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Farm Life in the Dominican Republic.

Here at Taino Farm, from time to time we get to experience the delight of sharing a glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic with one of our guests. Guest blogger Ny-Ann Nolasco wrote us and and shared about her experience here!

Overview from the main building at Taino Farm

Overview from the main building at Taino Farm

During my stay in the Dominican Republic, I had the opportunity to work on Taino Farms for a day as a hybrid intern and tourist and get a glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic.  Working on the farm had many wonderful surprises; learning how unfit I was for anything that required exerting effort was not one of them.  I’d never worked on a farm before and I even unfriend people who invite me to “Farmville” on Facebook.

Clearing the bases of the trees so they can grow!

Clearing the bases of the trees so they can grow!

Every time I lifted the hoe to clear off weeds around the tree, I wished there was an app for it. It didn’t take long before I realized my glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic was also a form of agricultural Crossfit.  When you lift and push a wheel barrow, you just have to tuck your elbows in and it’s a kind of triceps workout.  When you cut down a branch with a saw, you Use your hips! or Use your knees!  Going up to the kitchen at Taino Farm was like going up the eff’ng stair masters.  Mountain climbers??? How about you climb the hill that gets you to the river? A glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic was an authentic workout experience, filled with huffing, puffing and cussing.

Piggy and the steps up to the Kitchen

Piggy and the steps up to the Kitchen

There are guys in the gym who lift 200 lbs of <whatever it is they’re lifting>, but me, the only “200” I do is type 200 words per minute in my ergonomically set up office – the kind of office that reduces the repetitive stress injury so that you can repeat the same stressful activity over and over again. I was definitely out of my element at the farm.  I wanted to “work on a farm” because it was a romanticized thought in my head: working with my hands… working hard… under the sun…  Turns out working with your hands means getting knee deep in dirt, working hard means pouring out sweat and under the hot sun means slathering yourself with sunscreen. Though I underestimated how difficult it would be to do those things, my glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic showed me that the idealized phrases amounted to more than just a lot of shaking muscles, but also a whole lot of pride at the end of the day.  Every time I cut a branch with a saw (granted it was about the size of a quarter), I felt like I WON!  And I happily proclaimed it to the tree and the surrounding goats.

Piggy and a baby cow are a lovely glimpse into farm life in the Dominican Republic

Piggy and a baby cow are a lovely glimpse into farm life in the Dominican Republic

At the end of the day, do I fit in at the farm?  Absolutely!  It was so much fun being out there learning about plants and pruning principles and methods of cutting branches to avoid pests and diseases, all while learning Spanish too!  And it was even more fun eating the produce.  A glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic doesn’t leave your stomach lacking. Hungry? Grab a starfruit from the nearest tree.  Walking back to the main house? Grab a lemon mangosteen from the nearest tree.  Working? Grab a banana from the nearest tree.  Resting? Grab an abiu from the nearest tree! I’m not quite “fit” enough to be really efficient in the farm yet, but if you work hard and enjoy it, you’ll fit right in with the crew, the goat, the cows, the chickens, and Piggy, the beloved farm dog. My glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic definitely made me want to go back!

Gotta love this beautiful river and the location right at Taino Farm is supreme!

Gotta love this beautiful river and the location right at Taino Farm is supreme!

The best part of the day?  Jumping in the river.  I’m reluctant to even tell you about this well kept secret because you might end up going there and crowding the isolated, cool, and amazingly wonderful river!

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Fresh Cheese Recipe

Taino Farm and eXtreme Hotel’s Organic Cookbook is a resource that we are sharing 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!

Fresh Cheese Recipe

 

Taino Farm's fresh cheese in the making!

Taino Farm’s fresh cheese in the making!

Making homemade cheese is easier than most think. It is fresh and delicious, and not quite as sour as most store bought varieties. Once you have fresh cheese, it is hard to go back to the store bought stuff. You will need cheesecloth, or some similar type fabric to strain the whey out of the cheese.

Ingredients:

2 litres full fat milk GL

2 tablespoons lemon juice GL

Salt & pepper Fresh herbs GL

 

Ingredients for our fresh cheese ready to go.

Ingredients for our fresh cheese ready to go.

1.) Put milk in a large pot over medium heat. Slowly heat, stirring regularly.

2.) Bring the milk to an ‘almost’ boil (you can use a thermometer and heat to 175 degrees fahrenheit. When it starts to bubble, remove from heat and let sit a few minutes.

Raw milk from our cows at Taino Farm being heated to make fresh cheese.

Raw milk from our cows at Taino Farm being heated to make fresh cheese.

3.) Stir in the lemon juice. Milk should be starting to separate, or curdle.

4.) Let the temperature of the mixture drop until you can easily put your finger in it (warm bath temperature).

5.) Milk should be completely separated by now. Line a colander with 4- 6 layers of cheesecloth. Slowly pour the mixture through the colander, separating the whey and the cheese curd. The liquid that is left over is called the ‘whey’ and can be used in bread in lieu of water, or used in smoothies. It is very high in protein.

Draining the curds from the whey to make our fresh cheese.

Draining the curds from the whey to make our fresh cheese.

6.) The curd that remains in the cheesecloth will need to drain for a few hours. The best way to do this is to tie it up tightly in the cheesecloth, and place it in a colander or strainer over top of a bowl. Place a weight of some type on top for a few hours to let the remaining liquid come out.

7.) When the cheese has drained, put in a bowl, and add salt to taste. It generally takes a fair amount of salt to make a flavorful cheese.

8.) Chop up the fresh herbs (basil, tarragon….) and put them in the bottom of a small plastic container, and top with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Squish the cheese on top, put the lid on the container and flip over to let the herbs and oil drizzle down the cheese. Let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.

9.) Serve with fresh bread, and a bottle of wine. Enjoy!

Delicious fresh cheese ready to be enjoyed by all!

Delicious fresh cheese ready to be enjoyed by all!

Thanks to Kelsey Rush for the original recipes! Post and photos by Lynsey Wyatt.