Pit Stop in Darien, GA

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By now, it’s likely no secret that I enjoy discovering small, old, unheard-of towns, especially if they are on the water. Are you tired of hearing about them? I hope not because we’ve discovered another one. On our way home from Gainseville after Easter, Chris found this tiny historic town in Georgia named Darien.  Darien was a perfect stop for us to walk around, boat watch, eat and release some energy before getting back on the road. It’s located on the Altamahda Scenic Byway on the Atlantic Coast.

As soon as you cross the bridge into Darien it’s clear there is a rich history with plantations, museums, ruins and historical markers scattered through out the town. You can also fish, boat and swim to your heart’s desire. Chris and I agreed that this is the type of small town where we’d like to end up, where a slow pace of life is the norm and the huge amount of natural beauty could keep you occupied for days. Our stop was a few hours at most, so I don’t have much to say about it other than that we’d love to come back one day! Here are a few photos.

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Lunch with the rugrats at Skippers Fish Camp, a great waterfront restaurant that also has a huge deck with turtles swimming around, cornhole to play with and loads of boats pulling in and out of the docks.

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When I tell Grace not to smile for the camera..this is what I get!

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Crab cake, hush puppies, grouper strips, BBQ and collards, sweet potato souffle and green beans. Now I really want to go back. There were loads of options for everyone in the family, all delicious. 

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Darien was once a huge port town and the pictures above are of the old ruins from warehouses and naval stores. If you look closely, these walls, named the Darien Tabby Walls, are made of oyster shells. 

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Drink and dessert stop at Zio Carlo. We brought home a few bags of their pecan biscottis-a perfect item to sell at an Italian style cafe in rural Georgia.

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We didn’t even really scratch the surface of all there is to do in Darien, but I love having this little corner of the web to share photos of even our smallest adventures. As much as I know some of our family look forward to the pictures of the girls, I too love having a place to document these precious days. Hope you enjoyed them and thanks for reading!

A ride around Tabletop in Butler, GA

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After Thanksgiving, I loaded the girls up and embarked on an adventure to visit my dad and stepmom in rural Butler, Georgia. Butler is located in Taylor County, a few hours south of Atlanta. If you are familiar with Taylor County or the surrounding area, you might inquire as to what we did for an entire week in the middle of nowhere. Well, I am learning more and more since having children that you can always conjure up things to see/do and people to meet no matter where you are. You just have to be willing to look. We found lots of great places to play: an old train caboose parked along side a track, a severely outdated but nonetheless imagination-provoking town park, and a creek to throw sticks in. And we had loads of fun visiting with my dad’s family. We also drove to Pine Mountain to see the famous Callaway Garden Fantasy in the Lights Show. Thanks Dad and Gail! Haven’t quite learned the skills to photograph Christmas lights…maybe next year 🙂

While Taylor County is mostly rural farm land, now being taken over by solar farms, my dad and his siblings all have houses “in town.” Butler’s downtown consists of a courthouse with a functioning clock tower, two restaurants, the post office, a farm store and not much else. It’s your typical rural Southern town that hasn’t changed much in the 28 years I’ve been visiting, which is one of the reasons why I love it!

The most unique and unexpected sight to see in Butler, aside from the miles and miles of solar farms, is the hidden hippie-feeling Tabletop area. The “neighborhood,” nicknamed Big Gully, consists of three houses. On home is owned by Mr. Ward and Mrs. Billie Edwards, one belongs to Mr. Ward’s brother, Sonny, and the other home belongs to my aunt and uncle. It’s in a huge, beautiful, wooded area that has only carved out space for the few houses and a road to access them. The Edwards family uses the land as their own personal canvas with all sorts of folk art, gorgeous intricate bird houses, statues and antique political signs scattered throughout the premises, some done by their daughter of Big Gully Folk Art.

