I was stirring a giant pot of pasta, and my ten year old told me emphatically that she is “done with pasta.” She’s “had it entirely too much and never EVER wants to eat it again in her entire life!” That’s a pretty big statement to swallow considering she’s the ripe old age of ten and letting go of pasta is like letting go of the color pink. I stared at her as I typically do when either one of the little angels stun me as they’ve been known to do on occasion. (Sometimes I think it would be easier splitting atoms than to decide what to make for dinner. Let alone, switch gears once the dinner idea is already in progress).
She abruptly opens the refrigerator and we both stare blankly, me still with my wooden stirring spoon in hand as if it was a magic wand. My culinary choices were limited, as I’ve resisted the urge to become a slave to the grocery store. I’ve attempted to end the symbiotic relationship. I want food to magically appear.
She states the obvious, “There’s nothing in there!”
“Schnookums, you’re wrong.” I explain. “There’s a jar of pickles, make that two, some ketchup. Oooh, There’s Mystery Tupperware container! Shall we see what’s in it?”
“Grits! I want grits for dinner!” She exclaims and grabs a box out of the refrigerator door and holds it like a trophy.
Note to self: that’s TWO pots of boiling water. Hmmmm. Cooking has been thrown to the bottom rung of the priority ladder this summer.
Grits is one of those things you’ll always find in my fridge: A big box of Quaker Quick Grits (the 20 minute kind). For some, it’s a tub of sour cream that stakes its territory way in the back. For others, it may be a jar of grape jelly or a half dozen eggs that you just can’t part with even though you have no clue how many months they’ve been in there. You know who you are. For me, it’s a box of grits.
I think it’s funny (not funny haha) when people ask, “aren’t grits like oatmeal?” Or, “don’t grits taste like cream-of-wheat?” Do oranges taste like bananas? Is NASCAR the same as Formula One? Is the Atlantic the same as the Pacific? Does red wine taste like white wine, people? For the love of GROUND UP CORN, the answer: a resounding NO!
Grits are ground up corn, ‘coarse-ground cornmeal’, plain and simple. (I won’t get into the hominy thing. I’ll keep it reeeeeal simple). They’ve been around for 400 years! Three-fourths of all grits sold in the US are sold in the South stretching from Texas to Virginia. Their warmth and creamy texture are a hug in your tummy-just bowls full of piping hot goodness!
If you’ve not been lucky enough to grow up in the South, I’ll gladly part with some insight, boil it down for you. First, there are two kinds of grits:
1: The ‘instant’ grits which no good Southerner would evah evah cook (or admit to)
2: The boil-in-water-for-twenty-minutes kind. And they come in two shades: white and yellow! According to grits history, white corn was popular in the port cities in the south, while yellow corn was popular in the urban cities.
Here is the simple grits recipe anyone can follow (bless your little non- Southern hearts):
*One cup of grits to five cups of water*
Bring water to a boil, then pour grits in while stirring. Add a pinch or two of salt. Lower the heat and simmer, all the while stirring to prevent clumping. You do NOT want clumpy grits. After twenty minutes, voila! Now, throw in butter or cheese, add some country ham, sausage, or red-eye gravy and dare I say…piping hot buttermilk biscuits, (cue gospel choir). There’s just not a better meal, breakfast or suppah! And they’re healthy too! (above additives notwithstanding). No fat, no cholesterol!
(Fun fact: you do not use the term ‘grit’ when referring to this folate fantasy food. It’s always plural! How can we forget ‘My Cousin Vinny’)?
So, Of COURSE she can have her grits! I have indeed raised a Southern child and it warms my heart almost as much as a bowl of grits themselves. After all, how can I possibly say no to her or grits?
Get Real In The South
Try ’em. You just may like ’em. Would I stir, uhm, steer you wrong?
For some delicious Grits recipes, give this a try:
Vinny Gambini: How could it take you five minutes to cook your grits when it takes the entire grit-eating world 20 minutes?
Mr. Tipton: Um… I’m a fast cook, I guess.
Vinny Gambini: [across beside the jury] What? I’m sorry I was over there. Did you just say you were a fast cook? Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than any place on the face of the earth?
Mr. Tipton: I don’t know.
Vinny Gambini: Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove. Were these magic grits? Did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?
Gruet Brut is a crisp, full-bodied, sparkling wine that has light green apple and grape flavors. Goes perfectly with shrimp-n-grits for a lovely brunch.