Bernadette: Princess Under Protest

When we read Alexandra’s novel, My Home Grows, for “Reading and Refreshments” back in January, we knew it wouldn’t be long before the other siblings were clamoring for their turn. So, in the interest of fairness, we are now giving Cate’s novel, Bernadette: Princess Under Protest, its turn in the spotlight. (Don will have to wait a few more months before the Freestyle Five make their appearance.)

Bernadette: Princess Under Princess is a lively medieval tale of journey, romance, and discovery, full of spritely dialogue and tense adventures, which make it a particularly rousing read-aloud story. (This is Alexandra writing, so I’m allowed to brag about my sister’s novel.)

The basic plot is this: sixteen-year-old Princess Bernadette, as her royal obligations grow ever more demanding and the date of her marriage to an unknown betrothed draws closer, begins to wish she could escape from her position as crown princess of Berklesgilands. Fortunately, her jolly father, King Frederick, has a plan that will cure the most restless royal!

     “Would you like to try an experiment, my daughter?” he asked, a mischievous expression crossing his face.
     “What do you mean?” Bernadette asked, suddenly alert. She liked it when her father looked like that; it usually portended something in the realm of fun or excitement.
     “I’ll make a bargain with you. You can take a year—this next year, before your scheduled wedding-date at age seventeen—to travel around the Kingdom of Berklesgilands and the neighboring realms, to try out all the different ways of living that you think you might enjoy, so that you can find out which you like best. If you like one of them so much better than your royal station that it can reconcile you to parting from all of us and giving up your birthright of both duty and privilege, then when the year is up, you can continue living that way and Roxanne will become the heir to the throne and marry your betrothed.”

– Bernadette: Princess Under Protest

A dream come true indeed! Bernadette can scarcely believe the generous offer.

     “Oh, do you mean it, Father?” Bernadette gasped in amazement. “I should love to! It would be so exciting, like a treasure hunt, like going off to seek one’s fortune . . .”

– Bernadette: Princess Under Protest

But there’s a catch, of course. On this wondrous journey she will have to put up with her teasing, slightly bossy cousin Pete as a travel companion.

     “Oh, Father, why? I don’t want him,” she protested, glaring at Pete as irritably . . .
     “Afraid I’ll cramp your style, cousin, is that it?” he inquired teasingly.
    “Yes,” returned Bernadette, too much ruffled to say anything other than the absolute truth.

– Bernadette: Princess Under Protest

Despite Bernadette’s initial reluctance, the two cousins set off in disguise—and they soon have more to worry about then their little squabbles, as they encounter bandits, battles, gypsies, and floods along the way. Most annoying of all to Bernadette is the pesky Black Knight, Colin, who dogs their footsteps at every turn, causing Bernadette to panic that he will penetrate their carefully planned disguises! Furthermore, he buys the beautiful mare Midnight, whom Bernadette had set her heart on purchasing, and refuses to sell her.

     “Enough of this parley, sir,” Bernadette put on her stateliest manner, which generally had worked very well for her at court. Whether it would work equally well in this barnyard setting remained to be seen. “I wish to purchase this horse from you, so name your price and that will be all we need to consider further.”
     “Indeed? And what if I don’t wish to sell?” the Black Knight’s eyes twinkled mischievously.
     Bernadette was not amused. When you are accustomed to having completely unrestricted access to all the horses in the Royal Stables . . . it is rather difficult to immediately come to terms with the fact that you cannot always have whatever you want simply because you want it.

– Bernadette: Princess Under Protest

And when an uprising along the Berklesgilandian border forces them to accept Colin as a traveling companion, Bernadette can barely restrain her indignation. A beautiful young gyspy maiden, Esmeralda, also joins their little band; but as she and Pete are always at sword points, this only adds to the turbulence. Gradually, the danger that they must face together begins to break down their prejudices, but then the unrest at the border escalates into a war that puts not only their lives but their newfound friendships in jeopardy.

Will the foursome be able to make their way across the border safely? And will Bernadette be able to find both her true destiny and her true love?

Read Bernadette: Princess Under Protest to find out!

We have a special recipe for our refreshment today, the pancakes that Colin makes for the others during a specially trying time in their journey. They are made with almond meal and spelt flour, an ancient grain that was very commonly used in the Middle Ages. And as the travelers would not have been able to carry eggs or milk with them, the pancakes use yogurt instead and are sweetened with honey—they wouldn’t have had white sugar! Then serve the pancakes with a wild berry sauce, just like the one that the four friends might have prepared from the berries that Colin and Bernadette gather on the first morning when they confide in each other.

Almond-Spelt Pancakes with Wild Blueberry SauceColin’s Pancakes

Ingredients:

For the pancakes:
1 cup wholegrain spelt flour
1 cup almond meal
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups plain yogurt
¼ cup oil
3 tablespoons honey
 
For the sauce:
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

Technique:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add the yogurt, oil, and honey and stir just until the batter is smooth. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes or so.
  3. While the batter is resting, preheat an oiled griddle to 325°F and prepare the sauce.
  4. Combine the blueberries, honey, and 2 tablespoons of the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  5. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining tablespoon of water and whisk the mixture into the boiling sauce. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon and pour the sauce into a serving pitcher.
  6. Scoop ½-cup portions of the batter onto the preheated griddle and bake until the cakes are well-browned, 5-8 minutes per side.
  7. Repeat with remaining batter.
  8. Transfer pancakes to plates and serve with the berry sauce.

Yield: 6 pancakes

Yogurt-Spelt Pancakes with Wild Blueberry Sauce

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