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  • We’re Going Farm to Table Baby!

    My Birthday was yesterday. I have developed a love/hate relationship with it, like the shelf stable heavy cream at Trader Joe’s. But yesterday I had all love because not only did my husband make a wonderful cake (and wreck the kitchen in the process thus walking a mile in my shoes and hopefully developing some compassion along the way), he gifted me with permission to get three backyard chickens.

    So Adam and I are on the hunt for a coop (I sure wish IKEA made one), made plans to get our permit and brainstorming what we can serve at our Backyard restaurant this year that requires eggs.

    Stay tuned as this girl … who is actually a little fearful of chickens … embarks on this new adventure with family in tow.

    Now, what do we name them? Leave us some suggestions below. (Except Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner … Atticus already suggested that.)

     

     

  • Where there’s smoke …. There’s Columbus Soup and Bread.

    Ok, so maybe this sign by the donation crock pot was an April Fool’s Joke, but the soups were not. Thanks to ManBQue for inspiring these soups which were called by some Columbus Soup and Bread veterans, as a line up to be remembered. Now, don’t be daunted if you have wanted to make soup for this event and think you might bring a crock pot of Ramen Noodles. We welcome any soup served with love. But, last night’s line up just went above and beyond. With a Flank Steak and Smoked Poblano Pepper Stew, two types of Smoked Salmon Chowder, an Italian Zucchini Soup with Smoked Sausage and a Creamy Tomato Basil Parmesan soup, everyone was amazed. And that was only half the line up.

    Bread galore and over 1600 meals raised for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank made for a wonderful evening to end the spring day … which was also April Fools since it’s been raining ever since.

    One more Columbus Soup and Bread left until the end of Season 2. Mark your calendar’s for May 6th and stay tuned for more details. But I’ll leave you with this; You know how we are going to celebrate the end of an awesome Season 2? … with dessert!

  • Happy Swapping

    Guest Post from Jane Lerner – Organizer of BK Swappers in Brooklyn, New York.

    I cleaned out my refrigerator the other day, and here is just a small sampling of what I found: strawberry balsamic black pepper jam, pickled jalapeños, rhubarb berry cherry sauce, elderberry vinegar, spicy Southeast Asian pickles, bloody mary mix, anchovy sauce, grapefruit preserves, fresh horseradish sauce, apricot-rosemary preserves, meyer lemon gastrique, coconut hot sauce, mulberry jam, pickled dilly beans, spicy green hot sauce, whole-grain chipotle mustard, ketjap manis, sambal oelek, apple-cider caramel candies and the last crumbs of a banana walnut bourbon upside down cake.

    All of that I got at the swap.

    I’ve been hosting the BK Swappers food swap event since 2010, and in that time, the shelves of my fridge and cupboard have been continually overloaded with an incredible array of homemade foods. It is one of my greatest joys that every time I go to grab a jar of jam for toast, or sprinkle some hot sauce on eggs, I get to use products that were made my friends and fellow swappers. I love knowing the name of the person who crafted my favorite preserves, and remembering that I gave her a jar of my own toasted coriander salt mix in exchange.

    Running the swap gives me more pleasure than any other project in my life, personal or professional. I like to joke that basically we throw a party for 40 strangers every other month, but the truth is that the participants in BK Swappers events are not strangers at all; the swap creates instant friends, an ever-growing community of likeminded souls who like nothing better than to stand around on a Tuesday evening and talk about obscure spices or methods of caramelizing sugar. Our other joke is that all we do at the swap is talk about how much we love the swap, which really isn’t too far off from reality.

    Being a part of BK Swappers has forced me to step up my own cooking game too! Every time another event rolls around I find myself scouring my cookbooks to find some obscure condiment or creative elixir that will be worth something good on the swap table. I can’t offer any tips on what is most popular or swappable, since tastes evolve—some months we have 10 versions of hot sauce, other times it’s nothing but chocolates and sweets. But another thing we like to say at the swap is, “it always works out,” so don’t worry too much about what you bring, since you will go home with great stuff, guaranteed. Soon your own fridge will be loaded down with dozens of jams and pickles and mustards and other amazing foods!

