My blog has a new home: lizvphoto.com.
This started as a place for recipes and food shots. As my photography has expanded, I wanted a blog that better shared a wider range of photos – including spaces, people, restaurants and travel destinations.
The new site should be cleaner and easier to read. So update your bookmarks, and check out the new site!
Thirty-four summers ago, Brooklyn natives Cathy and Greg Farrell gathered fifty of their closest friends in New York’s Adirondack Mountains to build a yurt, a flying saucer–like structure once reserved for nomads in Mongolia. Over the next three decades, the Farrells and their two sons added a second yurt, cooking area, wood-burning hot tub, sauna, and zip line, every bit of it built by hand with friends.
It was the start of a sprawling compound out of the Swiss Family Robinson, which hosts epic annual gatherings known as yurtfest. It’s a magical place. Every year the community of creative folks connected to the yurt continues to grow, each person contributing something unique to the property.
This year, I kicked in pictures and pizzas – 20 fresh crusts rolled out in the woods, cooled in the stream and then grilled over this fire. The forest kitchen also turned out a whole pig – roasted on a spit for five hours – and plenty of chocolate chip pancakes and bacon for breakfast.
After a leisurely breakfast, there’s usually a movement to the field, nominally an airstrip but more often used for soccer.
Then, a hike through the woods to cool off at the swimming hole and cliff jump.
Back at the yurt, there’s a zipline down the stream, built by another talented friend.
To relax after all that activity, there’s a wood-fired sauna and hottub. I mean really, how can you beat a hottub in the woods?
As the sun fades behind the trees and the campfire gets going, folks enjoy a drink on the porch.
Then it’s time for cooking, chilling around the campfire and, this year, fire twirling. I love this view up from the “dining room” table – everything takes place under the stars.
For more info on the yurts, check out Re-Nest. Thanks again to the Farrells for another amazing yurtfest!
Heather was one of my first readers when I began this blog, sending me new recipes and interesting foodie finds. So I was delighted to shoot her wedding, which was certain to be as lovely and laid back as she was. But when she told me it would be in a barn on a wildlife preserve in Montana, I knew it would be special.
The Teller Preserve watches over 1,200 acres of land in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. This is big sky country. I woke up at sunrise to watch the light flood the landscape.
I love this beautiful light on Heather – she looked radiant the entire day.
After a morning of pre-wedding fly fishing, Jeremy was relaxed and enjoying himself.
Nearly everything in this wedding was made by friends and family. The beautiful wildflowers came from a nearby farm, arranged by talented friends. And the cake, a three-layer, death-by-chocolate masterpiece was baked over three days by Heather’s sister-in-law. Nothing like having a pastry chef in the family!
Both Heather and Jeremy are lovers of words. Their rings, carried by this dapper young ring bearer, were nestled in a copy of Jane Eyre.
The ceremony, a beautiful mix of Heather’s poetry and Ovid, took place under the spreading branches of two ancient trees.
Next, to the restored farmhouse for champagne and some moving toasts.
To the barn for the party! Dinner was served all fresco, ringed by fields and mountains.
Guests all sent pictures of their wedding days, which were displayed in the barn alongside favors of homemade jam. But the real showstopper was the extraordinary quilt made by Heather’s mother, with squares contributed by friends and family.
Finally, two of my favorites moments from the day. Congratuations!
Despite marrying into an Indian family, I’d never actually seen, much less photographed, a full Indian wedding until Sarita and Frank’s. There was so much to enjoy – the lavish clothes, rich colors and happy couple – but what I really loved was the fact that the ceremony revolved around family and food. Read more…
This delicious sorbet is inspired by fresh summer fruit, good friends, and a surprise email from CBS.
First, the fruit. This week, Brooklyn farmer’s markets overflowed with tiny sugarplums, bite-size beauties with a concentrated sweetness and big plum punch. Hudson Valley grower Fishkill Farms explained they were Oishiwase plums, a delicate Japanese variety available just a few weeks a year.
I bought as many as I could carry. Twice. (“Um, are you a plum-a-holic?” they asked, only half joking.)
See, inspired by the plums, I had gone cowboy style on a plum sorbet, working off the general recipe for my successful Campari-Citrus Sorbet. Tasted great… except for the small fact that it wouldn’t freeze.
By batch four, I was rapidly losing hope. It was the latest in a string of kitchen frustrations that had me in a photo funk. On a long-distance call from India, my husband gently suggested a little patience – good things would come if I just kept practicing.
Two hours later, I opened my inbox to an email from CBSNews.com, asking if I could photograph a healthy recipe for their readers. The sorbet would be perfect.
I regrouped with Cooks Illustrated, and my friends swooped in with encouragement and backup ice cream makers. Together they did the trick. With a colder bowl and just one tablespoon of champagne, rather than the quarter cup I’d been using, the sorbet churned up smooth and creamy like ice cream. Cold, silky spoonfuls of pure plum.
So thanks to all those fine and funny folks that laugh with me at my kitchen chaos, give me feedback on my photos, and generally keep me going. There’s a pint of sugarplum sorbet with your names on it!
I love Maine lobster – in butter, in bisque, but most especially in rolls. I’ve never thought twice about cooking one myself… but then again, I’ve never chased one around my living room before.
I didn’t set out to cook a lobster. It was a recent revelation that you could buy ones pre-steamed, and that’s what I had in mind. But my fish store was jammed and they gave me a choice: take the live ones or come back in an hour. Too hungry to wait, I set off with two live crustaceans and some sage advice: pop them in the freezer quickly before steaming. Simple enough.
Now let me preface by saying I’m a complete lobster novice. Raised in California, I don’t own a shred of seersucker and have never even cracked a cooked lobster without adult supervision. And thus begins my post: things I have learned about lobster.
First, photographing a live lobster is the quickest way to re-create the classic lobster scene from Annie Hall. I naively tried to sneak in a few shots while the water boiled, and at first the lobster obliged. Then he did a sudden flick-flick-flick jujitsu move with his tail, lunged for the camera and flung himself off the table onto my living room floor. Ninja lobster! Scared the living daylights out of me. Lobster 1: Liz 0.
Second: they don’t really freeze, they just kind of chill out a little. When I slipped off the claw bands, he grabbed the bag and held on for dear life. In a tug-of-war, lobsters win every time. Lobster 2: Liz 0.
The good news is, he emerged from his bath all bright red and steamy. I triumphantly twisted off his tail… and found myself covered in lobster goop. Didn’t see that one coming. Lobster 3: Liz 0.
Determined, I pried some respectable chunks of lobster free, and piled them high in a buttered roll with celery, lemon, chives and (purists look away) crème fraiche, since I was out of mayo. I am happy to report that it was absolutely delicious, transporting me back to the Maine coast last summer where I first fell in love with lobster.
In the end, the roll was totally worth the trouble… though next time around, I’ll stick with pre-steamed, both for food and for photos.
I am not providing a recipe because clearly I am not fit to dole out lobster advice. For wiser words, I refer you to Smitten Kitchen. For an awesome video of Kid meets Lobster, I refer you to YouTube (thank you Kitchn readers!). And for more seafood faceoff fun, I refer you to Liz v. Oysters… they were similarly scrappy.