Sunday, January 31, 2016

Roasted Acorn Squash and Pea shoot Salad



This simple salad allows acorn squash to shine, I made it a few weeks ago with pea shoots and greens from my garden. I am excited to get the farm set up in the coming weeks and start planting feel free to follow along on Facebook - Ladybird Farm  I will be sure to blog about it also. 

Ingredients:


  • one small acorn squash sliced 
  • a dash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • a dash of olive oil
  • a handful of salad greens 
  • a few sprigs of pea shoots 
  • one small orange segmented 
  • a few almonds 
Method:

  1. heat the oven to 400 degrees 
  2. place the sliced acorn squash on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper and roast for 20-30 minutes until soft 
  3. mean while add a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, the juice of an orange and a little salt and pepper to a salad dressing mixer and combine ingredients for the vinaigrette
  4. add a handful of seasonal salad greens to the plate with some orange segments and place the roasted acorn squash on top. One acorn squash should make 2-3 small salad plates 
  5. drizzle the vinaigrette on the top with a few almonds 
  6. enjoy  








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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic


On our recent trip to the Dominican republic we hired a car and visited a lovely mountain town called Jarabacoa popular with the locals as a mountain retreat and I am sure loved by folks from Santo Domingo for weekends to escape the heat and the hustle and bustle of the city. Its about 2 1/2 hours north of Santo Domingo but really pretty far from Punta Cana where many US flights enter the Island probably 4-5 hours. We don't mind one long drive on a trip as truly it allows you to experience the culture and often without longer journeys we miss gems like this. We stayed at Gran Jimena, a small resort style hotel situated next to a rushing river. The sound was so soothing. The restaurant over looked the river and served good food. There was a pool and you can take some horse rides from the hotel, the kids loved this. Its a rural area and felt safe and we enjoyed wandering about the country roads seeing local farms, cows and chickens. 

On the map below you can see its location, Punta Cana is the far right side of the Island if we ever return I hear Samana in the North is lovely and would be an easier drive from Punta Cana. 





One of my favorite things about the Caribbean islands is the roadside fruit and food stands.
 In the mountains we found grapes and strawberries in season.


 A local butcher shop, it doesn't look so appealing to us but I am sure its fresh in many countries including India live animals like chickens are kept at butcher shops and killed as you buy them.



Banana trees the banana's are great on the Island 


 coffee with a view and of course The Dominican republic grows coffee :) in fact the plantations aren't far from this region

 The hotel had a fun wooden bridge to walk over :-) 


 Monfongo I think this is actually a Puerto Rican food its mashed plantain in a nice sauce.

 Breakfast we so enjoyed all the fresh fruits and the poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce were great this is another dish I may have to try and re create 


 The horses :-) 


 On our journey back to the coast they were selling this cornbread like cake so we stopped and got some, pretty good very moist and flavored with cinnamon I think, they also had arepa a kind of fried corn chip. 


My favorite although tiring day of the trip was the drive back from the mountains to the coast it took 4-5 hours and my hubby bravely navigated the small villages the Spanish navigation system helped a lot it would be easy to get lost here and very few people spoke English. I was probably the only white girl for miles :) 
This is a paddy field 


We did get lost slightly but it took us to the Cacao growing area, the little pods that later make chocolate I have seen this previously when we stayed at the Green Castle Estate in Jamaica. 

I stopped the car by the side of the road and took a few minutes to walk into a grove. It was cool, damp and very shaded, similar conditions to how coffee grows, if you look very carefully you can see Cacao blossoms whats amazing is that these are pollinated by a little midge or no see em what we think of as an annoying tiny, biting insect helps give us the gift of chocolate. 

On the topic of chocolate I encourage you to buy special chocolate from small producers who give farmers a fair price its better to nibble and savor a few squares of a quality dark chocolate with a story behind it than over consume mass produced cheap chocolate that may have involved exploiting farmers in Africa, many of whom can't even afford a bar of the chocolate they work so hard to help produce. 
 This lovely field was five minutes outside of the resort in Punta Cana I found the resort nice but overwhelming too many people and I needed to escape the car was a Godsend for me :-) 




Hope you enjoyed a little insight into the beautiful and agricultural diverse Island of the Dominican Republic :-) 

Hugs 


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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dominican Style Creole Fish




The first evening we arrived in The Dominican Republic we stopped in La Romana to eat and we had local grouper in a Creole sauce. Its a simple sauce with onion, bell pepper and tomato and creole seasoning and can make a fast meal. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Santo Domingo - Dominican Republic


We just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic, it was a fun adventure and lovely Island to visit rich in history and agriculture and of course famous Caribbean beaches. When we were planning this trip, we knew we wanted to hire a car and drive to explore the Island and then spend the last few days at a resort over Christmas. Mostly for the kids, the beach access and pools are a plus. However we really aren't resort people I found it to be overwhelming with so many people and truly having the car and being able to leave and drive around was magic for me. I can see the appeal and also understand why others don't venture out of them much it takes guts. We drove all around Jamaica when we visited, also Puerto Rico. I asked a few locals about the plan but to be honest I am not sure they wanted to encourage us to drive around and really the beaches are what most folks go for or organized tours to sight see. 

Like most of the Caribbean Islands alot of the population live in poverty especially in rural areas and live in simple houses, crime is an issue, traffic can be bad in the cities and you have to keep your wits about you. But having said that I don't think many of the Islands are as dangerous as people feel they are and the fear factor is a benefit to the resorts to keep folks on them. 

To truly experience the culture and meet locals exploring is priceless in my opinion. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mince Pies and BIG NEWS


One of my favorite British Christmas treats is mince pies, I often buy them but when I saw the jar of mincemeat in the grocery store the other day I took the plunge and got it and it made me smile that it was made in Lincolnshire my home county in England. These little pies are super easy to make and taste of the holidays with the spiced fruit. 

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