My First Mile High Swap

The end of the first quarter of the year is always a busy time. It's also spring break. Unfortunately for me, spring break is slowly becoming synonymous with poor health. Last year, I was hit by shingles; this year, it was a tryst with the dreaded flu. It was, therefore, a good thing that our spring ski getaway was canceled, albeit for completely unrelated reasons. Not only was there mainly slush on the slopes due to unseasonably warm temperatures, but March also proved to be one of the driest months for the mountains, instead of the snowiest.

I've been busy. That's always good, especially in these trying times.

Green Beans Koshimbir
Green beans koshimbir

The only recipe I have for you in this post is my Green Beans Koshimbir, written for my Cooking Boulder column. Take a look and let me know what you think, if you try it.

I do have more to food-related stuff to share though! I went to my first food swap yesterday. It was organized by the Mile High Swappers, a community that I have been following since it was launched a little less than a year ago. I tried to make it to a swap in Boulder in March but that was doomed from the start so I decided that the April swap would have to be it. I roped in my friends, Lisa and Zara. Zara convinced her sister, Tarahta, to join us. We gave her only about 15 minutes notice, as long as it took for us to drive to her house to pick her up on our way to the swap, hosted by Stonebridge Farm in Lyons.

The ubiquitous red barn, at Stonebridge Farm

If you've been a longtime reader of my blog, then you know how thrilled I was when we had a food co-op going in my neighborhood. A food swap is very similar except that you get to choose what you want to exchange for the homemade goodies you took to the swap. In our food co-op, everyone went home with an identical set of food.

I took five one-quart containers and four half-quart containers of my sambar. I swapped them for farm-fresh chicken eggs, organic dried kidney beans, bread and hummus, hot salsa, Joe's hot sauce, serrano-pequin sauce, chocolate cake, chipotle dried pineapple and quinoa bites.

My Loot!
Lookit! My loot!

After setting up my cooler on a table, I walked around the large room that the owners of Stonebridge Farm had made available to us, sampling and making new friends. As I walked past a batch of hot sauce, I noticed a familiar name. It was one that I have heard repeatedly since Medha was in elementary school. Joe, now a seventh grader, is in the same middle school as Medha. He was also in the after-school Chess Club that was led by my husband when they were in elementary school. Of course, that name was familiar!

Joey and Ingrid
Food swappers, Joe and his mom Ingrid.

Like his mother, Ingrid, Joe came as a food swapper. She foraged for porcini mushrooms, dried them and brought them to the swap. She also baked pies from concord grapes rather than let the raccoons feast on them. Joe brought bottles of delicious hot sauce. I was so impressed! I had hoped to take Medha with me as an observer but she had plans of going horse-riding with a friend. I definitely want her to feel the positive energy that a group like this generates.

John Martin
John Martin, owner of Stonebridge Farm, giving us a short tour

We were given a short tour of the farm. We saw the beginnings of young spinach and other greens in a greenhouse, built mostly from recycled materials, that would make their way into someone's CSA box. Stonebridge Farm is about 10 acres in size, of which about 4 acres is farmed. We were also given a brief introduction to the hows and whys of growing grapes in Colorado.

Zara, Tarahta and Lisa

Much as I loved the tour, I was happy to be back inside the barn where we were swapping, as it was kept toasty warm by a refurbished antique fireplace. The theme throughout the farm was no-waste, recycle and reuse.

Refurbished fireplace
Wood fireplace

Warmed by the fire as well as the new friends we had just made, we tore ourselves away from this idyllic farm to return to our lives, armed with the loot we had each scored.

Zara tried to convince the goat to leave with her
Zara wanted to take the goat home with her

The rest of my pictures from the food swap are on my Mile High Swappers set on Flickr.

I am so grateful to Eve and her incredible team at Mile High Swappers for making this such a memorable event and to Stonebridge Farm for hosting. I can't wait for next month's swap which is going to be a huge anniversary celebration for the Mile High Swappers.

I would encourage you to look around for a food swap in your area. It is a movement that is sweeping the nation. And now I know why! If there isn't one, you could start your own food swap with help and guidance from the Food Swap Network.


evee said...

Oh - so pleased you were there to swap and thanks so much for this lovely post!

Now that we've managed to rope you in I will never come again without something to swap for your gorgeous Indian food - my absolute favorite!

Robyn said...

I'm looking forward to enjoying your sambar soon! It was great meeting you at the swap!

Mandira said...

What a lovely idea Manisha, wish there was something like this here.

Nupur said...

What a lovely post, Manisha. A feast for the eyes- just look at those goodies. I love the idea of a food swap.

anna in spain said...

Thank you so much for the Koshimbir recipe! Green beans are one of the few vegetables my husband actually likes and he is learning to love Indian food, so this is definitely going to be a winner! Manisha, you've done it again!

Indian Food Rocks said...

Eve, it's going to be very hard to keep me away from future swaps! I'm already planning for the next one! So much fun and such great people, all tuned into where their food comes from! I have so much to learn from every one of them! Thank you, thank you! For doing this several times a month! You are awesome!

Robyn, I hope you like it as much as we do! And, like I told you they would, my family absolutely loved your bread! It was perfect with the hummus! Thank you!

Mandira, you can start one just among friends. No money changes hands. If it's less than 5 friends, you are better off doing a food co-op like we used to. Which, believe me, is a boon during weekdays.

Nupur, I felt so lucky coming away with all these treats! Look for food swaps in your area!

Anna, you are so welcome! It's my favorite way to eat green beans and is a family recipe. I serve it warm when it's just made and the next time, I serve it chilled. Prep time is higher than usual as the beans need to be sliced fine, as does the onion. I'm a little picky about how I chop my onions and need them to be chopped fine into near-equal rectangles with next to no-waste. No rocking knife action either as the onions are then chopped into different shapes. Argh. We all have our eccentricities, I think! Please tell me what you thought of the koshimbir!

Bong Mom said...

Love the idea of a food swap and seems like such a fun cozy day at the barn

Pia said...

gorgeous post. a food swap - that sounds very exciting, and i'm sure it was about much more than the food.
thanks for stopping my my blog, and leaving that nice comment, manisha.

john k.Tas. said...

A lovely story, Manisha. the joy everyone was having shone through in the words, and in the photos !
having kept goats, i was surprised that the goat preferred the skimpy grass to the cut-away bottoms of Zara's jeans !my goats were very partial to nibbling the edges of reachable clothing ( amongst many other items not usually listed in farming advice books ! !
very sorry to hear about your illness travails, Manisha.We have injections for our normal flu here.
cheers,john k.

Padhu Sankar said...

Nice post and lovely pictures

Ansh said...

Spotted Tara! Beautiful pictures and great story telling.