Blog

Farm to Table Thanksgiving

As an American traveling during this time of year there are holidays that I will miss back home. Last week was Thanksgiving and I had the opportunity of a lifetime to cook a fully farm to table Thanksgiving meal for friends and their families here at Taino Farm in the Dominican Republic.

 

On this day we had owner, friends and family present. All guests were able to come to the farm, go on a tour of our fully organic permaculture and aquaponics systems, as well as led on a river float that shows them the serine side to living in this remote location in the tropics.

 

Now while not everything from the traditional American Thanksgiving is available here in Los Brazos or on the farm, I was able to make extremely similar variations of the meals I grew up eating for this heartwarming holiday. Below I will list all the dishes that I made for the holiday with a few of the basic ingredients that I used for each; I apologize ahead of time for not having a picture of all the dishes. I got a bit caught up in the cooking and entertainment of my guests, after all it is a holiday to surround yourself with friends and enjoy their company.

 

Turkey: Organic free range, raised here on the farm, was cleaned and broken down into a stew that I simmered for 8 hours with potatoes, carrots, onions, and herbs (all from our garden here). Lets just say it melted of the bones!!

 

Stuffing: Turkey broth mixed with local dried bread, carrots, celery, and herbs. Cooking for this many, I had to make the stuffing in batches outside of the turkey rather than having the whole birds stuffed.

 

Salad: Collected greens from our garden and made a mix available. I used kale, arugula, lettuce, mustard greens, hibiscus, basil and mint.

 

Dressing: Topped the salad with a STAR FRUIT MANGOSTEEN VINAIGRETTE!!!

 

Cornbread: What kind of holiday would it have been had I not made Cast Iron Cornbread served with our blend of local honey and local butter.

 

Green Beans: A simple dish using the beans we grow in the garden with our onions and sweet peppers to create a refreshing side dish that still brought green beans to the table.

 

Deviled Eggs: Used avocado and yolks as the base and added spicy mustard greens, basil, and topped with fresh tomato.

 

Mashed Yucca: For a dominican play on mashed potatoes I used local Yucca, a starchy tuber grown all over and consumed by all dominicans, and mixed with garlic, butter and chives.

 

Pumpkin Pie: What would this holiday be without PUMPKIN PIE to finish everything off.  From scratch making the crust as well as the filling. We grew the pumpkin, ginger, clove, cinnamon, and rest of the spice blend, and I aquired local sugar cane and local honey.

 

To put it bluntly, this holiday rocked. Everyone had a great time and I was able to showcase an exorbitant amount of organic foods all grown here at the farm to one of the best groups of friends around.
A special thanks to Matt and his family for collaborating on this event with me. Truly thankful for all your help and support.

Community Inspired Coconut Bouillabaisse

Here at Taino farms we have a great working relationship with the community and our local staff members. It is because of them that we are able to come to Los Brazos to work, learn, live, and integrate and because they mean so much to the success of the operation I wanted to show my appreciation in my own way.

 

Being a cook and food enthusiast I thought it appropriate to cook them an over the top meal.  Of course we are in their culture so the dish I decided to make for them had dominican flare.

 

Upon the farm we have an intricate aquaponics system running to produce certain foods in an organic and sustainable manner and one of the main proponents of that system in Tilapia. Tilapia byproducts become the food for the plants and the plants filter the water for the tilapia. It is an sustainable system that put Taino Farm ahead of others.

 

In celebration of both our staff and the products of this system I created baked tilapia filets, fish head soup with coconut bouillabaisse.

 

 

(for the full recipe please email me at [email protected])

 

All parts of the tilapia were used and nothing was wasted in the creation of this dish. With any unused parts of the fish I made a simple fish broth in which we used to create future soups.

 

Inspiration for this meal comes from the local people of Los Brazos and the amazing system they help maintain that allows up a fruitful bounty. It is them we thank, them we celebrate and they who inspire things like this.  

Chicken and Tarro Medley

As we are always trying to re-purpose things here and find multiple uses, sustainability and all, I thought I would show you what I decided to do with leftover chicken. Now because I would never want to waste the life of an animal, yes its parts of the circle of life, today’s dish was re-purposed chicken.

