Encinitas Food SwapThe following is a guest post by ME from SanDiegoBargainMama check it out!

My family is what I call a genetic European mutt. We don’t have any cultural traditions or amazing recipes that have been carefully handed down through generations; you know – those that contain wonderful flavors and secret additions that come from such rich family heritage laced with a strong cultural background!  Every so often I come across someone with such heavily-influenced cooking traditions, that I am in awe and inspired to experiment with flavors and spices like they used. I met such a vibrant and enthusiastically inspiring person recently who was hosting  a wonderful local event called a “Food Swap “.

Isabelle Baril, a busy mother of three very active, energetic little boys (ages 7, 6 , and 4), is originally from a small town in Quebec, Canada, called Warwick. She grew up in a French-Canadian family that loved to cook so much that they spent every fall enjoying each other’s company in the kitchen, cooking and canning chutney and jelly. Isabelle learned how to take advantage of whatever was in season and help stretch their food supplies out longer with the culinary art of canning. If tomatoes and basil were in season she would make a big batch of spaghetti sauce and feel comforted knowing that on a busy day she could use a can of that sauce already prepared and throw some dried pasta in a pot of boiling water real quick and dinner would be done.

Encinitas Food Swap 3This also meant that at least one dinner a week was already taken care of. Quick already made meals like this work great for baseball/football season where you don’t have much time but still want to know your kids are eating healthy, not to mention its cheap!

Isabelle’s family participates in sports but also take advantage of the beach year round so canning pasta sauces and having meals quick and ready to prepare make it very easy for her to heat up something quick in her beautiful old-fashioned RV, right there at the beach!

Isabelle was inspired by the wonderful array of farmer’s markets and local produce here in our Encinitas community. She heard of a Food Swap movement quickly taking over and being the creative, thrifty person she is, she became part of a  a beautiful event, namely the Encinitas Food Swap. This event has met for the last few years every other month and although she plans it all in her spare time (you know, because us busy moms have so much spare time on our hands). The event is full of rich flavors, beautiful colors and unique culinary creations that will inspire you and leave you drooling.

The best part? You get to taste the food! Everyone brings whatever goodies they made and packaged individually, and then they set out a sample plate to please eager little taste buds. Then as you walk around exploring the wonderful variety of treats that have been whipped up using purely local ingredients, you can barter and trade with any homemade goodies you brought yourself.

Unfortunately when I attended my first event I went empty handed, and my daughters scolded me thoroughly for it!  Thankfully, this month we will go with a basket FULL of homemade jams and zucchini bread, which also means we will be toting home that same basket full of yummy goodness that will last us (hopefully) until the next meet up! Even though I didn’t bring home anything from the Food Swap last time, they were gracious enough to let us taste what they had to offer and take photos of their beautiful displays on the tables.

Just seeing some of the incredibly creative recipes people came up with using some of the same ingredients you may have overflowing in your back yard or local CSA box were inspiring. For example, if you happen to have a loquat tree in your yard last month it should have been overflowing with bright orange and yellow fruits that were prime for the picking! But what can you do with loquats other than eat them until you get sick (I used to sit in the tree as a little girl just munching all day on those little furry balls of deliciousness… and then later regretted ever touching the Japanese Plums in the first place.)?

I was in awe at some of the creative genius that went behind taking fruit that was in season and abundantly available and turning it into beautiful jars of lavender-loquat Jam… it was amazing and I kid you not, I immediately went home and made 20 jars of jam using fruit I had in the house. This event (and Isabelle herself) is so humble and low-key, yet beautiful and inspiring. Having grown up here I have always known that Encinitas is such a wonderfully rich community, but events like this prove it even more.

Encinitas Food Swap 2Join us at the Encinitas Food Swap!

This month’s Encinitas Food Swap is going to be on June 29th, 10 am at Glenn Park in Cardiff. This park hasn’t changed much since I was a little girl and it was a great experience letting my girls go run and play on the playground after exploring the tables of colorful culinary creations!

Here are just a few examples of wonderful dishes that were presented at the last Food Swap:

…truffle popcorn, gluten free banana muffin, roasted Marsala nuts, cilantro mint chutney, passion fruit ice cream, plum and apricot jam, rhubarb jam, salsa Verde, chocolate bread, Margarita mix ice cream, roasted pepper soup, maple mustard dressing, brownie pops, chili roasted black eyed peas, baby apple pies, chocolate date, ricotta cheese, raw-organic trail mix, gluten free peanut butter cookies, Thai chiles and onion jam, nut spread, ravioli, honey marsh-mellow, sea salt and caramel ice cream, Filo Pie, banana chips….

Like I said, It was amazing!

If you want to come by and play, feel free to take a look around and just see what people have brought this month! It is amazing to see how resourceful some people can be in the kitchen with whatever is available to them. Oh, and did I mention that we share recipes too? You wont want to miss this next one because we are kicking off the summer with some amazing new creations!Find Encinitas Food Swap on Facebook to stay updated with their events or ask any questions

– See more at: http://sandiegobargainmama.com/events/get-inspired-at-the-encinitas-food-swap/#sthash.AV2pSksB.Xq9d5E8y.dpuf

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