Tag Archives: fresh food

The Last Days of Summer

It’s the last official weekend of the summer so I decided to make use of my free time by making a very easy lunch. With a couple of plum tomatoes, fresh basil, red onion, olive oil, goat cheese and french bread you can make a light and delicious meal!

Fresh Basil

Plum Tomatoes

Enjoy!

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Sun, Sand and Plantains!

In most cases a trip to the Dominican Republic is a guaranteed beach vacation, except if you are staying in Bonao. Bonao is almost directly in the middle of the island and is about 2-4 hours away from the coast. Despite the promise of a long, winding drive through the mountains we managed to make it out to the beach at least once during my stay. On our way to Sousa beach we just had to make a stop for food on the way…

Roadside fruit stand

Oranges

Bananas and a fruit I do not know the name of!

Pineapples

A little banana

Sosua Beach

As we waited for our lunch to arrive we took in the beautiful scenery…

Our table by the beach

Finally, our lunch arrived…

Fish and plantains

Clams for sale

Once we finished our lunch we were ready to relax on the beach…

It was a great day at the beach!

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Will that rooster EVER shut up?

The rooster in our back yard

Every morning the rooster in our backyard would start crowing before the sun came up. In fact, everyone’s backyard roosters starting crowing at the same time and it was hard not to start screaming back at them to shut up! We were not on a farm, so why would there be a rooster in the backyard anyway? But, just because I was not used to having a rooster in my backyard (since I don’t have a backyard) I really had no right to question the rooster at all. The problem was that I lacked a relationship with our extremely loud and proud rooster.

Establishing a connection with our food and the people who grow it is an understanding many of us lack. Unless you grew up on a farm the connection between the chicken on your plate and the chicken in the hen house doesn’t make sense. But, what if the chicken was in your own backyard? Maybe if I could make nice with the rooster and stop telling it to shut up I would be more appreciative the next time I had chicken for dinner. Sadly, this rooster was REALLY loud and we were not able to be friends. So, I decided I would instead befriend my fruits and vegetables.

On my first full day in the Dominican Republic we took a trip to Constanza. This is the community that produces much of Bonao’s fresh fruit and vegetables. To get there we had to drive up, through, around and back down a narrow winding road off the side of the mountain. Yes, this is the kind of two-lane road where if you look out your window you can see how high up you are. Yikes. During the trip we drove by lettuce, cabbage and tomatoes fields and banana and cacao trees. For each field we passed my brother-in-law could provide an explanation of what the crop was. Would you be able to tell the difference between a cabbage and lettuce field simply by driving by it? Or would you know that the picture below is a banana tree?

Bananas

Strawberry Field

Somewhere along our hour drive we made a pit-stop at a roadside strawberry stand. Strawberries are in season and  we were excited to try them. The strawberry stand was located across the road from the actual field. Once they were harvested these women cleaned and prepared them for sale. They had whole berries and strawberry jam to sell, in addition to fresh garlic and oregano.

Strawberries

Strawberries, jam, garlic and onions

Jars of oregano

Later, these strawberries became delicious strawberry muffins. At this point my sister was annoyed with how many pictures I was taking of my food, but don’t they look good?

Although, they were a little gooey they were still delicious!

And the left overs…

Strawberries and bananas

In case these photos made you hungry you should know strawberries are currently in season! Eat up!!

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Moro de Guandules

About 1 hour into my 3 hour flight to the Dominican Republic I was starving! I hadn’t been grocery shopping in weeks and the bagel I ate before leaving for the airport was not cutting it. I was really tempted to break into the 20 pounds of chocolate in my carry-on (all for my candy-hoarding sister), but I didn’t. I wanted food.

Once I arrived in Santiago (where my luggage was x-rayed before leaving the airport… weird) I was greeted by my sister and brother-in-law. The weather in Santiago was gorgeous and I am sure I looked crazy wearing my fleece jacket, scarf and thick socks that was required for the 40 degree weather back in Brooklyn.

During the hour car ride to Bonao I was happy to hear that since my sister had arrive in the DR 6 months ago she had become a very good cook. She promised to feed me once we got home. What she actually fed me that night is a blur, but check out what she made me on day three!

The nice thing about cooking in the DR is that everything you need can be found at your local colmado. A colmado is open-air, roadside store that carries everything you need to make a good meal (and all the coffee you could ever want). In preparation for lunch, the biggest meal of the day in DR, we walked down the block to the colmado and picked up a green pepper, onion, cilantro (with the roots and dirt still attached), tomato and a carrot- all for less than $3 dollars. My sister also went to the butcher to pick up a freshly plucked chicken.

Me at the colmado

Although, most people have a refrigerator in their kitchen, it is often bare. The only items in my sisters fridge was water, butter, jam and juice drinks. Because you buy your food fresh most people only cook enough food for that day leaving nothing to waste or store for leftovers. My sister had a good eye for determining how much food she would need to buy to feed everyone in the house, but on occasion any left overs were given to Homer (the garbage disposal and watch dog).

To make this dish we started with prepping the produce (washing and chopping).

Fresh garlic

Green pepper and cilantro

Red Onion

In the mean time the Guandules and rice should be rinsed with water.

Guandules

Rice

Once the cilantro, red onion, green pepper and garlic (seasoned with Goya Adobo) has been chopped up it will be mixed with the fresh chicken. The chicken should be washed and cut into medium-sized pieces.

Chicken fresh from the butcher

produce and chicken mixed together

Once the vegetables and chicken are mixed together it is time to start cooking the guandules (these could have been cooked while we were prepping the vegetables, but I was busy taking pictures, so my sister was doing most of the work herself).

After the guandules have been washed heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a pot (for 1/2 pound of guandules). When the oil is hot, throw in guandules and stir fry them for 3-5 min. Then add about 2 tablespoons of crushed garlic and about a half cup of onion. Saute for another 3-5 minutes. Then add about 4 cups of water and bring guandules to a boil. Once the pot is boiling you can throw in additional seasonings for flavor (such as a chicken bouillon cube).

As water boils down add the chicken and 8 or so sprigs of cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped green pepper, a couple splashes of hot sauce and soy sauce. If it is still missing flavor, throw in a few dashes of Goya Adobo seasoning to your liking.

Finally, add about 1 and half cups of rice and then let water boil down so that you can see the moist rice, but with no water sitting on top. Turn flame down to low and cap pot and let cook for 15- 20 minutes on a low flame.

While this is cooking slice up your carrot and tomato to make a salad (topped with vinegar, olive oil and a little pepper).

At the end of all your hard work you should end up with something like this…enjoy!

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Mangos in the Morning!

Recently I returned from my first trip to the Dominican Republic and I was delighted by the beautiful fruit that we were able to find everywhere! In the DR it is common to find fruit trees in almost every backyard, but if you are not fortunate to have one fresh fruit and vegetables can be found at any roadside stand. The mango below happened to be my breakfast one sunny morning…

Mango in the Morning!

Fresh Mango

My trip was filled with food (more to come later), lots of coffee and beautiful weather…a great way to get away from the enduring winter weather in Brooklyn. Since the weather was gorgeous all day long we were able to enjoy our meals outside with Homer, the watch dog and garbage disposal, and the loud rooster who shared the backyard. Aren’t they cute? More Dominican food stories to come soon!

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