Swapper Spotlight :: Cathy & Red Wine Caramel Sauce

Swapper Spotlights offers the chance to get to know some of the creative folks in our swapping community. Read fellow participants' thoughts on swapping homemade food & crafts, and discover some of their favorite recipes and craft tutorials. {*Want to be featured in a Swapper Spotlight? Email Liz at liz@sniegocki.com* }

Meet swapper Cathy Sniegocki Billoni, who has been swapping her irresistible homemade goodies with the Sarasota Swappers for the past year and a half!

Why do you love swapping?
It is a great way to stretch my creative side. I love cooking and trying new things and especially doing things for others so this is a perfect way to do it all.

What's the favorite thing you've ever made to swap?
My homemade kit kats- they were crazy addictive!

What's the favorite thing you've ever swapped for?
My sister-in-law made homemade smudge sticks with a beautiful burlap bag, feather and vintage matchbook. I have always wanted to try smudging in my home, so this was a great way to start and her packaging was adorable!

Why should others get involved in swapping?
Everyone feels a bit intimidated at first before they go and every single person I have met loved every minute of it once they got there. There is an awesome sense of community and generosity during a swap and the outpouring afterwards through gracious thank you's and "Gosh, I am loving your XX this morning," is inspiring. It is a neat experience and others would be surprised at how much they 'get' out of "giving".   

Anything else you'd like to add about your swapping experience....
I simply adore this movement and am grateful to have finally tried it. I encourage others to find one in their area or even better-start your own! Have fun with the items you select and let your creative juices flow. I have found that the most successful and popular items always include a small sample to try and cute packaging. With today's online resources such as blogs and Pinterest - the sky is the limit for ideas!

What other creative hobbies do you enjoy?
I started my own blog this past spring - www.ASavorySpoonful.comI am really enjoying sharing ideas and experiences, and even did a post about homemade goodies and some swap info. This blog is opening up my eyes to seeing the world around me differently not only with food, but with people, places, experiences, and nature. When I cook, it takes me to another world - very relaxing, yet focused. I now find similarly that when I am blogging it gives me another escape to a place where I might make others inspired or happy by what I have done. I would love to learn what blogs or projects others fellow swappers are working on since we seem to all share some similar interests.   
Cathy has shared a recipe for Red Wine Caramel Sauce!
Red Wine Caramel Sauce

1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 cup full-bodied red wine (personally I recommend a meritage/blend) 
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. butter

Scrape the seeds from the halved vanilla bean into a pan, then add the pod and wine. Simmer over medium heat until wine is reduced to about 1 half which will take roughly 10 minutes. Discard the vanilla pod (or for an extra treat- drop the vanilla pod into a small container of regular sugar and after a month discard it – it makes lovely vanilla flavored sugar for your coffee, etc.).
Remove from heat and carefully pour in the wine – you will see it steam and bubble. Simmer and stir until any hardened bits dissolve and the sauce thickens, approx. 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and serve warm, or you can cool it on the counter and then pour into jars. Makes about 1 cup. I would use it within a couple of weeks unless you are processing the jars. Enjoy this on fruit, ice cream, or yogurt, or drizzle over your favorite dessert.