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Eat My Grits: Simple, Glorious, Gluten-Free

June 14, 2014


Grits were made famous for much of America on the TV sitcom, Alice. If you are old enough to remember Alice’s trademark “Well kiss mah grits” as she waitressed at Mel’s Diner set in Phoenix, Arizona, you are old. Enough.

If you’re not, here’s Alice’s classic rejoinder anytime she was mildly (or a lot) irritated or just wanted a laugh:

Grits used to be mainly a southern thing but now that gluten-free diets are such a big necessity for thousands of families, grits are a marvelous, cheap, quick, and hot breakfast that grow on you whether lathered in butter, salt and pepper (the way I like them, with an egg, over medium), or dolled up with honey, syrup, milk and sugar or whatever you fancy.

But grits have now become popular enough you even find them in northern restaurants and Amtrak’s Capitol Limited running between Washington D.C. and Chicago like I wrote about here. How northern is that?

I remember a stay at an Embassy Suites in Richmond, Va. where a northern women’s college sports team of some description was also staying. One young women paused at the breakfast buffet’s large container of white steaming grits. “What is THAT?” she queried as if it were pig’s feet. I was happy to fill her in on the southern delicacy.

“It’s a little like cream of wheat only not. Much better. Eat it with butter and pepper.” I’m certain she passed on it.

One of my daughter’s friends was allergic to wheat and I think she always appreciated coming to our house for sleepovers because I would always serve her up a plate of grits and eggs for breakfast. Sarah was a totally conscientious and responsible child who even when she was just 8 or 9, would make and bring her own wheat-free cupcakes to parties, so the least I could do was humor her with some grits for breakfast.

Now when I want to humor and treat myself, I stir up a quick batch. Here’s all it takes:

Grits for One – As supplied by a Quaker box of grits.

¼ cup quick 5-minute grits (a grain made from corn)
1 cup water
Dash salt

Stir grits and salt into briskly boiling water.
Reduce heat to low and cover.
Cook 5-7 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat. Serve.

That is it.


My pastor for many years, Ann Held,  just retired (and was featured yesterday on our local public radio station; photos and podcast here). At our church potlucks she was famous for her Cheese Grits. I’ve only made them once. They are delicious, and in spite of this dish being supposedly the “only thing I know how to cook,” it is a little more complicated that just cooking up plain grits. I’ll have to try them again sometime, especially since Ann won’t be bringing them to our church potlucks anymore. Wah. Her recipe for Cheese Grits is included in my book featuring almost 100 recipes, below.

For other favorite recipes see my book, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections on Family Mealtime.



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  1. You have it all here – nostalgia, a great story, video, and a recipe. Great post!

    I have a box of grits in my pantry which I used once.( Remember I started life as a Yankee.) My Southern friends eat them regularly and often as cheese grits. About my box of grits? I bought it to make a casserole with grits, eggs, and sausage for last year’s Christmas brunch. That’s my grits story. With my thrifty nature, I’ll have to use some from the box again – maybe even before next Christmas–ha!

    • Or pass the box off to some gluten-free friends. No shame in not liking them. Maybe its like cilantro, you either love it or you don’t.

  2. I love grits, too! When I grew up in the Alleghany Highlands, we called grits mush. If any was left from breakfast, it was sliced and fried for lunch or dinner! YUM!! I learned a few years ago that GRITS is an acronym for Girls Raised In The South!

    • Were they white grits or yellow corn meal mush/grits. We used to slice and fry mush like that after it was refrigerated, too. I do love the acronym! Never heard that before.

  3. Athanasia permalink

    I’ve had grits a number of times visiting different states in the South and along the Atlantic coast over the years. My thoughts? They’re OK, but I’d rather put my available breakfast calories into some nice toast or an English muffin. 🙂 Or hash browns or corned beef hash to go with my favorite over easy egg. For a hot cereal we pretty much stick with oatmeal.

    • I hear you; I guess I like them most as a change up to my normal granola etc. I have never understood hash browns though; yeah, they’re good, but for my calories, I’d rather have grits. 🙂 Too each their own, right? Thanks for “weighing” in.

      • Athanasia permalink

        I wonder if hash browns are more of a Midwest thing….we make them almost every week, at least once. I even keep a bag of ore-Ida frozen ones on hand should we be in too big of a hurry to wait for scratch. My youngest and oldest girls have been fooling around with recipes in the waffle maker and waffling various things, including hash browns and brownie batter. The experiments have been delicious.

      • I’ve heard of doing things like that in a waffle maker but never tried it myself. Your girls sound like they’ve got a thing going! Great (especially to be the recipient of their experiments)!

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  1. From the Pastor Who “Didn’t Cook:” Glorious Cheese Grits | findingharmonyblog

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