RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: December 2012

What Happens Next?

Well, this is my last mandatory post for the DIY Food blog. I’ve had a lot of great experiences meeting interesting people, animals and foods. I didn’t realize when I got into this that by choosing to report on slow/sustainable food I was picking one of the most up-and-coming movements  in Philadelphia culture. When it comes to generating content and meeting deadlines, that’s as close as you get to a blogging-goldmine.

Here’s my top 5 posts of the semester:

1. The Crunchy Cookie That Could: Gilda Doganiero from Gilda’s Biscotti

2. Brandon McAllister on Philly’s Battle of the Homebrew Shops Contest

3. Food & Faith: A Hazon CSA in South Jersey

4. Food & Art: Foodie Comics Spice Up Food Storytelling

5. The Salem City Community Garden: Where Rural Meets Urban

As for the future of this blog, I may continue to post and loosen up the tone a little bit. Or, I may start an entirely different blog and loosen up the content a little bit. Either way, there will be loosening and there will be bloggening. I hope.

Advertisements

“Speed-dating for Foodies” with the South Jersey Swappers

On the first day of December, I ventured to the East Landis Marketplace in Vineland, where 18 South Jersey food enthusiasts gathered, their arms full of homemade baked goods, canned goods, prepared dishes, crafts and garden treasures. The home-canners, makers and bakers made their way onto the second floor of the Marketplace where they set up their wares, spooning out samples and arranging their offerings. The South Jersey Swappers holiday food swap had begun.

The South Jersey Swappers met for a December swap at the East Landis Marketplace in Vineland.

The South Jersey Swappers met for a December swap at the East Landis Marketplace in Vineland.

Over the past two years, the success of the BK Swappers in Brooklyn has drawn much online attention. As a result, similar organizations (link) have formed in urban areas throughout the country, from Pasadena to Philadelphia, but South Jersey was once again left out of this primarily urban craze. It was only earlier this year that Green Bank resident Lauren Vitagliano started her South Jersey Swappers blog, with the very first swap held in May at Vineland’s Sweet Life Bakery, a stone’s throw from the East Landis Marketplace.

Word of the new swapping initiative quickly echoed across the South Jersey blogosphere thanks to local blogs like Jennifer Malme’s Down Home South Jersey (Malme arrived at the December swap with her sweet and spicy pecans and homemade lavender soap) and even media outlets like Edible Jersey Magazine.

“I don’ t really think it’s grown too much yet; I’m still trying to find a way to get it out there more,” Vitagliano said. “But I think everyone has the love of food in common—good food at that.”

Galloway resident Abi Douglass brought nine homemade goods to the December swap, including apple cider caramel cookies and romesco sauce.

Galloway resident Abi Douglass brought nine homemade goods to the December swap, including apple cider caramel cookies and romesco sauce.

After set-up, participants were free to wander around the designated swapping space, sampling and deciding which items they would be willing to trade for. Participants signed their names on a sheet of paper placed in front of a desired item, also adding which of their items they would be willing to trade. While many of the holiday swap’s participants were first-timers, the events have attracted their share of regulars, or at least repeat-swappers. Seasoned swapper Abi Douglass, from Galloway, brought no less than nine items for the swapping, which ran the gamut from Earl Grey macarons (link) with Biscoff to turkey stock.

When the “bidding” process finally drew to a close, the actual swapping commenced. Swap time itself was a bit like the foodie equivalent of a speed-dating event, with participants scoping each other out for trades while countless mason jars and crinkle-wrapped goodies (instead of phone numbers) switched hands.

At the end of a hard day’s swapping, second-time swapper Stefanie Modri had turned her garden-fresh pumpkin curry soup, fresh dried

Stefanie Modri's  "loot" includes homemade limoncello, marshmallows, and cinnamon Christmas ornaments.

Stefanie Modri’s “loot” includes homemade limoncello, marshmallows, and cinnamon Christmas ornaments.

mint and herb vinegar into a sizable pile of loot. “The homemade marshmallows are really special, and my daughter’s really excited about the [hand-knitted] scarf she got,” Modri said, parsing through her loot. “We got some good things!”

As for me, attending but not participating at a South Jersey Swappers was tortuous! The next time a swap rolls around, I’ll be carrying more than a notebook and a camera.

Carrot Cake Jam with Jenifer Bernstein of Yes, I Can

The prospect of teaching yourself to can may seem a little daunting–there’s botulism, bad batches and unfamiliar equipment to worry about. At the Woodbury Fall Arts Festival, I stumbled upon a business that offers the perfect solution for all of South Jersey’s timid wannabe-canners: Jenifer Bernstein’s Yes, I Can workshops. These workshops are the perfect way to jump into canning hands first—from beginner boiling water canning to more advanced techniques. Watch the video to get a sneak peek of what an introductory workshop with Yes, I Can can do for you.

*Note: All of those years spent typing my own name have betrayed me: contrary to what the video says, Jenifer Bernstein spells her name with just one “n.”

Rethinking Beef & Business with Philly CowShare

Need something with a little more meat to it than candies and fruit cakes this holiday season? Why not let Philadelphia CowShare help your winter menu find the beef?

philly cowshare logo

Philly CowShare ensures that all the cuts of meat you see in their logo go to hungry homes.

Philly CowShare is the innovative organization that acts as the middleman between you, the consumer, and the farmers and meat processors who produce local, nutritious grass-fed beef. Since part of Philly CowShare’s unique mission is to ensure that all of the beef finds a home, the company sells its beef in bulk, with shares ranging from 1/8 cow (43 pounds of beef) to a full cow (344 pounds).

Jessica Moore, founder and owner of Philly CowShare, says the program gives consumers a direct connection to the process that brings their beef to the table. “We have a production protocol for the business we have to adhere to [in order to] sell cattle under our brand,” Moore says. This, she says, includes learning all about the cattle-raising practices of local farmers. “We give [the customers] all this information so that we can explain and give the customer that connection to the source for the meat.”

In addition to cheapening the cost of being a sustainability-minded meat-eater, cow-pooling also simplifies meal-planning and even provides a way for consumers to gauge their meat consumption. “It invites you to have that conversation with yourself, ” Moore says, noting that when a consumer buys beef from a supermarket, “you’re not adding up in your head how much poundage you’re buying over a period of time.”

Philly CowShare even offers customers another way to get the most beef for their buck by encouraging group orders (see: a ready-made flyer for those seeking to cow-pool).

Of course, with an idea as good as this one, Moore is looking to expand the business into pork territory. Currently working through the research and development of this expansion, she reports that, when compared to cattle-raising, pig raising is (get this) a whole different kind of animal.

“[Pigs] are somewhat destructive in their nature … They strip the forest, knock down trees, dig up the roots, eat the grass,” she says. This means that a label like “grass-fed” doesn’t really mean much when applied to pigs; getting all-natural pork is not quite as simple as just swapping pigs for cows in a big grassy field. “In about three days you would have a big field of mud,” she says. “That’s what they do. They root.”

While Moore perfects her sales pitch for pork, head on over to the Philly CowShare website for more information about the company, who should buy what, and the beef itself. Happy sharing!