Saturday, January 22, 2022

Weekend Cooking: The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

A few months ago now I read and loved Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber. It had so many elements that I love - Southern charm, good food, great characters and a dash of magical realism. I already had this book on my Kindle waiting for me to read so it was a no brainer that I was going to read it. Whilst I enjoyed Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe slightly more, this was still a fun read with a lot to like about it.

Told in alternating voices between Sadie Way Cross and her sister, Leala Clare, the story is fundamentally the story of the two sisters and their mother who have a very difficult relationships. Their mother had raised them as a single parent whilst running a bed and breakfast right on the shores of the lake, the lake that Sadie had nearly drowned in 8 years previously. Whilst she survived, the colour of Sadie's hair had changed overnight to "glittery silver tresses" which Sadie's mother reminded her of the stars. Tired of being different, Sadie left her home town of Sugarberry Cove and didn't look back. Well, except for maybe when she was being honest with herself about how much she missed Sugarberry Cove and her home and family.

Sadie is an online content creator with her own YouTube channel, A Southern Hankerin'. She found people from all over the South who talk about a particular recipe, whether it be a family favourite or something that brings back memories. They could be complicated or as simple as buttermilk scrambled eggs.

Whilst Sadie doesn't really have a home as she travels all across the South, Leala is the opposite. She has stayed in Sugarberry Cove. She has the perfect husband, the perfect child and the perfect show home. So why isn't she happy?

Their mother, Susannah, having a heart attack is the trigger to bring all three members of the family together, forcing them to face their own truths about their life both past and present, about their relationships with each other and those around them and what the future may bring. First and foremost, it makes them see how much their mother really hasn't been coping for quite some time. The B&B is in desperate need of a makeover, and it isn't making enough money.

Leala and Sadie have been so engrossed in their own worlds that neither really know each other. Leala assumes that Sadie's channel is a little hobby rather than the extremely successful undertaking that it is and Sadie assumes that Leala is happy in her perfect life.

There are a cast of other characters who pass through the book including Teddy who comes to stay at the B&B every year for years and has become a close family friend, who this year brings her niece Bree for the first time, Sadie's uncle who has played a pivotal role in the absence of their deceased father, her first love and more.

Another character is the lake. There is a legend that the lake is home to Lady Laurel, the lady of the lake. Each year in August, there is a lantern festival where the townspeople can make their wishes and they may come true. It sounds like a truly magical event.

I thought I would share a passage from one of the A Southern Hankerin' episodes

"Is there anything I can do to help, Mrs Teakes?" I needed a diversion from my thoughts or else I was bound to fall into a deep mudhole of self-pity. I'd alreaady set up my cameras, three in all, to frame specific shots of the homey kitchen that breathed vintage charm, which was easy to do since it hadn't been updated in at least sixty years, possibly more. The room was painted a cheerful blue, and the scent of vanilla floated in the air, as if being exhaled by the colorful, floral wallpaper that served as a backsplash. The bulbous white fridge, covered in family photos, postcards, and old newspaper clippings hummed loudly, its long chrome handle gleaming. The wide stove with side-by-side ovens had two storage drawers at the bottom, and I could only imagine the stories it could tell of the meals it had cooked.

But those stories would have to wait. The focus of today's video ws on a dish served cold. Several small glass bowls were lined up along the ceramic tile countertop, each filled with different ingredients. Shredded coconut. Mandarin oranges. Sour cream. Maraschino cherries. Pineapple chunks. Mini marshmallows. Once the food prep was complete, I'd bethe one asking all the questions for the sake of the video, which would be posted the following week on my YouTube channel, A Southern Hankerin'.

The videos wereabout more than Southern cooking. At their heart were human-interest pieces featuring people across the South willing to share a family recipe and the story behind it. Last week, I'd had an in-depth preliminary phone interview with Mrs.. Teakes, and today I'd film her while she told me how, in the late 1960s, she'd captured the heart of her late husband with her recipe for ambrosia salad

During the interview I'd be sure to mention how the South proudly labeled some desserts as salad. To those who lived here, this came as no surprise. After all, this was the land where mac and cheese was considered a vegetable But my audience wasn't limited to the South. I had viewership that spanned the globe, a fact that amazed me - though it shouldn't. People tuned in for the heartwarming, relatable stories, which were needed in the world more than ever.

It sounds like a Youtube channel I would like to watch!

I am already excited about the next book that the author is releasing which is going to be called In the Middle of Hickory Lane

Do you have any cooking related Youtube channels that you watch, or podcasts you listen too?

About the book

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is a charming, delightful story of family, healing, love, and small town Southern charm by USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber.

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

Weekly meals

Saturday - Out for dinner
Sunday - Take away
Monday - Chicken Katsu
Tuesday - Ginger and Soy Soba Noodle salad
Wednesday - Pork nachos
Thursday - Beef sukiyaki bowls
Friday - Fish and chips at the beach

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. I loved Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, and South of the Buttonwood Tree, so this one will be next on my Heather Webber list to read. Sounds like another winner.

    1. I need to read South of the Buttonwood Tree Claudia!

  2. Your book this week doesn't sound very foodie. Were there any dishes you were tempted to try cooking? Southern food has a very interesting history, but you didn't indicate that there was any history in this book.

    best... mae at

    1. There was plenty of food! One thing I wasn't tempted to make was the ambrosia salad!

  3. Sounds like a good read. I watch several lifestyle YouTube channels that include cooking, but one of my favorite purely cooking channels is the one by America's Test Kitchen, which includes both cooking and reviews.

    1. Oh thanks! I might take a look at that one BFR

  4. I don't watch YouTube channels as such, however, there is one Toronto designer that I enjoy.
    I do use YouTube when I want to see how someone bakes/cooks certain recipes.

    1. I tend to do that when looking for new techniques too Jackie!

  5. I have turned to knitting in the evenings and during the day for something to do, especially during the day a little knitting break is nice. I have been so impressed by how much reading everyone does, I think if nothing else it is time to research which audio books my library has to offer. Especially when knitting at night an audio book would be more enjoyable than TV.

    1. Audiobooks and knitting should go well together Melynda!

  6. Ambrosia Salad is just a weird combination of foods.

  7. Thanks for the review. It sounds like a book I would enjoy because I like reading about relationships and how things get or don't get resolved. Putting it on my list.

    1. I highly recommend Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by the same author

  8. I enjoy Southern cooking, and that cold dish sound like Ambrosia Salad, somethign my husband very much enjoys.

    1. It is Ambrosia Salad Diane. I am really not sure I would choose Ambrosia Salad off a menu!



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