always needs a use for a bumper crop of cherries – as well as quick packaging tips if you plan to take that recipe to a food swap to make the items more enticing for potential swappers.
Whether you are new to cooking and baking and want a solid cookbook with unique recipes – whether you ever plan to swap food or not – or you have plenty of experience and are looking for some creative ideas, Food Swap has plenty of great ideas and tips. Canning and preserving is not an area I’m an expert in (yet), but the five page intro on canning technique and tips and safety give me enough information to have the confidence to try making some of my own “real” jams and jellies in a water bath that I can make shelf stable rather than refrigerating and using within a few weeks. There are plenty of techniques and tips throughout the book that will ensure you have the best chance of food swapping (or bartering or sharing of giving) possible.
Written by Michelle of Honest & Truly! who has attended the Chicago Food Swap events with Emily since near its inception. She loves cooking and baking and sharing her own recipes on her blog Honest & Truly! and photos on social media where you can find her as @HonestAndTruly on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.