There is so much storytelling and creativity in these woods through their artwork – it’s unbelievable! Some leave you in awe, some leave you laughing or scratching your head wondering, “What was the thought process??” Whenever driving over to visit my aunt and uncle, I love pulling into the woodsy neighborhood to see what birdhouses or statues I’ll notice each trip. When I was a child, I relished driving an old John Deere gator around, soaking it all in, and now Grace is old enough to somewhat participate and appreciate this little Butler “tourist stop.”  I’m hoping next time I’m in town, I can ping the Edwards family and hear about their inspiration and history behind this neighborhood and all that encompasses it. Until then, I thought you’d enjoy the photos of what the heck I’m talking about. Grace particularly loved counting all the bird houses and the funky farm animal art around the painted pick up truck. So fun!  Enjoy, and happy holidays everyone!img_4825-2img_4828-2img_4830-2img_4841-2img_4849-2img_4852-2img_4859-2img_4869-2img_4872-2img_4879-2img_4884-2img_4895-2img_4898-2img_4903-2img_4914-2

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Hope you enjoyed the photos! This last one is my dad’s favorite stop in the neighborhood…cracks me up!

 

-Addie

 

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In the Kitchen: Simple & Sweet Seared Scallops with Peaches

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This weekend we were back in the lovely & untouched Taylor County Georgia. You may remember me writing about adventures in Taylor County here or here. It was a beautiful weekend, spent visiting with family while soaking up country air. Activities included another trip to Fielder’s & also to a dairy farm to get some raw milk. We stopped at  Taylor’s Orchard peach stand to stock up on peaches & devour peach ice cream. Georgia is known for their sweet juicy peaches & rightly so. Did you know that peach trees are actually a part of the rose family? Their blooms are just as pretty & delicate.IMG_5943

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The highlight oft the weekend was my sneaky marvelous mother who drove up from Mississippi to surprise Chris & I. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were certainly tears, as I thought it wouldn’t be until Chris when I would see her next. No visit is long enough but she left us with enough plants, food & Lazy Magnolia beer to keep us occupied until December.  After stopping at Taylor’s Orchards we made our traditionally last stop at my Aunt Mary’s house in Macon.  Aunt Mary always sends us home with jams, produce & baked goods. This time it was peaches from her peach trees (several which are volunteers from the compost pile!), tomatoes, peppers & a bunch of rosemary.  You can image how fragrant & delicious the car smelled on the way home. The scents made the 8 hour drive a bit more bearable. All I could smell where extra ripe Georgia peaches and earthy Rosemary.

I knew the next day I had to make something with these two things together in one meal.   I had our local fish monger, drop off sweet & succulent scallops. Locals Seafood is where we purchase our seafood. They are such a blessing, always providing a delicious selection of seafood fresh from NC waters & are very knowledgeable about what they do.  Scallops are such a simple but decadent  seafood option. They don’t require anything but to be cooked a few minutes on each side in a little olive oil or butter, with a light grind of black pepper. The smell will consume you and your home in the best way possible. Scallops even smell good raw, so rich and salty. Just like butter! I thought they deserved nothing less than to be joined by some fresh rosemary & peaches to enhance their sweetness. Here is what I concocted below:

Simple & Sweet Seared Scallops with Georgia Peaches

Easy, simple peach & rosemary chutney:

Food:

A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves crushed garlic

Several rosemary sprigs, leaves removed & finely chopped

Pinch red pepper flakes

Pinch salt

A few grinds black pepper

4 Georgia peaches chopped

Splash red wine vinegar

Method:

In a small pot, heat crushed garlic on medium until fragrant & translucent. Add rosemary & red pepper flakes letting them diffuse into the oil & garlic. Add chopped peaches, pepper & salt. With a wooden spoon mash some of the peaches and stirr. Don’t over mash to still have some texture. Unless you like the chutney more like a jam then mash away! The peaches will start to caramelize and release their liquid. Let them come to a simmer and liquify some. Add a splash of red wine vinegar to taste. Cook until you have your desired taste & consistency. I wanted to keep the fresh sweet taste of the peaches so didn’t add too many other things and didn’t overcook it. Do what you like!

