Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Grits Is Cold and The Little Foxes

I am a grits-aholic, to the bone.

We who love grits disagree about grits, what kind to buy and how long to cook them, what to put in them.

One thing is a given. Instant grits or quick cook grits are not the real thing, not really.

One argument you don't hear much of these days is whether grits is singular or plural.

We just don't say anymore,
"The grits is good."

We say, "The grits are good."

And that's a darn shame because grits is singular and properly we should say:

"The grits is good this morning, Mama!"

My authority on the matter is Bette Davis playing Regina Hubbard Gidden in 1941's The Little Foxes.

Davis's Regina was one superbly bitchy woman.

Regina is married in the film to a favorite actor of mine, Herbert Marshall--remember him and his beautiful voice in The Enchanted Cottage as the blind pianist?

Back to grits...early in the film, long before Regina decides not to go fetch her husband's medicine when he's in the middle of a heart attack, crawling up the stairs, she and her daughter are sitting at the breakfast table on the veranda.

Mother dear sends the grits back to the kitchen, telling her servant,
"The grits is cold."

Subject closed. I'm glad that's settled.

There's nothing easier to cook than a pot of grits. I use water for breakfast grits and chicken broth for supper grits.

One ingredient for grits is as necessary as the grits itself. 


You might as well not go to the trouble to fix and eat grits if you're on a salt-free diet. But then, I can't imagine eating a tomato without salt, or an egg, so who's to say.

Tamar Adler inspired me to try her variation on grits in her An Everlasting Meal -- reviewed here on my other blog.

Cut salami into slices on a long bias and brown each slice in a pan. [I used the small dry Italian salami the first time I made this.]

Add red wine vinegar to cover and a spoonful of tomato paste. Let the slices of salami simmer until they've begun to soften, then spoon three or four pieces per person over each bowl of grits. Top each with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.

I followed Adler's recipe exactly the first time I made this and it was very very good.

The second time I added chopped scallions and a chopped jalape͠no and it was so good I embarrassed myself with compliments.

The third time I used Genoa salami instead of dry Italian, and minced instead of slicing it.

And then I thought, "Why not add the whole small can of tomato paste instead of a spoonful?" 

Yes, I fell for my besetting culinary sin of "If a little is good, more is bound to be better."

And it is not, more is not better.

And then I compounded my goof by stirring it all into the grits, as an imp on my shoulder suggested, instead of serving a little on top of each serving of grits.

I don't know why it surprised me that it looked so disgusting that I didn't even take a picture of it. What I should have done next was throw it all in the trashcan but I thought if I made really good scrambled eggs and toast that it might taste better than it looked.

RH summed it up as we ate our first bite:

"Well, I can say this about the grits, it's different."

Different and utterly awful. I was very glad my scrambled eggs and toast helped take the taste out of my mouth.

But it's what came after this that I'm ashamed of.

I let the little foxes into a perfectly lovely vineyard of a Sunday morning and fell into one of those moods where I berate myself when something goes wrong.

Why didn't I just follow directions?

Why didn't I just think?

Why isn't my table set pretty?

Why didn't I fold that basket of laundry yesterday?

Why can't I ever get anything right?

And here's about what I looked like right then, on a perfectly lovely Sunday morning, if you add a lot of decades to the face:

Does this child look as if she's about to say this?

"Mama, the grits is good!"

I didn't think so.

Do you think I learned my lesson? For a while I did.

I've made a conscious effort over the years to nip that bad habit in the bud--I always think of Barney Fife when I say nip it in the bud, do you?

And I am much better about this than I used to be. But on this morning's perfectly lovely cold dark April morning with snow spitting outside, I once again fixed grits for breakfast.

Plain Jane Grits with just butter melting in it.

And I sliced one potato very thin and a few slices of onion and sautéed them in butter along with slivers of our excellent Easter ham. Then stirred three beaten eggs into it and there we had an excellent breakfast.

