Southern lovin' ...

Sometimes, it feels like maybe the universe can tell when I'm having a rough day/week/month and decides to send a little love my way. Today felt like one of those days -- the last couple weeks have been stressful and generally un-fun, and I'm sure the weather hasn't helped with it being overcast and raining for the last 20 or so days solid. Sometimes the love is as simple as a peek of sunshine, or a new bud on one of my houseplants, or a surprise postcard or call or e-mail from someone I've been missing.

But today! Today the universe came through for me in the form of a Southern gentleman, which was a first. This morning as I was leaving the house to head out for another day at the office, there was a little Purolator slip on my door knob advising me that they'd tried to deliver a package (presumably while I was in the shower - damn cleanliness!) and it would be waiting for me at the post office later in the day. So after work I headed on down, and it was a little box from Mr. John P, all the way from Tennessee.

A little while back, after I rhapsodized on the glories of Instant Clear Jel and lamented the fact that it isn't readily available in Canada, John was kind enough to agree to help me subvert the Evil Customs Gods and send me some by post. He also offered to send me anything else from the Southern states I might like. I told him to surprise me, and that I would in turn send him a little surprise package with treats from New Brunswick.

Well, he definitely went above and beyond, catering to my love of things salty and spicy, and my addiction to random vegan whole-foods-centered cookbooks. Looky here :

thar be: Instant Clear Jel, cookbook, Quick Grits, Tennessee ChowChow, Crab Boil, Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, Bar-B-Cutie Hot Sauce, Gumbo Filé, Sassafrass Tea Concentrate

Oh the Southern feasts my belly (and this blog) will be treated to come the weekend! But for now, it's grits for dinner.

The last time I had grits was about 15 years ago, while visiting family in small-town North Carolina. While my cousin's kids seemed to subsist on grape goober on toast (which I had not seen before nor since. You strange, strange Americans) I developed a thing for grits. Grits with tahini and blackstrap molasses, grits with mushrooms and hot sauce, onion-garlic-grits with HP sauce, grits with grated apple and raisins and maple syrup ... you name it.

But my favourite way... Well, I like my grits like I like my boys and girls -- hot, loose, and colourful. Nothing better than a steaming bowl of spicy, veggie-ful mush to say "screw you, Mother Nature. Bring the deluge. Do your worst."

smoky and spicy dinner grits, with Tennessee ChowChow

smoky and spicy dinner grits

what you need ...

1 small onion, minced or grated
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small fresh banana pepper, seeded and minced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/3 c. raw corn, fresh off the cob (or frozen, if that's how you roll)
12 fresh young okra pods, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1/2 tsp. agave nectar (optional, adds depth to the spices)
couple grindings black pepper
2 1/3 c. homemade, unsalted veggie stock
1/2 c. white hominy quick grits
couple dashes liquid smoke
salt to taste
for serving: ChowChow, hot sauce

what you do ...

Steam-fry onions, garlic, and banana pepper in a medium-sized pot until onion is translucent and fragrant. Add rest of veggies and spices, and continue frying a few minutes.

Add veggie stock and agave nectar and bring to a rapid boil. Slowly pour grits into boiling stock, stirring constantly. Lower heat, cover, and let simmer about 7-10 minutes, stirring every couple minutes.

Add liquid smoke and salt and pepper to taste.


John Plummer said...

Glad you had fun! I am going to try grits your way - they sound great!

- L said...

oh, the fun i've had! thank you again, sir.