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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-2316

Where’s the Dirt?

Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit with Steve Carpenter of Jack-O-Lantern Farms in Muscle Shoals, AL (which is in North Alabama near Florence). 
 
 
 
They grow produce hydroponically which means they grow their plants in a mineral solution and not in soil! It was very interesting to learn about the different methods he uses to grow plants. His tomatoes, lettuce and peppers are grown in this way. 
 
 
 
 He does grow some of his fruits and vegetables traditionally in a garden type setting, but since people typically think of farmers as being someone who plays in the dirt it was a very cool setup. They sell their produce to some of the restaurants in the Florence area, including the 360 Grille which is a landmark in Florence. They also have a farmers market Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday where anyone can come buy their produce. Want to know more? You can find out more about Jack-O-Lantern Farms at their website http://www.jackolanternfarm.com/ and also in the October edition of the Alabama Cooperative Farming News Magazine or on their website http://www.alafarmnews.com.