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Taino Farm Ceviche

You know what’s definitely one of the most exciting things that I experience at the farm?

Breakfast time!

I absolutely LOVE everything about it. Even thinking about it while I’m writing this, I have the biggest smile on my face. I really wish there were more words to describe this feeling of pure happiness that comes from breakfast time here at Taino Farm.

So now imagine…

I wake up with the sound of roosters crowing and chickens clucking just before sunrise. This is also the time when the air is the coolest (for Caribbean standards anyway). The sound is also accompanied by a donkey’s HEE-HAW and the cows’ mooooos and the sheep’s baaaaas. Lying in bed listening to all of these farm noises is the first entertaining moment of the day. It simply makes me laugh to realize where I am. After this I’m ready to go and get ingredients for breakfast. No, not from a market, but right outside from our sustainable farm.

This morning just when I went out from our main house:

Donkeyboy
Now, let’s visit the chicken crib

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Chickens

Yep, looks good enough. Let’s get them eggggsss

Then, let’s pick up some dragon kale (also known as dinosaur kale or tuscan Kale)

Kalebed

aah…. Truly organic

We’ll add two types of mustard greens to spice things up (Tendergreen and Green Wave)

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And arugula

Arugula

 

Aaalright, so …

KalebowlChop, chop, chop it all up, add some onion, chives, and salt. Whisk, stir and vooooooilaaa!

Breakfast egg
Delicious, organic, homegrown scrambled egg & kale breaky

Okay, so the only thing that’s not organic is the bread.  But, hey, finding balance in life is what to strive for (as restricting something will make you crave it!)

Even the cheese is organic and homemade by our vecinos ( neighbours).

All of it is so rich in taste, it’s ridiculous. I mean, I feel like a big part of my life has been a lie (food wise!).

Just one last thing … I need some milk for coffee. So I run down the stairs and catch our staff member Victor who just milked one of his cows.

Freshmilk

Fresh as it gets, people!

You see how breakfast is not just breakfast anymore? So much excitement, appreciation and gratitude is involved. Since arriving here I’ve noticed being more present – I feel that connection with nature (and specifically food) that I missed so much. It’s this that is making me feel more alive every moment I’m here and getting me into the swing of farm life.

When you live on a farm and are able to eat food that you grow or raise yourself, you have a very different connection to what is on your plate. At Taino Farm, we try to base our meals on what is available. Eating this way can be a challenge as it requires some creativity; you think of ways to cook with what you have instead of basing meals on what you feel like and buying the ingredients. However, the reward is huge. When I eat food straight from our garden, not only do I notice the intense difference in taste by eating the freshest food possible, but there is a sense of pride that comes with being a part of the process of growing it – from planting to harvesting. I swear food tastes better just knowing that you were there helping it grow along the way.

Besides growing fruit and vegetables, we have animals including chickens, turkeys, cows, sheep and the fish in our aquaponics system. By raising animals in a sustainable, respectful and very humane way, we hope to provide omnivores with sustainable food options. When we have volunteers, a common want is to have more of a connection to the food they eat and this often includes meat. Our most recent volunteer, Andreas from Sweden, had the ambition to learn how to butcher a chicken. He feels that this is an important skill for all meat eaters to have. I asked him to write about the experience. The following excerpt is written by Andreas. It is not necessarily the opinion of Taino Farm, but we respect and appreciate volunteers having the courage to share their experience by writing for us.


Today I learned how to kill, pluck and prepare a rooster.

I think the killing itself is something we in the west are so distant from that we find the act itself repulsive and sickening, but it’s important to relearn how to prepare your own food and all aspects of it. On a farm you kill what you need to eat. You don’t kill for fun. We also try to use the most humane possible way of doing this – ways that are the least stressful for the animal in comparison to factory farmed meat that most people in the western world eat on a daily basis.

Meat bought at the supermarket is rarely local and the life of that animal has been, to say the least, horrible. The amount of fossil fuels that have gone into transporting, packaging and cooling the meat and the amount of non biodegradable styrofoam packaging and plastic wrapping that comes with it is a wasteful and unsustainable practice. It is a reminder of how society has long ago become detached from nature.

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Juan Carlos and Andreas just before eating the farm fresh meal

We see our chicken fillets in the meat desk of the supermarket and somehow the connection between a living animal and our food in the toxic wrapping we buy is lost.

What happens if the world economy collapses and people don’t know how to kill and prepare their own food? Will we go vegetarian by default?

We are in the hands of big multinational corporations that control not only our food supply but print money out of “thin air” and keep us docile by poisoning everything we touch, wear, brush our teeth with, and use to wash our clothes and bodies. You name it – everything you think of contains poison that does not need to be there! And soon enough clean drinking water will not even be a human right anymore.

Bottom line, if we can’t kill and prepare our own food that we know has had a good life on our own or a neighbour’s farm, that is organic, sustainable, and part of the life we had always lived before the coming of industrialism and the discovery of oil, then we should stop eating meat at all.”

by Andreas Nordgren

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.