What to get for the person who has everything? Something edible, of course. Here in Madison we enjoy some of the best ingredients and artisan products in the world, and they conveniently make perfect gifts for friends near and far. To get those gears rolling, here’s a list of just some of our favorite local food artisans (sadly we can’t list them all!). Happy Holidays, and happy gifting!
Slow Food Madison recently collaborated with local food preservers Laura Purdy and John Binkley to host Madison’s first food swap – an event where people trade and barter their homemade/handmade/homegrown products. These events have taken off in popularity in many other parts of the country, and we’re excited to see it starting in Madison!
We talked to Laura about food swaps, her thoughts on the first one, which happened Monday, November 11 at Goodman Community Center.
What is a food swap?
A Food Swap is an event where members of the community come together to trade homemade, homegrown, and foraged food with one another. Attendees directly trade the items that they bring as a way to diversify the foods in their pantries and make connections with other members of the local food community. Attendees are welcome to bring as many or as few items as they would like, although the more you bring the more opportunity you have to bring home something new.
What inspired you to start a food swap, where did you hear about it?
I am relatively new to the world of food preserving. In fact, this summer was only my second year of putting up the harvest but when I try something new I tend to go all in. My partner is an organic vegetable farmer and owner of Equinox Community Farm, so I had a cornucopia of produce to work with. Long story short, in the fall I ended up with about 2 bookshelves full of canned items and I tried about 50-60 recipes from 6 different canning books. I ended up staring at my collection and wishing there was a way I could end up with less of this stuff (who needs 15 pints of curried cauliflower pickles?) and more of the food that I wasn’t skilled at making. Thank goodness for the internet. I follow quite a few canning related blogs and food swap information was popping up here and there. I did a lot of reading and decided that it would be a perfect fit for my needs and I was sure there were others out there in the same predicament as myself.
Why are people interested in food swaps? What benefit do they have?
I think that food swaps appeal to people in a variety of ways, which explains why our first event was so popular. People who experiment with food tend to love talking about food and sharing their food. A food swap is a perfect forum for doing both of those things. For example, I had the opportunity to taste and take home some fermented ginger ale. I have little experience with fermented food and this was a great introduction. There were also flavor combinations and ingredients that I had never heard of before, so I not only came away with new items I came away with a whole bunch of new ideas and a wealth of food preservation experts to consult with in the future.
What are the difficulties in starting a food swap? Are there any tricky legalities you need to be aware of?
I did a lot of reading online when I was setting up the food swap. Food Swap Network is a great resource with information on hosting food swaps, downloadable templates, and links to other swap websites. I also looked up a few Wisconsin Statutes regarding certain food products. Food swaps must be private events, which is why people must sign up and sign in to the events. Private events are exempt from the food and health safety codes that public events must adhere to. (It’s like a potluck among acquaintances vs a public event that serves food.) We also had people sign a disclaimer that stated they used proper food handling methods and that they do not hold the hosts, the venue, or other participants liable. It may seem like overkill, but we want to make sure that we do our best to make everyone safe and allow for many more food swaps to occur in the future.
What is your vision/plan for food swaps in Madison?
I definitely believe that there is room to grow for the food swap here in Madison and space for more people to get involved. However I do want to be careful that we continue to foster the personal relationships and trust that makes food swaps so successful and so valuable. I’m not sure what that sweet spot will end up being, but I’m ready to tweak both the event size and frequency in order to find something that works well for everyone involved. And ultimately, if the response and enthusiasm is huge, I am definitely willing to help new food swaps get started. There is such an abundance of food creativity in this area that I see the potential for a multitude of local food swaps centered around different communities.
How do you feel about the food swap that just happened? Any fun stories?
I was truly blown away by what was brought to our first food swap. Canned zucchini that tasted like pineapple. Kefir. Home-cured bacon. Caramel sauce. Fruit butters. Dried herbs. Homemade soap. Elderberry syrup. Jelly melon. So many different types of pickles. I could go on and on. And the best part of it was how much everyone valued what other people had made. People who didn’t can things were delighted to receive someone’s tomato sauce. We ended up trading a whole bunch of sweet potatoes for a whole bunch of goat milk soap. Everyone went home feeling richer than when they came, where else can you experience that? The biggest complaint I heard was that attendees wished they had brought more things for trading. If that isn’t a huge success, I don’t know what is.