    I’m so excited that Tricia is bringing the swap concept to Columbus, and I hope you all have an amazing time. It always works out.

  • Shrub Success

    Yes, I realize this post’s title seems like some sort of metaphor for my professional life. But I mean it literally. I made Shrub successfully thanks to Annie Williams. Even the Kumquats worked as she said sometimes citrus can be too bitter for this fermented beverage which is good for sodas for the kids or something a little harder for the adults. You can use any fruit (maybe steer clear of the citrus except kumquats) and any type of vinegar to create a thick, syrupy and flavorful concoction to experiment with in drinks, salad dressings and more. I might make a special batch to take to the first ever Columbus Food Swap!

    The biggest success is knowing that we have another batch going. You don’t spend up to 12 days making something a second time that you didn’t like the first. This will be a fun addition to our summer drinks!

    Check out the recipe here if the idea of a sipping vinegar that takes two weeks to complete sounds fun to you.

     

  • What’s a Food Swap?

    In the last few years there has been a growing food swap movement across North America and Europe.  For people who love to cook, bake, forage, and garden, food swaps provide an opportunity to make and try new delicacies and build community.

    More and more people are now growing their own food due to concerns about food safety and sustainability and a desire to eat locally and seasonally. Home cooks are foraging wild foods and making the kinds of foods that they previously bought — including condiments, baked goods, drink syrups, candies, yogurt and cheese, and charcuterie.

    The food swap movement is the natural outgrowth of this do-it-yourself kitchen revolution.  Enthusiastic canners who find themselves with more jam than they can possibly eat trade their creations with gardeners who are inundated with zucchini and tomatoes. Those who raise backyard chickens can swap their eggs for homemade bread from a passionate baker.

    At a food swap, home cooks and gardeners meet to trade their homemade and homegrown items.  The only requirement for food items is that they must be made, grown or foraged by the swapper.  No money changes hands and no one is obligated to trade with anyone else. All trades are negotiated by the swappers themselves. For the participants, a food swap is an opportunity to showcase their cooking and gardening talents, to diversify their pantries, to meet like-minded people in their communities and to be inspired.

    Food swaps are typically organized on social networking websites and on blogs, but because the swaps themselves are in-person events, they create a sense of community and spark new relationships. For the participants, the swaps provide a reason to try new recipes and expand their culinary repertoire. Everyone likes to receive recognition for their hard work and cooks and gardeners are no exception. At a food swap, the gardener or cook who has been honing his or her craft finally gets a chance to impress a wider audience.

    The food swap movement appeals to a diverse group of people, ranging from young urban food enthusiasts to suburban and rural gardeners, homesteaders and food preservationists. The offerings at a food swap are often as diverse as the participants. Gardeners bring their baby kale, their tomatoes, and their hot peppers.  Bakers bring loaves of foccacia and challah, beautiful cupcakes, macarons and whoopee pies. Dairy products are represented in the forms of homemade yogurt, butter and cheese. Candy-makers bring fudge, truffles, caramels, and marshmallows. Those with a love of home food preservation bring their jams, marmalades, pickles and chutneys. Cooks looking to stock their pantries will find homemade extracts, spice mixes and a wide variety of condiments. Drink syrups and infused liquors have also proved to be popular swap items. Food swappers are passionate about what they do and they have high standards. Their offerings are inventive, unusual and often beautifully packaged.

    The current food swap movement began in 2010 in Brooklyn. Kate Payne, of the popular blog and book The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking, and Megan Paska, the founder of Brooklyn Honey, wanted to trade food with one another and were inspired to get their friends together for a group swap. Thus, BK Swappers was born. Since that time, the food swap movement has spread all over the country, and even to Canada, Europe, South America and New Zealand. There is now a Food Swap Network devoted to helping people find swaps in their area or to encourage them to start one if none exists.

