Category Archives: Ideas

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Houston Food Swap

I’ve talked to numerous people about this. Friends who also cook, and friends who pickle, both camps are excited about the idea of a swap.

photo credit Patrick Bertolino

Basically, you pickle, can, preserve, your bounty and we come to a central location and trade amongst ourselves. It’s not buying, or selling, but it is building our community’s interconnectedness and stretching our resources. Rarely does that 14th jar of homemade strawberry preserves taste as good as the 2nd jar. With a swap, you can enjoy a wide variety while continuing to only produce a few items. I first heard about this idea on Twitter from Indy Food Swappers (@IndyFoodSwap). Their webpage has lots of good resources, included a link to a food swap etiquette article on CHOW with hilariously negative comments.

A food swap takes the essence of Our Community Appetite- fun, deliciousness, and self-reliance on a group level- out of the kitchen and into the wider community.  I can easily imagine 20-30 folks meeting up and swapping, not only delicious home-made foods, but also encouragement, recipes, and tips.

Are you interested? If so follow the blog to be sure you get all the information. This will be the central information center. I’m sure we’ll need assistance pulling it together and a few sponsors, too.

I’m aiming for an early Spring inaugural  Houston Food Swap!

With that wish, I am off to ring in the New Year.  May your 2012 be full of wholesome, delicious fun!

Bring An Ingredient Quesadilla Party

The Friday before Christmas Lura & I hosted another really successful Bring An Ingredient party.

Simple, good cheer! Pinecone decoration

photo credit Darwin Bell on Flickr

This time the theme was quesadillas. We provided the tortillas and cheese (learned from that from last time- if the host doesn’t provide cheese, everyone else will!). This time folks brought three kinds of homemade salsa, guacamole, ground venison, and so much more.

We had at least two rounds of guests, and the arrival of new ingredients encouraged people to come back through for a second helping.

Build your own! It’s so simple:

  • Pick a theme that can take a lot of customization (quesadillas, pasta, pizza, or stir-fry)
  • Think of it as an open house- set the expectation that people will mill about, and chat while they wait to cook their plate full of deliciousness.
  • Invite a bunch of people- less than half will come and those who do will likely be a pleasantly varied mix (or maybe that’s just my friends).
  • Be sure to provide a couple of non-alcoholic beverages and feature them prominently.
  • You may want to seed the table, by asking one or two confirmed guests to bring a widely popular side item.
  • Relax!

If you do try this at home, please come back and let us know how it goes.

I hope your holiday has been full of good cheer! Here’s to many more delightful community meals and cooking events in 2012!

#Resound11: Percolate

One word to describe 2011- percolate

In September of 2010 I rolled off the board of Central City Co-op.  That was the end of an era in my life. Nine years of direct service, bringing fresh organic vegetables to Houston, in an inclusive cooperative way. Six years of getting to work before dawn a couple days a week to lay it all out literally setting up the market, or crafting the order for the next week’s produce. Three (or is it four?) more years as a founding member of the board of directors. The release was strange, and I knew one thing- I needed a rest from food related projects.

Food is so central to our lives, though. Food is so central to my experience of community. I knew it would come back around. The knowledge swirling in the background, back where the Mister and I plot out our “Lottery Fantasy” life, that includes a commercial grade kitchen for community gatherings and for producing our pickles and condiments to sell to the local market.

In July I began a 10 week leadership course. I needed a community project. I had a great work related idea, that my marketing VIP vetoed (a distraction she said). So what else? What is an area of life that I don’t have full self-expression in? Community. Food. Enjoying food in community.

per·co·late/ˈpərkəˌlāt/

Verb:
  1. (of a liquid or gas) Filter gradually through a porous surface or substance.
  2. (of information or an idea or feeling) Spread gradually through an area or group of people.

The project’s shape is still being imagined. We’ve had some successful gatherings; we’ve had even more conversations about the intersection of fun, food, and togetherness. Surprising discussions of self-reliance at a group level. The idea is percolating, spreading, infecting our community with enthusiasm and possibility.  The final strength and color have not yet been determined, but I hear the bubbling. I smell the aroma, and I know that I am home.

Garlic + Goodness

Today I chronicle, not a meal shared, but a more focused experience of friends gathering to satisfy our appetite for food, fun, and community-reliance.

For my birthday last week, we eschewed the expected home cooked feast.  The week was simply too hectic, what with Thanksgiving around the corner and the time of year waking all of Houston’s event planners from a heat induced stupor.

So I went out for drinks on my natal anniversary at a newish local joint and made plans for pickling on Sunday.  You may know that my husband is an avid food fermenter.  It’s actually how we met. Our refrigerator would be empty without a half gallon each of ‘power mix’ and cultured garlic cloves.  The fridge was nearly empty.

Last Sunday was by far the easiest, quickest garlic batch yet.  I think it was the focus- usually garlic is something we pickle as a side project.  It was so peaceful. Three people separating and peeling garlic cloves; catching up on each other’s lives, while my friend’s young son “helped” by smelling everything and telling us of his recent pirating adventures in Make Believe.

Today we returned to complete and decant the batch. So fragrant, so simple! And reconnecting, even briefly, was lovely. Especially after the hectic holiday, quiet moments of connection are precious. Now, $15 & less than 2 full hours of labor later, we both have delicious garlic that will keep in our fridges for more than a year (as if it has a chance of lasting that long).

I will edit in some pictures of our garlic.

Thanks Pixie for feeding the Community Appetite!