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Baked Eggplant Recipe

For those of you who missed the announcement, I am working on compiling an awesome new project: Taino Farm and eXtreme Hotel’s Organic Cookbook! Our goal is to create a resource that we can share with our eXtreme Hotel and Taino Farm’s community, as well as the rest of the world! We hope it will help motivate and guide us in our quest to make healthy, amazing food from sustainable resources.

We chose recipes with three things in mind:

1. Are the ingredients grown locally and sustainably? Read about the importance of growing and buying local and organic food in my previous article.

2. Is it affordable and easy to make?

3. Are the ingredients nutritious and delicious?

I’ll be posting the recipes individually on the Taino Farm blog and the whole thing will be available at the end. Look out for a “GL” throughout the recipes to signify which ingredients are grown locally!

 

Slicing eggplant from Taino Organic Farm for a delicious baked eggplant recipe.

Slicing eggplant from Taino Organic Farm for a delicious baked eggplant recipe.

Baked Eggplant

Eggplant Parmigianino is a great go-to at the farm because we have such a steady supply of eggplants. It is usually made with gobs of cheese, however we make a healthier version with tomatoes and pesto for flavor.

2 large eggplants GL

2 onions GL

¼ cup olive oil

3 cups finely chopped tomatoes GL

8 cloves garlic, crushed GL

¾ cup fresh pesto GL

1.)  Slice eggplants long ways, and lay on a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 15 minutes

2.)  Slice onions and slowly sauté in ¼ cup olive oil, over low-medium heat. Add 6 cloves garlic and cook until onions are soft and sweet

3.)  After the 14 minutes are up, pat the eggplant dry with a clean cloth (the salt helps to pull out the excess moisture from the eggplant)

4.)  In a bowl, mix together tomatoes, pesto and salt and pepper

5.)  Lightly oil a 9’ by 13’ baking dish with olive oil.

6.)  Lay the strips of eggplant in the dish, and layer with the tomato/pesto mixture like you would lasagna. If the eggplants are particularly large, you may need to add more tomatoes. Top with fresh pesto and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly and delicious smelling.

Eggplant from Taino Organic Farm topped with fresh pesto made from aquaponic basil grown in eXtreme Hotel's own backyard.

Eggplant from Taino Organic Farm topped with fresh pesto made from aquaponic basil grown in eXtreme Hotel’s own backyard.

Variations:

Baked eggplant can be made with a ground beef Bolognese sauce instead of tomatoes and pesto. Both are delicious. If using a Bolognese sauce, keep it on the light side with lots of fresh tomatoes and onions, and lean meat.

Thanks to Kelsey Rush for the original recipes! Stay tuned for an amazing pesto recipe made from our organic, aquaponic basil!

Photos and post by Lynsey Wyatt.

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7 Things Your Garden Can Teach You About Life

Observing and interacting is the first principle of Permaculture and my personal favorite, as it reminds us to reflect the things we learn in our environment unto ourselves. I’ve put together a list of 7 things your garden can teach you about life. Gardens nurture us in many ways, they are incredibly beneficial to our health and the environment we live in as well being incredible teachers.

Your garden can teach you a lot about life… Stop and smell the flowers!

Your garden can teach you a lot about life… Stop and smell the flowers!

  1. Your garden can teach you we bloom where we’re planted… or we need to be transplanted. Sometimes the solution is not more water, more sunlight or more mulch. The plant is simply unhappy where it is and needs to move somewhere else. If you aren’t happy where you are, don’t let your leaves go brown, find a spot where you can spread your roots and blossom!
    Blooming flower at Taino Farm

    Blooming flower at Taino Farm

  2. Your garden can teach you beauty is not skin deep. The Carribean has a plethora of fruit that from the outside appears ogre ugly, yet is filled with the sweetest exotic sabor. If you take the time to find out what’s inside, you may be surprised by the contents.
    You'd never guess the contents of this beautiful fruit from the outside!

    You’d never guess the contents of this beautiful tropical fruit from the outside!

  3. Your garden can teach you it matters who’s planted beside you. Before planting a garden, it is best to find out which plants grow best together. While planting a garden full of sunflowers may seem like a good idea, space and valuable nutrients are wasted when you grow only one crop. Often, people make the mistake of growing only plants of the same type together. Diversity is an amazing thing, spinach and peppers for example grow well together because peppers provide shade to the spinach and spinach gives the peppers enough room for their root system. People are the same. Though it is easy to stay within our circle of the same “type” of people, we absorb the most “nutrients” when we expand our horizons and allow ourselves to grow with people who are not exactly like us.

