Pride in My Grits
Who knew that grits were a healthy grain? I’ve cut down on carbs lately, so grits were on the “avoid” list until last Thursday. My sweet friend, Beth and I took a field trip to Wilsonville, AL to tour the grist mill owned and operated by McEwen & Sons. Why? Because like most southerners, I take pride in my grits and I want to prepare the freshest and healthiest possible. With a little research I discovered that Birmingham chefs like Frank Stitt, Chris Hastings and Clifton Holt serve McEwen & Sons Grits in their restaurants; so I scheduled an afternoon at Coosa Valley Milling & Hardware.
My appointment was with store manager, Jim Donovan and his was the first smile to greet us. There would be many more smiles throughout the visit. Southerners love their stories and it was such fun being a part of one with Jim that afternoon. It seems that he had “warned” some of the employees about my appointment that day. I was traveling south on Highway 280 from Birmingham, but Jim told the group that I was a writer from a little further north. He also shared that soon after I got there, a film crew would arrive to interview them and video the mill in action.
He was quick to introduce me as a “writer from New York City” and I have to say I was treated with such respect by every employee I met. It wasn’t until I quoted a scene in “My Cousin Vinny” that my southern accent gave me away. As soon as I quoted Vinny saying, “Sure, I heard o’ grits. I just never actually seen a grit before,” that one of the ladies said, “You don’t sound like you’re from New York City.” I couldn’t keep a straight face and let the cat out of the bag. I’m not from New York City and I don’t write for the New York Post. The only film crew scheduled was me and Beth, and that included my DSLR camera! I wouldn’t mind writing for the Post, though, and perhaps my conservative views and sensational writing would fit in at the Post! (Hehehehehe) If he’d said the New York Times, I’d have no shot!
Pictured above are Nicole Lamar (L) and Michelle Cantrell (R) who were gracious enough to prepare the milling room, set up a display for pictures and explain the workings of the mill. Their grits are organic and much healthier than most you find on grocery shelves.
Dried corn is loaded into the hopper. The corn can be white, yellow or a tried and true “War Eagle Blue.” (My description, not theirs!)
Fresh, Organic Grits from McEwen and Sons
The corn is then ground with large stones and divided into trays. The trays separate it into corn meal, grits, or polenta.
The leg of a pair of jeans owned and operated by the owner, Frank McEwen adorns the upright shaft. The ground grain travels through the shaft to the proper tray for packaging.
Organic Grits in a rainbow of colors… White, yellow or blue. When they can get it, they have red at Christmas or perhaps for some of those other football fans.
My new go-to Hush Puppy mix.
McEwen and Sons carries lots of great products from across the south. J and I use the Blackberry Patch Ketchups all the time. You can use them as a BBQ sauce, make a sauce for fish or use in a number of recipes including a delicious meatloaf!
Two girls raised in the south (GRITS) were honored with the gift of Susan McEwen McIntosh’s, “Glorious Grits” cookbook.
The following recipe was adapted from the Junior Auxiliary of the Eastern Shore’s cookbook, “Bay Seasons.”
Serves 10-12. Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- 1 cup McEwen & Sons Grits, prepared as directed on package
- 2 rolls processed garlic cheese
- 1 stick margarine
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup milk
- salt and pepper
- dash of Tabasco sauce
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Preheat oven to 350. Cook grits as directed. Cube cheese rolls. Add cheese and all other ingredients to cooked grits. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a 2 quart greased casserole dish and bake in 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. They will taste even better if you bake them the day before you are serving them.
Beth and I had a great day together. I highly recommend a stop by McEwen & Sons if you are in town from New York City, or anywhere for that matter! Ask for Jim. You will be entertained!