It’s An Alabama Thing: Greenbrier BBQ: Best Hushpuppies in Alabama


When I say that Greenbrier BBQ has the best hushpuppies in the state I am not exaggerating. In fact I may be under selling them, they may be the best in the nation. I have never taken anyone there and they not agreed when we left. They are THAT GOOD.


For those of you who are not from the South you may be wondering what in the world are Hushpuppies?

Hushpuppies are basically a corn meal batter that is deep fried. They can come in different shapes, but they are mostly seen in round/ball shapes and in oblong shapes like Greenbriers. They are not the most healthy thing to eat, but they sure are delicious!

They are great with ketchup, ranch dressing, and especially white sauce. White sauce is a vinegary sauce pretty much only found in North Alabama, if you have never had it you are missing out.


At Greenbrier the hushpuppies come out as soon as you sit down and they keep them coming. The food is also great at Greenbrier, it is greasy, but very good. You can even wash it all down with a 25 cent up of soft serve ice cream when you are finished.  It is not a fancy place, but has great service. Greenbrier has character, pictures of musicians and celebrities who have stopped by hang up in the restaurant. This establishment is on the list of 100 Places to Eat in Alabama Before You Die and is only a short distance off I-65 if you are ever traveling north/south through Alabama.

Trust me you have never had hushpuppies like these. If you are ever in North Alabama you have to give them a try.

Cotton: The Only “Snow” Alabama Gets

Growing up in Alabama, I have not seen a tremendous amount of snow in my lifetime except for the “snow” that blooms each fall in our fields.


Cotton has also been called “White Gold” because of its value. 100 years ago cotton is what kept the Southern economy thriving. After Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin, cotton took its place as the South’s top cash crop. By 1860, the southern states were providing two-thirds of the world’s supply of cotton, and up to 80% of the fiber that was crucial to the British textile market. American cotton production soared from 156,000 bales in 1800 to more than 4,000,000 bales in 1860 (a bale is a compressed bundle of cotton weighing between 400 and 500 pounds). Today from the years 2010 through 2012, average acres harvested was 9.8 million acres, producing an average 17.0 million bales.


Cotton is not as popular of a crop as it once was. We now use so many other materials for making clothing, so cotton is not as heavily used as it once was. However that does not mean cotton is still not important.

As of last week 88% of Alabama’s cotton crop had been harvested, but yesterday a local farmer was still picking cotton so I was able to grab some pictures.

These large machines called cotton pickers go through the fields and pull the cotton from the stalk. This particular cotton picker can pick 4 rows at a time.


The cotton picked is pulled through a vacuum process into the basket on the back of the picker.


When the basket is full the cotton is dumped into a module builder.



The module builder packs the cotton into a large rectangular block of cotton.


Cotton is then taken to the gin and after the seed is removed the fiber can be for a variety of products. One 480 bale of cotton can be used to make:

215 Jeans
249 Bed Sheets
409 Men’s Sport Shirts
690 Terry Bath Towels
765 Men’s Dress Shirts
1,217 Men’s T-Shirts
1,256 Pillowcases
2,104 Boxer Shorts
2,419 Men’s Briefs
3,085 Diapers
4,321 Mid-Calf Socks
6,436 Women’s Knit Briefs
21,960 Women’s Handkerchiefs
313,600 $100 Bills

You may have never realized that bills were made out of cotton, but think about it. If you leave a piece of paper in your pockets and wash it, what happens to it? Its a mess, but a dollar bill is not harmed after a trip through the washing machine.

Cotton is still king in my book. It is beautiful when it is blooming and the bolls are opening up. It is a very finicky crop and somewhat difficult to grow, but that makes it all the more satisfying when you are able to harvest it.


Decoration Days: It’s An Alabama Thing

Since I was a little girl I remember every second Saturday in August as Decoration Day. Decoration Day is an annual event held in rural cemeteries especially in North Alabama, I am not sure how prevalent they are in other areas of the country, but from my research it does not seem that they are common. My grandfather, great-grandparents, and some of my great-great-grandparents as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins are buried in Sandlin Cemetery in Northwestern Limestone County. 
Decoration Day is not just a day to put pretty flowers on the headstones, but has become more of a social event in recent years. Decoration day years ago was more of a maintenance day, but now the grass at the cemetery is usually cut a day or two before the decoration day and old flowers removed. Decoration days are typically held between March and September when the weather is warm. At Sandlin there used to be a meal served, typically consisting of goat stew, but they no longer eat, but it doesn’t stop people from walking around and visiting with friends, neighbors and relatives. 
New flowers are affixed to headstones. My grandmother and her daughter make their own arrangements each year a few days prior to the event. She fixes flowers for several relatives graves on both her side of the family as well as my late grandfather’s family. We go to the cemetery, fix the flowers and talk to others there doing the same. Although they no longer cook at Sandlin, we still go to Nana’s house and have goat stew just like they used to do. 
Decoration day is always a good day for me to learn. Each year I am reminded of my relatives and it helps me to remember our family ancestry as well as the connections to other members of the community. My dad says he always remembers going to decoration days growing up, however my mom who grew up on the east side of the county had never heard of it until she married my dad. Decoration days are not widely practiced, but there are several rural cemeteries across the county that still have them. It will be very interesting to see if they continue through the next generation or if it will fizzle out as the years go by. 
Does your geographic region have decoration days or do anything interesting / special when it comes to the upkeep or remember loved ones that have passed on?
You can read more about decoration days in the Encyclopedia of Alabama