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Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Michelle's Tea Party

The Thursday prior to labor weekend snuck up upon Sydney and myself. Sydney looked like "a deer in head lights" the entire adventure. Yes this is a major life changing event that we discussed all summer long, but reality and actuality are 3000 miles apart (which is the miles between us).

Anyone who has ever been blessed with the opportunity to help their child move into the next step of their child's staircase knows mirage of conflicting feelings that creep in and grab hold of you. I was proud, yet my heart was breaking, I was excited for her, but selfishly lonely for myself. As my mind and emotions were running the gamete of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, my attention was again on my daughter's gentle, sweet face (the same face for over 18 years that I have taken for granted of seeing daily). I realized she was petrified. I tucked my feelings away and asked her how she was doing. I needn't ask because knowing Sydney as well as I do I already knew how she was, but she needed to voice her feelings herself. She wanted to turn around and go home, back to the familiarity of home, our kitchen, and just the Colorado life. Normal Freshman jitters, but heighten due to how close we are. My mother's instinct wanted to pack up all of the boxes and take her back with me, but I stood strong, told her it would be wonderful in just a few short weeks, bear hugged goodbye, and left. Fast forward one week later; she is still melancholy and begging to come home, bake with me, and to take a shower in her own shower. I must admit it took all my fiber to say no, the guilt is staggering and I have an unanswered question of whether I am doing the right thing.
I haven't seen this smile in two weeks.
Sydney had the fore thought to leave an eloquent letter, worrying about my feelings, on top of my magimix, so I wouldn't miss seeing it.

I of course had that empty nest feeling, trying with every conversation to sound as if nothing was wrong, it was strange being in the kitchen with out her. To tell the truth I wasn't sure I wanted to bake without her, but my thoughts went back to the ardent letter and I knew I had to just grab some egg whites, sugar, almonds, and vanilla beans.

 Looking at all my ingredients I knew exactly what I needed to create; I want to have a cyber tea party with Sydney.  When Sydney was a little girl we would have tea partys at least twice a week. The second I figured out what I was engaging on the empty feeling lessen a bit.

This cute little set was purchased in 1997 at
the Molly Brown house.

Sydney had fallen in love with the movie "Titanic" and that particular time in history. When I saw the tiny tea pot set in the gift shop I knew she would cherish the set for her entire life.

Since her favorite flavors are strawberry and chocolate I baked two batches of macarons; Strawberry and Triple Macarons au Chocolat avec Ganache au Chocolat/ Macarons au Chocolat Triple avec Mousse à la Fraise. I must admit I cut time by using the same filling for all the macarons.

 The aged egg whites leave the refrigerator so
they may warm to room temperature.

I begin grabbing all my ingredients and measuring them to the precise gram. Taking all the equipment needed for the macaron, creating my work space.

It amazes me how cathartic baking is for me, I was dispirited with a sense of loss, but with each step of preparing these macarons my spirits are lifted. I almost feel as if Sydney was with me folding, whipping, and piping.

Time to grind almond, icing sugar, and flavor.
Sifting will come next.

As I sift my Tant Pour Tant, a job Sydney has always worked on. I begin to wonder what she is doing. I know she is not baking, she most likely is in class and networking a group of life long friends. Without realizing it I am smiling. I must reiterate baking is keeping me connected to Sydney.

I best start my sugar syrup and turn the mixer on to whip up the egg whites, the timing is important at this point. I wouldn't want the sugar syrup to reach a temperature above 140 degrees F./ 60 degrees C. It looks like both the syrup sugar and egg whites are ready.

Nice bird's beak peak.

I like to fold the meringue into the Tant Pour Tant in three batches, generally I am little more vigorous with my first 1/3 of meringue, the last 2/3 I gently and quickly fold into the Tant Pour Tant.

As I begin to scoop the macaron batter into a piping bag my thoughts again drift back to Sydney, what is she doing? Is she enjoying her first day of classes? I believe I am feeling a little lonesome, this would be the time Sydney would "clear the decks" for the baking sheets. I of course am capable of this myself, but for the past 18 years we have had routine and timing. 

      Batter Triple Macaron au chocolat                                        Batter Macaron aux fraises
Just hanging around, waiting to start baking in a preheated oven at 138 degrees C.

While the macarons idle for a good amount of time I'll prepare the Strawberry Mousse Crème. As I mentioned in the beginning I am taking a short cut and using the same filling for both sets of macarons.

Finally after baking 8 trays of macarons, letting them cool, and piping the macarons, it is time for my tribute tea party with Sydney. I actually am skyping her so we may have our pseudo tea party. Sydney is surprised and touched with my cyber gift to her (she did mention it would be nicer if she could actually have some macarons).

Would you like cream with your tea?

I am grateful for the bond we share, a bond that has been strengthen through baking. Have a great week at school!

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