Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes
Each month, I’ll share the magic of a good foodie lit read and one of its recipes. Cooking and recipes in books take us into the mind of the character or narrator and brings us into the book’s kitchen to see, smell and share the lives within.
Or I’ll take a good read and, with the author, find a recipe to pair with it! Either way, here’s to cooking and reading together
John Hickman’s Black Bear Killer.
Reading about a cop’s cop.
Nothing like being a cop and writing a mystery about a cop. You just feel that Sheriff Dell Hinton is the real thing. Author John Hickman, a 25 year veteran of law enforcement, told me, “Dell is basically my alter ego. If I had continued in law enforcement, my ideal retirement job would have been as a Sheriff in a small, rural community.”
The crimes and investigations may have a ring of reality as many came from John’s own experiences, this book and his other. “Actually, the main story of each book is fictitious, but almost all of the side stories are things that have happened to me directly, or others around me throughout my career.”
The setting is a small rural community in central Maine, where Dell enjoys his lakeside cabin. Having summered in Maine since he was 5 years old, John shared, “I have a deep love for the lake life and wanted to be able to share that interest with my readers.” After reading about few of his sunset kayak rides, I was ready to move Downeast myself!
The author takes us on many twists and turns as we walk step by step with Dell as he solves a murder and is frustrated with bureaucracy from the feds. We follow his psychological digging into the minds of the persons of interest and suspects. An aspect that is an old fashioned technique are his walk-abouts in town, chatting with the residents and the face to face conversations we seem to have lost. John commented that this trend is an eroding of civility. “As a whole, our country needs to return to more personal communications. While the internet and programs like Facebook provide a source for communication, they de-humanize that communication. Everyone feels like they can say anything about anyone and it has, in my mind, caused an absence of civility in this country. Everyone seems self-centered, no one thinks in terms of community these days.”
We get a feel for not only small town life and the fading gatherings of folks talking together, meeting on the main streets and simply knowing the traditions and tales of the place. An interesting character that I hope reappears in subsequent works is the quirky Old Mr. Darby Webb, a keeper of local lore. John based this character on “a composite of two of the actual caretakers who handled our property through the three generations. I used it as a homage to those men, whom I admired from my own past.”
Thoughts of food and recipes turn to the great in season fruit in Maine. Most anything made with wild Maine blueberries. Downeast Maine has lots of blueberry barrens. Maine blueberries grow on ankle high bushes and are very small and very sweet. John was enthusiastic. “Once you have had them, you will always want them. Blueberry pie is huge in that area. Although my wife is a great cook, I actually do most of the cooking at our house. I have a recipe my Mother gave me for a fruit and cream pie. It can be used with any fresh fruit that might be in season, although I most frequently make the peaches and cream pie.”
Fruit and Cream Pie is delicious, especially with fruit in season. Use fresh berries, peaches, pears or bananas for equally yummy results.
Mom’s Fruit & Cream Pie
If you have ever lived in Maine, you know how delicious the summer fruit is. This cream pie works well with many fruits in season and is richly decadent! John Hickman says his mom makes the best fruit and cream pies. Just try it and get back to us!
4 cups fresh berries, peaches, pears or bananas
1 packet Knox gelatin mix
1/ 2 cup sugar
1 pint heavy cream
1 pie crust, home made or store bought
- Pre-heat oven to 425.
- Place fruit into pie shell. Leave space around/between fruit pieces to allow filling to seep in. 9Just don’t pack fruit tightly.) Fill to near the top of the pie shell.
- In a measuring cup, mix sugar and 1 packet of Knox gelatin mix. (The amount of sugar will be 1/4 cup to 2/3 cup depending upon the sweetness of the fruit you use. Don’t over sweeten, as some fruits are extremely sweet in season.)
- Sprinkle sugar mix over the fruit, filling in the spaces as you go.
- Then pour about a pint of heavy whipping cream over the fruit. Be sure you fill in the spaces and wash the sugar mix down into fruit.
- Bake at 425 until the top starts to brown and you can see a few bubbles in the center of pie. Baking time should be around 30-40 minutes.
- Remove and let cool a good while. Refrigerate after the pie cools to ensure it gels up well. It’s best served cold from refrigerator.
- To be extra decadent. Serve whipped cream on top!
Expand the table
Use in season produce:
Use whatever fruit is in season: peaches, pears, bananas or berries. You can mix the berries—such as blueberries, strawberries and blackberries.
Cut the sugar
Use 1/4 cup Stevia
Make it dairy free
Condensed goats milk is a good substitute.
Keep it vegetarian
Use gelatin from plant based ingredients, such as Agar-agar, following package directions, or Unflavored Vegan Gel.
Learn more about John Hickman and his books at his website.
What could be better than New England and blueberries – except, of course, sitting be a beautiful lake eating the pie. The character sounds interesting and a real down home folk who always looks like he is behind everyone else but in reality his way puts him in front. Nice review.