The second day of autumn was the perfect day to host our second Del Ray Food Swap. Our first swap back in July brought garden fresh vegetables, sauces, drink mixes, granola, eggs, and homemade cheese. For the fall swap, I was looking forward to trading with guests who signed up for artisan bread, bourbon peach jam, and a variety of home-canned garden vegetables. And it did not disappoint.
We held the swap at Catherine’s house on the hill at the top of Del Ray. Our host went all out to set the scene with fresh-cut flowers from her garden and autumnal-hued linens on the tables.
Knowing the sun would soon set, Catherine and guest Kristen stoked the fire pit and lit lanterns along the edge of the yard.
While we waited for more swappers to arrive, we snacked on smoked salmon and dilled cheese roll-ups.
A hearty salad with tomatoes from Catherine’s garden, cheese, and pine nuts.
A classic nut-crusted cheese ball with mango chutney (I could have eaten this in its entirety).
Decadent pumpkin bread with a cream cheese swirl.
And roasted red pepper spread (a sample of a swapping item) with goat cheese and a baguette from Del Ray Cafe.
Food swappers love the charming nature of drinking out of mason jars –
Especially when hosts make sure everyone’s glass is always full.
And then it was time to swap. We oohed and aahed when Anastasia walked in with a basket of fresh-baked artisan bread (some of us even went home with multiple loaves). This bread is incredible — hearty, flavorful and just the right consistency to dip into a seasonal minestrone or to slice into an open-faced grilled cheese.
Other swapping items included roasted red pepper spread in reusable hinged glass jars.
Cute as a button cupcakes in mason jars (great party favor idea).
Lavender hand scrub (thanks to this idea, I’ve got some holiday gifts covered!).
Bread and butter hot pickles and dilled green beans to enjoy summer’s bounty well into the winter months.
Chocolate chip cookies (truly amazing recipe, by the way).
Baskets of fresh peppers, tomatoes and garlic — ingredients for some homemade salsa perhaps?
Bourbon peach jam (I can’t wait to make some biscuits to enjoy with this).
Using the same procedure from the last food swap, we used cards to indicate the items we wanted, and then we swapped and swapped and swapped.
Catherine’s yard is an entertainer and a gardener’s dream. The flagstone patio has plenty of space for a large dining table. There’s even a wall behind the table that doubles as seating and an area off to the right where her husband David keeps his grill and smoker.
Though we didn’t need them tonight, outdoor lights on the pergola make evening gatherings even more festive.
They built these raised beds themselves (from a mail-order kit). The beds line the sides of the yard and are the ideal size for herbs, low-growing small vegetable plants, and flowers.
Along the back of the property, Catherine showed us more of her garden where she still has flowering vines and an abundant crop of hot peppers…
There are also plenty of green beans.
And at least three different varieties of tomatoes.
While we traded recipes and tips for canning and storage, it was clear the fire pit was just about ready for another seasonal treat, roasted marshmallows.
The kids grabbed sticks and marveled at the crisping and oozing sugar.
Couldn’t have asked for a better day for a fall food swap. Though our group was small, everyone left with a large bag of new foods to try and a ton of tips and ideas for growing and preserving homemade food. If you’d like information about future swaps (we are currently pondering possible dates and themes) or would like to host a DIY Del Ray event at your house, please contact us at diydelray[at]yahoo.com.