Blueberry-Blackberry Corn Muffins for Let the Willows Weep for TLC

Welcome to the latest stopover on the TLC Book Tour for Let the Willows Weep by Sherry Parnell.  I received a copy for an honest review.  All rants and gushings are my own.  

About the novel:

“Sometimes life is just like paper wings. Fragile, easily torn apart, and often there are too many pieces to pick up.”

In the tradition of the best Southern fiction—from Bastard Out of Carolina to Where the Crawdads Sing—Sherry Parnell’s Let the Willows Weep is a heart-wrenching portrait of hardscrabble, humble lives in rural America. A keenly-observed and unflinching look at the life of Birddog Harlin as she grows up in her dysfunctional family, this novel explores the line between destruction and redemption.

About the author:

Having spent her entire life captivated by books, Sherry Parnell remains struck by the idea that there are boundless experiences and worlds that exist with only the turn of a page. A professor, trainer, and writer, she lives with her husband and sons in the Pennsylvania countryside

 

 

Connect with Sherry

What I thought…

Although Let the Willows Weep  is set in the pre-Civil Rights era South, as I read it I was struck that it could be set during anytime.  Obviously, we have seen that discrimination still abounds whether it is based on race, creed or social class.

The reader never learns Birddog’s given name.  Birddog is the nickname that her beloved brother Denny gives her but she also is given the better moniker of Daisy Girl by Diggs, her first love’s brother.  (Of course, Caul, her younger brother and her tormentor, calls her Dog Face.)     Her nameless status makes her story more tragic and heart wrenching.

Luckily for Birddog, as life throws her one punch after another, there is still some humanity left in her community.  Thank goodness for Ms. Tarmar, the elderly seamstress and her employer.  Ms. Tarmar takes Birddog in when there is no one else.

Birddog’s mother is beyond likable.  She dotes on Denny but finds every opportunity to berate her daughter.  She imagines a life for herself that is beyond what she has, blaming Birddog for ruining imagined tea parties with the “high society” of the county.   Birddog is wise beyond her years and recognizes her mother’s struggle.  Early in the novel she states, “I believe you become who you are meant to be.  Sometimes you choose your life and other times it chooses you” (20).  Her mother did not embrace the life she had and then in an instance, she didn’t have it.  (Slight spoiler alert there.)

 

The story is book-ended by another tale, that of another mother and daughter.  I did want to learn more about this mother (an adult Birddog) and the situation that sparks the memory that is Let the Willows Weep.

The Food:

There’s plenty of good country comfort food in the novel.  I was struck as Mrs. Harlin was complaining about what they didn’t have that she was still putting delicious home-made meals on the table that did not seem to be lacking.

  • tea (10)
  • buttered cornbread, green beans, mashed potatoes, peaches, peas, chicken (15-17)
  • iced tea (22)
  • apple dumplings (38)
  • fried chicken, buttered peas, mashed potatoes (39)
  • bacon, eggs, toast (44)
  • gingerbread cookies (64)
  • peanut butter toast (70)
  • casseroles (98)
  • pot roast (112)
  • peas and potatoes (115)
  • sandwiches cut in neat squares and punch (123)
  • cold stew (143)
  • muffins (168)
  • “sweet scent of blackberries” (174)
  • pork chops (177)
  • fried chicken and potatoes (181)
  • coffee and cornbread and beef stew (198)
  • turkey (212)

Ms. Tarmar was Birddog’s savior in her most dire time of need and deserves some praise here.  She also always seemed to be munching on cornbread muffins while she told seemingly deep stories that ended abruptly.  I decided to pay homage to her here with these honey-cornbread muffins studded with berries.

Blueberry-Blackberry Cornbread Muffins

Based on one found here.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 T.  butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. blackberries
  • 1/2 c. blueberries
  • raw turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the almond milk, eggs, butter (cooled slightly), and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.  Carefully mix in the berries.
  3. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.  Evenly divide the mixture into the tins, filling about 3/4 way full. Sprinkle muffin tops with the raw sugar.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.
  5. Let cool slightly for 5-10 minutes and then remove from pan.

I used a mix of frozen blackberries and blueberries that I had stored away.  I just thawed them slightly  and drained off any excess liquid.

These almost taste like a cobbler in a muffin form.  I love these.  Perfect for breakfast or with tea in the afternoon.

 

Check out the other TOUR STOPS for Let the Willows Weep:

Monday, September 14th: Eliot’s Eats

Wednesday, September 16th: Openly Bookish

Thursday, September 17th: @blissandbooks

Friday, September 18th: @brabsandbooks

Monday, September 21st: PhDiva Blog and @thephdivabooks

Wednesday, September 23rd: @booksandbackroads

Thursday, September 24th: The Bookend Diner and @thebookend.diner

Friday, September 25th: Girl Who Reads

Thursday, October 1st: Books Cooks Looks

Wednesday, October 7th: @suzysbookshelf

Thursday, October 8th: @shobizreads

Friday, October 9th: Leighellen Landskov and @mommaleighellensbooknook 

I’m linking up with Foodies Read...

and Weekend Cooking.

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