Book Extract: The Heartpine Recipes by L.C. Fields

Please join me in welcoming L.C. Fields to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for their novel, The Heartpine Recipes.

It’s more than southern storytelling. It’s southern storytelling with a side of biscuits.

When Grace Collier comes back to Heartpine, Tennessee, she’s thinking about endings. The end of her job. The end of her engagement. Instead, she finds a new beginning. A journey of discovery that will reconnect her to her home place…as well as her own past.

Like so many southern tales, this one starts out in the kitchen. Grace’s Aunt Jess – the wise, loving woman who raised her after her parents passed – is collecting recipes for a new community cookbook. It’s not long before Grace finds herself an honorary member of the cookbook committee; and next thing she knows, she’s busy gathering up all the rich stories that come with those recipes. All the surprises, all the mysteries, all the memories. Along the way, she gets to know a townful of unforgettable characters. Stirs up a few old secrets. And comes to terms, finally, with her own legacy of loss.

It’s about the recipes, yes. But more than that, it’s about the relationships. It’s a journey that links families and generations. A journey of homecoming and redemption.

And just for fun, every chapter includes an iconic southern recipe – so you can cook them up yourself and see what all the fuss is about. From cornbread to collards, from pulled pork to pineapple casserole, you’ll find them here. There’s even a never-fail recipe for the best sweet tea you’ve ever tasted (not that a true southern cook would need a recipe for that, heaven knows!).

Touching, positive and uplifting, The Heartpine Recipes is a generous serving of warmth, humor and heart.


L.C. Fields has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy. 


*****beginning of extract*****


The next morning, we marshaled our bowls and beaters and measuring cups and racks, like generals preparing the order of battle. The kitchen was cleared of other clutter, and the stand mixer was moved front and center. This was serious business.

Oh, I know. All we were doing, when you reduced it down to the barest facts, was making a cake. But trying to reclaim anything that’s been lost, to drag it back out of the maw of oblivion? That’s not an easy thing.

I have to be honest: I had never even tried to make a pound cake. And I’m not sure I ever realized that that simple four-item list leaves something out. There’s no leavening. No baking powder, no baking soda, no cream of tartar. What makes a pound cake rise, plain and simple, is the air you beat into it. I guess there’s a bigger lesson you can take away from that. Sometimes in life you have to find a way to rise with just the stuff you’ve got.

Now don’t worry, I’m not going to go through each and every variation we tried. But I can give you a rundown. We sifted and we resifted. We had the butter cool and the eggs warm, and then we switched that around. We pinched salt and we spooned vanilla. We added a little heavy cream, and then we took it out. We beat the mixture with the paddle, then we tried the whisk, and then we got tricky and swapped them out midway through. We started with the oven cold, and we started with the oven preheated. You get the general idea.

I don’t know how many bags of White Lily and Dixie Crystals we went through, but I know the fellow at the Kroger must have gotten good and tired of seeing me every other day. When I wheeled the buggy up to the checkout, he said to me – whispering, like he was afraid somebody would overhear him – that I might be better off with the twenty-five-pounders over at the club store.

And then Aunt Jess had the idea of looking through some more of her mother’s things, to see if there might be a clue somewhere in a different recipe – some kind of trick or secret that my mother might have picked up. That’s when we had a sort of breakthrough. There was a handwritten note on a white cake recipe, about adding a little bit of cream cheese to the batter, for extra flavor and moistness.

So back to the Kroger we went, this time for a half dozen packages of cream cheese.

“Well now,” Aunt Jess said, when she tasted that first cake with the cream cheese in it. “I do believe we’re on the right track.”

It was on the seventh day, just after noon, when we took our latest effort out of the oven. I remember that distinctly, because I said something about the Almighty getting the world made in that same number, and Aunt Jess was not at all happy with that comment.

We set it on the hotpad and she leaned over, inspecting the top.

“Well?” I asked her.

“It’s got to cool, of course,” she said. “But looking at it right now, it’s got the look. That’s all I’m going to say for the time being.”

Even after all the hours we had spent, it felt like an eternity waiting for the cake to cool down enough to take it out of the pan. It came out nice and easy, and a few light brown crispy bits detached themselves from the top.

“That’s a good sign,” Aunt Jess said.

“Here,” I said, handing her a cake knife. “You do the honors.”

“All right,” she answered. “Here we go.”

I think I must have held my breath. Aunt Jess brought the knife down, and there was a lovely crackling sound as it passed through the top.

“That’s the sound, all right.”

She repeated the operation, laid the slice on a plate and held it out to me, along with a fork.

“No,” I said. “You’ve got to be first. You’re the one who remembers mama’s. You’re the only one who can say.”

That was an important point, and I have to admit I hadn’t thought about it very much; we were too busy. Aunt Jess was the only person – the only person anywhere – who would be able to say whether we had managed to recreate the original. I might taste it and say it was delicious, the most delicious cake I’d ever had, but if Aunt Jess said no, then it was right back to the drawing board, and start heating the oven up again.

While I was busy thinking, Aunt Jess had taken a bite of the cake. She was chewing it – politely and silently – with her eyes closed. And then those eyes opened, and when they did, there were tears in them.

“That’s it,” she said softly. “That’s it. Oh my. How that brings it all back.” She found a tissue and blotted her eyes. “You did it, honey. You did it.” And then she snapped out of it, picked up the knife and cut a second slice. “Here. You try.”

She handed me a plate – her fingers were trembling a tiny bit – and I took a bite.

“Oh,” I said. “Oh, it’s wonderful.” And suddenly I was crying too.

Now you might think, after all the mixing and baking and tasting, that the very last thing we would have wanted to eat, at that point, was a slice of pound cake. But it wasn’t so. That cake tasted like the very best thing in the world. For me, it tasted like victory – victory, even for just a moment, over loss and grief and death. For Aunt Jess, I think it must have tasted like memory. All I know is that we had seconds, and we cried a little more, and we enjoyed every last crumb.


*****end of extract*****



About L.C. Fields – 

You’ve probably read some of L.C. Fields’s writing, somewhere along the line. That’s because L.C. has spent a couple of decades at ad agencies, writing for a few of the great icon brands. Some of that experience is baked into L.C.’s fiction.

L.C. lives in rural Southwest Virginia – about an hour’s drive from the imagined town of Heartpine – off a winding gravel road. It’s a grand place to listen to the wind, watch the animals (including one ridiculously cute Kerry Blue Terrier) and soak up inspiration.

The Heartpine Recipes is L.C.’s first (published) novel.

Say hello to L.C. Fields on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon or via their website

The Heartpine Recipes was released on 24th may 2024.  Click to buy on Amazon UK and Amazon US


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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