Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recording "In the Groves"

Just spent two days in the recording studio putting our tree myths and songs on vinyl or the digital equivalent. IN THE GROVES our next CD is finally on its way! We had our 'one and only' all time - cannot record without - engineer Huck Bennert and our favorite studio Wellspring Sound in Acton. Tom came in at the end to bring a haunting accordion background to the Russian birch song. Eight hour and nine hour days with not even a half hour lunch break and no complaints. You can tell we all have backgrounds as free lance artists. We would starve to death if we worked union hours... Hey wait a minute, Maybe those are union hours!!

There will be an incredible amount of beautiful ethnic music on the CD thanks to the wonderful material Margot has brought in to complement the stories. Margot and I sing in Japanese, Welsh, Russian, Czech and ... OK English!!

There is an ongoing very beautiful story about the Russian Birch Song we are recording for the CD.

Several years ago a wonderful, elderly Russian woman came to our In the Grove performance (tree myths and music along the paths of the Arnold Arboretum- Boston's tree sanctuary (more on the performance) We end the performance at sunset among birches while telling the Czech story of the Dancing Spirit of the Birch Grove. The whole experience brought her back to her childhood days - there is a great love of the birch in Russian culture. She took off her shoes and walked barefoot among the trees remembering her childhood and singing a song. Her daughter was with her and later sent us a copy of that same song. We decided to bring it to life for this recording. The day we went in to record, her daughter sent me an email - the first she had sent in years! 'What a coincidence!' I wrote to her. 'We are heading in to record your mother's song today.'
Talk about synchronicity - another incredible coincidence occurred. Our recording studio adjoins another and, in a break from working on the Birch Song, two musicians from the other recording studio met us in the hallway. "You are singing in Russian!" they exclaimed. "How do you know?" they were asked. "We are Russian!!" they said and they began singing that same beautiful song. Makes me feel our CD is on the right track!

Margot and I wore our Angel socks for luck. Huck was barefoot all the time but had a cool Thai dragon tattoo around his ankle. We Prevailed!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fess up. You be a Gardener.

Fess Up I do Be a Gardener! That's what I got to say. Got it from my Dad. In fact I dug up the ground and put in my first garden when he died. I have a Community Garden and a Backyard Garden. My Community Garden plot is a former compost pile so it is a major producer of produce. Here is the proud Farmer with her Eggplants that she grew from teeny widdle seeds planted on the dining room table way back in March! You see her Rosa Bianca, White Clara and Lavender Touch. Green Ravena eggplant hated the soggy weather we had this year and only yielded one eggplant - not shown here! Not gonna show you pics of my beautiful heirloom tomatoes brought down by the blight either. My garden is a place where I like to be happy and I'd like you to feel that way too. Celebrate the Eggplants!! I have all the fixins to make delicious Eggplant Parmigiana on the table. If I get requests I just might share my secrets for the absolute ULTIMATE EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The ULTIMATE Eggplant Parmesan

Hey I got a request!!
So here is the Recipe

Recipe for ULTIMATE Eggplant Parmesan
The tender eggplant is the star in this fresh and delicious recipe ~ Diane Edgecomb

2 firm and fresh medium size eggplants
1 egg
1 and ½ T Milk
½ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup flour
Tomato Sauce of Choice (Tomato/Basil style)
Parmesan Cheese pre-grated or grate yourself. Best if it is not totally powdery and has some heft to the cheese “Kernels.”

To Prepare

Make an egg/milk batter. Mix one egg so there are no lumps left. Add 1 ½ T Milk and incorporate well (if you run out make the same amount of batter again – same goes for the breading)
Mix together flour and breadcrumbs (Progresso Italian Flavor my suggestion for breadcrumbs)
Prepare eggplants. Prepare one eggplant at a time as they discolor if left out in air.
Cut off ends of eggplant and peel skin. Cut into ½ inch circles.
Place each slice in turn in the batter. Make sure the slice soaks a tad on each side. Coat with mixture of flour and bread crumbs equal proportions. Shake off excess – you want your surfaces to be flat not lumpy so they fry evenly. Generously coat bottom of large cast iron or saute pan with light vegetable oil. (1/8 inch layer of oil or a bit less.)
Warm up oil on medium heat. When oil is warm begin frying the slices. Fry on one side till they begin to change color slightly around the edges. This takes a while! You can test them, if you stick a fork in to flip it, the eggplant should be getting soft and losing its resistance. Flip and fry on the other side until a fork inserted into the eggplant indicates it is soft and very very tender. If an edge of one is still very resistant you can move it to a hotter part of the pan and fry for a few more minutes. Resist poking them too much as that lets extra oil in.... still you must test! Useth thy judgement!
Whenever an eggplant slice is done remove it and put on paper towels to drain. Very lightly blot the top of the eggplants to remove excess oil but don’t squish them!
Take a 9 x 12 or so baking dish (glass or pyrex preferred) and coat bottom with generous layer of tomato sauce. Layer eggplant on top. Cut pieces to fill in gaps. Coat the eggplant layer with tomato sauce and then layer of grated parmesan cheese. Put on second layer of eggplant, top with tomato sauce and layer of parm cheese.

