A year ago ..
The Ames Food Swap met for the first time ..
As I sit this evening .. looking out the front window of my favorite coffee shop .. I can't help but look back & reflect
I remember the cold day in January, 2013 .. a few of us brought our favorite lunches .. and gave it a test run .. having no idea really, what we were doing .. which seemed to make it all the more fun
Fast-forward to this afternoon .. our favorite recipes of Food From Around the World. A wonderful mix of veterans & new comers as well .. one swapper surprising us all .. traveling from Minneapolis with authentic Ethiopian fare!
Has it been a success?
Like most things in life .. it depends on who you ask. For me .. the definition coming after much soul-searching .. a long & winding journey to find my center
Our first event came & went .. a group photo being one of the natural by-products .. and people counted
Our second swap produced a similar photo .. and more people counted .. this time, the difference being .. there was something to compare against .. “Wow! How cool is that .. you doubled in size”
A spring in my step .. “Yep”
March rolled around .. “Huh .. you only grew by two .. better luck next time”
April .. was a our black swan .. the number of people equaling that of January .. “Uh .. What happened?
I quickly sprang into action .. If numbers were going to determine our success .. I tell you what .. there were going to be a LOT of bodies in the picture.
Days were spent putting flyers up .. all over town .. offering give-aways if new people came .. talking to everyone I could .. sending out surveys asking for input .. baking treats to give away
And then one day .. a casual conversation with a friend .. the words rolling off their tongue ..“Nobody ever comes anyway”
I'm sure they don't even remember the comment .. but just like that ..
I stopped .. took stock .. and asked myself some questions. Was it worth continuing? Was was good for those of us that came every month? What was the tone I wanted to set?
Most important .. What was the gift of service the swap could offer to the community?
Because at the end of the day .. it was the spirit of serving others .. that reminded me why I'd started .. where my gut felt ok again
Drawing the definition of success .. not from the popularity contest of a Facebook like .. or a random web-site photo without proper context .. but instead what is better found in life's quiet .. more ordinary moments
Maybe someone ..
Comes home after a long day .. not to an empty fridge .. but instead to a nutritious meal
Has a snack at the ready as they drive home in the dark .. with only talk radio to keep them company
Enjoys the company of others for a few hours on a random Sunday afternoon
Discovers a new cooking idea or technique
A husband & wife spend a day together .. with a bottle of wine .. cooking in preparation for the swap
Two friends have a beautiful excuse to get together .. at least once a month
Sisters enjoy an evening because one journeyed to attend
A mom introduces the world of cooking & community to one of her kids when he or she tags along
Two people .. who might not travel in the same circles .. share a glass of wine
A wonderful recipe is shared
A memory is made
So as the swap quietly turns one
I couldn't think of something more appropriate than cake .. gingerbread, in fact.
Something simple .. almost boring to look at .. but to those who get close enough to give it a try .. like most good things in life .. surprisingly delicious on the inside .. with a few surprises in store
A heart-felt Thank-you to all who have helped write the story of the Ames Food Swap this past year .. we hope to see you again in 2014
~ Adapted from Good to the Grain .. here
- 1 1/4 cup kamut flour
- 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp aniseed
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted and cooled slightly
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup organic dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/4 cup unsulphured black strap molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp grated ginger fresh
- Preheat the oven to 350
- In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, stirring gently with a whisk to ensure the spices are well mixed.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, yogurt, brown sugar, apple sauce, molasses, egg and grated ginger. Add this to the dry ingredients and fold to combine. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 9-inch round cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean