it’s been a while.
and maybe it’s time for a change. as i was already starting to do (see morels, sandy lane), i am going to expand the scope of my photographic exploration of local food culture. here goes.
shoot date: monday february 20th
location: volkening heritage farm, schaumburg, il
as you have no doubt seen in the two hoghouse to smokehouse posts, i have access to an incredible heritage farm that is just minutes away from my home. all year long, the staff and volunteers of volkening heritage farm put on family oriented programs designed to give visitors an understanding of the history of the region. the living history farm is managed in the style of the late 19th century when schaumburg was a rural farming community of primarily german heritage. from curing pork to growing hops, from blacksmithing to cheese making, this farm provides a remarkable insight into a time when self-sustainability was the norm. and i love it. every time we visit i am enamored by the farmhouse kitchen. it is beautifully staged in era fashion which has a unique visual appeal. but what is so special about it in my eyes is the quality of light that fills the space and interacts with the wear and patina of all the vintage pieces. i knew it would be an amazing location to create some images. so i enlisted the support of some of the most talented people that i know (see crew list above), people who share an interest in local food, unique vintage props, and a desire to create beautiful photographs. the idea was to source our ingredients from the local food community and to prepare german style era-inspired recipes using only the 1880s farmhouse kitchen. translation: a wood burning stove, no electricity, no indoor running water, and no on demand hot water. because we were all so excited to shoot at the space and we really wanted to take advantage of our short time there, the reality wasn’t quite that romantic. the breads and applesauce were prepared ahead of time due to the time involved for each, the sauerkraut was purchased after two failed attempts at making it ourselves, and a backup of the hasenpfeffer (and spaetzle) were both prepared beforehand, as a precaution in case working on a wood burning stove proved problematic (which it did not). ingredients that could be sourced locally were. having said that, we are already planning another shoot when farm markets are in full swing so that we are able to commit as fully as possible to respecting the history of the location.
we arrived at 8 am to unload. the unbelievably friendly and helpful farm staff immediately got the stove burning so we could put on a pot of water and some coffee to percolate (it seemed appropriate). kim and breana quickly got the ingredients together to start making the hasenpfeffer. the plan was to shoot through the entire process. so, yes, when it was all said and done, the hasenpfeffer (and spaetzle) that we shot was the one actually prepared on site without the comforts of a modern kitchen (and, as a side note, all of the food that was shot was subsequently eaten, zero of it was thrown away). working with 2 cameras, paula and i were able to focus on the shots of the eggs, breads, and applesauce while kim was focusing on the hasenpfeffer. once we had the angle and props we wanted for each shot, kim put the finishing touches on the food. it was a fast paced day. every second of it was not only fun, but a learning experience. the results are beautiful. between the location and the crew we had all the right ingredients. please enjoy and stay tuned for a follow up later this year.