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.

As luck has it, after writing my first post I was able to come into some local cheese from a neighbor. Yes, the thought to sit and eat the whole pound crossed my mind, but instead I decided to integrate it into my first major recipe for my fellow interns.

I decided that I was going to cook a dish that would be a representation of myself reinterpreted using all local and organic foods available at Taino Farm and neighboring farms.

I crossed the three following ideas, they should be relatively familiar to most, to create something unique. The recipes I combined were those of an eggplant parmesan, vegan lasagna, and a french peasant dish known as ratatouille.

I give you Ratatouille Parmesana

(shout out to local artist Samantha Chilvers for helping inspire this dish)

Used all local organic and sustainable farm carrots, potatoes, eggplant and local cheese similar to mozzarella.

Combined that with a variant of marinara using tomatoes, sweet peppers, and herbs from our personal garden (basil, oregano, sage, chives, and garlic greens

This dish was inspired from my italian upbringing where we ate lots of pasta with marinara. Chicken parm is also one of our holiday traditions and I wanted to take those flavors and create something truly unique here at the farm. Sadly this picture does not do it justice but this place came out spectacular and was a huge hit.

For the full break down and recipe please send me an email at tainofarm@gmail.com and I’ll have it written up and sent. Same goes for any dish of method I explain in all of my posts. Don’t be shy. I would love to hear about recreations or variations. Inspire me to inspire you.

Taino Farms, located in the picturesque town of Los Brazos within the Espaillat Province of the Dominican Republic, is a chef’s inspirational zen garden.  Matter of fact, it could be any food enthusiast’s inspirational playground.

My name is Matthew Arnold and I am chef, foodie and culinary enthusiast.  There is not a type of food that I am not interested in or don’t want to learn to cook.  Since I arrived at the farm 2 weeks ago, I have been brimming with new and creative spins to my vastly growing repertoire of recipes. My apologies for not getting this blog up and running sooner but the overwhelming amount creativity, tranquility, and inspiration that exudes from this farm and the townspeople located here has kept me otherwise occupied. But here we go (better late than never).

Locals here grow and raise such a variety of fruit, vegetables, and livestock that the combinations of dishes seems to be endless. At Taino Farm alone we are currently producing 35+ different fruits, vegetables, herbs, greens, and livestock.  We are producing things such as, but not limited to, eggplant, cucumber, thai basil, oregano, sage, habaneros, kale, mustard green, chicken, turkey, tilapia; the list goes on and on. (for full list of available in season items email tainofarm@gmail.com)

My hope for this blog is to inspire you to play and have fun with your cooking, to take the things from here and begin to tweak them to your own liking, take variations of what I have done and show me really what different cooks can collaborate on and bring together. Being inspired to make things that you never thought to attempt before. SHOW ME WHAT YOU DO!! I want to see anything you cook involving organic, locally grown, and whole foods.  What you do inspires me and with any luck what I do will inspire you.

One of my first few days I found myself laying back and trying to collect my thoughts and organize all the things I had seen here at Taino Farm into a dish that would that would represent me to my fellow coworkers and the staff here. I felt that my first big dish needed to really show them a side of my cooking that drew from both my personal tastes as well as incorporate all this farm has to offer. You know, sometimes you just need to step back and take a look at what’s around you, the larger picture, to find your own direction (thanks dad for that one). This is exactly what I did.

The dish will be explain in the following blog. For the actually recipe with full details please send an email to tainofarm@gmail.com and ask me 🙂

Life on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic is pretty good. There is a little bit of everything for everyone here. The countryside is lush and the beaches are beautiful. I personally love going from our little tropical sustainable farm to the tourist haven of Cabarete. Here at the farm, we tend to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  It’s sort of like back to the basics – farm, harvest, read, learn, share meals and enjoy communal living. The stress level couldn’t be any lower, really. When need be, a quick trip across to the other side and we have it all; good waves, wind almost any given day, parties, fancy restaurants, tons of good people and loud noises.

It’s in our human nature to pick and choose what we enjoy in life.  Different people make for different lifestyles. I personally enjoy a balance in between these two environments and love observing how it affects my personal well-being and the people around me.

Me harvesting arugula

Me harvesting arugula

View from Extreme Hotel on a beautiful windy day. Only one person on the water.

View from Extreme Hotel on a beautiful windy day. Only one person on the water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other day as I came back to the farm after spending a few days at the Extreme Hotel on Kite Beach, Cabarete, I was doing some catching up on the farm life with our lovely and down to earth Farm Coordinator Rhianna. Rhi spends most of her time here at the farm because she truly enjoys every minute of it. It doesn’t mean that you won’t find her out occasionally dancing bachata till 4 in the morning, but the farm is where she calls home.

IMG_2768

Kale seeds and Rhi watering the garden

People that have chosen the farm lifestyle are not by any mean different than others but let’s say that they do tend to enjoy different things in life …  As we were chatting about what needed to be done for the next few days all of a sudden Rhi got really excited and announced that we had just received brand new cow manure for our garden beds and food forest. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. It was adorable. Rhi was talking about cow poo the way some girls would talk about a new shoe collection or fancy handbags. Yup, the simple pleasures of life, I said. And then she laughed, not even realizing how excited she sounded speaking about this natural fertilizer.

IMG_2773

Look at all that beautiful cow manure!

Times are good at the farm and so are the fruits of our labours.  Life breathes here in its most simple form. Every moment is perfect. Thanks for the reminder Rhi.

-written by J-S L’Heureux, farm/hotel intern

 

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.