    In 2011, after reading a story about the Philadelphia food swap and discovering that no such event existed in my city, I approached my neighbor, Vanessa Druckman about bringing the food swap trend to Chicago. As food bloggers, we wanted to meet other people who are as passionate about food as we are.  We started small with only a dozen swappers at our first event in December 2011, but now the Chicago Food Swap is a robust community of hundreds of devoted swappers. Swaps with sixty, seventy and even eighty available spots fill up in a matter of days with a mix of returning regulars and new participants. Local businesses, including cooking schools and boutiques, line up for the chance to host swaps. In between events, the swappers continue their conversations about food, recipes and do-it-yourself kitchen projects through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

    Food swaps follow a similar format. Swappers arrive and set up their offerings. Everyone fills out a swap card for each different item that they bring listing its ingredients and suggested uses. The first half hour is spent mingling and checking out the different offerings. If a swapper sees something interesting, he or she suggests a trade on the swap card for that item, but it is not binding.  After thirty minutes, the actual swapping begins. All swaps are negotiated individually and no one is obligated to swap with anyone else. Luckily, it usually works out so that everyone goes home happy with their arms full of delicious food.

    You certainly don’t have to be a gourmet cook to participate in a food swap. As long as you can make one delicious thing worth trading, you will be very welcome. As summer approaches, a food swap is also a great way for gardeners to get some value for their homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs. The truth is, a food swap is all about building community and forging connections through food. You will find food swappers to be a warm and welcoming group.

    Emily Paster is a freelance writer and mother of two living in the Chicago suburbs. She writes about fitting ambitious food into family life on her blog, West of the Loop. She co-founded the Chicago Food Swap in 2011. 

  • #CBusSoupandBread Freak Out Confession

    Here’s the deal. About 7 minutes prior to each Columbus Soup and Bread event I freak out. That’s right. There is a moment where every statement that runs through my brain is about why this particular Soup and Bread will flop. I begin to pace a bit and have been told I start to talk really fast. A handful of people see me do this each time and luckily they don’t seem to judge. Then the guests start to arrive and mingle, get their bowls filled with the soup of their choice and begin complimenting the soup makers. Laughter fills the room and conversations like this begin to happen, “This is tasty. Can I get the recipe?”  ”Sure you can.” Someone goes to the bar and gets a drink. Someone else throws a couple bucks in the donation crock pot. And my freak out is official over.

    This event’s freak out lasted more like 17 minutes. Our event was on a new day, at a new time, in a new location with a new snow storm threatening. And like all the other freak outs … it was completely unnecessary. The soups poured in and so did the guests. The community tables were full. The bread basket emptied. The bar was filled with laughter and wonderful smells of homemade cooking. Good Day Columbus hosts came by and served up soup with the team. And best of all, many people who have wanted to experience this event but could never make it on a Tuesday got to come and enjoy.

    Thanks to Zauber Brewing Co. for hosting us. We will be back. Thanks to all the soup makers who lined up and ladled out their creations! And thanks to everyone who contributed to our donation crock pot which collected enough to provide over 3,000 meals through The Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

    I think I’ll just have grace for my freak outs in the future. It’s a small price to pay for such a huge reward.

    Good Day Columbusphoto 2

     

  • Shiitake Love

    My sister picked me in the family gift exchange for Christmas (I know wrong holiday … Happy Valentines though). I come from a pretty practical lot. We go as far as calling the person we picked and basically asking what they want. Not Megan. It’s fun when Megan gets you because she is the unique gift giver in our family. As she quoted on this podcast after she knew she picked me, “I will not be getting you anything practical.”

    Meet Shiitake logs. That’s right. She sent me logs from Steve Sierigk* from Hawk Meadow Farms that, when cared for according to the pages of directions, will produce shitakes right in my own home. I was psyched.

