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Q&A: Mountaineer Andrea Charest

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Entrepreneurs, Outdoor Recreation and Nature

Andrea Charest, 33, is co-owner of Petra Cliffs Climbing Center and Mountaineering School in Burlington. A Mammut-sponsored athlete, she is seeking to become certified at the highest level as a Rock Guide by the American Mountain Guides Association. She teaches mountaineering and climbing in Vermont and beyond.

We profiled her in Winter 2015-16’s Q&A. The following is the extended interview.

VL: How’d you get introduced to climbing?
AC: I didn’t know climbing was a sport until I was 18, but I had always been a climber. I climbed trees, rocks, I dabbled with climbing things that I wouldn’t climb now without a rope. I had some friends that found an indoor climbing gym in Pittsburgh — where I’m from — my senior year in high school. So that was the first time I tried indoor climbing. I had decided at that point in high school that I was coming to UVM for school, so I started looking into work study opportunities and found one working at the climbing wall at UVM. I started working there and through the outdoor community and the Outing Club, I linked up with people who were climbing outside, and started doing more outdoor climbing.

VL: What attracted you to UVM?
AC: Partly location. Mostly location. … I had been looking all over New England at schools and looked at Burlington, looked at UVM, applied early decision, got in, didn’t apply anywhere else. I totally fell in love with Burlington, mostly the ski opportunities.

Andrea Charest in the Smugglers Notch area. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

Andrea Charest in the Smugglers Notch area. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

VL: What was your major?
AC: I originally went in with a chemistry major, but then switched to psychology.

VL: That must come in handy with your profession.
AC: Oh yeah. Your mind limits you a lot more in climbing than your body does. So breaking through some of those barriers can be challenging but it feels really good when you do.

VL: Do you have a preference for rock or ice?
AC: If I had to do only one for the rest of my life? I would rock climb.

VL: What do you love about it?
AC: So many different things. The challenge for sure. It’s a problem, kind of a puzzle that you have to work out. It feels good physically while you’re climbing, but it’s very mental too. You get to try to work something out, look at it, think about it, make a plan, readjust if it’s not working. Sometimes you fail, but most of the time you get to try again. I really like the places it can take you to. It’s a little bit different

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A few questions for Christophe Gagné and Avery Schwenk

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Q&A, Taste of the Landscape

Co-owners of Brattleboro’s Hermit Thrush Brewery, a recent entrant onto Vermont’s sizzling craft-brew scene

Avery Schwenk (left) and Christophe Gagne, owners of Hermit Thrush Brewery in Brattleboro. Photo by Bear Cieri.

Avery Schwenk (left) and Christophe Gagné, owners of Hermit Thrush Brewery in Brattleboro. Photo by Bear Cieri.

VL: How did two Swarthmore grads with degrees in music and psychology end up starting a brewery in an old car dealership in Brattleboro?
AS: We’re just too creative for our own good (chuckles).
CG: I started home-brewing after graduation and quickly grew to love drinking and making sour beers. It’s very satisfying to see people really enjoy something you’ve produced. I think there’s been a resurgence in our generation of appreciation for craft-made things, a trend for jobs that are more real. You can stand at the computer all day and do a lot of work but not be able to hold it in your hand.
AS: I was working as a paramedic 
in Philly and looking for a change. I’d been drinking Chris’ beers since he started brewing. I wanted a stronger community and more independence. Vermont had community, a

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Recipe: Black Bean Burger

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Recipes, Taste of the Landscape

Black Bean Burger
This colorfully vegetable-confettied burger made 
with black beans from Vermont Bean Crafters is served at The Chubby Muffin in Burlington’s Old North End where it is presented on a house-baked bun, topped with slaw and chipotle mayonnaise and served with a side of fries or house-fried potato chips. Sautéed, the mix also fills the breakfast burrito offered at The Skinny Pancake’s Lake Street waterfront location.
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  1. 2 cups (about 12 ounces) dried black beans
  2. 1½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt, 
plus more to taste
  3. 2 large garlic cloves
  4. 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  5. 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  6. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying burgers
  7. 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced 
(a generous ½ cup)
  8. 1 small carrot, shredded (about 
½ cup)
  9. ½ small red onion, finely diced 
(about ½ cup)
  10. ½ cup corn kernels, fresh, or frozen and thawed
  11. 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  12. ½ cup buckwheat (for gluten-free 
burgers) or whole-wheat flour
  13. Freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Sort through dried beans and remove any pods, small stones or other debris.
  2. Place in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by at least 3 inches. Pick out any floating, old beans and leave in a cool spot overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  3. Drain beans and place in a heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with water by at least 2 inches and add 1½ teaspoons salt. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 75 to 90 minutes, or until beans are tender but still hold their shape. (Time will vary depending on age of beans.) Drain and spread on a rimmed cookie sheet to cool. (Beans can be made a day ahead, cooled and stored in fridge in their cooking liquid.)
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, mince garlic cloves with chipotle pepper. Add about half the beans, cumin and 2 tablespoons oil and pulse a couple of times to blend roughly into a chunky purée.
  5. In a large bowl, combine processed bean mixture with remaining whole beans, bell pepper, carrot, red onion, corn and cilantro using a wooden spoon. Add flour gradually and stir to completely incorporate. Season with pepper and more salt to taste.
  6. In a large nonstick frying pan set over medium heat, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil to coat bottom of pan. When oil shimmers, add ½ cupfuls of bean mixture to pan and flatten gently.
  7. Fry burgers about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until crisp and dark brown. Repeat until all burger mix is used, adding more oil as necessary.
  8. Serve bean burgers on buns with desired garnishes.
  9. Makes 10 burgers.
  1. Extra patties can be frozen between sheets of parchment. Thaw in refrigerator before frying.
  2. Photo by Ken Burris.
Adapted from Executive Chef Keith Lada, The Skinny Pancake Group, Burlington
Adapted from Executive Chef Keith Lada, The Skinny Pancake Group, Burlington
Vermont Life Magazine http://vermontlife.com/

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