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Friday, June 7, 2013

Ways to Upgrade Your Canning Jars

We can a lot around here, which means we often have a lot of mason jars hanging around. They can do double duty when you turn them into decor, kitchen tools, travel mugs, and more. Here are our favorite ways to upgrade the canning jar:

 We can often be found rocking our Cuppows at monthly swaps. A simple, BPA-free lid goes under a canning ring and turns any jar into a travel mug. Made right here in Somerville, Cuppows come in wide or regular mouth size. Add a Holdster, a leather cuff and handle, to your jar, and you can travel anywhere.

For the cocktail lover, the Mason Shaker is the perfect gift (Father's Day is in a week!). With a quart jar being larger than a traditional shaker, you can mix drinks for four or five at once instead of one or two.

"Put it in a mason jar" is definitely the new "put a bird on it." So it's natural that this french press from a 24-ounce jar is made in Portland. The Portland Press is made from USA-sourced materials and comes with a lifetime warranty. 

Two new books are out that are filled from cover to cover with mason jar crafts. DIY Mason Jars is currently available, while Mason Jar Crafts releases in July. 

While you're adding crafty jars to your decor, why not turn one into a lamp? Yes, there's a kit that turns a mason jar into a lamp. What would you fill your jar lamp base with? Marbles? Plastic figurines? Glitter?

Help us buy more mason jars and keep swapping free by buying through one of the affiliate links in this post.

Boston Food Swap is a community organization funded entirely by donation. Support us through Paypal or BFS merchandise, and by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it!  Also, you can join us at our next swap by checking out our Eventbrite page.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review - Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity

My mother has occasionally remarked on the seeming incongruity between my persona as an independent career woman and my love of domestic arts like cooking from scratch and sewing throw pillows by hand. A stay-at-home mom herself, she fed us a steady diet of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and frozen hot dogs (in her defense, I probably wouldn’t have eaten Greek yogurt or organic mixed greens then as I do now) and the little sewing she did was to repair a seam or replace a button. 

Given my upbringing, it’s somewhat surprising that I now choose to can apple butter and bake my own granola when I could easily buy those items at Trader Joe’s.

But taken in the context of Emily Matchar’s new book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, it’s not surprising at all. In the book, Matchar explores the growing phenomenons of modern homesteading, attachment parenting, and DIY food and craft culture, all told through a mix of historical and feminist perspectives. 

As Matchar points out, one interesting byproduct of these trends is that both hipster liberals and religious conservatives are launching Etsy businesses, homeschooling their children, or growing their own food, forging connections that might not have existed a generation ago. In fact, if you replace the term “God” with “nature,” much of the rhetoric around the importance of self-sufficiency and distrust of public schools or vaccines is remarkably similar.

But DIY culture doesn’t just appeal to women at the extreme ends of the political spectrum, and Matchar also includes more moderate examples of women testing the waters of DIY culture or ultimately deciding that making all their own food isn’t for them. (Full disclosure: canning apple butter is a fun weekend hobby but I also buy plenty of food from the grocery store. Kudos to Matchar for legitimizing this middle ground instead of espousing an all-or-nothing approach!)

The chapter on DIY food culture even opens with a familiar scene: a food swap in Sarasota Springs, New York. The book includes dozens of these little vignettes about the New Domesticity, but I wished it devoted more time to each one rather than flitting between scenes of launching a homemaking blog or making jam or raising chickens.

On one hand, reading examples of women who enjoy cooking but don’t dress like June Cleaver helped me see how my independence and tendency to nest aren’t so incompatible after all. But at times Matchar’s criticisms of the New Domesticity can be unsettling (and rightfully so). Even as she explores the benefits of modern domesticity, she raises some important questions about the long-term implications of forsaking a traditional career, the fetishizing of domesticity, and the pressures that come along with DIY culture. It’s well worth the read.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Recap: May Food Swap

We're always impressed by our swappers' culinary creativity, and the May food swap was no exception. On Sunday, May 19, we enjoyed treats including homemade boursin-style cheese (pictured directly below), salsa verde, vegan cookies, local eggs, cinnamon raisin granola, and, of course, a dizzying array of canned jams, jellies, and fruit butters. 

With summer starting up, we're excited to see how swappers incorporate fresh produce from local CSAs and farmers markets in the coming months. 

One local group has found a novel way to capitalize on the many fruit trees dotting local neighborhoods. At the May swap, we met one of the members of the League of Urban Canners, which was featured in this Boston Globe article last year. (She brought dozens of cans, a few of which are pictured above.) It's such a great idea and very much in keeping with our swap philosophy of pooling resources to reduce food waste.

We also loved Sarah's strawberry margarita jam (see above), which I've been gobbling mixed with plain Greek yogurt. Yum!

Check out more photos from the May swap on our Facebook page and be sure to RSVP for our June swap, which is a special swapiversary potluck!