    So like I said, these logs need to be cared for. Once a month you soak them in clean water (that’s what we call our filtered non-chlorinated water around here.) either for 2 hours, called a maintenance soak to keep them hydrated. Or for 24 hours called a forcing soak. It’s the forcing soak that should get the mushrooms growing.

    And it did. Can you see it? It’s tiny but it’s there. These logs should produce what is called 7-8 serviceable flushes of 4-12 ounces of shiitakes in the first 3 flushes. The harvest will diminish as the logs age. But hopefully Megan will get me again next year!

    Forcing SoakShitakes

    Stay Tuned!

    *Yes, he is the inventor of Rutabaga Curling.

  • It’s a bird … It’s a plane …

    … It’s 10 Food Truck Souper Heros!

    Thank you so much to the Souper Fun Food Truck Owners who came out to support Columbus Soup and Bread! Thank you That Food Truck, Ajumama, Kenny’s Meat Wagon, Swoop! Food Truck, Dos Hermanos Taco Truck, Aromaku, The Green Meanie, Freedom A la Cart, Perzoot, Mya’s Fried Chicken for applying what you do on a daily basis to a soup: Fish Chowder, Soto Betawi, Ribbolita, Chili, Sujebe, Smoked Brisket Caramelized Cabbage, Kill All Vampires and Long Live Chicory, Beef Stew, and Oaxacan Chicken soup.

    Check out the soups (Thanks Alan Somphonephakdy for trying them all and photographing them) and check out the action below. This group raised over 3000 meals for those who don’t have enough through The Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Now that’s Souper! Mark your calendars for March 2 from 12-2 at the North Market! And you can be a Souper Hero too!

    (P.S. Still time to order your Souper Hero T-shirt and provide 10 more meals. Check it out. Sorry, no capes!)

    Food Truck Feb Soup GridDos Hermanos Taco TruckKenny's Meat WagonSoup and Bread actionAromakuDan - That Food TruckAlan - our next Souper HeroFreedom A la CartSwoop!No Food Truck, just Souper.

  • Saturdays are great for adventure.  And today was that kind of Saturday.  Kellan and I got up early to make our way to Ina’s restaurant.  She is saying good-bye to her restaurant, and selling all the good stuff inside.  We were on the hunt for Salt and Pepper shakers.  Kellan is a collector and Ina had the collection of all collections.  Each table at her restaurant had a unique salt and pepper and it was always fun to check out what shakers were hanging out on other people’s tables (couldn’t help but check out what they were eating at the same time).

    Unfortunately, as Ina informed me, I was a day late in getting the best of the best shakers, but Kellan was not to be discouraged.  She found mis-matched pieces and made her own combinations.  And at 50 cents a piece, this bit of Ina’s history was very affordable.

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    It was sad to see the place dismantled, but with Ina standing at the entryway it was just as comfortable and welcoming as it had been every time we visited.  We will miss the breakfast, Ina…but these little babies will help us remember your delicious way of cooking and entertaining Chicago.

  • And I mean MEET MEAT.  Happened upon this place today.  Never been there, not sure I even knew it was there.  But today was the day to pull into the snowy parking lot and see what it meant to be Peoria Packing’s Butcher Shop.  Gotta love the pig in that logo!

    I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.  This is the place to go if you are looking for some meat to put your white pepper on, that is for sure.  It is also the place to go for pig head, liver and stomach, chicken feet, tripe, and “turkey parts”.  They also have some amazing stuff I actually had the guts to purchase.  I mean, fresh bacon spilling out of a cardboard box.  Gotta have some of that.  And the sausage, and sausage wanna-be, ground meat.  Yes!

    But I also got some ribs (cheap) and have put together a nice and spicy rub including our Monthly Ingredient — White Pepper.  They are outside, in the smoker right now — and will be for a long while.  Dinner at midnight.  Why not?

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