Sex, Catfish and Videotapes…the weekend wrapup..
March 7, 2011

Just one box of two...full of movies...

Ok, that was a dirty, rotten come on…there’s nothing about sex until the very last paragraph. But there are catfish..and there are videotapes….so here we go.

See? Good movies!!

What the heck do I do with all the VHS movies that we collected back in the day? And not crap, either… classics, like To Kill a Mockingbird, My Fair Lady, Little Women, Father of the Bride, Miracle on 34th Street, The Piano, The Sound of Music, Gettysburg, Kung Fu Fighter(ok a little crap)….but for the most part, movies I’ve really loved. But all good things must come to an end, and that’s what happened to VHS. We’re all dvd now(how long until that goes the way of the dinosaur?). Anyway, if anyone out there would have use for these, I’d love not to add them to a landfill. Anyone? Anyone? Free to a good home. (And don’t say the library, they’ve already laughed me off the phone when I called to see if they wanted them.)

Panfried...so simple and delicious...

Made some fabulous catfish this weekend…and so quick. Let the filets marinate a little while in buttermilk, dredge in cornmeal and pan fry in a little olive oil. And what gave it a kick was couple of teaspoons of pimenton(Spanish smoked paprika-one of my new fav spices)added to the cornmeal….gave it a nice smokey taste.

Is anything better than cheese grits?

And what goes better with catfish than cheese grits…classic southern combo? Here’s how I do mine…First start with good stone ground grits if you can find them…yellow or white, doesn’t matter( and for heaven’s sake whatever you do, no quick or instant grits). Cook them in chicken broth, not water, and at the end, add some shredded cheddar cheese  and stir it until it melts( I actually used some pimento cheese I made a week ago, and it was great), and then while you’re getting everything together, pour some heavy cream over the top of the grits and let it sit for a few minutes. When you’re ready to serve, stir in the cream.

Roasted asparagus...ridiculously easy

And I roasted some asparagus to snuggle alongside…one of the best ways to prepare it, I think. Just coat the spears in olive, salt and pepper, after peeling the end of the stalks, and pop it in 400 degrees for about 20 minutes….no more. That’s it. 

Anson Mills coarse ground grits....

I’m now on a quest for a place that carries Anson Mills stone ground grits…this Charleston company offers heirloom corn, coarse ground grits that you should ideally soak overnight, but I haven’t located a local source yet. You can mail order, but I may just wait until I’m in Charleston in April(no, I can’t wait for that week to get here), and load up them and bring them home(you know how I love to fly and drive food all over the country). Famous chefs all over the country rave about Anson Mills grits….this is from their website about what they do “To date Anson Mills has provided grants to resuscitate roughly a dozen types of threatened antebellum mill corn, and has offered its research growers heirloom seed, seed selection expertise and management advice. Glenn works with thirty organic growers in six states.” No too shabby. Will let you know if I find a place locally. Ok, I’m just gonna say it…grits are sexy. 🙂

No Grits, No Glory…….
March 9, 2010

The Fish House in Pensacola....

This past weekend I was in Pensacola Florida for my nephew Quint’s wedding(congrats Quint and Julie)….and not having really spent any time there(except for a hot, week long childhood vacation), I didn’t know much about the place. This I will put out for your consideration….think about going there for a vacation. Seriously. The numerous reasons why I will share with you this week….but let’s start with the obvious…food. You cannot have a good holiday in a town that does  not have good cuisine. You just can’t. And Pensacola has it goin’ on, in that category.

Grits a Ya Ya at the Fish House....over the top!

I decided to do …let’s call it…an informal grits competition….the various ways one can prepare grits. Without a doubt, the most over the top version was at a highly recommended restaurant at a marina, called simply enough, The Fish House. Its humble weathered grey facade conceals the look within….lots of large beautiful aquariums scattered about the room and white table cloths…that kind of place. And on a Sunday night ,we had to sit at the bar it was so crowded, but that’s fine with me. The tuna and salmon sashimi  was impeccably fresh, but the reason I was there was for their famous Grits a Ya Ya….a dish in which grilled gulf shrimp sit atop a saute of spinach, portebello mushrooms, applewood smoked bacon, garlic shallots and cream, over a heaping bed of smoked Gouda cheese grits. Need I say more? One order was plenty for the two of us..it was just that rich…and at $19.95, a relative bargain. Oh, and I found a recipe online that claims to be Grits a Ya Ya….here’s a link….and when you read the ingredients you’ll want to sit down. Oh, ya ya.

The Coffee Cup....slinging grits since 1945....

I had read about a famous dish in Pensacola called Nassau Grits. I had no idea what that was, and it wasn’t easy to find someone who did know….however, in the article about “greasy spoon” restaurant…the Coffee Cup Restaurant was evidently the place that served Nassau grits  by which all other Nassau grits in Pensacola grits are judged(since 1945).

Finally, I've found the elusive Nassau grits...

And as someone else says about the Coffee Cup…..” it’s the place where cops and attorneys, drywall hangers and artists, dilettantes and debutantes gather to eat grits and eggs in the morning“….good enough for me. We cruised by Sunday morning….no luck… closed tight. But never one to be deterred so easily from grits at least, we were back Monday before a flight home….and  in luck. Even at 10 am, the place was packed….and of course nothing would do, but Nassau grits…plus a couple of eggs over easy, and a nice slice of Southern ham. Oh, and easily the best cathead of the trip(cathead is what my late Dad always called biscuits).  When the grits arrived…those suckers were red. Clearly, tomatoes were involved.