    Your garden can teach you to be conscious of who you're planted beside.

    Your garden can teach you to be conscious of who you’re planted beside.

  4. Your garden can teach you pruning is part of growth. Sometimes you have to cut back to reach the next level of productiveness. If you’ve ever learned how to prune a tree, you know it takes more than just cutting off random branches to create the ideal shape. You must anticipate where all of the different limbs of the tree are headed and make an informed decision of where to let it grow and where it is a waste of energy. We all must make difficult decisions about where to put our energy and it is important to see sometimes it is beneficial to take a step back and prune.
  5. Your garden can teach you to appreciate the moment. “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flying and the same flower that smiles today tomorrow will be dying” -Robert Herrick. Appreciation is one of the best ways to tune into the world around you. Our gardens absorb time, energy and nutrients before coming to fruition. When you look at the intricacies of a blooming flower or inside of a fruit, you develop an appreciation for all of the pieces that must work together to create the simplest of things. In that moment, the only thing that physically exists is a flower. However, what you choose to perceive can be so much more. The potential for fruit and the seeds of the past are represented within that moment of time.

    Intern Selin Nurgun soaking in the moment at Taino Farm!

    Intern Selin Nurgun soaking in the moment at Taino Farm!

  6. Your garden can teach you that you reap just what you sow. Eggplants don’t produce tomatoes. You get out what you put into life so be conscious of what seeds you plant in your mind. Cultivate your big ideas and mulch the weeds. Realize that if you want to have a successful garden or a successful life, you are responsible for tending to it and cultivating change.
  7. Your garden can teach you to adapt and respond to change. The only reliable thing in life is change. As the seasons change, everything in your garden goes through phases. The seedlings grow up into big plants and then die and decompose, leaving behind more fertile soil. Humans have a tendency to cling to the past and strive for the future. Unfortunately this often causes stress and disconnection. Living in the moment does not mean falling stagnant, it means taking on the challenges as they come. Allow yourself to adapt and change so you may leave behind more fertile soil for the next seedlings.

Photos and post by Lynsey Wyatt.

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Teaching English in the Community

At Taino Organic Farms, we strive not only to be self-sufficient but also to interact and provide service within our community. Karin Gartnerova has been living and working at Taino Farm for the past six months as well as teaching English in the community of Los Brazos where the farm is located.

English students with Karin, our volunteer community english teacher

Karin lives and works at Taino Farms and has been volunteering teaching English in the local community of Los Brazos.

Before she arrived, she had heard about another woman who had been teaching English in the community and living at the farm. Though the previous volunteer had already left Taino Farm when Karin arrived, her students had not forgotten about the lessons. One day, they showed up at the Taino Farms gate asking about English lessons and Karin decided to volunteer her time and take over teaching English in the community. I’ve had the opportunity to attend some lessons with Karin and have seen first hand what an extraordinary learning opportunity it is for them. The children range in age and ability, however it is beneficial to all as they have the opportunity to learn from Karin and use their knowledge to help one another.

Karin Gartnerova with one of her english students at a lesson in Los Brazos.

Volunteer teacher Karin Gartnerova with one of her english students at a lesson in Los Brazos.

The lessons are somewhat informal, they are open to whoever wants to come and range in size and age. Everyone gathers outside one of the students grandmothers house and people know by word of mouth that Karin is teaching English in the community. ESL classes (also known as English as a second language) provides local students with an opportunity to gain a tool that will benefit their futures.

One of Karin's bright students, Darling, ready to ask a question about English.

One of Karin’s bright students, Darling, ready to ask a question about English.

 

Despite the informality, Karin is an extraordinary teacher and provides the kids with a chance to learn by interacting with all of their senses. Karin’s lessons are “hands on” as well as visually stimulating; she uses games, flashcards, speaking and listening comprehension to give the kids an introduction to English. She also assigns small homework assignments that most of the kids complete and return back to her the following lesson. It is a productive outlet for their free time and a wonderful introduction to the language.

Interactive games are a great aid in teaching english in the local community.

Interactive games are a great aid in teaching english in the local community.

Make a contribution to support us teaching English in the local community.

Los Brazos volunteer English teacher, Karin Gartnerova is requesting donations for our local English students! Most school supplies including pencils, notebooks, workbooks, children’s books, flashcards, dictionaries etc, can be put to use. Anything you feel like bringing and will fit your suitcase makes a difference and is greatly appreciated!

 

Karin Gartnerova during a lesson with her local English students.

Karin Gartnerova during a lesson with her local English students.

Photos and post by Lynsey Wyatt.