Friday, September 06, 2013

A Yankee Girl's Guide To Grits

As a member of the Southern Magic chapter of RWA, I feel I must make a confession: I didn’t try grits until I was twenty-seven years old.

Those there are some good grits!
Grits and a pork chop
I grew up in the Midwest. “Grit” was something you got in your teeth when you were driving along a dusty road with the windows down. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never developed a taste for dirt, so something named “grits” never really appealed to me. And I always said I’d never marry a military man or move away from home (God is blessing my heart and rolling with laughter right now), so I never saw the need to develop an appreciation for grits.

So when I did marry my military man, Uncle Sam not only moved me away from home, he sent me to the Deep South, land of fried okra, boiled peanuts, and phrases that made me desperate for a Southern dictionary.

And then The Instant Cheese Grits Incident happened.

This was not a good thing. The smell of instant cheese grits before seven in the morning is second only to burnt microwave popcorn in office microwave crimes. When it happened every day for a year?

It’s a wonder I ever tried grits at all.

But I’m so glad I did! Turns out, grits are pretty darn good. Especially when they’re prepared properly. Don’t give me runny, crack-your-teeth grits. No, ma’am. I’ll take my grits thick and creamy. With a pat of butter. Maybe topped with shrimp. I'll even eat 'em so thick they keep their shape when you dump them out of the bowl. Or—oh, y’all don’t know what you’re missing here—give me some grits with gouda.

Gouda grits.

Yes, those deserve their own paragraph. Because the right gouda grits will change your life. I believe the Southern phrase would be, “Those gouda grits are so good, you’ll slap your grandma!” but I’m never sure I’m saying it right, so if I got it wrong, you Southerners go on and bless my heart, and you Notherners can just look at me funny, and I’ll pretend I didn’t say it at all.

But back to grits. If I were to recommend one single recipe for the best grits in the whole world, it would be this recipe: Grits-a-ya-ya from The Fish House in Pensacola. You don’t even have to make the a-ya-ya part. Just the grits. (Though I’m sure the a-ya-ya part is awesome too.) Personally, I'm hoping we get some good grits at the Southern Magic Romance Readers Luncheon in Birmingham in November.

What’s your favorite way to cook your grits? If you’ve never tried them, would you? One lucky commenter today will win a copy of my novel, Southern Fried Blues! It's the contemporary love story of a Yankee lady stranded in the South, and the Southern gentleman military officer who makes her believe in love again. And don't forget, if you comment, you're also entered into our month-long drawing for a Kindle Fire HD!

Now for the dry but necessary rules. More times that you comment, the more entries you'll have in the drawing. You must be in the U.S. to win as it will be mailed to you. (There will be other prizes during the month eligible for international commenters to win.) Be sure to check back here Monday for the announcement of the winner and instructions on how to receive the book. You must follow the instructions before September 30 to receive the book. Void after that date.

In the month of September, we’re celebrating our Romance Readers Luncheon by giving away books and other goodies, including the grand prize of a Kindle Fire HD 7" Tablet.  To win the tablet, be sure to comment throughout the month. On September 30, we'll draw from everyone who commented (exception: Southern Magic members and international commenters are ineligible - sorry) and announce the grand prize winner.

If you wish to attend the luncheon, be sure to register and pay before October 27 at

When: November 2, 2013, Saturday, 11 a.m.

Where: Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham, AL (free parking)

Who: The keynote speaker is NYT bestselling author Jeaniene Frost! The welcome speaker is NYT bestselling author Christy Reece who also writes as Ella Grace.

Why: We’ll be giving away lots of free books, and you’ll have opportunities to take home a basket full or more. Plus you’ll have a wonderful lunch with a published author. The list of authors can be found at

Jamie Farrell writes humorous contemporary romance. She believes love and laughter are two of the most powerful forces in the universe.
A native Midwesterner, Jamie has lived in the South the majority of her adult life. When she's not writing, she and her military hero husband are busy raising three hilariously unpredictable children.
For more information on Jamie and her books, visit her online at


Naima Simone said...

As one Yankee transplant to another, I sooo feel you on the grits indoctrination! LOL! I'm from up NJ so the closest I came to grits was Cream of Wheat. :-D My husband introduced me to grits, and I was a true skeptic. But add some cheese and butter...and the fact it was one of the few things I could keep down while I was pregnant...I was hooked! I agree though, they have to be cooked right. Not lumpy or soupy--although soupy is preferable to lumpy...

