Time is the trickster god. A coyote that laugh-howls, lopes into your nightmares, tricks the Snake. The booming thunder of God-fury, the small church mice that follow the corn harvest like a perennial migration. All of it, everything. The Bible doesn’t mention the creation of time, it could have been the first or the sixth day of manifested divinity. Between the firmament and the sea, deep in the root-veins of the universe. We live in the world of cause-and-effect, and the only protection of this stifling reality is perception. My mother said her candy shop was getting too commercial. My mother said her back hurt so bad she couldn’t breathe that morning. My mother said that if she could tell her seventeen-year-old self to get an education, she wouldn’t be “in this hell-hole town” now.
And I understood. I didn’t know who I was at seventeen and I was headstrong and coming into a sexuality that was too strong for me to divert. I was creative in a static way, post-it notes of lyrical sentences, nonsensical until it was in a poem. I majored in English, a dead degree. I second-majored in Philosophy, a dead science. And now I work with tension and dream of cooking every day. I dream that the window is open, the sun highlighting dust motes I’ll get to one day. The dogs dance their carnal dance of play-fight and Nolan sits waiting for me. And I have that life in part-time.
My weekend is Tuesday and Wednesday and after working for days on end, skipping weekends to help out in the office, I finally had two days off in a row. After dental appointments and job applications, I got the chance to reconnect. The mornings, grey and amber the way mornings are, were punctuated by small kisses and coffee that cut the cold, silent air with the sizzle of the pot when it went back on the burner. My shoulders fell, relaxed. My heart relaxed, grateful. We put a deposit on a new house and felt the promise of a new life, a new us. A way to forget the time I yelled so loud my throat hurt, a chance to forget that every cause has an effect, because we live in a world of time. And sometimes those things don’t leave you.
Wednesday night, I made a cake. I made a cake and planned my future. I made a cake and recreated a dish we had in Newport last week. And the small jewels of heirloom tomatoes and the beads of sweat that dotted Nolan’s shirt told me how alive I am, how I don’t regret who I was at seventeen, because my poetry is different now, but it’s still there in the periphery.
Almond Meringue Cake with Clover Honey-Vanilla Icing
For the cake:
- 1 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
- 1 2/3 cup flour
- 2/3 cup finely-ground almonds (I used a food processor for a 6 oz bag of plain almonds)
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 ounces soft butter
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla
- 1 Teaspoon almond
- 1/2 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 Teaspoon cream of tartar (optional, but recommended)
For the icing:
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon
- 1 Tablespoon clover honey
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, Fahrenheit
- Put a metal bowl and whisk or hand beaters’ whisks into freezer to cool while you prep.
- Prepare an 8-inch cake pan by liberally coating with softened butter and parchment paper
- For the cake, sift flour, soda, ground almonds, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix together. Set aside.
- In a glass measuring cup or separate mixing bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, extracts, vinegar, and buttermilk by whisking until yolks are broken up.
- Combine wet ingredients with dry in thirds. After each portion, beat with hand or stand mixer for 20 seconds or so to combine thoroughly. Set this batter aside.
- Take bowl and whisk out of freezer, and beat egg whites until peaks form. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- To combine meringue with batter mixture, use a rubber spatula and take a small amount of the egg whites and stir them into the batter. Now, pour all egg whites into batter bowl and fold gently until just combined.
- Pour into prepared cake pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes and watch carefully. The top will be browned, and the center will not be fully cooked. To ensure nothing is burnt, put aluminum foil over cake after 45 minutes and continue to bake until middle is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Check in five minute intervals to ensure best quality.
- Invert cake and cool completely.
- While cake is cooling, prepare icing by adding all ingredients in a bowl and mixing together. Add warm water by the tablespoon and whisk vigorously until desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake. Enjoy!