#GivingTuesday – Little Women & Orange Muffins

It’s #GivingTuesday.  Americans spent the last few days shopping and looking for deals.  Now as most of us return to work with “visions of sugar plums” and presents dancing in our heads, its also a moment for us to stop and give with great-fullness for all that we have enjoyed and is yet to come.  Lets open our hearts to others that are in need because you have been blessed.  As Christmas approaches if there ever was a Christmas story that is set in my mind and heart since my childhood, it is Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”.  There have also been several films made to depict the story of the four March sisters coming of age during the America Civil War. Since, I missed A Fork and A Flick last Friday this month, I thought featuring “Little Women” on Giving Tuesday is perfect timing.  Spanning through several seasons and years the story is much more than a coming of age story, but it’s a heartwarming tale of four girls growing up with their father away at war and living in genteel poverty, yet their ability to see beyond their own need and continue to give shows the coming forth of the importance of spiritual gifts in this story.

1949 film Little Women – One of my favorites.
1994 Little Women – Beautifully created.

One of the most iconic “Little Women” scenes is when the girls wrap up their own Christmas breakfast of popovers, sausages, oranges, and coffee to take to a family that is in greater need than themselves.  It is the most memorable depictions of giving in my heart.  If I am to feature a recipe from this book/film, it probably should be this breakfast because of its significance. However, there is so much to choose from.  In Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 version of the masterpiece.  The young ladies make this charming sweet cake over a discussion of marriage for the holidays.

There are indeed plenty of foodie scenes to select from, including Louisa May Alcott’s own writings in the novel where in the opening chapters the March sisters are surprised by a Christmas treat of their own after they have given their Christmas meal away:

This was a surprise even to the actors, and when they saw the table, they looked at one another in rapturous amazement. It was like Marmee to get up a little treat for them, but anything so fine as this was unheard of since the departed days of plenty. There was ice cream, actually two dishes of it, pink and white, and cake and fruit and distracting French bonbons and, in the middle of the table, four great bouquets of hot house flowers.
It quite took their breath away, and they stared first at the table and then at their mother, who looked as if she enjoyed it immensely.
Is it fairies? asked Amy.
Santa Claus, said Beth.
Mother did it. And Meg smiled her sweetest, in spite of her gray beard and white eyebrows.
Aunt March had a good fit and sent the supper, cried Jo, with a sudden inspiration.
All wrong. Old Mr. Laurence sent it, replied Mrs. March.

Little Women, Louise May Alcott

Bringing it all together, I wanted the freshness of the oranges and poppers along with the quaintness of sweet cakes. I came up with Orange Muffins that have a colloquial essence to them.

Orange Muffins

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Grated zest of 1 orange

1 egg

4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup strained fresh orange juice

10 thinly sliced orange wedges

Method

  1. Preheat an oven to 375°F.
  2. Grease 10 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray; fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.
  3. In a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, milk and orange juice until blended.
  5. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them level with the rim.
  7. Bake the muffins until golden, dry and springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and place one orange wedge on top each muffin.
  9. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove the muffins from the pan and serve warm or at room temperature.
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