What advice do you have for a wanna-be food swapper?
First, keep your eyes and ears open for future events. I anticipate that they will continue to fill up quickly so you want to be tapped in to your local food organizations like Slow Food Madison. Play to your strengths, but also don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavor combinations. If you make great pies, try a twist on a classic (maple pecan pie, instead of just pecan pie for example). Some of the most popular items at the food swap were the unexpected ones. Use items that are in season, and local if appropriate. It will connect you even more to the food community and most likely save you money. And of course, make sure that you adhere to the appropriate food handling techniques especially with things like canning. I’m more than happy to answer any questions and direct people to resources if they want aren’t sure where to start.
Thanks, Laura, and thanks to everyone who participated! Stay tuned for information about future swaps.
Do you have a garden bounty you can’t keep up with? Unable to use your CSA box some weeks? Know a farmer with surplus harvest? Whether you have extra produce or want to purchase some specifically to donate, this map details locations in the Madison area that would love to receive a gift of fresh vegetables. Many secondary or emergency food sources have trouble providing clients with fresh produce, and your donation can help provide healthy, fresh foods for people in need.
Click on the map below to see an interactive display of locations in Madison that will happily accept fresh produce. The pin for each site details donation instructions, preferred and unaccepted items (if any), and contact information.
We have a famously great restaurant and farmland/markets culture in Madison, and Slow Food celebrates it! But we also want to help home cooks bring it up a notch (and down to earth a notch) in a series of peer-to-peer, DIY-celebrating classes that shares, inspires, and connects-the-dots in a way that only Slow Food can.
It’s all about tradition, celebration, simplicity, and how the simple awareness and responsibility of our food practices brings even more joy and pleasure to our tables. Can you cook? Teach? Organize? Blog? Take Pictures/Videos? Or want to cultivate these talents in yourself and others?
The best ideas come when we all put our ideas on the table, so… please join us for an informal brainstorming session on Tuesday, September 10th @ 6:30pm at Barriques, 961 S. Park Street. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. (If you are interested in getting involved, but can’t attend this meeting, send a note and we will include you in future communiques.)
Slow Food Madison, a local chapter of the international Slow Food organization, is seeking a social media specialist. This is a volunteer position.
What You’ll Do
Ensure local events are posted to the Slow Food Madison (SFM) calendar, FB, & Twitter
Support event producers with tech support on above channels, Eventbrite, etc.
Work with other SFM volunteers & board members to make sure SFM & SFUW events are well publicized on Twitter, FB, email newsletter, and the SFM website.
Work with Philip on the weekly and monthly email newsletters
Be able to provide SFM Board with monthly numbers on things such as likes, shares, followers, retweets, friends
Community Engagement Online
The ideal candidate will learn the culture, values, and priorities of Slow Food Madison and will eventually be able to engage the community (along with the leadership and volunteers) on behalf of the organization:
Engage (RT, replies, etc) with local artisanal food producers on both FB and Twitter
Cultivate good follow-lists and network connections with same
Engage with followers of FB and Twitter (replies)
Consult the board on ways to further utilize social media to engage with the greater Madison community and broadcast the SFM message
Interact with members and community for sharing of event photographs, event idea capture, etc.
How Great It Will Be
The social media intern position will offer the ideal candidate real-world experience in the nuts-n-bolts administration of social media presence and strategy for a small-scale not-for-profit organization with global brand appeal, and local credibility.
Several members of the current leadership team have extensive experience with social media strategy and web/internet culture, and the candidate would be able to learn/work-with them.
Interns will participate in leadership team meetings as desired, can attend Slow Food Madison events, and will have ample opportunity to meet food-related luminaries like farmers, chefs, artisans in and around Madison.
On Sunday April 14th UMF visited Istanbul Supermarket, at 745 S. Gammon Road. It has been open almost exactly a year and is still in the process of expanding.
