When I first heard about the From Scratch Club I knew I had to check it out. Founded by Christina Davis, the From Scratch Club is a small group of women who live in the Capital Region with the shared goal of maintaining a meaningful connection to their kitchens, their gardens, and their community. Christina, the CSA Coordinator for Kilpatrick Family Farm, has always been a supporter of local and sustainable foods but was spurred into bringing it into her home and kitchen by the serious food allergies, asthma and the rare disease, EE her son Miles lives with. The From Scratch Club was born with these great ideas in mind and the food swaps began. The way the swaps work is nice and simple. You simply make some items to swap, either six of one item (like six loaves of bread) or six different items (three jars of jam and three containers of yogurt for example). You bring it to the swap, get it set up all nice and pretty on a table and fill out some information on your items. Then the fun begins, you get to mingle and meet some like minded ladies from the community, sample the goods and have some refreshments. Once you've decided what you want to go for you then walk around putting your name on the prospective cards while people do the same for your card. You check your card, see if you have any matches, and make the swap, one item for one item. You only swap what you want to swap for, just a simple no suffices if you're not interested and there are no hurt feelings. Everyone wants everyone to get what they want and it is such a nice laid back vibe at the swap so you don't feel pressured to swap for something you don't want.
Although I do like to cook, and I do try quite a bit, I felt more comfortable making some coconut oil and sugar body scrubs instead since I've made them tons of time and I always like them myself. I found some inexpensive jars at Four Seasons (each swap item must come in an appropriate container that can be taken home, jar, paper bag, wrapped up, etc.) and just whipped up the scrubs, slapped some of my new adorable write-on Name Bubbles labels on them and they were all set! I wanted pretty much one of everything, and everyone was so friendly it made for a really fun and relaxed couple of hours. We walked around, sampled, chatted and before I knew it it was swap time. That part went pretty fast, and Christina had to tell me to get going or else I'd miss it. I was lucky enough to share a table with the woman who made the coffee and vanilla liqueur so I snapped that up first, then swapped for some homemade butter and english muffins, a loaf of white bread, some beet relish, a vegan cinnamon roll and some peanut butter cookies.
Half of the beet relish, butter, white bread and cinnamon roll was eaten last night right when we got home, enjoyed with some of that amazing coffee and vanilla liqueur. The bread is just fantastic, just as springy and delicious as you could want a fresh loaf to be, and topped with the beet jam it is unbeatable. I'll be adding some goat cheese to that mix tonight as well. The cinnamon roll with just the right amount of cinnamon was great as my late dinner and the kids finished it off this morning, demanding more. I also made Finn an egg sandwich with the butter and english muffins, which he declared "the best sandwich ever". The cookies are being saved for a special after school treat, but I sampled one myself and they are incredible.
Beyond the swaps (more info on where and when and how to register can be found here) the From Scratch Club also participates in monthly community outreach at local farmers' markets where they demonstrate various cooking techniques and food projects in the hopes of promoting and advocating home cooking and creating. There is also their fantastic Cooking School: FSC Academy. The classes offered are a variety of DIY Projects with topics ranging from Home Dairy (soft cheeses, yogurt, butter) to bread baking to canning and preserving. Their aim is to make sure the classes are affordable, accessible, low-key, fun. Click here for more information on the classes and how to sign up.
You can also check out their blog to keep in the loop on all of the great stuff they have coming up, which is full of great stuff-recipes, DIY, posts on food policy, and includes a ton of great contributors that make up the collective community there. They even have a book club that just launched and a podcast that you can subscribe to on iTunes (featured now among twenty New and Noteworthy food podcasts!). The Podcast features interviews with homesteaders, cooks, bakers, gardeners, tiny apartment dwellers, full-scale farmers, foodies, dinner party hosts, dinner party guests, townhome owners, policy advocates, protesters, changemakers, food gurus and everything in between. The podcast is just like the blog and the whole From Scratch Club, whether you are a novice at making food from scratch or are an expert at growing and canning you will feel comfortable in their little (but growing!) community.
My favorite part of the swap was just that, the feeling of community we all shared. It had the same feel as having a friend come over with a little home baked treat to share over coffee. I think that is something that a lot of us are missing in our daily lives. Between jobs and kids and commitments it is sometimes hard to find the time to meet and get to know our neighbors, let alone the time to bake up a loaf of bread to take over and share. The food swap gives you the opportunity to do that though, and you can share with a bunch of neighbors, not just one. Plus you know that everything you're taking home is carefully hand made, using whole ingredients, so it is something you can be excited about sharing with your family. I was so happy to send off my little jars of body scrub, hoping they would be enjoyed, and just as happy to bring home this great food to enjoy with Sean and the kids. However you connect with this great group of women you will feel comfortable, will try something new, and will learn something. Through the swaps, the classes, the blog or the podcast, give them a shot, I guarantee you will love what you find there.
to see my photos from the From Scratch Club Food Swap click here