The World Of Imagery.
Collard greens wasn’t on the roster of greens I grew up eating. I came to love them while living in New York and going to art school. It wasn’t from the occasional side of collard greens in a dinner box that I gained my insight from. No offense intended because there was some good greens in some of those boxes. My real appreciation for the greens came from having dinner at the home of friends who still lived at home while they were still going to school. Their mother or grandmother would still do the cooking for holiday gatherings. During these gatherings at some point someone would talk about the greens. The talk would talk about how the greens were made or what might have gone into getting them to the table. Many years later on assignment I did have the chance to meet and photograph the great southern chef Edna Lewis and her protégé Scott Peacock. The recipe below is not the usual way I’ve eaten collard greens, but it is one of the ways Edna prepared them. Spicy collard greens. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/spicy-collard-greens
Mannish water is a goat head soup popular in Jamaica. It is a favorite party soup to serve at weddings, the funeral after party and gatherings where there is some drinking taking place. Some say it straightens you out for the drive home after the drinks. Some men believe the soup gives them extra stamina in the bedroom. Since I don’t kiss and tell, you will have to try this soup for yourself. Dispite what you want to believe about the soup, making it took close to 3 hours in total. Most of that time was to boil the choped up goat head until thee meat was tender. The last thirty minutes is for the various vegetables to cook. Other parts of the goat like the hoofs can also be added. Since I have never had this soup before and with nothing to compare it to, I can only say I liked it. The goat was tender with a soft slightly gummy texture. The flavor of the meat came through in the broth, over flavoring with spices would defeat the the true flavor of the soup. My next move is to have (Mannish water) made by an expert so I can tell how well I really did with mine. Here is a links about this soup. This is the recipe that I used. http://www.jamaica-land-we-love.com/jamaican-mannish-water-recipe.html
MIX SOUP + 1 CAN WATER
MICROWAVE: HEAT, COVERED, IN MICROWAVABLE BOWL ON HIGH
2 ½ TO 3 MINUTES, CAREFUL, LEAVE IN MICROWAVE 1 MINUTE, THEN STIR
STOVE: HEAT, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY.
CREAMIER SOUP: USE 1 CAN 1% MILK. PLEASE NOTE NONFAT MILK MAY CAUSE SLIGHT CURDLING.
CAUTION: METAL EDGES ARE SHARP. RECOMMENDED USE BY DATE ON CAN END.
PROMPTLY REFRIGERATE UNUSED SOUP IN SEPARATE CONTAINER.
The day before photographing this can of soup, my plan was to produce a different recipe. In my minds eye I saw how beautiful it would look and how informative the recipe would be to my fellow foodies out there. The next morning I turned on the television for the news and to confirm that the world was still turning, which it was. The news story that caught my attention was about the senseless murder of a 14-year-old girl shot and killed on a city bus in Queens, New York. I took in the news of her death with the same disgust as I have with so many previous news reports of senseless gun violence, particularly involving children. Later that day the sun was now positioning itself to shine through the window onto the set where I like to photograph food under natural light. As I was preparing the food and props to be photographed I continued thinking about the quickness of time it took for her life to be ended. Her young seemingly wholesome life was taken in less time than it would take for me to arrange the recipe items for my picture. I had to leave the thought of beautiful food behind at that moment. Instead I had to illustrate that even in the very short time it would take to warm a can of soup, it is still more than enough time for all our lives to be changed with the threat of gun violence circuling our lives everyday. I like many would like to see this change.
In a produce store On Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. These blue crabs caught my attention because of the way they all looked at the bottom of a large deep plastic container. Their shells were blue, seen that, but I had never seen rounded shells before. Under the store floueresant light they looked like little sci-fi creatures. The raw color and texture of our food and the journeys it has to take to our table always makes for interesting photos.
My wife bought a container of sun-dried tomatoes as part of our healthier approach to eating. As much as I like the tomatoes this way, I was slow to incorporate them into what I was eating. Days went by of me moving them around from shelf to shelf in the refrigerator while just eating a little piece at a time. The photographer in me decided to take a photograph of these nomadic sun dried tomatoes. It is true when they say that a stocked pantry and refrigerator makes it a lot easier to create spontaneous dishes on the fly. Taking a note from Diane, my wife who has been making herb pesto’s for a long time. I settled on making a sun dried tomato pesto.
Recipe: My version off the bat. With no food processor available, I used a blender instead to combine ingredients, not the best way but it still worked. A new food processor is on my “to buy list”
Combine a handful of sun dried tomatoes, a clump of basil leaves separated from the stems, 2 cloves of garlic, a half teaspoon of medium ground mixed peppercorns, a quarter teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and of course as much virgin olive oil as needed. Base how much olive oil you use on how it looks as everything blends together. For the amount of ingredients I had on hand I started with a half cup of olive oil, adding more until the blend had the consistency I wanted. I was surprised by how much olive oil the ingredients sucked up as I blended, so have enough oil standing by to add.
Well!! Those whole pieces of sun-dried tomatoes now had a new alter ego inhabiting their original container. Each day in the container the flavor gets better.
Over the next three days I had it over pasta 2 nights in a row. For the pasta I heated it in a small pan with a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water just to loosen it up a little. It was great alone on toasted bread; I even put some on a couple of sandwiches, I thought this is the way to go. Diane said “not bad”
Large scallions lightly oiled and grilled in the oven for five minutes or so until desired color, not too close to flame to avoid burning and keep your eye on it. This works as a rustic side dish or garnish. Of course we have been informed and warned about the perils of too much salt in our diet. For some people cutting back on their salt intake is easier said than done. The food we grew up eating is a part of our culture and identity, which stays with us all of our lives. Even with access to foods from all over the world we long for the tastes we know so well and all the memories and emotions they bring back.
This photo was lit with strong daylight coming through the window which made the coarse sea salt on the scallions stand out. After the initial shots were done with just a sprinkle of salt I continued adding more salt to the scallions until I got this picture, that’s when I thought that’s a lot of salt there who, would eat that? Over time I have seen more than a few people add enough salt to the food on their plate to rival this picture. For a narrative to this salty picture I visited the C.D.C. Center For Disease Control, website to find out what their recommended daily salt intake should be and it’s effect on our bodies.