“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Road Trip to Grits

We were on a mission, MHM and I, when we set out last week headed north. The goal? Grits, really good grits. We entered some information into the GPS and set out for Wilsonville, Alabama.


Never mind that we didn’t have a specific street address. We figured if we got to the Coosa River, we'd gone too far. We were just counting on something working out.

I discovered the existence of Wilsonville and its treasure in Glorious Grits by Susan McEwen McIntosh (reviewed in the November 22, 2009, post, categorized under Books and Grits in the right column of Spittin’ Grits) -- organic, stone-ground grits. I soon went on-line and ordered some. But that is simply not the same things as going there, to this small, Southern, little-known town with a population totaling in the very low thousands.

From Tuscaloosa, head north on I-459 around Birmingham and turn east onto highway 280 toward Atlanta. Wilsonville is as the crow flies due east of Tuscaloosa, but either no roads or bad back roads make it almost necessary to go north to get east. Keep going until you run out of all that built-up area that has made highway 280 a nightmare road. When sprawl turns into countryside, look for county road 25 South and turn right. Then just go, even without a street address, until you get there. You can’t miss it. It’s Coosa Valley Milling.

Wilsonville Grist Mill, McEwen & Sons

It all worked out. Notice THE traffic light in the lower left corner of the picture above.

The business, now a grist mill and hardware store, started out as a custom feed mill where farmers brought their grain to convert into feed for the animals. Bought in 1978 by father and son Ralph and Frank McEwen, the store today offers, in addition to the expected hardware products, Koi food, toys, equipment for the “discriminating horseman,” original Muckboot Scrub Boot, handmade silver jewelry, and the McEwen & Sons corn products. There’s no water wheel.

We were there for the corn products, beautifully packaged in blue foil adorned with the family crest. Very Southern indeed. To become products worthy of the packaging, organic corn kernels – yellow, white, and blue – go through the stone burr grist mill and are ground between two granite stones. The result is corn meal, grits, or polenta with all the natural germ, oil, and bran left intact. They should be refrigerated or frozen.



Frank McEwen at the grist mill 

Frank McEwen (above) at the grist mill.








The grist mill at work.



I’ve become a fan of yellow grits.









Really, really good yellow grits cooking on my stove.


According to Frank McEwen, some of Birmingham’s best known chefs, like Frank Stitt, owner of Highlands Bar and Grill, are regular customers.

If you can’t get to Wilsonville, you can order on-line at www.mcewenandsons.com.

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