Southern Sunshine (Cheese-less Grits)

This morning when we went to church the landscape was not it’s usual wintry gray and brown. It was silver and white. The infamous ice-storm had left every twig and leaf trapped in its own crystal casing of ice, and the whole thing was set against a backdrop of silvery fog. By tomorrow all of the ice will most likely be gone, leaving our little corner of the world wet and gray. In honor of chilly gray mornings, here is a recipe for a dairy-free version of a Southern favorite.

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These pictures are from an ice storm several years ago.

Ingredients:

1 TBSP olive oil                                                                                                               1/2 onion, finely chopped                                                                                                   2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press                                                1/2 tsp salt                                                                                                                         1 cup grits (I used stone ground yellow, but white grits would be more traditional for the South, as well as being closer to what the Native Americans would have eaten. White grits are made from hominy, which is corn that has been processed with lye. The alkalinity changes the corn in ways that make some of the nutrients easier to process.)                   3 cups water                                                                                                                                                             1/2 onion, finely chopped                                                                                                   2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press                                                   2 TBSP nutritional yeast                                                                                                      2 tsp good soy sauce (optional – it adds depth of flavor but also darkens the color a bit)

Method:

1. Add nutritional yeast and soy sauce to water and set aside.

2.Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add oil. Add onions and salt. Saute until onions are soft and just beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.

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Just right.

3. Pour in water. Turn the heat up to high and cover the pot until the water boils. When the water is boiling turn the heat down a bit and slowly pour the grits into the water while stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or wire whisk.

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Stirring while you pour keeps it from clumping up. It may be a little lumpy at first, but keep whisking and it will be fine.

4. Turn the heat down to medium low and cook, uncovered, until the grits are nice and thick and creamy (take a bite to make sure there aren’t any bits that are crunchy or “gritty” – ha ha, pardon the pun). Make sure you stir pretty often so it doesn’t get lumpy or stick to the bottom.

5. Add salt and pepper if desired. You can serve as is, or add a drizzle of olive oil or your favorite vegan butter-substitute to finish them off. This also makes a great quick side dish. Grits are also popular in Romania and the Republic of Georgia, although they prepare them slightly differently (and call them something else, of course.)

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Doesn’t that look cheerful?

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Everybody liked this recipe.

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