I asked RH to fix his plate and then to take a dozen or so pictures of my pretty table.

Then we ate.

But do you think I was happy? No, not me. 

I let a whole skulk of little foxes into the vineyard (a bunch of foxes is called a skulk. I just googled it.)

I sat at my own plate, over on the big dining table because I didn't want to crowd place settings for two on our pretty 1950s dinette set, and I proceeded to criticize my plate. own eggs had set too long in the pan while RH was getting photos of his table for this blog. Naturally I had to oversee him doing it. ham should have been minced smaller.

...I should have had biscuits instead of toast. needed salsa....

And then I really blew it.

After breakfast I imported RH's photos from his camera to my laptop and as they appeared, one by one, I started saying, "Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no."

This brought RH to my writing room asking, "What? What's wrong?"

[I mean, maybe the world was ending or something.]

I said: "You put too much of the egg stuff on your plate. It's ugly. You should have taken a small artistic helping, there's not enough white showing around the rim of the plate."

Can you believe he didn't blow his stack? He just laughed, and not in a mean way, just in a way of complete wonder at his wife's foolishness.

At least I folded all my laundry yesterday.

Song of Solomon 2:15
Take us the foxes,
the little foxes that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.

Anyone else out there ever let the little foxes in?

Besides me and Bette Davis?


  1. OMG!!! LOL! first. man how I love those curtains at the window and your little dinette. it's so perfect!
    well. I don't know about the grits is good. I like grits. truly I do.
    but I don't quite worship them the way you do. but til you learn to eat them with NO SALT (welcome to my whole world not just grits!) you can't say you're a true Grit Lover! LOL. one could say and often does... "why bother?"
    and YES! I am very often Barney to Ange's calm centering ability to bring me down to a reasonable level.
    you are letting me go to bed tonight with loads of laughter and a wonderful feeling that how bad can any of it be if Dewena cannot see the Gorgeousness of her plated Southern breakfast feast? I'm SO glad that RH didn't make fun of your over the top Barney Bette Davis meltdown! love you!
    oh. and I LOVE Herbert Marshall and that very particular voice in ANYTHING! XO

    1. Tam, I admit to loving those curtains too. Actually, they fill me with joy daily, just seeing them. Thank you Goodwill, and thank you to the Great Decorator above who loves to see his children enjoying red curtains and Barney Fife and the mellow voice of Herbert Marshall. And the friendship of a good friend from where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain.

  2. I'm trying to imagine what grits tasteS like, and I'm sensing something similar to a scrumptious creamed corn dish, especially with that melted butter, in the middle, yummy! Am I close?

    In any case, your table setting, so cozy and inviting, is beautiful, framed by those gorgeous red and white curtains and glowing from that pretty lamp, a vignette straight out of Country Living magazine!

    BUT, I know exactly what you mean about those nasty, little foxes that have a tendency to trample on our spontaneous ventures, making a mess only in our MINDS, and nowhere else, and certainly NOT on that appetizing array of gourmet goodness, isn't that right?

    Your hubby's light hearted laughter in response to your dissatisfaction with the photo shoot, was spot on and seems to have impressed you, as I'm sure you forgot about the 'faulty' food styling with the first bite of that delicious 'egg stuff'.

    I bet those foxes are far away, right now, and the only way you could see them would be through those binoculars!

    Wishing you a wonderful week,


    1. Poppy, you're close, but just think of polenta and that's very near the taste of grits. And like polenta, grits depend on other things to flavor it, especially butter.

      And yes, the foxes have been banished! That is until the next time they sneak up on me.

      A wonderful week to you to--one with no winds blowing sand from North Africa to your home above the olive groves!

    2. to you too, not to. When will I learn to proofread before publish?

  3. So lovely to read your post ...
    I think your dinette looks very good.

    I had to laugh when you said "At least I folded all my laundry yesterday." I was doing mine today!

    Take Care, my good wishes

    All the best Jan

    1. Thank you, Jan. We must keep our laundry up!