Here I was literally pulling off scraps of chicken from the bones including all parts, tendons, cartilage, anything edible. Again my aim was to not waste a single scrap. Leftover bones became the base for a chicken stock that I can re-purpose in many other ways in the kitchen.

Inspiration for the dish started when a staff member showed me that you can dig up the root of a plant I had never seen and explained to me that we could cook it. I had never seen it before, but it turns out that it was Taro Root.  A tuber that grows at the base of a plant with wide broad leaves.

NOTE: when cooking with taro root always be sure to boil or cook thoroughly. It has high levels of calcium oxalate crystals (can cause kidney stones), and the crystals can cut up your tongue and throat leaving a tingling sensation.

Using this starchy root vegetable and the leftover chicken, mixed with other herbs and other vegetables available here on the farm I make this soup.

Now because I like to cook with fats, due to the immense flavor, this dish had all of the vegetables cooked in chicken fat that had risen to the top of the preserves stock from the previous day. You do not need to do this, I just did it as a treat for myself; I splurged on something unhealthy, shoot me haha.

This dish turned out great and was a huge success. If you modify your own version please get back to me with details I would love to hear about them.

For my full recipe please email me at [email protected] and as always be inspired in the kitchen and don’t be afraid to tweak standard recipes to make them your own, unique.

Raw Vegan Summery Cucumber Soup

Guess who got even more cucumbers from the harvest today?! This guy!! Luckily we are drawing to the end of the life span of the crop we have and will be turning the bed over to nitrogen fixers like white beans, but this mean we get to do another cucumber dish.

Now don’t pout, today’s dish is a twist on the light and summery Cucumber Soup!! Now while it may not be hot and sunny where you are right now, just place this blog in your back pocket and break it out for a summer picnic and surprise your friends with this cool and refreshing dish.

This dish is raw and vegan diet friendly, but will make others just as please.

Harvested every bit of this soup base from our garden at Taino Farm. We have Cucumbers, chives, garlic chives, sweet peppers, mint and sweet basil.

De-seed cucumbers and rough chop them along with the rest of the ingredients. Blend all together and let chill.  As a Taino twist we added a bit of coconut oil in the soup as well as drizzled some on top for that added sweetness.

Here is the final dish!!!

I hope you enjoy. A note should be added that while our version had both basil and mint, that you can very easily omit one or the other for a more singular flavor that accentuates just one herd at a time.

Let me know what you come up with. I would love to hear about twists, and I await your inspired creations.

 

Sustainable Food Preservation Cont.

To continue further with the topic of preserving methods we previously talked about, today’s blog will be on one of the easiest methods of saving vegetable, pickling.

Here at Taino Farm I have brought in the concept of the quick pickle method. It is super simple. The basic method is just submerging thinly sliced vegetables in a solution of water and vinegar (usually around a 3:1 ratio)

This method will hold the food over for weeks and you can make variations of seasoning blends to accompany the primary pickling vegetable to enhance its flavor!!!

Recently we had a large harvest of cucumbers, not normal pickle size as you can see, and I created this very simple quick pickle that can be used for an assortment of other vegetables as well as the cucumbers I used.

To make the pickling liquid find a appropriate sized container for whatever you intend to pickle, in my case i used a medium sized tupperware, and fill it ⅔ the way full with a 3:1 ratio of water to white vinegar. (you can use apple cider vinegar as well)

To flavor my quick pickled cucumbers I used local organic red onions and red peppers ¼ inch diced, salt, sugar, and black pepper corns grown here at the farm.

Make sure that you have the vegetable fully submerged, then cover and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour and as long as a couple weeks. It’s common practice for the staff here to take out small bits as desired for meals and let the remaining portion continue to pickle. Here we also like to keep the same liquid base across many batches and allow it to accumulate more  flavors adding to the depth of the pickling liquid flavor.
You can modify this in countless ways by either changing the water to vinegar ratio, adding hot peppers, or simple using different vegetables as the primary ingredient.