Black Dog Produces Spices Of Life
Janine Lynne grows fruit, herbs and spices on her family’s 2-acre farm for a line of condiments and spice blends called Black Dog Farms. A 300-square-foot certified ag processing kitchen sits on the property. Here, with a view of the orchard, Lynne makes six tantalizing hot sauces, eight flavorful mustards and 16 aromatic spice blends, which can be purchased at The Market at Common Ground, Harvest Market in Hanalei and at the Waipa Farmers Market.
Roasted Lemon Gourmet Hot Sauce is thick, pale yellow and tastes of concentrated lemon with garlic and onions. There’s a little heat with a lingering, slow burn. There’s also a hint of bitterness at the front. That’s because after the lemons are roasted, the pulp is removed and the rind is used, similar to Moroccan preserved lemons.
“I use Roasted Lemon in salad dressings and soups,” says Lynne. “It’s really good in fish salads. I make a Greek scramble with eggs, spinach and feta, and it’s amazing. It’s better as an ingredient than a topping.”
Citrus Curry is flecked with chili pepper flakes and flavored with Black Dog Farms Island Curry Spice Blend, which is made with turmeric Lynne grows on her farm. A tangy vinegar base along with lime and orange juice make the sauce a little loose. Garlic and ginger add to the punch.
“I make a lot of rice bowls, and this one is perfect for that,” explains Lynne, “as well as any rice or Indian dish.”
One taste of Lilikoi Lava, made with purple lilikoi grown on the farm, sends strong hits of passion fruit dancing along my tongue; a smoldering heat quickly follows. It’s so fiery, my ears burn a little. A touch of mango makes it thick, and honey makes it a little sweet.
Although not certified, Black Dog Farms is dedicated to organic farming techniques.
Shortly after the Lynne family moved from Bellingham, Wash., to Santa Cruz, Calif., their 4-year-old son Dylan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Since treatment for ALL is close to three years, Janine dropped out of graduate school to take care of her son, and decided to farm full time.
Back in Bellingham, another mother of a child with ALL noticed that there were a lot children in the pediatric hospital, also from the Bellingham area, being treated for the same type of cancer. After months of research, she alerted state officials of a potential pediatric cancer cluster, which was ultimately connected to a deadly pesticide used in the ’70s at numerous raspberry farms.
“I always grew my own food and we drank filtered water,” recalls Lynne. “But I didn’t think about the bathwater. Every night I gave my young son a warm bath in contaminated water.”
No class action suit was filed because the county’s cancer registries were sorted by ZIP code, thus eliminating all but two victims. Most were spread throughout the county, including a few, who, like Dylan, moved shortly before diagnosis. Today, Dylan is a healthy 19-year-old attending Kaua’i Community College. His battle inspired Janine’s 15-year quest for growing and cooking organic food.
“I used to make mustard with my grandpa,” says Lynne, who once grew mustard for seeds, but now imports them from Canada. “He made the traditional Eastern-European burn-your-sinuses-off mustard. I tone mine down because most people don’t like it that hot.”
Island Spice Mustard has chunky bits of softened mustard seed, and a pungent flavor, almost like Chinese mustard or horseradish. It makes an excellent dipping sauce for egg rolls, and Lynne says it goes well with grilled sausages, sweet potatoes, rice dishes, meat and tofu.
Limes grown on the farm infuse Jamaican Lime Mustard with zesty flavor. The mustard is mild, and once the zippy sensations subside leave a warm, sweet finish. Black Dog Farms Jerk Seasoning, made with allspice grown on Lynne’s farm, is added to the mustard.
The Pineapple Honey Mustard has a mild mustard taste and big pineapple flavor, aided by chunks of fresh pineapple. A touch of soy sauce adds a pleasant savory taste. Lynne says it pairs well with ham, spicy sausages, potatoes, sandwiches, and it makes a fine marinade when mixed with oil and vinegar.
Throughout her farming career and Dylan’s illness, Lynne says she learned an important approach when it comes to food.
“Europe practices the precautionary principle,” she says. “They banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) because they think you have to prove something is safe before you use it. In the United States, you have to prove something is bad before they stop using it.
“I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do. I do it for my family and everyone else as well.”
Black Dog Farms BlackDogKauai.com Marta Lane is a Kaua’i-based food writer. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.