We were glad to have a shoot for a national restaurant chain this week, after a longer interval than usual. It was all drinks, and done on short notice, with happy results for all. We photographed a Mango Orange Punch, a Strawberry Margarita, and Strawberry Mango Lemonade.
Four times annually the crew from Dierbergs comes to the studio for the Everybody Cooks magazine photography. They are one of my longest standing clients, more than 25 years now.
In three days we shoot everything from roasts to cocktails. I love the variety of subject matter and the challenge of creating a mouthwatering photo every time.
We photographed a stack of pancakes with some strawberry/rhubarb sauce being poured over it, and got it in one take! Good example of a little luck and a little skill.
Our gallery opening last Friday was an unqualified success, in my opinion. We had a good turnout, and our guests seemed to have a good time. I estimate that we had about 120 people throughout the evening, which went well past the 8:00 pm finish. The food was extra special, because Françoise and Pat contributed some wonderful dishes: terrine of venison, pork rillettes, Moroccan carrots, fougasse, pretzel bites, and whole grain bread. My contributions were endive stuffed with celery root remoulade, pickled vegetables, and various cheeses, olives, and salumi. Barb made some chocolate chip cookies for dessert, which were supplemented by Françoise’s almond brittle. People liked the wine apparently, because we ran out of red and Max had to make an emergency trip to my cellar at home to replenish the supply.
The collages made by Françoise are small masterpieces of creativity and imagination. She is able to tell a story with a few scraps of paper and objects found in nature. Due to the light sensitivity of her art, it will be taken down tomorrow afternoon, so it was so good that a large group got to see it.
Nancy’s work was also well received. One of the images that provoked the most discussion was the one below:
I’ve always said that a party is only as good as its guests, and we had the best guests the other night. Thanks to all who attended. Thanks also to our team of bartenders, Max, Tyler, and Jo. There are a few more photos in a slideshow here, courtesy of Greg Landrum.
We are hopeful that there will be a good turnout at our Gallery Opening tonight. The studio is spiffed up, and this afternoon we will get ourselves a little spiffed up.
We are really looking forward to the next gallery opening event at the studio, which will be Friday, January 18 from 5 to 8 p.m.
In the entry gallery I will have new prints from my trip to the Dominican Republic with the Pujols Foundation, where I documented the work that Deidre and Albert Pujols are doing for the people in the village of Batey Aleman and surrounding area.
I am very excited to show the work of my friend Françoise Chabot Lennon in the upstairs space because it will be art in a different medium from photography. She creates collages from paper and found materials, and is a skilled forager. I’ll always remember the Easter Sunday in Provençe when she and her husband Patrick came back to our cottage with 60 morel mushrooms. Françoise is a native of France, where her work has been published in children’s books and greeting cards.
My colleague Nancy Stevens has been busy with personal work, both with her regular camera and iPhone, and will show some new work in the client area of the studio.
Hope to see many of our friends that night!
Christmas came early this year at the studio. We were honored to host a bacon cook off for our friends at Checkmark, and Barb and I got to be judges. The third judge was Liz Schuster, executive chef of Tenacious Eats.
Like many people, I love all things bacon, which is my only qualification as a judge. That, plus the fact that I have a chef coat with my name on it. There were 15 entries, plus a few bacon items that were served separately from the competition. One of my favorites in the un-judged category was the bacon martini.
I was very impressed with the overall quality of the entries, especially the diversity of items. Sweet, savory, and umami were all covered. The cheftestants were encouraged to use the Steve Adams Studio prop wall, which they did thoughtfully.
We had three criteria to judge: best tasting, best presentation, and most unusual use of bacon.
There is a web gallery of the contestants and some of the guests here.
And the winners were:
Best Taste: Libby Davidson – Baconation
Best Presentation: Tish Dickson – Cuppies
Most Unusual Use of Bacon: Amy Shiller-Brown – PB and JJ (Peanut Butter and Jalapeño Jelly wrapped in bacon)
People’s Choice Award: Laura Tomlinson – Bacon shack
We did a shoot recently for Moist and Meaty packaging, and one of the requirements was to use beef cheeks for the ground meat, since that is what goes into the product. It was surprisingly difficult to find beef cheeks, because most cows when processed do not include the head. After several phone calls to local farmers, butchers, and meat processors, we found cheeks available from Swiss Meats in Hermann, Missouri. They shipped some ground beef cheeks as well as whole. I decided it would look best if we freshly ground the meat right before shooting. My friend Walt has a grinder that we used for sausage making earlier this year, and he was kind enough to loan it to us. The large grind looked great, and did not even change much over time.
To paraphrase Chico Marx, “why a turkey”? Our spinning teacher was lamenting the fact that she had two Thanksgiving dinners to attend on consecutive days, and it would be the same at both houses – turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, etc. So why do we celebrate holidays with turkey? According to an article in Slate, there are many practical reasons, including the fact that chickens were useful for eggs, cows were more valuable alive than dead, and other options like venison required hunting. Turkeys born in the spring would be ready to eat by Thanksgiving, reaching a weight of 10 pounds or so by eating insects and worms on the farm. As for the sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, that is too deep a question for this forum.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with Barb’s family in Carmi, Illinois. Besides the turkey, we had roasted root vegetables (with sweet potatoes), brussels sprouts with bacon, dressing with herbs and mushrooms, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberry relish.
Last night was the party for DART St. Louis, where results of the photo project were shown.
Each participant threw a dart at a map of St. Louis, and had a few weeks to go to that intersection and photograph what is there, within a one block radius. I enjoyed the project, but since we worked late last night I was unable to attend the party. Nancy represented us well.
Brunswick Stew, Burgoo, Chowder – they are all variations on a traditional dish prepared over a wood fire in a large pot. The word chowder is a derivation from the French word “chaudier” which means copper pot. Ours is cast iron, and belonged to Barb’s Grandad before he gave it to us. I still use his recipe, although I adapt it here and there.
We started the fire about 7:30, and the first things in were the meats and stock. The recipe calls for water, but we use chicken stock for more richness. The meats are whatever one has on hand, and in this case it was beef and chicken. In some years we have used lamb and turkey. Barb peeled all 15 pounds of potatoes, which go in with all the crushed tomatoes. I took care of the 5 pounds of onions. A variety of other vegetables are added throughout the day, with the final addition of cabbage coming near the end. Once the chowder thickens, it is important to keep stirring so it doesn’t stick. Thankfully, there were many friends and family around to help with that. Our daughter Emily and her husband came from DC, son Max from STL, and our friends Mark and Pam and Mark came from Edwardsville and Keyseport. My Dad and Annie came as well.
There was a threat of rain, so Barb’s parents borrowed a large canopy from the local funeral home, to which we added some lights for a very cozy setting.