Cover with Foil and Bake 375 degrees for 20 minutes
Uncover foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until the casserole bubbles lightly on the outer edges and the cheese has become slightly golden on top.
Serve with foccaccia bread or French bread and Pasta (Shells or Cellencini Pasta are nice) topped with a red pasta sauce that can have additional treats in it like mushrooms, onions- you know fun and chunky stuff. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The "Year of Grotowski"

In case you didn't realize, it's the "Year of Grotowski." Ignored by all who are not "in the know" or treated as an esoteric theatre guru by those who do know - Grotowski was discovered this year by UNESCO and henceforth 2009 became the "Year of Grotowski." This is especially significant for me as I have been an avatar of this kind of theatre since running away from Musical-Theatre college to join Stage One Theatre Lab, a Grotowski influenced spin-off, in the '70's.
My solo piece Restraints (at Charlestown Working Theater in 2006) was developed using this approach and I was invited to present a short talk on it as part of the Year of Grotowski Conference and Symposium at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

Suffice it to say, it is never an easy or direct route whenever working in this kind of theatre. In this kind of theatre we always discover things "by the way" - meaning by accident. Glorious Accident. So of course I did not go to Canterbury, England but informed my husband Tom that I was going to work with my Grotowski-oriented theatre pals in Poland and then we were going to drive to England. He looked at me quizzically. "Isn't there water in between?" "Well," I said, "they must know what they're doing. They live there." They (my dear pals Jola and Khalid) had told me we would take a leisurely drive from Poland to England stopping and camping and visiting countries all along the way. Sounded Loverly.

Fast forward to the strange yellow machine. First "on the way" diversion. Flight delayed out of Boston, missed flight to Poland, stranded overnight at Heathrow airport where they show up with strange humanoid vacuming machines in the middle of the night. Otherwise Heathrow was 'Loverly.'

Spent time in Poland writing about the workshop I took with Zbigniew Cynkutis in the 1980's. While I worked I had an enormous picture of him looking down on me from the wall. I was staying with his widow, my friend, Jola. Cynkutis was a leading actor with the Theatre Lab and I have an enormous amount of notes, audiotapes of him speaking etc..from that workshop. I am fifty pages in to my writing and almost finished with what has been a gargantuan task. The workshop I took with him, short though it was, changed my life and I am determined to finish this testament to his work. While I was there, I also participated in all vocal and physical training and watched Jola and Khalid work with a very intense director. He was Greek, raised in Poland and spoke Russian. Needless to say he always dressed in black.

Being spontaneous and alternative and crazy the decision was made to nix the leisurely drive and instead travel through the night to reach England. Great idea except that it meant that we hit Brussels rush hour at 6:00 in the morning tired, bleary eyed and irritable. We made it to the car ferry in Calais, France and collapsed until we debarked in Jolly Old England.

The conference was fabulous because it included as presenters so many young "practitioners" (and odd practitioners like me) on a later symposium track. It was not as prestigious as the first track which had all the remaining remnants of the original Grotowski Theatre Lab troupe and all those who took it upon themselves to protect his legacy from pirates and infidels, but I liked our weird little second track. It shook things up in a good way. I got to present on Restraints using the powers of powerpoint and pointing and Jola told me that what I did was Honest. Hopefully not too honest!! That makes me nervous.

We stayed at what turned out to be an ancient hostelry for Canterbury pilgrims. It was within shouting range of the Canterbury Cathedral and I took pictures of the views out the window until I discovered that our hotel/hostelry was reportedly haunted. Then I only took pictures of suspicious doorways and Medieval iron pieces sticking out of the walls. Glad I didn't find out it was haunted until the last night there. Cheerio!!