A few months back when the sun was shining and the air was warm I packed a bag and jetted off to the Rocky Mountain State with two of my favorite people to photograph a cookbook.
Want to know what makes an awesome, creative project with an inspiring author and cook even better? Working with two of your best friends! Katy, Anika and I met in photography school where we spent an inconceivable amount of time debating images, assisting each other and chowing down on good Capitol Hill food. So, when Katy asked Anika and I if we'd like to fly to her hometown and shoot a cookbook that she designed, there was no question. And it was a blast. We spent a jam-packed week and a half busting out image after image (and eating dish after dish). In the small amounts of time in-between things, we even managed to squeeze in a few Colorado musts.
1. Floating the Horsetooth.
If your as naive to Colorado weather as I am make sure not to be hanging out in the water away from the shore when bad weather rolls in, lest you become a victim of lighting!
2. See a Rockies game.
In the Coors stadium in the mile high city there's a row of seats up near the top of the stadium with a ring of red chairs that circles all the way around. Stand there and your officially a mile above sea level. Go up a couple more rows and this is your view.
3. Have Tea at The Boulder Tea House (also known as the Dushanbe Tea House).
A gift to the city of Boulder from their sister city Dushanbe in Tajikistan, the teahouse is a place I wish I could spend time every day. A ethereal paradise of complex tile patterns and flowing plants, the food doesn't hurt either!
4. Visit (or see a show at) Red Rocks Amphitheater.
A natural work of art, the force that drew these rocks out of the ground had a plan. The formation of the rocks makes for a perfect natural Amphitheater and one of the nation's top places to see a live show.
A word of warning here. Just because the website says Red Rocks is open for public visiting at certain times doesn't necessarily mean it is. They sometimes close for private parties without posting so online.
5. Take a drive up to Estes Park and meander through the Rocky Mountain National Forest.
Estes Park is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. It's also where the hotel that the shining was filmed is, so you can imagine how beautiful it really is. High elevation makes for breathtaking views of the nearby mountains.
But back to the main story, we were there to photograph wholesome home cooking with southwestern flair. These recipes were warm, cheesy and delicious.
The book we came to photograph is a collection of lifetimes of recipes, passed down from mother, to daughter, to granddaughter. Called "Kathleen's Kitchen," for the women who taught and inspired the author, Kathleen is Marlene's mother. Every so often you meet a woman who has a lasting impact on you, even if you only met for a second. Marlene is one of those people for me. She's packed full of charisma and bursting at the seams with positive energy. Being around her gets you talking and makes you want to jump in and join whatever she's working on. A natural born teacher she'll talk you through whatever it is she's cooking, telling the tale of the family recipe as the while. I just can't say enough good things about Marlene.
At Marlene's when the unforgettable Colorado sunset starts to set in, people flock from their neighboring houses to see what she's cooking for dinner tonight. No doubt in their minds it will be mouth-watering and plentiful.
Or sweet for dessert.
And yes, I did get to eat those unbelievable pancakes.
It was, in the end, a solidly productive trip. We managed to pump out all of the shoots we needed (while Marlene slaved away in the kitchen), and even got to take a few fun adventures.
Here's to many more in the future!