Being a photographer might just be the best job in the world. Everyday it is something different. Sure, some days I am stuck behind a computer–those days are not my favorite– but everyday that I am not is entirely unpredictable. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting with Kat and Dave of Prodigal Farms in Rougemont, NC for an upcoming local farm piece for Edible Charlotte. I spent the afternoon touring their gorgeous 92-acre retired tobacco farm, which now functions as a goat dairy, producing scrumptious, hand crafted cheeses, chevre cakes and breads made from whey.
Ever since I spent a college summer on an organic farm in Tennessee tending to crops as well as the chickens, sheep and goats, I have had a sweet spot in my heart for farm animals, especially goats. If you have never met one personally, they are incredibly charming. My husband, Mark, and I have been in talks to get some chickens in the backyard come springtime. However, spending time with the affectionate and goofy Prodigal herd yesterday rekindled my goat-love with a vengeance. Maybe there is room for a goat or two? Who knows. I think Mark is afraid he will come home and find them in the kitchen. He should be afraid.
I am a good wife. My husband, Mark, has never doubted for one second how much he is loved by me, and I tell him all the time just in case he does. He is my absolute favorite person in the entire world to buy gifts for. He is actually one of the only people I BUY gifts for. I have always done the homemade gift thing since I started getting crafty with my sewing machine back in college. I have since expanded my craftiness well beyond the sewing machine, and Mark has been the delighted recipient of some very thoughtful homemade presents from me over the years. The thing is, he is the kind of guy who NEVER buys things for himself. A shopping spree for him is when he goes out right before the school year starts and buys himself a few new button downs, some new undershirts and (maybe) a new pair of pants or a cardigan, that is, if he is feeling really indulgent. He will be the first to say he doesn’t need something and put it back on the shelf and walk away. I am not complaining, I am very practical myself. I love that he is like that too. That is why I love surprising him with that super awesome whatever that’s at the top of his mental wishlist, even if he would never admit he wanted it.
When he got into healthy cooking a few years back, I made it my mission to stock our kitchen with all the cookbooks, cooking tools and gadgets he could possibly need to go in whatever culinary direction his mood dictated at the moment. It has taken many gift giving occasions to fill in all the blanks, but we are almost there. He can make pretty much whatever he wants. From delicious whole wheat spinach pasta topped with his herb-infused tomato sauce to double-crust apple pie with an orange zest and flax seed whole wheat crust–the guy can do it all. Now, he comes home from teaching all day, gets into his comfy clothes and unwinds by making a scrumptious meal from scratch in our tiny kitchen. All I do is stock the pantry and fridge, he takes care of the rest. Seriously, I don’t remember the last meal I prepared. I make a delicious chicken tortilla soup, so it was probably that, on same occasion when Mark was feeling under the weather and I insisted he stay out of the kitchen.
Since the beginning of Edible Charlotte this past summer, Mark, who writes novels and short stories when he is not in the classroom or the kitchen, has been writing the local alcohol article for each issue of the magazine. The best part is that we actually get to work together on all the alcohol articles for each issue since I shoot the accompanying photography. When Mark interviewed head brewer Chad Henderson of NODA Brewing Company for the first issue, he learned that Chad’s humble beginnings were as a hobby home brewer. Now Chad and brewery co-owner Todd Ford collaborate to craft some of the best beer in town for all of us to enjoy. If you haven’t been there, you have to go. Raise a Coco Loco in my honor. If you can’t make it to the taproom, you can pick up a pint here.
Last Fall I started scheming. I knew the Edible Charlotte piece really peaked Mark’s interest in brewing, and one of Mark’s closest friends, Daniel, is a very accomplished home brewer in Knoxville, TN. I got in touch with Daniel and mentioned that I might be in the market to get Mark up and running with his own basement brewery as a holiday gift. Daniel was beyond thrilled! He helped me piece together the perfect collection of start up tools from Rebel Brewer in Nashville, TN to ensure Mark would have everything he needed to make his home brew dreams a reality. We secretly marked off the first weekend in January for Mark and I to visit Knoxville so Mark and Daniel could brew the first batch together. I won’t give away too much of the story since Mark will be writing about his experience for a future issue of Edible Charlotte magazine, perhaps this summer when he has a few batches of beer behind him. For now, I will share this image with you: two dear friends and beer lovers, gathering brewing water from a local spring that is rumored to have healing properties. Ah-dorbs.