And boiled peanuts? I didn't even know you could do that to peanuts before a few years ago! Now I prefer mine Cajun style... Hee-hee!

Jamie Farrell said...

Yes! I love Cream of Wheat! :)

True story - the only time I've had boiled peanuts, they were fixed in an office bathroom in Minnesota. Haven't gotten the courage to try them again since.

Lisa Maxwell said...

Yup, Grits were one of the few things I whole-heartedly embraced about living in the South :O)

That and the whole "come to Jesus talk" thing.

Jamie Farrell said...

I only like the "come to Jesus talk" thing when I'm on giving it, lol.

Chris Bailey said...

I am so pleased that you have come to love grits! Just makes me sad when people don't get it. I grew up on breakfast grits, cooked for a long, long time and finished with whole milk from a bottle. Topped with a bit of butter. Garnished with bacon. Sunday night supper? Leftover grits, fried. And what might one fry grits in? A cast iron frying pan, of course, in a bit of bacon grease.

Jamie Farrell said...

Chris, those sound so awesomely yummy! Especially the bacon part. I'll eat just about anything with bacon.

bn100 said...

haven't had any, but would try them

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Jamie Farrell said...

You should! :) They're pretty yummy. :)

The Snarky Mom said...

A few months ago I would have GAGGED if anyone said they craved grits... but recently in St. Louis (yes, us Midwesterners eat "southern" food, and I even say y'all and "big ole") I had some grits that had cheese and garlic in them (at a bbq joint, of all places!) and they were to DIE for! Even my one spawn that refuses to eat anything that isn't fried shoveled them in. LOL! Thanks for the recipe - the YA YA part sounds the best!

Martha Lawson said...

Well, I'm from Mississippi and I can take or leave grits!! My husband eats them a couple of times a week, he also loves boiled peanuts and I can't stand them!! Thanks for the chance to win.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Maria Geraci said...

Gouda grits! Yummy. I also like my grits laden with bacon grease. Just sayin'.

Jamie Farrell said...

Snarky Mom - I love that grits are in St. Louis! Hubby grew up there. :) We totally bring the y'all and the big ole when we go home to visit. :) Hope the recipe works out well for you! :)

Jamie Farrell said...

Hi, Martha! Thanks for stopping by! How about okra? I haven't learned to appreciate okra yet. :)

Jamie Farrell said...

Maria, I think bacon grease must be magic. It makes everything better. :)

Theresa said...

I love grits, of course everyone thinks I am crazy. I know only a handful of people who do like them. They don't know what they are missing out on!

Jamie Farrelle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shadow said...

Ive never cooked them, but at a place i worked, they always cooked them for breakfast. I love them! I put a bit of butter and sugar in. Those actually sound really yummy right about now. lol Thanks for sharing! Your post was great!

Jamie Farrell said...

You are so right, Theresa! They have no idea. :)

Jamie Farrell said...

Thanks, Shadow! :) I'm thinking some nice hot grits are on the menu for breakfast in the morning. :) I've never tried them with sugar, but I have with syrup. Yum!

Louisa Cornell said...

Great post, Jamie! I am an Alabama girl, born and bred, BUT I am also an Air Force brat and former opera singer which means I have lived all over the world.

My favorite grits are my Mama's cheese and bacon grits, made completely from scratch. No instant grits in her house. And they are "slap ya mama" good!

I do like boiled peanuts, but only when I am in the mood for them. Tried the cajun style, but at my age spicy food tends to talk to me in the middle of the night so no cajun style for me!

Debbie Hughett said...

I am Southern born and bred. While I like grits, I have never loved them. I never saw their versatility until I had them with bacon wrapped shrimp at a wedding reception. Delicious! Liked your story.

Jamie Farrell said...

Louisa, your mama's grits sound fabulous!! After all this talk of grits, I think they're getting served every night this week here, lol. :)

Jamie Farrell said...

Debbie, if I had to choose between grits and bacon-wrapped shrimp, I have to admit I'd take the shrimp. But only because of the bacon. If it were a gouda grits vs. steamed shrimp smack-down, the gouda grits would totally win. But bacon trumps all.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Jamie Farrell said...

Congratulations to Theresa! My children picked her name out of a hat this afternoon, so Theresa wins a copy of Southern Fried Blues!

Theresa, please contact me at jamie (at) jamiefarrellbooks (dot) com to claim your prize!

And thanks to everyone for talking grits! :)