Seared scallops for two pigs (Mr. & Mrs Ladner) or 4 humans:

Few tablespoons Olive oil & butter

Ground pepper

12 scallops

Method:

In a large skillet heat olive oil and butter on medium high until very hot but not splatting. When ready, in batches sear scallops a few minutes per side until edges are golden and slightly crispy. The scallop cut clean nice flakes when ready are firm and a deeper white/tan/pink than when raw. Don’t over cook!

Possible side:

We had some string beans from my Aunt Mary that went nicely as a side. Toss in Parmesan, pecans & olive oil. Then bake in an oven until a little crisp.

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Fielder’s Grist Mill & a Recipe

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This is Mike Buckner. He is a gristmill master, restorer of trains & homes. He’s a caretaker of chickens, dogs, &  hogs. He’s a farmer of wheat, corn,&  sugar cane. A  father to a beautiful family& much more. He is a true hardworking Southern craftsman who owns & operates a historic water-powered gristmill in rural Junction City, Georgia. A few weeks ago, we had enjoyed a weekend in Georgia soaking up the country air with friends (you can read about strawberry picking here). I am finally getting around to sharing more photos of our trip. The highlight of the weekend was spending the day at Fielder’s Grist Mill with the Buckner family. They opened up their home & operation to us so generously on a Saturday. Surprisingly, we learned they are distant cousins of mine through my grandmother’s side! I knew I felt a connection with these people.  Aside from the grist mill, the property is also occupied by a beautiful plantation home, built by Mike Buckner himself with fields of crops and flowers, old trains being restored,  playful dogs, & a beautiful lake.

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Many people think it is called a grits mill, which would make sense but it is grist. Grist means grain. Fielder’s Grist Mill is named after Edlow Fielder, Mike Buckner’s grandfather. They product the freshest, tastiest, most authentic grits I have ever tasted which are ground right in front of your eyes from start to finish. The mill has been around since the 30’s I believe, run by generation after generation.

Staying focused on quality, old-fashioned grits, Mike Buckner seeks out pure, non-hybrid corn varieties. These varieties keep the oil content higher than hybrid varieties which makes for tasty sweeter grits, corn bread &the like. If he doesn’t grow the corn himself, he purchases it from Kentucky. Mike told us that people used to line up on the weekends with their own corn they grew for him to grind. There are other things to see aside from the grist mill, including the Buckner home. The home was originally located in another part of town but Mike Buckner took it apart, numbered every single piece of wood, moved it to his family’s property & re-built it. It took him ten years. After seeing it – I’d say was worth the wait.

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After being shown around by Mike. Buckner & his son, we left with one-pound bags of grits, corn meal, whole-wheat flour & some sugar cane syrup.  One thing I loved about spending time with the Buckner family is that not once did I hear them say they are “sustainable,” “organic,” or “green,” but they very much are in their own way.  There were no selling points or labels, although they could have very much used them. They grow their own food, gather eggs from their chickens, & keep their home & property in great condition with their bare hands.  It’s simply inspiring. I could have spent days on their property taking in how much tradition, nature & history was among us.

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We have a surplus of wild onions around town in Raleigh.  I have been picking them anywhere I can find them.Ffrom our yard, the farm that we are members of, even the side of the road. I can’t let a sweet wild onion or garlic chive go without entering into someone’s tummy! This past week I made a big batch of wild onion & cheddar cornbread muffins with the corn meal from Fielder’s. I love savory baked goods. These are great alongside a piece of steak or fish or just as a morning snack.

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Wild onion & cheddar cornbread muffins:

Food:

3 cups cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 cups milk plus a splash of vinegar or buttermilk

2 local pasture centered eggs

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup wild or green onions

1/2 cup melted butter or shortening

Method:

Preheat oven to 375- 400 degrees depending on your oven. Grease a 12 or more cup muffin tin. Sift the corn meal, baking soda & powder & salt. Combine milk & eggs. Add mixture to corn meal. Add grated cheese & onions then fold in melted butter or shortening until just combined. Don’t over mix. Distribute to muffin tin & bake until golden for about 20 minutes. Let cool before removing from muffin tin & enjoy! These freeze very well. To send them over the top, grind some black pepper over the muffins before baking.

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