I have an entire binder filled with orphan magazine pages of beautiful untried recipes, enough to start a sorority, but as good looking as they appear, most are still waiting for a callback after all these years. I have good intentions, but when comparing end-results of those I've tried, most often my attempts don't even resemble a distant cousin. And some, of course, have been added over the years to my ever-growing list of culinary misadventures.
My go-to recipes for the most part are as reliable as the good friends who shared them with me. When a dish is worth second helpings, I never hesitate to ask for the recipe. Many a friendship has been forged and nurtured that way. Somehow the simple exchanging of a recipe creates a close bond with the other person, like a shared secret, or a weaving of lives.
Earlier this week, I was invited to a potluck coffee where all those who attended brought a different dish to share. As I looked over the sign-up list, there were the usual egg casseroles, fruit salads, veggie plates and a variety of sweet rolls. And of course, my friend Leah brought her signature fudge to keep things fun. As I scanned the sign-up list, I realized what was missing were the grits.
When our youngest daughter left Memphis to attend university in the cold North, she lamented early one morning that the cafeteria didn't serve grits.
"What's a grit?" her friend asked.
So, now that we are living in the frozen tundra of a northern state, it was a bold move to bring grits to a coffee brunch, perhaps even illegal by the regional culinary police, but a few of the women were polite and tasted them. And then, they went back for more. Now they are asking for the recipe which was handed down to me by a Memphis friend whose family settled there at the beginning of time. I salute her even at the thought of this recipe.
We moved away from Memphis several years ago, but every time I make this recipe for special family occasions, there is a sense of fellowship among friends. It almost makes me want to turn on a ceiling fan and sit on the rocker on the back porch.
There is nothing sweeter than a recipe shared with a friend, a richness that is like being there with y'all again.
Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked grits
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
6-8 oz. hunk smoked Gouda cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (more if desired)
Combine water and salt, bring to a boil, add grits, cover and cook slowly (about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add butter, cheeses and garlic salt. Stir until cheese melts. Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
The quantity of the cheeses can be adjusted to taste.
My friend's mother adds 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce to hers,
which is totally optional, good with or without.