Sunday, September 4, 2011

After the Storm

Opening of Pat Adams and Bhakti Ziek exhibition at BigTown Gallery, Rochester, VT

Hard to believe that a week ago I was at the opening of my show with Pat Adams at BigTown Gallery in Rochester, VT. We knew the storm was on its way, but the evening was clear and calm and lots of people showed up to make the opening very festive. At 4pm there was an informal talk between Anni MacKay, Pat Adams, myself, and the audience and then there was the whirlwind of conversations and greetings that happens at openings. It was a really great evening, and as we left, Anni said she was heading out to pick her vegetables before the rain started.

We had 24 hours of rain, nothing seemed particularly severe, and I woke Monday morning to a clear blue sky day and fresh crisp air cleansed by the rain. We had electricity and when calls started to come in asking if we were alright, I was a bit puzzled. The news up here didn't mention Vermont, but apparently the rest of the country knew that Vermont was a mess. Then at 10am our electric and phone went out. Rumors flew about causes and length of time--I really didn't like the prediction of three weeks before it would be fixed. A small stream turned into a river and took out a substation and most of Randolph was without electricity for 2.5 days. Minor inconveniences (we got charcoal and pulled out our weber grill and I bought these 14 hour candles and found that reading by candlelight is not much fun) compared to many places in the state, and to some other people in Randolph who did have serious problems.

Rochester was one of the 13 (or more?) towns that were cut off from the world. Bridges were destroyed, the road over the mountain that we had taken the night before had become a river bed and washed away the road and some houses. Once we got power back we started looking at everything we could find online hoping to get some info on our friends at BigTown. Finally we saw a photo and could identify Anni and Dunne, so at least we knew they were okay. And yesterday we got a call saying everyone there was okay, and would it be acceptable if they extended the show until October 23rd! Seems a bit selfish to be thinking about my show in the midst of all the mud and cleanup and suffering, but I admit I was happy to hear that people will have extra time to see this show. Pat's paintings and my weavings share the space in very compatible harmony and at times seem to be talking to each other.
 So what did I do as soon as the electricity came on? I baked Macarons! I have made them before following a Martha Stewart recipe and I thought they were delicious and perfect, but what did I know? Recently I bought a new cookbook (Sugarbaby by Gesine Bullock-Prado). The cover picture of spun sugar spoke to my heart and then I realized this was the Gesine who had a pastry shop in Montpelier when we first moved here who made magnificent sweets, so of course I had to buy the book. So I followed her recipe and they were a total failure. Because I had eaten at her shop, I knew it was me, not the recipe--so I went on line and found this great video of her making macarons. And I watched it several times, maybe more than that, and then I tried again. The pink cookies shown above show that I still had problems--but they tasted great. 

So then I went back to the internet (this was all pre-storm pre-opening--a good way to focus my energy at stage fright time). And I discovered the most incredible blog by a woman clearly more obsessed than me. Not So Humble Pie has 8 posts on macarons--really a thesis on these cookies. So I tried again--and you can see the perfect little feet and nice flat shell of the yellow ones (though the color seemed to bake out). These not only looked great, they tasted sublime. All these macarons were done using the Italian Meringue method. I don't have a picture of the ones I made once the electricity came on--I used one of the Not So Humble Pie recipes for French Meringue Macaron. They looked okay (but again my coloring, blue this time, baked away), and tasted fine, but they were kind of hallow inside. Another words, I haven't figured it out yet and will have to bake some more.

Linen for Kelly's Curtains
Lucky for me I was already working on a project on my Macomber loom (no electricity needed) when we lost power, so I could keep working during the days. You can see the 18 yards of linen competing with the woodpile for size above. I really am afraid to cut and sew it myself (we all have our expertise) but will do it so Kelly can have her curtains.

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