“We should write a book.” It was just an off-hand comment made in the kitchen, as two neighbors made dinner. Or was it?
Liz Price-Kellogg and Kristen Taylor have a lot in common. They both grew up summering in the Thousand Islands region and are now year-round residents of Clayton, NY. Both are vegetarians who love to cook. And both are devoted yogis (one who practices yoga). When you meet them individually, they each have a special light and energy about them. But together, their energy is like nuclear fusion.
One evening in January, 2014, safe and warm in Kristen’s kitchen, that little comment—we should write a book—ignited an explosion of creativity that buzzed and hummed through one of the coldest winters in recent memory in a place known for cold winters. Liz credits Kristen as the driving force behind the idea, saying that the day after the off-handed comment, Kristen was already into full planning mode. By April, they had a book proposal, which they sent to book publishers. By May, they had a book contract. For the Love of Food and Yoga was officially released on September 1, 2015
I was in Liz’s office above a boat repair workshop at French Bay Marina the day after their book was released. They had been working at packing books for pre-orders, each doing a job that she loved and thankful the other was there to do the part they didn’t like as much. They mesh perfectly. Even this mundane task seemed to be the source of so much fun and camaraderie.
I’d spent the evening before pouring over their book. The food shots are sumptuous. Liz is the photographer of the pair, with a degree in fine art. She said she wanted the food shots to look like living landscapes, like something she could walk into and explore. They both took turns behind the camera and in front of the camera with the yoga shots. When they were both in the picture, Kristen’s husband, Jon stood in as photographer.
It’s a hefty book, with a coffee table book feel to it, jammed-packed with 100 recipes and 100 yoga poses. My daughter is a vegan, so I was happy to see that many of their recipes had vegan alternatives. I asked about the dishes’ clever, almost whimsical names: Half Moon Pita Humus, Twisted Tacos, Wealthy Wonton Purses, Namaste Napoleons, etc. Liz nodded toward Kristen again. Kristen is the wordsmith of the pair.
While my daughter was visiting, we kayaked over to the Thousand Island Park Pavilion for a Monday morning class. My daughter is also a devoted yogi and has been to many classes with a wide range of instructors. I knew she would love Liz’s class, where she has been bringing yoga to island residents via River Yoga for over two decades. Liz has an aura of calm about her. She is both accepting and open, but also fun and energizing. The pavilion was crowded by the time we arrived, so Liz suggested we roll out our mats on the dock out front. It was such a peaceful class on the dock with the sound of the waves to soothe us.
I started doing yoga 41 yeas ago, my freshman year at the University of Illinois. I was self-taught, doing yoga from books, long before the advent of videotape. I’d been doing yoga a very long time before my very first yoga class, which was with Liz about 15 years ago. For me, yoga is something to be done alone in nature. I love doing yoga on the dock when I’m here in the islands or on the beach at home in Florida. So the pictures of For the Love of Food and Yoga really speak to me. Each picture is aptly framed in black like a work of art with a tidbit of yoga wisdom accompanying it. Personally, I would have named the book: The River Lover’s Guide to Food and Yoga because it was the pictures of the poses in my beloved Thousand Islands that really set the book apart and made it special for me.
The pictures of the yoga poses were taken all along the river from Cape Vincent to Chippewa Bay. Kristen and Liz would hop in the boat on a calm day—one husband babysitting Kristen’s young kids and the other driving the boat—and go out in search of the perfect location. While they wanted to include certain iconic 1000 Island landmarks in the book, they didn’t have a list of locations per se. Each picture was a happy adventure it seems, their faces bright as they laughingly told stories of freezing as they posed on ice flows or gagging as they negotiated a shoal full of bird poop.
The two are almost always together. In the winter, they cook in Kristen’s kitchen in Clayton. In the summer, they are in Liz’s kitchen in her cottage on the Eel Bay side of Murray Isle. But they are cooking up more than vegetarian fare. The duo told me there is a new book percolating. The creative energy that buzzed between them as they talked about it was palpable. When I left Liz and Kristen, they only had one thing to say about their upcoming book, “We can’t wait till winter.”
So it seems they’ve discovered yet another great recipe:
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Liz & Kristen’s Live Yum
Take a harsh, cold Clayton winter
Add a yoga instructor with a photographic eye
Add a yoga student with a way with words
Add a heaping dose of creativity
Mix together with lots of laughter
Warm together in a kitchen filled with love
This, their first book is delicious! A book crammed with wholesome recipes, thoughtful yoga teachings and beautiful images of the Thousand Islands, a book that encourages us to nourish our mind, body and soul. I can’t wait to see how the next book will turn out. Thank goodness for cold, Clayton winters.
By Lynn E. McElfresh, Grenell Island
Lynn McElfresh is a regular contributor to TI Life, writing stories dealing with her favorite Grenell Island and island life. You can see Lynn’s 80 articles here (This month we number 83…) Lynn helps us move pianos, fix the plumbing, walk with nature and yes, learn to appreciate snakes… well maybe not!