Hospitality was on view from the moment we arrived, as the owner, Yashar, plied us with mineral water, coffee soda, delicious cookies filled with hazelnut cream and dipped in chocolate. We even got samples size tubes of olive oil hand cream.
The shelves are full of Turkish items ranging from fantastic preserves, to tea and coffee (including a set sold with the traditional enameled pot), to tinned meats, pickled vegetables, and nut studded candy. There are also some Indian and Middle Eastern items mixed in, both on the shelves and in the coolers and freezers.
One of the biggest draws for many of the market’s customers is the halal meat. There is fresh meat, such as lamb and goat, as well as frozen, and items such as a spicy, precooked sausage similar to chorizo, but with a fragrant twist.
Our guide, Oktay, talked about the various ingredients we encountered as we went from aisle to aisle and spoke about all the wonderful dishes his mother would cook for him growing up. The UMF tours will always leave you hungry and ready to try some new ingredients in the kitchen!
Yasher is in the process of getting some new coolers installed and hopes to eventually expand to be able to have a deli area too, where he can serve food and Turkish coffee. That will be a happy day.
Attend free workshops and learn how to best use your share and choose the right farm for your family. Children’s activities, a raffle to benefit Partner Shares, which helps low-income families to join farms, and recipe samples!
Approximately 1,000 people typically attend this annual event. It’s free and open to all.
There’s a new CSA that we’re particularly interested in. The Spring Rose Growers Co-op has started a CSA this year. Spring Rose is comprised of Latino and Hmong farmers. Here’s a blurb from their site:
We have grown beyond the Farley Center to six farm members, both Hmong and Latino. Since November 2010 we have been working under a USDA Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant to design and implement technical assistance programming targetd specifically at farmers like ourselves.
If you’re not familiar with the CSA model, the CSA Coalition has some great information on their site.
We kicked off our seasonal French Cooking Class series at Chez Nanou on Monday, January 21st, 2013. Students arrived at 5 pm and after introductions and an orientation to the restaurant, class began promptly. An apron, hand towel, and packet of the recipes for the evening were provided to each student. In keeping with our small class size, each student had their own work station in the kitchen.
Dee & Nanou were so perfectly organized in their preparations, class went smoothly and everyone was able to enjoy their time in a relaxed and fun fashion. We started things off by putting together the Salmon & Leek Pie, our main course. Students helped mix together the pastry dough, clean and prep leeks, skin and dice fresh salmon, and make a Béchamel sauce. After the pie was in the oven we got started on the French Onion Soup. Nanou shared her secret for slicing onions without tears! Students sliced onions and got them sautéing. While the soup simmered, we moved on to dessert…Crêpe Suzette! Everyone got to take a turn making crepes. There is definitely a technique to getting it right and the correct pan is a must! Finally, Nanou demonstrated making the Suzette sauce which was then set aside until assembly time.
Now that the work was done, it was time for dinner. The soup bowls were assembled with herbed croutons made at the beginning of class, topped with the delicious onion soup, and finally with grated Swiss cheese. The bowls were place under the broiler to melt the cheese until slightly golden. Wine was poured and it was time to eat! The students, guests, and chefs sat around a convivial table to enjoy the home cooked food and engage in conversation. The way a Slow Food meal is meant to be. The soup was delicious. Savory and warm with some sweetness from the onions. Thick and hearty from the croutons and cheese. I think I could eat this all winter long!
Moving on to our second course, the pie was golden and gorgeous with perfectly flaky crust. Filled with creamy salmon and leeks, it was the definition of comfort food! The fresh salmon had been mixed with smoked salmon to give the pie some depth of flavor. Nanou taught the students how to make an emulsified mustard vinaigrette from scratch. With this dressing, an arugula salad accompanied each slice of pie. It made a beautiful plate.
Last but not least was dessert. We went brief back to the kitchen where each student was able to create their own authentic Crêpe Suzette, complete with flambéed Grand Marnier. There was a lot of excitement in the kitchen! The crêpes were light and tangy. The perfect end to a lovely meal.
Everyone had a nice time cooking, learning, and eating together. We are so excited to offer this series of classes and are working on an April date for the Spring session! We look forward to having you join us. Bon Apetit!