Hello. My name is Kim and I am a cookbook-aholic. I’ve flagged more cookbook recipes than would be humanly possible to make in a single lifetime. Yet my obsession with acquiring new and old cookbooks persists unabated. This month I share my compulsive tendencies via the “21 Days” series, featuring some of my favorite cookbooks from local authors and publishers. Please feel free to join me in finding new cookbooks to feed our passion at any of my favorite Triangle indie book sellers: The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books, Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh or McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village.
Each year the Wake County Public Library holds an annual book sale. Each year I spend hours poring over the cookbook selection for titles to add to my ever expanding collection. At the last sale in May 2013 I found a paperback copy of “Good Old Grits Cookbook” by Bill Neal and David Perry. I was familiar with Bill Neal’s name (and his contribution to the Triangle’s culinary heritage) but I wasn’t at all aware of this cookbook. As I flipped through the pages I found dozens of recipes I wanted to try, both sweet and savory, starting with a basic recipe used as a foundation to create more varied dishes. In my shopping bag the cookbook went.
There are around seventy recipes in the cookbook and many of them start with basic boiled grits (page 22). From that starting point, the recipes expand to include side dishes, main courses and even a few desserts. I’ve committed the basic recipe to memory, since grits are such a staple in my pantry and so versatile they can be part of any meal of my day. Breakfast is my favorite meal and Sunday Brunch is an indulgent ritual. I’ve made the Jalapeno Grits Casserole (page 42) for brunch at home and dined off the reheated leftovers for lunch and dinner, adding some saucy black beans, chopped tomatoes or topping with a fried egg. That casserole recipe highlights the savory aspect of grits. When in the mood for something sweeter, that same basic boiled grits recipe becomes an ingredient in Blueberry Corn Pancakes (page 73), perfect for a seasonal Summer brunch when blueberries and corn peak around the same time.
Although this book was published more than twenty years earlier, the recipes I’ve tried stand the test of time and don’t require modification to update to contemporary culinary standards or ingredients. That aspect and the fact that grits are a familiar part of many southern kitchens are good reasons to add “Good Old Grits Cookbook” to your collection. Or perhaps you already own a copy? If so, please share your favorite recipes from the book with us. We’d love to hear how you take your grits.