I am a grits snob. I didn’t used to be. I was raised on grits and taught by my mama to amp up the taste of quick grits with a little butter, cheese, and garlic salt. I relished even the worst and watery grits. I was southern, after all, and it became a badge of honor. No grit too bad for me to love.
This past summer, I made a discovery that changed my grit game forever. My husband Johnny Jackson (who makes furniture out of history) went with a friend of ours to rescue wood from her ancestral home in Doylestown, PA. While he was there, he toured the family mill (Castle Valley Mill) and watched how they stone ground their grains. The millers sent him home with a bag of yellow grits that I was excited to get my hands on. We had eggs and grits for breakfast the very next day.
I started with a quart of cold milk in a saucepan (that’s mama’s secret to making grits extra creamy). I slowly poured grits into the middle of the pan, making a small golden island emerge in the middle of the milk. Then I stirred. And stirred. As the starch from the ground corn began to release, the milk began to thicken and a rich, corny smell started to waft out of the pan. I stirred the grits frequently – that starch likes to burn on the bottom if you’re not careful. As the grits thickened, I added warm milk a little at a time, whipping it in to get the grits to the perfect consistency.
With stone grinding, the grain is processed slowly, at cooler temperatures. This means the vitamins, nutrients, and wholesome goodness of the grain is preserved. The entire content of the corn
kernel is mixed throughout the grits, making them not just more delicious but more nutritious than their industrial counterparts. Plus Castle Valley Mill gets their corn from farmers within a 100-mile radius. I must admit I do like knowing where the food I eat actually comes from.
After they were plated, I added a pat of butter and a dusting of grated cheese to the top and served them the eggs from my sister Vesta’s fine flock of hens. The first bite was ecstatic; the taste of creamed corn and the homespun texture of stone-ground grits.
All this talk of slow ground grain makes me want to put on a pot of grits. But not just any will do. I am a southern woman hooked on stone-ground grits made from Yankee corn and I am not ashamed to admit it. To paraphrase the immortal words of Scarlet O’Hara who when starving, dug in a ruined garden with her bare hands and thrust a dirty turnip into the sky, I proclaim, “With Y’all as my witness, I will never eat Quick Grits again.”