Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winter 2011 PDX Food Swap Recap

A hearty thank you to all who participated in our Winter PDX Food Swap on December 11th.

Amazing to think that one year after our inaugural swap, the mini documentary about our event produced by Cooking Up a Story, along with mentions in the Huffington Post, New York Times, food magazines, blogs, and other news sources inspired the founding of countless Food Swaps around the country as well as this fall's recent launch of The Food Swap Network.

Each of you who have put thought and care into your food and shared it with friends are to be thanked for this fantastic new(old!) community celebration.

As I depart Portland for extended travels and Sustainable Food for Thought grows into a new chapter, Lindsay Strannigan of Rosemarried will take over hosting the PDX Food Swap seasonally in 2012. You will continue to find information on upcoming swaps here, on our PDX Swappers Facebook Page, and on Twitter.

In the meantime, enjoy the peek at this month's delicious swap goods... 
(in no particular order)

mustard, kimchi, oatcakes, herbal tea...
jerusalem artichokes, apple sauce
nut butter, granola, spiced nuts
cranberry sauce or chutney, bread & butter pickles, pickled beans, eggs, beer
brown red wine mustard, sweet mustard sauces, red wine vinegar, jams
fruitcakes, herb chai
spicy pickles, blueberry nutmeg jam, honey, rosemary & balsamic pumpkin butter
challah and baguettes
salted caramels and caramel sauce
jams, jellies, fruit mostarda, flavored vinegar
cranberry ketchup, caramelized onion marmalade, biscotti
bread, jam, wheat berries, bagels, sauerkraut, eggs
chocolate-fig bars
various pickled veggies, home-baked goods
apple maple jam
vanilla spiced pear butter
grape jelly
drinking vinegar
homemade mustards, granola, custom spice & salt blends
canned heirloom tomatoes 

A farewell photo with Lindsay Strannigan of Rosemarried

As always, we're so grateful to Abby at Abby's Table for sharing her wonderful space.

Thanks one and all for another delightful array of home made, hand crafted goodness!
Have a wonderful holiday season with family, friends, and good food, and a merry 2012.

I'll be thinking of you swappers this next year while I'm away. Thank you all for the opportunity to get to know you and to share and receive from your lovely pantries of thoughtfully made foods.  I'll be eager to return to swapping again once I'm home, perhaps with a few foreign recipes up my sleeve? All the best to you between now and then...

Until we swap again,

PS: If you have photos or stories from the event, please do share. Feel free to post on the Facebook Page, link in the comments below, or send a note at via the contact form above.

Want to keep up to date on future swaps?
The easiest way is to like the PDX Swappers Facebook page
and follow us on Twitter.

Stay tuned for updates on the PDX Swappers Spring 2012 Swap date.

{ Interested in Starting Your Own Swap? }

Remember, The Food Swap Network launched this fall!
Visit the site for more details.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A New Season at Sustainable Food for Thought

Friends, with an adventurous heart and a bit of wonder at the seasons of life, I'm writing today to share about changes at Sustainable Food for Thought.

This past summer, after several years of running Sustainable Food for Thought, hosting Food Groups, and offering her front porch as a bulk food drop point, Emily Pastor transitioned from life in the Pacific Northwest to a new home and writing opportunities in Chicago, Illinois. Beginning this new season, she will be sharing her life and writing at

Autumn found me wrapping up commitments and making arrangements to begin a year long journey with my husband to explore the far corners of the earth. While I'm away from Portland during 2012, I'll be sharing photos and stories from our travels at

Though we've ceased our dear Sustainable Food for Thought Food Group gatherings, bulk buying arrangements, and Portland-area adventures, I'm glad to remind you of a few of the new and continuing opportunities led by Food Group friends:

The PDX Food Swap will remain meeting seasonally, led by friend and local Portland food blogger, Lindsay Strannigan of Rosemarried. (Hint: if you're looking for scrumptious recipes making the most of seasonal foods, be sure to bookmark her site!)

Lastly for this update, keep an eye out for a soon-coming post with proper introductions to our new 2012 Contributing Writers! I'm so excited to welcome them as they bring inspiration and encouragement to our group of food friends, sharing their real life, real food experiences.

To each of you readers and friends, thank you for the past years of sharing the Sustainable Food for Thought adventure with us! We're hopeful to see how the next season unfolds and always grateful to look over our shoulders and see the blessings of journeying with you...

~Bethany & Emily

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reflections on Small-Batch Canning

Why small-batch? There are many reasons why this type of canning has become popular, but for me it’s all about breaking my love for food projects into manageable units. I have memories of watching my mom making jams and jellies on a huge scale, but I don’t possess either the space or the saint-like perseverance to devote to canning on that level. This is only my second year to can on my own, so I’m also still a bit nervous about the whole process. That’s probably an understatement.

I’m neurotic about canning procedure.

I admit it. I worry. I check and recheck (and recheck) directions.

I listen anxiously for each little “ping!” while the jars are cooling.

This means that I am a slow and cautious cook when it comes to putting food into jars, so preserving in small batches really works well for me.

Despite my anxiety over canning, I love the results.

Popping open a jar of yummy goodness in the middle of a dreary Oregon winter just makes me happy.

I was especially excited about canning this fall, because I received a fantastic gift from my in-laws: freshly picked fruit from their small, but productive, hundred-year-old orchard. They had an excellent apple and pear harvest this year and I was lucky enough share in both the labor of bringing in the fruit and the delicious rewards!

I started by turning a sack full of those apples (mixed with some I had purchased elsewhere) into five pints of applesauce. My daughter loves the stuff and I think Grandma and Grandpa’s apples make her like it even more. I like mine with minimal sugar and lots of spice - cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg - whatever I have on hand. The brilliant thing about making applesauce is that it’s very forgiving, which makes it perfect for anxious canners, like myself.

I also had several pounds of pears from their very large, very ancient Bartlett tree to work with. These became four half-pints of pear cardamom butter, using a recipe from Tart and Sweet. Only four half-pints, you might wonder? Yes. I was surprised as well, because I fervently adhered to the recipe, as is my nature to do, and the recipe promised seven half-pints. But my experience with fruit butters is that yields are approximate. The small amount I did end up with is delicious – sweet and spicy from the cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves with a hint of licorice, thanks to star anise pods, which I’d never cooked with before.  I have a feeling it will be delicious with some blue cheese on crackers this winter!

Although I feel like my autumn preserving efforts were modest at best, I was truly blessed by the experience of tramping out into the orchard and working with fruit that would be considered too imperfect for the grocery store, but made up for all of its superficial flaws in depth of flavor. Foraging a harvest from those gnarled and knobby trees, which have essentially been left in their wild, natural state, was a unique and rewarding experience.

Those old trees outdid themselves this year and we’ll be enjoying their bounty all through the winter. So much to be thankful for as we approach the end of the harvest season!

More inspiration & recipe tips: Craigslist Apples & Cardamom Apple Butter

Rebekah Pike is most happy with her nose in a book and enjoys making the most of her pint-sized, apartment kitchen. After leaving her job in media production to become a full-time mommy, she began exploring the sustainable living movement and reconnected with the back-to-the-earth ideals of her hippie parents. In 2005, her love of Oregon’s rugged outdoors led to a summer job as a camp counselor, where she met her husband, Darian. Most of their time is spent chasing after their two year old daughter, Ashlynn, and doing serious “research” at restaurants, coffee shops and markets around Portland.


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