Tag Archives: Grits

As a new year approaches . . .

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New Year‘s Eve is almost here in LA, and it’s already arrived for some of you. And I am hoping you all have a wonderful beginning to the new year, and a wonderful year to come.

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Party animals that we aren’t, we plan a quiet one here, probably cuddled together, watching the countdown on TV. When we were growing up, Sister S and I used to pilfer a little of our dad’s Christmas libations to celebrate the New Year (Mogen David kosher wine, concord grape, was the drink of choice for this Southern Baptist, who largely limited his imbibing to a little Christmas cheer and a cold beer or two during haybaling season each summer).

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We’d pour it in a couple of our parents’ crystal champagne glasses and feel terribly elegant and slightly wicked. When the clock struck twelve, S and I would toast one another and clink our glasses together ever so carefully, just to hear that lovely ring.

Many people here in the South believe you have to start the new year off with the right foods. Traditionally, black-eyed peas and howl jowls (aka pork cheek) are believed to bring you good luck in the year to come. Add in some type of greens–collard greens the most typical choice–for prosperity. It IS the color of money here in the U.S. And you’ll likely want to add some cornbread. Not for good luck or riches. Just because peas practically demand it. 😀

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Left: A sign sighted in North Carolina. Right: A plate promising prosperity and luck in the new year, with black-eyed peas, cornbread, and greens.

I have a confession to make. I don’t really like black-eyed peas all that much. No, I don’t have to turn in my official GRITS (Girl Raised in the South) card. I love peas–I just prefer a different variety. Mama and Daddy raised pink-eyed purple-hulled peas every year in our garden, and these, firmer and slightly sweeter than the black-eyed variety, were, and are, my field peas of choice. Are these peas and ham or bacon any more or less lucky than their black-eyed, hog-jowled counterparts? I don’t know. I just prefer the way they taste.

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Above, the afore-mentioned purple-hulled peas, the photo courtesy of Alabama’s own Auburn University. NOT the school I support. 😉

Anyway, this year will soon be gone into the annals of history. Christmas is over and Santa is back at home, resting up after his oh-so-busy night. And he, like many of us, has a few companions who enjoy cuddling with him. I don’t think it’s too late to share this charming image with you:

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OT: True Grits

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Vinny (Joe Pesci) and his girlfriend (Marisa Tomei) scan the menu of southern breakfast items at a local diner in the 1992 comedy “My Cousin Vinny.” (themellowjhadi.com)

I grew up here in the South, the Deep South, in L.A, (Lower Alabama). My mama was the kind of mother who got up early every weekday morning to prepare a full country breakfast for her three girls. We had flaky biscuits, buttered before they came to the table; crisp strips of thick bacon, sliced to order at the local country store, and sometimes, patty or link sausage; eggs (fried for our oldest sister and scrambled for the rest of us), homemade blackberry jam, pear and fig preserves for the afore-mentioned biscuits. And we always had grits. Grits are a dish that leave Yankees often scratching their heads.

In the very funny movie “My Cousin Vinny,” set in a fictional Alabama town, “Fish out of water” lawyer Vinny is presented with a breakfast plate at a small town diner.  Bacon, eggs . . . and a helping of some mysterious yellowish white substance with a pat of butter melting in the center.

“What–is this?” He asks, pointing to the white substance. “Them’s grits,” the cook responds.

“What is a grit?” Vinny asks. The cook replies that they are always grits, in the plural, a food milled from ground corn and cooked in boiling water.  Vinny still looks pretty dubious. I want to tell him he’d better dig in quick, because hot grits, with a generous dash of salt, pepper and butter are delicious. Cold, congealed grits? Not so much.

I was an adult before I discovered the pleasures of shrimp and grits with a special sauce providing an extra kick. Absolutely delicious. ‘

Grits are so closely associated with our part of the country that a fellow Alabamaian, Deborah Ford, came up with a delightful book entitled, “GRITS:Girls Raised in the South.” So you see, I not only eat grits, I  am a GRITS.

Hubby and I eat cereal most days for breakfast. For every so often, especially in cooler weather, we enjoy a breakfast supper. There’s bacon, scrambled eggs, biscuits with jam and jelly–and grits.

Because grits are good for you.  Hey, my daddy wouldn’t lie.

(other art by Google images)

A serving of hot grits with butter and a little salt and pepper is mighty tasty. But you must always use regular grits rather than instant. They take only a few extra minutes and their taste is like a dollar over a dime to the instant variety.