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!
Laura Wharton’s Julia’s Garden
Landscape designer Lily McGuire not only has to take over a big landscaping job after her boss unexpectedly dies, but then has to follow the clues about a long ago disappearance, a buried brooch and an unusual collection of toxic plans! Author Laura Wharton told me, “As I plotted the storyline, I wanted the garden to mirror the characters, who are not at all what they seem, as Lily McGuire finds out.”
A strange man shows up in Lily’s office and gives her a 1940’s garden journal, which he says killed her boss and best friend. This connects Lily to Julie’s disappearance, her buried brooch and her unusual collection of toxic plants—a mystery perfect for a landscape architect to solve!
Lily McGuire doesn’t want to take over Macy’s landscaping role at the historic Norton-Grace estate, in Columbia, SC., especially after Macy’s sudden and fatal heart attack. The journal belongs to Julia Norton, daughter of the original owners.
Still coping with her divorce and womanizer ex-husband, now single mom Lily is prickly and not trusting. She trains hard as a black belt in judo, keeping people at an arm’s length, especially co-worker Jack Chapman.
Lily and Jack begin to piece together the mystery of the disappearance of Julia, daughter of the original owners of the estate and the brooch she has hidden in the garden. Lily and Jack go to real life restaurant Sweet Potato, with its fabulous Southern recipes. (See the Sweet Potato Pie recipe that Chef Stephanie Tyson generously shared with us!)
“Some say a garden is the keeper of the gardener’s soul,” Laura writes. Julia’s family garden is beautiful and also dangerous. Lily’s gardening love and skills puts Julia’s garden right, solves several mysteries, heals a father-son relationship and begins to weave an interesting bond with Jack. The future is unresolved as the book ends, no doubt waiting for the next book in the series!
Secrets of Julia’s family and romance emerge from the past. The mystery is solved but Lily and Jack’s relationship remains unresolved. And what is the ideal relationship? Laura draws this from personal experience, “My parents had the ideal relationship. My father, who passed away last fall, put my mother first in everything he did, and my mother put him first in all she did for all of their 60-plus years of marriage. They were partners in the truest sense of the word. Frankly, this kind of relationship is one to be longed for.” Let’s wait for the next in the series!
Sweet Potato Pie by Chef Stephanie Tyson
from Well Shut My Mouth!! The Sweet Potato Restaurant Cookbook
Chef Stephanie Tyson of The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant in Winston-Salem, NC shared her signature recipe with us. She made our day with this beloved Southern recipe! The pie figures in our Foodie Lit novel, Julia’s Garden and of course, is a favorite its author Laura Wharton.
Good all year round, this fragrant pie has an aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Smooth and flavorful, the pie marries creaminess, sweetness and spices.
2 cups sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
3 eggs beaten
1 tbs. flour
2 cups sweet condensed milk (1 can)
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
Combine mashed sweet potatoes with sugar and flour. Stir in beaten eggs, mix in
cinnamon and nutmeg add remaining ingredients mix until well combined.
Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until done.
(pie should rise slightly and middle should no longer look wet or shiny.
Find out more about Laura S. Wharton at her website