Soup Kitchen

For the December issue of Chronogram magazine, I visited the Queen’s Galley, a soup kitchen in Kingston, NY that serves free meals three times a day, seven days a week, to anyone who asks. All the food is donated to the kitchen and most of the staff are volunteers. Diane Reeder, the executive director, says she doesn’t know what each meal will consist of until a few hours before it is served. There is one full time chef, a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, and the rest of the kitchen and waitstaff are volunteers. On the Sunday in November when I visited, four CIA students had come to volunteer for dinner service.

Some diners have been regulars since Reeder opened her doors six years ago and some are first-timers to the soup kitchen. All the diners I spoke to said they wouldn’t know how they would eat when their food runs out at home. Read Peter Barrett’s full story, and visit the Queen’s Galley… they are always looking for donations of time, money, and food.

Homemade Crackers

Inspired after two days shooting with a food stylist, food stylist’s assistant, prop stylist, and author, I spent a day cooking in my own the kitchen. Six hours – and several trays – later I have baked what I consider to be one perfect whole wheat cracker. It is a riff on a recipe from Good to the Grain, and it has a satisfying crunch and flavor.

homemade crackers good to the grain food photography

How to Shoot a Cookbook

The author of the current cookbook I am photographing for Clarkson Potter, Alana Chernila, wrote a wonderful piece on her blog about the process of creating the photographs for her book. Read it here.

sage set tray on the set of a cookbook for clarkson potter
I love a set tray. Here are a bunch of sage leaves from the food stylist's garden.

How to Plant Garlic (Audio Slide Show)

Planting garlic is extremely easy. Put single cloves into the ground in the fall, and harvest full bulbs the next summer. A farmer friend came to visit me in Woodstock, NY, and planted garlic in my deer-proof garden. We took photos and captured sound and made this very brief slide show for anyone else who has never planted garlic before.

Watch and listen to the very brief (1.5 min) audio slide show here.

how to plant garlic
Garlic cloves separated from the bulb, ready to be planted

Rooftop Farming

Six floors up, with a view of the Manhattan skyline, the trend of urban farming is exemplified by the Brooklyn Grange. This one-acre farm produces a wide range of vegetables that supply New York City restaurants as well as several weekly farm stands. Ben Flanner and his crew planted the Brooklyn Grange in spring 2010, and plan to expand the farm to more rooftops throughout the city.

Brooklyn Grange urban farmer Ben Flanner
Ben Flanner, head-farmer and co-owner of the Brooklyn Grange, sprays diluted pepermint Dr. Bronner's soap on cauliflower plants to deter aphids.
the Brooklyn Grange is planted on the rooftop of this building
A one-acre farm grows on this rooftop in Long Island City, NY.

Joe Beef Cookbook

Another four-day shoot for the Joe Beef cookbook brings a year of regular visits to Montreal to a close. The book will be published by Ten Speed Press and will be out in September, 2011.

Joe Beef Restaurant Montreal Canada

Fleisher’s Cookbook

Been spending time in the meat locker and crawling around the cutting room floor at Fleisher’s, working on pictures for their upcoming book, to be published by Clarkson Potter.

Fleisher's grass-fed and organic meats cookbook
Sausage grinding plates

Joe Beef Cookbook

Back from another three-day shoot for Joe Beef restaurant in Montreal. We shot dishes in the restaurant, made excursions to the outskirts of Montreal for poutine and hamburgers, and then there was Chinatown to eat jellyfish (and other things “not for Canadians”) with the Joe Beef chef, sous-chefs, and bartender at 3 a.m.

A classic Montreal poutine with fries, gravy and cheese curds
A perfect bite

Butchers with Style

Two of my favorite people, Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura, have finished their internship programs at Fleisher’s and are moving to Los Angeles to open their own sustainable butcher shop. In the next few weeks they are signing the lease on their building, getting married legally in Connecticut, driving across the country, having a wedding ceremony on the west coast, and opening their new shop, Lindy & Grundy’s Meats. I will miss them, but it is California’s gain.

Check out Amy Scattergood’s post on the LA Weekly blog (with more photos of Erika & Amelia).

Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura of Lindy & Grundy's photo by Jennifer May

Kripalu Cookbook

Hot off the press: A cookbook published by the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health – the largest center of its kind in the United States and located in the rolling hills of the Berkshires. I photographed the dishes, executive chef Deb Morgan and helpers cooked, Jessica Bard styled, and it was overseen by Kripalu creative director Elena Erber. May the recipes inspire clean eating everywhere.

Kripalu Seasonal Menus cookbook photos by Jennifer May
The cover of the Kripalu Seasonal Menus cookbook

The Kripalu Seasonal Menus cookbook photos by Jennifer May

Prison Food

For a recent issue of Edible Hudson Valley, writer Lee Bernstein and I visited New York’s medium security Fishkill Correctional Facility for a tour of the kitchen, messhall, and food storage rooms. No food is actually cooked on the premises – it is prepared off-site, trucked in, and the packaged contents are heated in large stainless steel tubs and served by inmate staff. Meal names are often glamorized (“creamy chicken dinner” consists of bagged chunks of soy protein mixed with bagged white powder, plus water). For the full story see the Summer 2010 issue of Edible Hudson Valley.

Left, an officer makes sure each utensil is accounted for. Right, an inmate who works with the special dietary meals.
In the locked utensil room: Utensils are kept on a shadow board, to keep track of them.
An inmate cook prepares hot dogs for lunch. Hot dogs are one of the more popular items - along with pizza and chicken.
An inmate maintenance porter fills a kettle with boiling water, which will be emptied into buckets and used for mopping the messhall after lunch.
Signage in the hallway
A kosher meal, pre-heating
Left, tables and stools in one of the large messhalls, moments before inmates arrived for lunch. Right, creamy chicken dinner, before it is prepared for serving.

Artisanal Vinegar

For the July 2010 issue of Chronogram magazine, I met a Benedictine monk who makes artisanal vinegar at a monastery in Lagrangeville, NY. Read Peter Barrett’s full story here.

Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette a benedictine monk who makes artisanal vinegar
Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette at the monastery near Poughkeepsie, where he lives and works. Brother Victor is also shown in the garden where he grows and harvests herbs to flavor the vinegars.
Apricot vinegar and special reserve vinegar - produced, aged, and bottled on site at the monastery

Elephant Wine & Tapas Bar

The Elephant Wine & Tapas Bar, in Kingston, NY, is located directly across the street from Fleisher’s Grass-Fed & Organic Meats. This is convenient as that is where chef Rich Reeve sources much of the meat on his menu. He buys the inexpensive cuts and turns them into adventurous tapas dishes. The menu changes regularly, but one night’s offering included beef heart tacos, lamb sliders, “porchetta” roulade, Basque style bbq lamb ribs, and crispy blood sausage. I spent an evening speaking to and photographing chef Reeve and will make a complete post later, but for now, one of my favorite dishes of the evening, bone marrow:

bone marrow as cooked at the Elephant Wine and Tapas Bar in Kingston NY

Food stories in New York's Hudson Valley and beyond from photographer Jennifer May