Ever had some red grits? Me either.....

Oh, the places you could go....

When I asked the waitress what was in them, she replied a touch wearily, as though it had been a long morning with yahoos like me around…but said, “Tomatoes, onions, green peppers, hot sauce and ham“. They were deliciously different….and just in case you want to make them yourself…here’s  recipe for Nassau Grits. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Sometimes the simplest is the best....depending on the time of day....

But it was hard(impossible?) to beat the simple grits preparation at The Seville Grill in Pensacola. I ordered the pesto, spinach, mushroom and swiss cheese omelet…with grits, naturally….and they nestled up to one of the best omelets I’ve ever tasted…in their little white stoneware bowl. The waitress had asked, “Do you want cheese in ’em?” After only a moments hesitation, I replied in the afffirmative.  They were topped with cheddar and a diet devastating dollop of butter. In all honesty, you can gild the lily in many, many ways….but stone ground grits(which these clearly were) with butter and a little cheese is ….well…to me at least…a simple dish of true perfection. It was a great breakfast at the Seville. Tomorrow…more on Pensacola and why you should be planning a trip there, right now.

A Grits Thanksgiving??
October 28, 2009

Glorious Grits yes...but dressing??OK, I told you yesterday about how my Mom had saved two things from the Birmingham News….the first was about my childhood pediatrician having hosted the illustrious Julia Child for a week…and the second was all about grits.

It/s true, you know....

Glorious, glorious grits…I always feel sorry for people who say they don’t like grits…and always feel that if they had good grits, prepared and served the right way(mainly with butter, salt and pepper and never with sugar)…they would understand this basic, economical food of the south. Just think polenta. And I’ve carried grits way beyond the breakfast table, as most of you know. Grits cooked with chicken broth and finished with a little heavy cream and parmesan cheese are  worthy of any dinner table. My sister in Gulf Shores got a tip from a chef about the cream part…he suggests pouring cream over the top of grits after they cook, and let it sit there while you finish everything else, and then just stir it in when you’re ready to serve. It works.

But grits dressing for Thanksgiving?? (And for those of you who call it stuffing, let me tell you, in the south, it’s called dressing) This I have never heard of, but a new cookbook called…..that’s right…”Glorious Grits” says it’s not only possible but desirable. Yes,  all the recipes are about grits, including one for Sausage and Grits Dressing-here’s a link to the recipe.  My first thought…how can you take some gloppy grits and turn it into dressing? How?

The answer: cook grits and chill them. If you’ve ever put leftover grits in the frig, you know they turn into something akin to rubbery hockey pucks. Very firm. In this recipe you cut chilled grits into cubes and then roast those cubes until they are crisp and browned. So I’m thinking it’s kind of like a cornbread dressing? I may try it.

Nothin' better than hot grits

And there some other good recipes to try on the link…Shrimp and Grits with Succotash, Coconut-Crusted Polenta Cakes with Triple Berry Sauce, and Grits Bruschetta with Tomato Salsa. So get your grits on this weekend…and do yourself a favor one morning.  Cook a bowl of grits…NOT INSTANT…although quick grits are ok…add salt and pepper, and plop a pat of yellow butter on top. Sigh as it melts into golden rivulets. Enjoy.

Cornmeal Mush for dinner, anyone??
September 18, 2008

the basis for cornmeal....

How about a nice bowl of cornmeal mush??

I was talking to my Mom this morning, as I try to do each morning…she was having her usual bowl of grits with cheese for breakfast…and she said she had read something in the Birmingham News about Italian grits. “I don’t want anybody messing up my grits with Italian spices!”, she exclaimed. I explained to her that it was in all likelihood a recipe for

Polenta with mushrooms

Polenta with mushrooms

polenta, which is really just fancy cornmeal grits, nothing spicy, and that it can be served soft, or you can slice it cold and saute it in some olive oil and serve it as a side dish as dinner. She was slightly mollified by the answer….but it brought back a memory for her.

She said, “I remember in the depression…maybe 1933,  my Mother would often cook cornmeal mush for supper, when we didn’t have anything else to eat, and I liked it.” I asked how they ate it and she told me  it was served it in a bowl with a little milk and a tad of butter.  And that her brother was quite embarrassed that cornmeal mush was all they had for dinner…but sometimes it really was, all they had. And if you’ve never had grits for dinner…it’s good, and it’s filling.

So perhaps in these difficult economic times, when people are cutting back, and doing more with less…it’s nice to remember a recipe for  Cornmeal mush  that has been around since the early 1800s…and has been enjoyed by many, many thrifty generations, who might not have had any meat in the cupboard, or any vegetables, but they did have cornmeal. The link above is just one of many, but the variations are all really the same…pouring cornmeal slowly into water and cooking it until it’s mush…add a little salt and pepper, some butter, and you’re there….just like grits. Or you can slice it cold and saute it…just like polenta. All variations on a theme. Or some evidently serve cornmeal mush with syrup….though that sounds like a quick way to ruin up a good bowl of mush.