Jo spotted Amy outside the window. She dropped her book and ran for the door, Aunt March crying out after her. “Josephine! The draft!”
Amy stood crying by the gate, her blonde hair covering her small, round face, the tears dropping onto her hand. Jo cried out at the sight of her distress. “What’s happened, Amy? Is it Father? Is there news?” The sky was dark above them and seemed to grow darker by the moment.
Amy shook her head, trembling. She held out her hand to Jo who gasped over the blood that spread there, the source a ferocious bite at the wrist. Amy’s face was as white as the snow that surrounded them. “Teacher bit me. He threw the clementines into the snow. All those beautiful clementines.”
“Blast the fruit, Amy. For mercy’s sake, the man bit you.” Jo grabbed Amy’s hand in a tight grip. In one swift move, she removed the scarf from her neck and wrapped it around the wound as Amy cried. Jo’s eyes narrowed. “You stay with Aunt March.”
“What? No!” Amy watched with wide eyes as Jo ran to the closest tree, where her bag was hidden in a shallow cavern at the base. “Jo, you mustn’t! We promised Marmee!”
Jo hefted the bag in her hands and gazed down at the collection of stakes that her sisters had whittled themselves, before the war. “Hush, Amy. It must be done.” She fixed her sister with a steely gaze and pushed her toward their aunt’s house. They could hear her calling for Jo in the darkness, her tinny voice in the sharply cold air. “There will be a reckoning. There must be a reckoning.”
Sometimes I wonder what people think when they come to this site randomly, expecting a simple recipe for clementine cake and instead getting a fan-fiction snippet from my latest novel (no, not really) Little Women: Vampire Hunters. Are they confused? Are they frightened? Disgusted? I wonder if I should care about that. Probably- our two biggest posts have no fictional stories attached, after all. Does that sting? Meh, maybe a little. But, for a writer and especially a writer of fiction, rejection is a part of the game- after a while, it just kind of sinks into you, becomes a part of your skin.
And anyway I do it because it’s fun and it has not yet stopped being fun. Plus, I know that when I look back on this post, I can read the story above and go, “Oh, right, that’s back when I was obsessed with The Vampire Diaries and could do nothing else but obsess over Damon Salvatore’s whereabouts at all times, to the exclusion of my sanity and personal hygiene. Those were pretty good days.” So now you know what I’ve been up to in the new year. Good times.
Note: We made this two ways. Nicole used all-purpose flour as a substitute for the ground almonds. I made it using ground almonds. Nicole reported that hers was good, very clementiney and the flour made for a dense, slightly sweet cake. I haven’t tasted mine yet because it’s due for a book club gathering on Thursday night (they read my book! Insert scream!) and I couldn’t think of a way to show up with a cake with a giant slice missing without looking slightly deranged. I will let everyone know how the almond cake turned out in our Facebook group on Friday.
4 to 5 clementines (about 1 lb.)
1 Cup plus 2 TBsp of sugar
2 and 1/3 Cups of ground almonds (or substitute all-purpose flour, pictured)
1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder
Prepare (excuse me while I try to write this as Nigella Lawson. All done with love, naturally. And I do love her.)
1. Place the gorgeous little beauties (clementines) ever so gently in a pot with cold water, enough to cover our amber gems. Look on lovingly as they glisten in the pool of water.
2. Bring pot to a boil and cook for 2 hours. Patience is a virtue. Be strong. Cake is coming.
3. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
4. Drain pot and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and gently, ever so lovingly, remove the seeds.
5. Finely chop the skins, pith and fruit in the processor. Yes, it’s true. All of it. Don’t be afraid.
6. Butter and line an 8-inch pan with parchment paper. Use a springform pan if you have one.
7. Beat the eggs into submission.
8. Add the sugar, almonds and baking powder. Mix well.
9. Add the chopped clementines by hand. It’s just some light stirring, you won’t miss the processor.
10. Pour the cake mixture into the pan and bake for 1 hour or until the skewer comes out clean. If the top is getting too brown, cover with foil and continue until baking is complete.
11. Remove from oven and leave to cool, then remove from pan.
Nicole, who likes sweeter desserts than I, recommends adding a simple glaze.