Story and photo by Pam Woolway
Spices are evocative. No holiday memory is complete without the sweetness of cinnamon, the pepper of allspice or the floral notes of nutmeg.
It’s no wonder the word “passion” came up repeatedly when talking business with farmer and spice maven, Janine Lynne, of Black Dog Farms in Princeville; the name of which she’s taken her fair share of ribbing.
“Locals walk up (to my table) laughing off the bat,” she said of the Tuesday Waipa Farmer’s Market where she sells her aromatic concoctions. “When I began they’d ask if I knew what “black dog meant,” but what I didn’t expect was to be given recipes.”
Humor always in tact, Lynne beams goodwill and well, passion, for what she’s doing on her two and a-half-acre farm where she divines gourmet mustards, sauces, spice blends and most recently, loose teas she calls `Alani Blossom.
“I just couldn’t put the words “black and dog” in front of the word ‘tea,’” she says with a twinkle in her eye.
Lynne’s 5 year-old granddaughter, Sierra, named the farm after Raja, the family dog. Sierra’s portrait of the curly-tailed Catahoula mix became the business insignia.
What was once a hardwood farm, Lynne and husband Sam have transformed into fragrant edibles to include in her creations. The family traded their certified organic farm in Santa Cruz, Calif. for their present digs five years ago, to grow trees bearing clove, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom.
“I love growing food. In Santa Cruz I grew food for the family and sold to friends.”
From the outside, the certified kitchen she had built just for the business looks more cozy-grandma-cottage than industrial kitchen. Trees shade the little cabin; lilikoi vines grapple for purchase on their scaffolding and small potted plants vie for sun on many a flat surface surrounding the cottage. She speaks of each botanical as though it were a family member — confessing her inability to harvest one of the cinnamon trees.
“To harvest the bark you have to cut down the tree,” she said.
Cinnamon bark is peeled from the shoots that spring from the downed tree’s roots.
“I planted another behind the house,” she said. “I see this tree every day. I just can’t cut it down.”
Looking up into the canopy cascading a green umbrella of shade, it’s easy to understand.
For 20 years Lynne’s been making spice blends and mustards, but only in the last two has she transitioned her passion into a business.
“My sister-in-law and I talked about this for years and now it’s happening.”
At market her table draws all the “foodies;” a term associated with people who live to eat rather, than eat to live.
Twisting the lid free of the Moroccan Seasoning, the air comes alive with sultry flavors of the Middle East; foremost, pepper and allspice.
Allspice, also known as Jamaican Bayberry, was so named for its mingled aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and clove, according to the book, “Food” by Waverley Root.
What flies off the shelf though, is her hot sauce.
“I sell out as soon as I make them,” she said. “People buy them by the case. Problem is I can’t get enough peppers.”
Of her 20 or more spice blends the most popular are for barbeque. Also not to be missed are the gourmet mustards boasting flavors like Wasabi Ginger, Pineapple Honey and Island Curry.
Lynne loves every aspect of the business — right down to the drive to market.
“My car is filled with fragrance. It’s intoxicating.”
Besides the Tuesday Waipa market, Lynne sells some of her wares at the Harvest Market in Hanalei Town.
Visit blackdogkauai.com for more information and a cache of recipes.
Moroccan Chickpea Salad
2 -15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped jicama
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 Tbl. olive oil
2 tsp. Black Dog Farms Moroccan Spice Mix
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups baby spinach leaves, cut in strips
Yogurt Dressing (below)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves, optional
Chop the jicama and red onion so they are roughly the same size as the chickpeas. In a medium bowl combine the chickpeas, jicama, onion and olive oil. Sprinkle with Moroccan Spice Mix, salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine. Serve the chickpea salad over a bed of spinach leaves or sometimes I will toss the spinach in with the chickpeas (shredded a little finer). Top with the yogurt dressing and a sprinkle of mint, if using.
1/2 cup thick Greek style plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. fresh orange zest
3 Tbl. orange juice
1 tsp. local honey
In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, orange zest, orange juice and honey.
Variations: Switch red onion for diced cucumber, or add chopped avocado. Black Dog Farms North African Spice Mix can replace the Moroccan Spice Mix.
For more recipes visit blackdogkauai.com/recipes.html