Del Ray Food Swap

just one of the tables filled to the brim

just one of the tables filled to the brim

I am really lucky to live in a such a great neighborhood. Within just a few blocks I can visit the best cheese store in the DC area, a top-notch butcher who sources everything locally (except the kangaroo, of course),  unbelievably good frozen custard, a dynamite neighborhood bar and restaurant, a weekly farmer’s market, and countless other great eating options (and all of them are local, non-chain businesses run by my neighbors.)

I’m also lucky to live in a neighborhood full of creative people who care about their neighbors and this community. One such example is the Empty House Studio, a temporary space for artists to create and share. Well, this past weekend they hosted a neighborhood food swap organized by the folks at DIY Del Ray, a blog written by some other neighbors that focuses on all sorts of neighborhoody and non-neighborhoody things alike.

Being wholeheartedly committed to the DIY food movement (as readers of this blog will no doubt recognize), I was excited to finally participate in one DIYDR’s regularly scheduled events.

If you’ve not been to a food swap before (and I had not), here’s basically how it works. Bring any number of things you want to share and swap. Check out what everyone else brought and decide what you’d like to trade for. (But remember, you can only trade as much as you brought.) And then let the swapping commence in fairly informal fashion as you meet the producers and negotiate your deals. My betrothed and I came prepared with loaded rice krispie treats, a boxful of canned pickles from the summer, and crusty rolls (using the no-knead recipe from Jim Leahy’s book) to swap. And we left with a boatload of stuff in exchange.

no knead rolls

no knead rolls

It seems we have a lot of similarly minded neighbors creating some unbelievable stuff. I was blown away by the diversity of what people brought. There were even some local sponsors – neighbors who have their own cake and fermented pickle businesses. Here’s a list of some of the most impressive stuff, a lot of which we came home with. And there was so much more.

  • home roasted coffee
  • brazil nut milk
  • biscotti dough ready to slice and bake
  • red onion marmalade
  • jalapeno jelly
  • elderberry and strawberry jams
  • soups and stocks
  • breakfast cookies
  • artisan bread
  • beet hummus
  • flavored salts
  • basil, zinnia, morning glory, and marigold seed packs
  • it goes on and on

There was so much stuff that we were looking for any flat surface for display of everyone’s goods.

Besides our bounty, it was also great to meet a lot of unfamiliar faces that make up this great neighborhood. It was just an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Can’t wait for the next one.

Advertisements

peach peel butter

Nose-to-tail, the tradition of using the entirety of a slaughtered animal is nothing new. Nor is the frugal nature of the home cook (which I strive to be) who makes the most of everything they can. But this technique was completely new to me. Taking the scraps from a peach canning project that were destined for the compost (or worse, trash can) and turning them into utter indulgence is a thing of beauty.

Last weekend, we headed to our favorite u-pick farm to get a mess load of peaches to last us through the year until next peach season. A bushel or about 50 pounds, doubling last year’s half-bushel. About 25 pounds of those peaches ended up in quart jars – 11 to be exact. And if you’ve ever canned peaches before, you know the best way to do it is to quickly blanch and peel them. Well, 25 pounds of peaches begat about 5 pounds of peels. Well, not exactly. But you try peeling 25 pounds of peaches in one shot. By the end, you too might start using a knife on the tough-to-peel ones and end up with a little bit of flesh attached to those peels.

Five pounds is a lot of anything just to throw away, so thanks to the peach peel butter recipe, that 25 pounds of peaches that begat 5 pounds of peels (and some sugar and time) begat another 7 cups  of a beautiful amber, slightly sweet peach butter that is a thing of beauty. Note, there’s no actual butter in a fruit butter. I imagine you could turn this into jam with some pectin, but I’m happy with what I’ve got.

peach peel butter

peach peel butter

I tweaked a few things with the original recipe. I used much less sugar. To the 5 pounds of peels, I added about 2 1/2 pounds of sugar. And I used a 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid, because I didn’t have any lemons, and because, well, I have citric acid. I then simmered this for 8 hours till it all broke down. A full work day. I put it on the stove at the beginning of my work-from-home day, stirring and tasting every once and while, and took it off the heat at the end of my day. (I’d guess you could probably use a slow-cooker instead of the stove.) I ended up with 7 cups, 5 of which went into 8 oz. jelly jars to be processed in a water bath for 10 minutes. (The Ball Book lists 10 minute processing time for their fruit butters, so I’ll take the chance.) The other 2 went straight into a pint jar for the fridge. Imagine this stuff on ice cream or in or on a pie or on toast or just from a spoon straight from the jar. Good stuff.

So, there you have it, real pit-to-peel cooking.

half pints of peach peel butter

half pints of peach peel butter