Making Biscuits in the Black Belt

Arielle, Adrian & I ventured to Alabama’s Black Belt, a lesser known part of the state that is reinventing itself in food, farming and agriculture. Together we explored some of the area’s history, including an overnight stay at the Moore-Webb-Holmes Plantation (ca. 1819), one of Alabama’s last active plantations, which has been in the same family since the early 1800s.

But the main reason for our trip was to spend a day with Scott Peacock, a James Beard Award-winning chef who stepped away from a high-profile culinary career in Atlanta 10 years ago to rediscover his roots in Alabama and write a new chapter in his life and career. We spent the most incredible day with Scott at Reverie (ca. 1858) in Marion, learning the art of biscuits in the mansion’s sun showered kitchen.

You would think a lesson in biscuits would be a fairly simple process, but layers of complexity reveal themselves throughout the day. “[Biscuit making] is really simple, and simple is really hard,” Scott noted, as he sifted heirloom flour from Anson Mills and showed us how to make homemade baking powder. This was just one of many ‘biscuit-isms’ casually dropped throughout the day and we soaked up every word of kitchen wisdom he had to impart.

To say this trip was special for us would be an understatement. To try and describe Scott in a few words here, well, is not that easy. He is sweet and funny and generous and kind, and so full of love and passion for the home state to which he’s returned. If ‘a biscuit expresses the cook,’ as this Alabama native attests, then all you need to do is spend a day with Chef Peacock in the kitchen and let the biscuits tell the story.

More about The Black Belt Biscuit Experience...


With Thanksgiving fast approaching, read “A Southern Thanksgiving with Chef Scott Peacock” from Martha Stewart Living for some culinary inspo.

And if you’re planning a trip to the Black Belt and visit to the Moore-Webb-Holmes Plantation, book a tour through host Cooper Holmes to see and learn more of the region’s rich history. (better yet, stay the night there! 🙂 )

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Fields of Gold

With summer’s end comes the final hay cutting of the year. And in a year of so much noise and strife, local farmers and landowners throughout the South have been blessed by Mother Nature’s quiet gift of constant rains, which nourished the fields and grew the grass. Hay yields everywhere this year are breaking records. On our own little farm, the yield was 125 square bales and (because we had to get the grass up quickly before more rain came) 60+ giant round bales — for a total equivalent of 1,086 square bales! That’s the biggest haul in 11 years here, and it will feed a lot of cows and horses…and probably a few goats.

There’s something remarkably satisfying about feeding one’s animals with the grasses grown on the lands they stand on. The taste is familiar, their bodies eagerly accept the nutrients and roughage, and barns stand full and ready to feed in the cold months when no fresh grass is available.

We are so thankful for the friends who help us bale our hay. It’s never without challenges, that’s for sure, and we all learn new things each and every year. Without their perseverance and support (+ large equipment!) we’d be left with no choice but to bushhog the fields…then all that beautiful grass would just go to waste. And I don’t think we could sleep at night knowing we gave up the chance to keep more animals healthy, happy and fed.

Winter is coming. And we are ready.👊

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Adopted Alabamians

Whenever Sean of the South writes one of his love letters to Alabama, it always gets our attention. And this one — about road-tripping through the state in a pandemic — certainly hit home.

The thing I miss most, however, is road trips. Like the one I’m on now. I almost forgot how to travel. I almost forgot the thrill of looking out the window at the beauty lying between my Floridian Panhandle home and the sunkissed pastures of Alabama.
I almost forgot what it feels like to roll down my window on a clear day, travelling fifty-five. I nearly forgot how freeing it is to be on an old highway among the peanut fields and cotton.
Workaholic Me is gone. And I hope he stays gone. And for the next few days, I am once again an adopted son of a truly great state.
I heart Alabama.
-Sean Dietrich

Like Dietrich, we are also “adopted Alabamians” and we ♥ our family here. It’s been awhile since we took an Alabama road trip…just because (a friend once called that “going loafering”). Thinking we need to hit those back roads again soon!

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Returning and Awakening to the Beauty of Rural Alabama…by travel photographer / native Alabamian Scott Baker.

Swann Covered Bridge, photo by Scott Baker

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Because we could probably all use a little JT right now…😊

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